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Travel 10 Best Destinations To Experience Winter In Asia During The Christmas Season

10 Best Destinations To Experience Winter In Asia During The Christmas Season

10 Best Destinations To Experience Winter In Asia During The Christmas Season
By Pearl Yan
November 28, 2019
Winter in Asia may bring to mind lingering sunshine and beach holidays, but it’s also an alluring time to travel to the colder regions such as South Korea, Japan and more, to get you in the festive spirit

With travel options to soak up the winter sun or skip the crowds in chilly locales, here are the top 10 destinations to check out this holiday season, whether you like warm or cold weather:

Guyam Island in Siargao, the Philippines (Image: Zunnoon Ahmed/Unsplash)
Guyam Island in Siargao, the Philippines (Image: Zunnoon Ahmed/Unsplash)

1/10 Siargao, the Philippines

Where to stay: Nay Palad Hideaway
Flight time from Hong Kong: 7 hours (via Cebu or Manila)
Average winter temperature: 27°C

Voted the best island in the world by Conde Nast Traveler readers in 2019, the tear-shaped island of Siargao was once a hidden gem for in-the-know surfers. 

With unspoilt landscapes such as Sohoton Cove and Sugba Lagoon just a boat ride away, Siargao also offers unparalleled water activities including stand-up paddle boarding through ancient mangroves and cliff jumping inside a jungle cave. 

Tatler tip: The freshly baked coconut bread (filled with coconut meat) in General Luna (opposite to the church) is the best morning snack or post-surfing refuel on the island.

(Related: A 2019 Travel Guide To Siargao Island—One Of The Philippines' Best Kept Secrets)

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (Image: Melissa Kumaresan/Unsplash)
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (Image: Melissa Kumaresan/Unsplash)

2/10 Sri Lanka

Where to stay: Cape Weligama - Relais & Chateaux
Flight time from Hong Kong: 7 hours 15 minutes 
Average winter temperature: 27 °C

While Sri Lanka’s tourism is still recovering from the terrorist attacks in April, the island remains one of the most exhilarating destinations to visit in Asia.

Head to Central Sri Lanka to visit the ancient rock fortress Sigirya, hop on a train in Kandy which passes through tranquil tea plantations on the way to Ella, and chill out in the beach towns of Galle and Mirissa—one of the best surfing sites in the country.

Tatler tip: Travellers short on time should skip Colombo and head directly to the lush, green hills in the north and the south coast for idyllic beaches. 

(Related: Hotel Review: Tatler Checks Into... Wild Coast Tented Lodge in Sri Lanka)

Bai Sao beach in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Bai Sao beach in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

3/10 Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Where to stay: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa
Flight time from Hong Kong: 2 hours 45 minutes 
Average winter temperature: 27°C

Rated as one of the top five fastest-growing destinations for Hongkongers in 2019, Phu Quoc is a natural wonder in itself, with a UNESCO-listed national park taking up more than half of the island, making it a great spot for hiking and trekking. 

It is still relatively off-radar as a dive site, and you should take a boat to the north-west of the island to discover the vibrant reefs and marine life in the year-round warm waters. Looking to kick back and relax? Lounge on the white-sand beaches, enjoy a blissful massage and dine at the beachside restaurant Spice House at Cassia Cottage for their banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) and fresh seafood. 

Tatler tip: Try Phu Quoc’s famed fish sauce, nuoc cham, which is made with a 200-year-old recipe using fermented anchovies, salt and water. 

(Related: A Food Lover's Guide To Hoi An, Vietnam)

Pura Ulun Danu Berata in Bali, Indonesia (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Pura Ulun Danu Berata in Bali, Indonesia (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

4/10 Bali, Indonesia

Where to stay: Soori Bali
Flight time from Hong Kong: 5 hours 10 minutes 
Average winter temperature: 27°C

There’s no place like Bali. An island offering the best in wellness, surfing, diving and cultural experiences, Bali is ideal for couples, families and group travellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Take an epic shot at the Insta-famous Handara Gate, visit the rice paddies and Bali Swing in Ubud, make a photo stop at Kelingking beach (aka T-Rex beach) and Bali’s iconic Ulun Danu Beratan water temple, and stay at one of Seminyak’s chic villas. 

Tatler tip: Skip the toursity Denpasar and Kuta and make Ubud your jumping-off point.

(Related: 10 Large Luxury Villas To Stay In Bali)

Maya Bay in Krabi, Thailand (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Maya Bay in Krabi, Thailand (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

5/10 Krabi, Thailand

Where to stay: Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Flight time from Hong Kong: 5 hours 45 minutes (via Bangkok)
Average winter temperature: 26°C

One of the most picturesque islands in Thailand, Krabi is adored for its hundred-islands landscape that looks straight out of a movie (The Beach was shot on Phi Phi Islands, one of Krabi’s most famous destinations). 

A holiday here means plenty of options for every type of traveller, from relaxing on the white-sand Railay Beach, diving with thriving marine life in Koh Lanta, to kayaking through the mangroves and canyons of Ao Thalane. 

Tatler tip: Visit Krabi during the dry season, which starts from late December and ends in February.

(Related: The Tatler 10: Best Southeast Asian Beach Resorts)

Okayama Castle, Japan (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Okayama Castle, Japan (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

6/10 Okayama, Japan

Where to stay: Yoshii-Ryokan
Flight time from Hong Kong: 3 hours 30 minutes
Average winter temperature: 7°C

Famed for its Koraku-en garden, one of The Three Great Gardens of Japan, Okayama is also home to historic shrines and Okayama Castle. 

Known for its delicious fruits, including Okayama white peaches and grapes, Okayama is also an oyster heave in winter. Head to Hinase where you can visit a fish market for fresh oysters—the oyster okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancake) is a local dish you can’t miss.

Tatler tip: Take a dip in a yuzu-scented bath at Yubara Onsen, a natural outdoor hot spring bath in the riverbed of the Asahi River.

(Related: 5 Bucket List-Worthy Travel Experiences)

Jeju Island, South Korea (Image: Daniel Lee/Unsplash)
Jeju Island, South Korea (Image: Daniel Lee/Unsplash)

7/10 Jeju, South Korea

Where to stay: Lotte Resort Jeju Art Villas
Flight time from Hong Kong: 
Average winter temperature: 7°C

A perfect weekend getaway from Seoul, Jeju attract travellers for its scenic hiking trails with waterfalls, museums and spectacular food. 

The Hallasan Mountain, the highest mountain in South Korea, offers seven trails for hikers of all levels, and you can refuel with a hearty jeonbokjuk (abalone porridge), a local specialty which will warm you up instantly. 

Tatler tip: The best post-hike recovery in Jeju takes place at a foot bath cafe, where you can enjoy a healing aromatherapy foot bath coupled with a beverage and cakes 

(Related: Walking Tours: The Latest Travel Trend For 2019)

Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

8/10 Kathmandu, Nepal

Where to stay: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
Flight time from Hong Kong: 5 hours 20 minutes
Average winter temperature: 12°C

Winter may be the coldest time to visit Nepal’s capital, but if mountain trekking is not on your agenda, a visit to this Himalayan country will reward you with cultural treasures and rare wildlife encounters. 

Visible as soon as you land at the international airport, the Boudha Stupa is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists around the world, known for its all-seeing eyes on each side which symbolises awareness. 

Early morning is the best time to discover Kathmandu’s ancient sites, which are centred around Durbar Square and surrounded by paths leading to shrines and temples as well as teahouses and markets.

Tatler tip: Be sure to try some momos (steamed dumplings), with fillings ranging from pork and vegetable to chocolate and coconut.

(Related: I Prefer To Be The First And Only Billionaire In Nepal Rather Than One Of 50 In India, Says Binod Chaudhary)

Potala Palace (Image: Daniel R. Witte/Wikimedia Commons)
Potala Palace (Image: Daniel R. Witte/Wikimedia Commons)

9/10 Lhasa, Tibet

Where to stay: Intercontinental Resort Lhasa Paradise
Flight time from Hong Kong: 8 hours (via Chongqing)
Average winter temperature: -1°C

Winter in Tibet may evoke sub-zero temperatures and snow-capped mountains, but the weather in its capital, Lhasa, is surprisingly manageable during this time of the year. 

Blessed with spiritual landmarks and historical sites, Lhasa is a city of contrasts. On the west side, you’ll find shopping malls and high-rise buildings are signs of Chinese modernisation, but the traditional Tibetan charm is still visible with ancient monasteries and pilgrims abound.

Make sure to visit Potala Palace, the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas, which a short walk from the holiest temple in Tibet, the Jokhang Temple. 

Tatler tip: Wear sunglasses and sunblock to protect yourself from UV rays which can penetrate through the thin air and reflect off the snow.

Taktsang Monastery in Paro Valley, Bhutan (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Taktsang Monastery in Paro Valley, Bhutan (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

10/10 Paro, Bhutan

Where to stay: Six Senses Thimphu
Flight time from Hong Kong:  7 hours (via Bangkok)
Average winter temperature: 6°C

Bhutan is the ultimate spiritual destination that feels a world apart. The modern world feels irrelevant in this Buddhist Kingdom, where deep-rooted traditions and religion are still part of the daily lives of its people. 

Flying into Bhutan’s Paro Valley—where the country’s only international airport is located—is an adventure in itself as it brings you close to the mountain tops. If you fly between Paro and Kathmandu, the aircraft will even pass over four of the five highest mountains in the world. 

Nothing can prepare you for your first visit to Taktsang Palphug (aka Tiger’s Nest), one of the country’s most iconic religious sites which clings to a cliff above Paro Valley. At the top, tekkers will be rewarded with panoramic views of the valley and an extraordinary sense of serenity as the chantings of the monks fill the air.

Tatler tip: Don't leave without trying ema datshi—Bhutan’s national dish made of chilli peppers, onions and locally produced yak cheese.

(Related: 6 Days In Bhutan: How To Have An Authentic Experience In The Himalayan Kingdom)

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Travel winter travel destinations winter holiday luxury travel winter sun destinations warm winter luxury travellers

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