Southeast Asia on your holiday to-do list? These are the most memorable destinations to spend the winter holidays, all from our team of destination experts!
One of the best things about travel is its ability to make even the most every day experiences extraordinary. Eating breakfast? It can be an adventure on the streets of Hanoi. Going shopping? A lot more exciting in a Luang Prabang market. Going for a bike ride? Try it around Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
And since the joy of the winter holidays is sometimes lost in the stress of shopping, planning and spending in the months before the big day, it’s no wonder that more and more people every year opt to spend their winter holidays in far away exotic destinations to make an otherwise stressful season an experience to remember.
And as it turns out, there’s few corners of the globe that are as idyllic during the winter months as Southeast Asia. With most of the region enjoying year-round warm weather — and some of the region’s best festivals and cultural holidays in those same months, too — Southeast Asia is fast becoming a top pick among holiday jetsetters worldwide. If you need some convincing to mix up your winter holidays with some once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences, perhaps these incredible spots and events will help.
November 28 to December 7, 2015
River Kwai Bridge Festival
Kanchanaburi is one of Thailand’s most incredible and culturally magnificent destinations regardless of the time of year, but in the winter months, the historic city is home to one of the country’s most incredible festivals, too. The River Kwai Bridge is one of the most iconic spots in the city, and it’s no wonder why — the bridge has a long and sorted history of being one of the central locations of the “Death Railway”, where thousands of WWII P.O.W.’s lost their lives constructing the stretching rail line. But despite its dreary history, the River Kwai Bridge is now the centre of the Bridge Festival, which remembers the bridge’s past with a parades, light and sound performances and simulated explosions and warlike special effects. And when not enjoying the festival’s processions and events, visitors here can wander through its many artisan villages and idyllic countryside.
Our River Kwai and Kanchanaburi tour is the perfect way to experience the magic of this Thai city during holiday season!
New Year’s Eve
NYE Countdown in city centre
Just because you’re away from the West during the holidays doesn’t mean that you have to give up the time-honored New Year’s traditions altogether. In the bustling streets of Bangkok, the international New Year is celebrated just like the lunar New Year, with some of the region’s biggest countdown festivals in its glittering downtown. The biggest events in the city are usually held at CentralWorld Square, a major shopping mall and the centre of plenty of the city’s biggest events. Expect the usual party hats, fireworks and lights of the New Year’s festivals in your home country along with a unique Thai twist — traditional performances and festivities are often on showcase, too.
With some clever planning, it’s easy to make a stop in Bangkok for the New Year part of a holiday Classic Thailand getaway, too!
Ngapali Beach, Myanmar
Beat the crowds
Not everyone wants to spent the holidays with events and parties. Sometimes, the best way to beat the stress is with some sand and sun, and Ngapali Beach is the perfect spot. Since it’s avoided the heavier tourism in some of Thailand’s popular beach spots, Ngapali Beach is a great place to spend time relaxing during Southeast Asia’s otherwise busy high months. And, since the country is predominantly Buddhist and still far enough off of the tourist trail, spending the holidays here will be a matter of spending it how you want, while the rest of the country enjoys their days like any other.
The best way to get there? With a lengthy adventure through Myanmar and kicking back at the end of the trip at Ngapali Beach – the itinerary for our Classic Myanmar tour!
Luang Prabang, Laos
January 20 – 24 (First three days of the 12th lunar month)
H’mong New Year
Although the H’mong New Year is celebrated throughout Southeast Asia’s H’mong communities — including northern Vietnam — Laos is certainly one of the best places to experience H’mong New Year at its very best. And since the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang is such a central point for Laotian tradition and culture, its also the most colorful spot to enjoy the festivities. With plenty of traditional dance, performances and food, Luang Prabang is a perfect spot to experience something different for the holidays, and to get a glimpse at what the winter months mean for cultures on the other side of the globe.
Read up on everything that the festival has to offer by reading our 5 Things to See for H’mong New Year blog post!
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Christmas and Tet on Nguyen Hue Boulevard, District 1
Despite Vietnam being a predominantly Buddhist or non-religious country, the Christmas season is treated as one of the country’s best reasons to start celebrating the Lunar New Year early. The most illustrious festivities almost always converge on Ho Chi Minh City’s downtown area and along the wide boulevard of Nguyen Hue. It’s here that massive displays of lights and color weave up the walls of the street’s buildings and through the branches of trees, with silk lanterns to add a Vietnamese twist to the otherwise-recognizable Christmas imagery. And since the Christmas season is so close to Vietnamese New Year, the festivities and decorations usually carry on until early the following year. The best time to enjoy the best of the festivities, though, is certainly Christmas Eve, when the lights and music are in full swing.
Don’t settle for just a visit to Ho Chi Minh City. Make a holiday getaway to Vietnam with our Vietnam Highlights tour!
Ready to experience a once-in-a-lifetime holiday season? Let us create a custom holiday itinerary in some of Southeast Asia’s most incredible winter destinations, including these top holiday spots.