Christmas may be a few months off and we don’t want to wish time away, but if you want to escape the winter chill this year, now’s the time to start thinking of where you’re going to jet off to for some December sun. Prepare to say goodbye to ice-cold mornings defrosting the windshield, and say hello to summer once again with these Christmas Holiday Breaks from the UK.
The number one destination for exotic sanctuaries, relaxation and culture, take advantage of a Christmas break to explore the offerings of Thailand. Shop the Night Bazaar of Chiang Mai and walk amongst spellbinding temples, spend your time getting acquainted with rescued elephants or celebrate the full moon at Koh Phangan. From deserted to crowded, the beaches in Thailand are famous, whether for their close proximity to an evening’s entertainment or for welcoming warm waters.
As Indian states go, Goa is pretty small, but packs in a lot. Long stretches of sand are by far the piece de resistance for many visitors, with clean, tranquil waters providing retreats from the buzzing towns and markets. Bargain hunters will find their treasure either at Mapusa Market in the east or Anjuna Flea Market in the west, and the Shantadurga Temple in the capital city of Panaji is extraordinarily unique.
From thick rainforest walks to cultural hotspots and food beyond your wildest dreams, Malaysia has it all. The island of Penang is adorned with street art beside old churches, while capital city Kuala Lumpur is blessed with shopping malls, traders’ stalls and cuisines as a result of its melting pot of cultures. Discover the taste of Laksa and Hokkien Mee, before hopping over to Borneo and discovering the beloved orangutan in its natural habitat.
Gawp at world-famous temples and learn about the dark history of this now thriving country. The Angkor Temples represent the wealth of the Khmer Empire, but the wars that Cambodia has suffered are prevalent in both economy and landscape. Tradition is valued and everyone is expected to enter temples with shoulders and knees covered, but the rules are relaxed for lazing on the beach at Sihanoukville and visiting the natural surrounding islands.
When the winter gets too much for you, head Down Under, where Christmas is spent on the beach drinking cold beer and eating surf ‘n’ turf straight from the BBQ. Enjoy classic scenes of the Great Ocean Road, try your hand at surfing on the Gold Coast or venture into the outback for a road trip full of adventure. The cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are buzzing with backpackers at this time of year, but you can escape the hustle and bustle easily with a trip to the Blue Mountains or Yarra Valley.
One of the most quintessential holiday destinations in the world, Bali is that picture-perfect island of villas on crystal clear waters, blue skies and decadent dining. A location where the rich and famous flock to get away from the spotlight, relax with a yoga session, indulge in a spa retreat and top up your tan on one of the many clean, white beaches.
The beautiful landscape of Vietnam is enriched with laidback towns, private escapes and unspoiled areas of paradise, but it also tells a history that is deep and painful. Take a ride on a Junk boat in Ha Long Bay or sample the culinary delights in Hoi An in the street markets and watch your dinner be cooked before your very eyes. Night markets are in abundance, as are heritage structures and outdoor museums that have many a story to tell.
Parklands, coastline and vineyards, South Africa is all about the outdoors. The colourful city of Cape Town is full of character as it’s overlooked by Table Mountain, but the locals in the national parks and reserves are why visitors truly flock here. The Big 5 (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) are all within potentially easy reach on a game drive, and the mountain ranges provide a beautiful backdrop wherever you are. (Image courtesy of Steve Evans)
Wildlife enthusiasts will go crazy for the animals of Sri Lanka, such as the Asian elephant, leopard and buffalo which roam free, and the beach relaxation to be had is second to none, but its heritage speaks of a time when ancient cities ruled and manmade architecture stood tall and proud. Stroll around the old kingdoms of Sigiriya, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, and marvel at the beautiful carvings of houses, palaces and temples. (Image courtesy of Balou46)
One of the most fast-paced, advanced areas of Asia, Singapore is high-tech, flashy and the financial mecca to attract young professionals, business-savvy and ambitious travellers. You can’t miss the towering skyscrapers, but this island country is also renowned for its green parks and nature reserves, earning it the name of the Garden City. Experience the food of east meets west, shop to your heart’s content for a late Christmas back home and explore the Marina Bay Sands for an insight into awesome luxury.
By Charlotte Mellor