What to Do During the December Holidays
December may be some time away, but it’s never too early to start planning for the perfect way to end the year. Clueless on where to go? We dip into our data and find out where everyone else is going, and throw in a few extra places that will get you started, and very excited.
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• Hong Kong
• Kuala Lumpur
The land of the Rising Sun will see its temperatures drop to a cool 4 to 12 degrees this December, and rain will be virtually non-existent. With climate like this, landmarks like Mount Fuji will be at their most spectacular, thanks to clear skies and plenty of snow. December also brings season-exclusive events to the city, like colourful winter illuminations, Christmas villages, and warm Japanese comfort foods. The attractiveness of this city as a winter travel destination is no secret - it’s the top travel destination from Singapore this long holiday, which naturally will mean higher prices. But don’t let that stop you - we’ll get you solid savings on flights as well, so go forth.
Not to be outdone, Seoul pulls out all the stops for travellers stopping by in the December holidays as well. Korea’s capital turns into a spellbound snowscape at the end of the year, featuring the royal palaces and bustling main streets in a whole new light. Worth visiting is Seoul’s Lighting Festival, held at the Garden of Morning Calm in the cool winds of the night. With all that splendour comes many winter activities as well - try sledding with the kids for the first time at Everland, warm up the body and the soul with jimjilbangs (public baths) that serve up authentic Korean food after your dip, and catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrities at MBC World.
A beautiful country all year round, December gives rise to some hidden gems within Taipei and its outskirts. Start the trip off with some quirky comfort food - try TankQ Cafe & Bar’s breakfast set served in a suitcase, or every other meal in one of Modern Toilet Restaurant’s loo-shaped bowls.Spirited Away fans can check out the inspiration behind the set at Jiufen Old Street, also known as the Santorini of Taiwan. Also, if you’re staying for the New Year, Taipei is home to one of the world’s most spectacular fireworks shows on New Year’s Eve, as the facade of Taipei 101 explodes into a sea of wondrous colour. Travellers who aren’t great fans will be glad to know that Taipei stays relatively milder compared to other countries in the region - leave the down jackets at home!
For better or for worse, Bangkok stays sunny throughout the month of December, and skips the rainy days as well. This means more joy for shopaholics and gastronomes to wander the streets by day and by night, looking for all the love the Land of Smiles has to offer. Acclimatize to the warmth of the weather and the people at Chatuchak Market, before diving into the hidden contemporary cultures of Thai youth at Artbox Thailand. Cool off and reset your wardrobe for next year at Iconsiam, Bangkok’s newest and biggest shopping mall that crowns the Chao Phraya riverside. For those here to party, Khao San Road is home to hundreds of bars and clubs - pick one (or more), and end the year on a high.
For a different side of Japan in winter, head over to Osaka! Holding a similar temperature range to Tokyo in December, the climate is perfect for treks to the castles and temples of old. Remember to check out Shitennoji, which was built in AD 593 and claimed by some historians to be the first Buddhist temple in Japan. A nearby flea market lets you satisfy your shopping urges while picking up authentic Japanese apparel or antiques. As the sun sets, clock your necessary trips to Dotonburi and indulge in the plethora of food and drink choices in the metropolis - the okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and kushikatsu are to die for!
The capital city of England takes on a whole new image in the December school holidays, as the majestic open-air gardens shed their greens and are replaced with shades of white. Those who wish to fully enjoy the cold will be happy to see Hyde Park decked out in festivities at its Winter Wonderland, which packs an ice skating rink amidst its Eden. For days where you just want to get out of the frost and snow, London’s indoor scene is filled to the brim - pop by the various free museums that showcase London’s history and modern art industries, watch a play over at West End Theatre, or soak in the passion at one of London’s six football stadiums.
Asia’s most famous cityscape will be booming with activity in the December period, and one can expect great fun and festivities whether you’re going alone, as a couple, or as a family. Victoria Harbour will be showered with light at the Hong Kong Pulse Light Festival, dotting the winter nights with color. Kids will have one location in mind - Hong Kong Disneyland, which will have special winter-themed shows in store for both the young and the young at heart. However, they might be in for a surprise somewhere closer to the city centre - the AIA Carnival, which ran for the fifth time last winter, is set to make a return this December. More joy for the family!
The largely Christian community in Manila celebrates Christmas with fervor, and travellers will be sucked into a circus of festivities in the month of December. Immerse yourself in the history of the Philippines at San Agustin Church, a UNESCO site that also happens to be the oldest stone-built church in the country, before admiring the city’s colonial architecture with a splash of Christmas color. The end of 2018 also saw a proliferation of spectacular light installations in Manila, and this year promises to be no exception - expect to be dazzled as you stroll down Ayala Triangle Gardens or the CBD as night falls.
The beauty of Kuala Lumpur for Singaporeans is its proximity - it’s so near to us that it could easily be a second destination after your first December holiday trip, should the travel bug not be appeased. However, it more than holds it own during the month of December should you decide to make it your main stop! Heli Lounge Bar is a must-see if you’re here for the New Year, with an incredible skyline will frame the fireworks. The food here is great as well - Jalan Alor will offer you a mouth-watering array of street food options, and in the off-chance you haven’t already gorged yourself silly there, Bangsar is home to a growing cafe scene in the capital.
While most other countries experience winter in December, Australia sits on the other side of the globe and puts it in reverse, enjoying a comfortable range hovering around 20 degrees. A cool climate like this makes it perfect for any activity under the sun, so get going! Walking tours are everywhere in the city - take your pick from street art, hidden speakeasies, and even ghosts! Nights in Melbourne are great for taking in some contemporary art, whether at their many art galleries or at their theatre productions. End the night with a gastronomical adventure at Melbourne’s world-renowned restaurants which serve anything from homemade paccheri to roti with Vegemite curry.
On the other side of Australia is Perth, which enjoys the same weather as Melbourne during the December holidays. Perth and Melbourne are constantly competing for the culture crown in Australia, so expect to be wowed by their artistry, food, and nightlife that can be found nowhere else. Remember to visit the Greenhouse, a sustainably-run restaurant easily recognizable by its 4000 terracotta pots lining its exterior. Finish off with a relaxing stroll with the sunset at Swan River or Scarborough Beach, alongside the laidback Perth community - it’s the holidays, after all, and a slow-paced holiday will bring respite to the soul.
The end of the year should be about relaxation and celebration, and nothing says that quite like a great holiday. Treat yourself, and grab your next flight to happiness today!