‘Tis the season to take an amazing family holiday!
The beauty of spending Christmas in Asia is you can literally choose the exact type of festive season adventure you want, then go and find it. A white christmas, an exotic feast, extravagant shopping, a beach escape or a traditional religious affair. All this is at your fingertips, or at most a short flight away. The silly-season-loving experts at KAYAK.com.hk have put together this handy guide of the top 5 destinations in Asia for a memorable family Christmas experience.
Japan is one place that lacks nothing in Christmas tradition. The entire city glistens magically at this time of year. Christmas lights and decorated trees are in abundance, and an evening stroll along the Starlight Street around Tokyo Midtown is a must. A veritable playground for the kids, Tokyo Disneyland, the Tokyo Sea Life Park and Tokyo Tower Observatory all make for an exciting fun family day out. Perhaps best of all is the opportunity to experience a white Christmas. Snow season in Japan starts mid-to-late December, and for kids yet to see snow, a short trip out of town could really make their year. If you’re keen to forge some unique memories, family ski lessons are a sure winner.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is synonymous with parties, so it’s no surprise Christmas is also celebrated with a bang. Big hotels and decorated shopping centres are a draw card for Bangkok, but if you want a cooler climate and a host of outdoor activities, head to Chiang Mai instead. Nearby national parks are perfect for hiking, or if you’d prefer a more leisurely mode of sightseeing transport, many local companies organize forest trekking on elephant back. If you have time, stop by the enormous Chiang Mai Zoo, where the kids will love getting up close and personal with animals.
Pack up your family and Christmas gifts, and spend your December holidays relaxing on the beach in Goa. Mid-November to mid-February is the ideal time of year to take in the beautiful beaches in dry, pleasant weather, so if Goa is on your list, now is the time! A lively and colourful place, you’ll find Christmas cheer alive and well, with decorated roof tops, traditional lanterns, and best of all, endless local delicacies to feast on. If the midday sun gets the better of you, make your way along the breezy coast to check out some of the charming seaside towns or nearby villages, or pick up a few trinkets at the Anjuna flea market.
Seoul, South Korea
South Korea is the only country in East Asia that sets Christmas aside as a public holiday, and as such, you can be sure to find Christmas cheer here. Perhaps a little more unusual is the perception of the event as a romantic holiday, with the glow of the ample street decorations creating an amorous atmosphere for many a meandering young couple on Christmas eve. Gift-giving, carol-singing, and their own version of Santa Claus make this one of the more festive destinations in Asia in December. Keep an eye out for the yuletide-themed shows at theme parks, especially for the kids, but fun for adults too. You may not have to venture far to stumble upon entertaining street performers or a winter festival. And of course, in Seoul, a white Christmas is also the norm.
Manila and Boracay Island, Philippines
As the country in Asia with the highest population of Catholics, the Philippines doesn’t disappoint when it comes to Christmas celebration. In fact, it is also known for the longest festive season globally, with the Filipino Christmas commencing in September and running right through until 6 January. So you still have some time left to decide on travel dates. The real festivities kick off in earnest on 16 December with a giant lantern festival, street parties and a sumptuous feast the whole family can share in. Once you’ve had your fill of city sights, take a side step for some family relaxation time on the beaches of Boracay, a beautiful resort island off the coast, boasting pristine white sands and the perfect mix of serenity, nightlife and recreational activities for the kids.
If you want to go further afield for a Christmas experience with all the trimmings, Finland may seem like a bit of a wildcard, but it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to visit the true home of Santa Claus. From the European perspective at least. In this tiny village in Lapland, you will find the most quintessential of all Christmas experiences, and your kids will surely never forget it. With Mr. Claus in residence throughout the festive season, there is no shortage of jolly activities, including snowmobile rides, and the ultimate adventure, a sleigh ride featuring genuine reindeer. A wander through Rovaniemi will restore the Christmas spirit in the most stoic of skeptics.
Christmas may be peak season for many destinations in Asia, but it’s still possible to find a Christmas trip for the whole family, and within your budget. Using KAYAK’s Explore tool helps you narrow down the options quickly and find exactly what you’re looking for.
*Prices displayed are based on flight and hotel searches conducted on 8 December 2015 on KAYAK.com.hk for travel from 21st December, 2015 to the 4th January, 2016. Flight prices are based on a round trip economy fare for one adult. Hotel prices are for triple occupancy per room per night. Prices are subject to change, availability may be limited or offers may no longer be available.
**Images are illustrative only and may not be used, shared, or made available for download.