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Live Better Winter In Asia: The Best Warm And Cold Destinations To Inspire Your Next Break

Winter In Asia: The Best Warm And Cold Destinations To Inspire Your Next Break

Stupa and the Meili snow mountain range in Deqen county, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Yunnan Province
Stupa and the Meili snow mountain range in Deqen county, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Yunnan Province
By Pearl Yan
December 26, 2019
Looking to book a quick winter excursion? Look no further than these 10 destinations across Asia

With Chinese New Year so close to Christmas this year, the office is guaranteed to be quieter than usual this January, meaning there's no better time to recharge the batteries before going full steam ahead into the new year.

Here are 10 destinations to check out this holiday season, whether you want to soak up the winter sun or skip the crowds in chilly locales.

1/10 Siargao, the Philippines

Siargao is not only the surfing capital of the Philippines but also the up and coming vacation destination for local and international tourists because of its beautiful beaches, hospitable residents, islander lifestyle and world-class resorts. This photo was taken by a DJI Mavic Pro drone at Guyam Island just a few kilometers off-shore from Cloud 9 surfing spot.
Guyam Island in Siargao, the Philippines (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay Nay Palad Hideaway
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. 

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

2/10 Sri Lanka

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (Photo: Getty Images)
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay Cape Weligama—Relais & Chateaux
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.

Top 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. 

3/10 Phu Quoc, Vietnam

This bird's-eye view was captured above the pristine beach of Bai Sao in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam.
Bai Sao beach in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa
Average winter temperature 27°C

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. 

Top 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. 

4/10 Bali, Indonesia

Reflecting of Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, or Pura Bratan, is a major Shivaite and water temple on Bali, Indonesia the other major water temple being Pura Ulun Danu Batur,Bali,Indonesia.
Pura Ulun Danu Berata in Bali, Indonesia (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay Soori Bali
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

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

5/10 Krabi, Thailand

Aerial View of Maya Bay Paradise Beach from Krabi Thailand
Maya Bay in Krabi, Thailand (Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images)

Where to stay Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
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 and diving with thriving marine life in Koh Lanta, to kayaking through the mangroves and canyons of Ao Thalane. 

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

6/10 Okayama, Japan

April, 2014 photography
Okayama Castle, Japan (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay Yoshii-Ryokan
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.

Top 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.

7/10 Jeju, South Korea

Jeju Island, South Korea (Photo: Getty Images)
Jeju Island, South Korea (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay Lotte Resort Jeju Art Villas
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. 

Top 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.

8/10 Kathmandu, Nepal

Bodhnath , Kathmandu, Bagmati, Nepal : Great Stupa the largest in Asia and one of the largest stupas in the world.
Boudha Stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal (Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images)

Where to stay Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
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.

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

9/10 Lhasa, Tibet

Stupa on the background of Himalayas, Mount Everest National Park, Nepal. This is the highest national park in the world, with the  entire park located above 3,000 m ( 9,700 ft). This park includes three peaks higher than 8,000 m, including Mt  Everest. Therefore, most of the park area is very rugged and steep, with its terrain cut by deep rivers and  glaciers. Unlike other parks in the plain areas, this park can be divided into four climate zones because of the  rising altitude. The climatic zones include
Mount Everest National Park, Nepal (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay Intercontinental Resort Lhasa Paradise
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, high-rise buildings and other 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 is a short walk from the holiest temple in Tibet, the Jokhang Temple. 

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

10/10 Paro, Bhutan

Taktsang Monastery On A Cliff High Above Paro Valley
Taktsang Monastery in Paro Valley, Bhutan (Photo: Getty Images)

Where to stay Six Senses Thimphu
Average winter temperature 6°C

Bhutan is the ultimate spiritual destination. The modern world feels a distance away 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.

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


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