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Warm winter destinations for a jolly holiday

By Nicole Hurip 16 December 2019

It’s officially sweater weather, and while curling up with a mug of hot chocolate with chestnuts roasting on an open fire sounds tempting, some of us might not be dreaming of a white Christmas. Here are some destinations you can hit up to prolong hot girl (and boy) summer:

Australia

On the other side of the world, summer has just begun. Head to the sunny shores of Melbourne, Sydney, and the Outback for a sand and surf safari. Melbourne summers are meant for relaxing with a glass of wine, chilling at a live music venue, and sampling exquisite food at one of the many superb dining options on offer in this amazing city.Explore the Fitzroy neighbourhood in Melbourne with our food & drink guide and our shopping guide to make the most out of this hipster suburb.Festivals are a great way to spend a weekend, whether you prefer to dance to the electronic beats of Calvin Harris or indulge in a smorgasbord of delectable treats and family fun, our guide to the best summer festivals in Melbourne is sure to have you covered.

Head to Sydney with our insider’s guide to the Aussie capital, Melbourne’s more glamorous big sister. There will be no shortage of sights to see and people to meet, even if you’re only there for a few days. The iconic Opera House, Royal Botanical Gardens, and Bondi Beach are regulars on guide books and social media for good reason, but be sure to hit up some of the more obscure spots as well. Go off the beaten track and explore the Granite Belt Region, just a few hours’ drive from Brisbane. Be prepared to be immersed in natural beauty and all that nature has to offer—the rich soil bears an equally rich harvest of fruits, meats, and cheeses, best washed down with locally-made wine. 

Indonesia 

Sure, Bali seems like an obvious choice with the island vibes and party atmosphere, but why not skip the crowds this year and head to Lombok, a lesser-known island destination with ample cultural value. Catch some waves and sample local cuisine as you admire the lush greenery that envelops your senses.

Sri Lanka 

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has seen a renaissance in recent years, thanks to its idyllic beaches and unique culinary offerings. While the Southeast Asian country used to cater to more intrepid travellers, new hotels and resorts that have sprung up along the coast have attracted scores of curious explorers ready to step out of their comfort zone and experience what this island nation has to offer.Sri Lankan cuisine has also caught the world’s attention—belly-warming stews, generously spiced curries, coconut used in a myriad of different ways—tasting local food is always a fail-safe way to immerse yourself in a new culture. Read our guide to Colombo’s best restaurants that are sure to entice your tastebuds.

Laos

An underrated destination with a heavy Buddhist influence and stunning natural landscapes, connected to its neighbours by the mighty Mekong river that flows through Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Local markets and intricate temples are the main attractions, as is the vibrant food scene. Navigate the two major cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang with our expert guides. 

Thailand

Bangkok is the most visited city in the world for the past four years, and for good reason. Street food stalls and Michelin-starred restaurants have equal pull with visitors, and the entertainment is world-class. However, perhaps we can set our sights away from the well-trodden paths and instead explore a few places just outside the Thai capital. Ayutthaya, Bang Khun Thian, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, and Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park are four easy day trips you can take from Bangkok when you desire a change of scenery. 

Japan

Okinawa is a collection of islands located away from the main islands of Japan, with a distinctly tropical climate that sets it apart from the rest of its counterparts. December is one of the best times to visit, when the waters are at its clearest—perfect for snorkelling and diving. Winter is also the best time to go whale watching in Okinawa as the majestic creatures embark on their yearly migration from Russia to warmer waters as they prepare for mating. 

India

This fascinating country has had its fair share of misconceptions, and we think it’s high time people started to get to know all the beautiful places they’re missing out on. This winter, head to Udaipur, a city in Western India famous for its tranquil lakes and resplendent palaces. Kochi, or Cochin, is another Indian city that should be on your bucket list. It is home to the largest contemporary arts festival in Asia, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, held every two years with great aplomb, attracting and exuding a magmatic wave of creative energy. The architecture bears remnants of the town’s colonial history, a mixture of Dutch, British, and Portuguese influences.

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Nicole Hurip

Travel editorial director

Never content with sitting still, Nicole has turned her passion into a career. Hong Kong is her home, but she’ll always have a soft spot for L.A. and London, where she spent her college years. She loves exploring hidden places, hunting for cool vintage pieces, and talking to interesting people. Her vices include consuming excessive amounts of wine and cheese, a debilitating weakness for sparkly things, and spending too much time on Instagram.

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