Christmas may have only just passed, but the January blues can be quick to sink in. Luckily for us Hongkongers, a lengthy holiday is just around the corner. This year, Chinese New Year falls mid-week, so if you’re willing to part with two days of your annual leave, you could have a nine-day holiday on your hands. With everything from beaches to sprawling cities all just a short-haul flight away, narrowing down your destination can be difficult at the best of times. With the seasons in mind, we’ve put together a list of places to help you escape the winter blues.
In Cambodia’s northern reaches, Siem Reap experiences scorching summers. Luckily, between the months of December and February, the city boasts considerably cooler temperatures and seeing the sights becomes a much more bearable experience. Siem Reap is the nearest city to Angkor Wat and the network of adjacent historic temples and sites, while the city itself boasts a thriving art and culture scene. Travelling over Chinese New Year, you’re near-guaranteed to spend a week in wall-to-wall sunshine, with few clouds in sight. However, you’re likely to be one of many looking to take advantage of this. Early risers will benefit from a sunrise start at popular spots like Angkor Wat, to escape the crowds.
Penang has become near-synonymous with its street art scene, with installation pieces and interactive artworks by Lithuanian contemporary artist Ernest Zacharevic proving to be popular attractions among all who encounter them. Peak season in Penang falls between November and January, as the Malaysians state offers lower temperatures and a relatively dry climate. While the weather in February has been known to falter slightly, you will benefit from comparatively cheaper accommodation and flights, and a quieter city to explore, as the droves of tourists will have been and gone.
Just a three-hour flight from Hong Kong, Bangkok offers a city-break perfect for those with a penchant for shopping and a focus on food. From the sights and sounds of Chatuchak market to the slew of luxury hotels and their adjoining rooftop bars and restaurants, to the vibrancy of the floating markets, there’s something for everyone in the city. Bangkok is known to suffer from torrential rain and heavy flooding, and a visit between the months of July and October is likely to put a damper on your holiday plans. From November to February, the Thai capital is comparatively cooler and drier, though still hot enough to justify a dip in the hotel pool.
The Lion City has had its fair share of publicity recently, with the hectic hawker’s centres and glitz and glam of the Marina Bay Sands seriously selling Singapore to potential travellers in this year’s blockbuster, Crazy Rich Asians. If the film inspired you to book your own blow-out holiday and pull out all the stops, you’re not alone. There isn’t a wrong time of year to visit Singapore, as the equatorial country is hot and humid year-round. However, in February and March, you may be in luck and experience some fractionally cooler temperatures.
While a city break has a lot to offer, there’s something to be said for getting away from it all. If you’re looking to spend a week getting out and staying active, consider a trip to Sapa. Located a five to six-hour drive from Hanoi in the northernmost section of Vietnam, the region is famed for its trekking and hiking trails. Depending on your fitness level and the amount of time you have on your hands, there are options to embark on day treks or to hike for two to three days, spending your evenings at local homestays. Be warned though, as temperatures have been known to plummet in January and February. Frost isn’t an uncommon occurrence at the peaks, so hardened hikers should be prepared to face the elements.