Hong Kong’s winters are hardly bitterly cold, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth escaping. If you’ve got a few days of your annual leave allowance left to spend, then choose wisely when you back a trip around the region – December is one of the best months to travel, as long as you avoid the monsoon-hit territories. Ready to take flight? Here is our pick of the best places to travel in Asia this winter.
While most Cambodia-bound travellers head north to the iconic Angkor Wat temple complex, towards the year-end, there are few better places for a warm winter break than the country’s southern seaside towns. Sihanoukville is one of the most popular destinations, but has suffered at the hands of over-tourism in recent years, with plastic strewn beaches becoming a regular fixture. Lesser-known, though no less picturesque, alternatives include Kep (a former colonial seaside resort favoured by the Khmer elite). Those looking to venture further afield can board a boat to Koh Thonsay (Rabbit Island) for the day – sorry, no rabbits here.
It might not be off the beaten track, but if you’re looking for a tried-and-tested taste of summer in the middle of December, then Phuket offers a much-needed respite from the cold. With countless beaches and perpetual sunshine during the dry season, temperatures frequently reach the 30-degree mark. Phuket is also home to a number of family-friendly beach resorts and activities, ranging from kitsch dinosaur-themed mini golf to the numerous surfing schools on hand to help beginners hang ten in no time at all.
If it’s warm weather you’re after, then steer clear of the subcontinent’s northern reaches, with its snow-capped mountains and sub-zero temperatures. On the west coast overlooking the Arabian Sea, Goa offers a much-needed dose of Indian summer warmth. Once the realm of 1960s counter-culture seekers, it now boasts a thriving nightlife scene, making it the perfect choice for those looking to welcome the New Year in style.
Laos in December sees temperatures reach the low 20s, which is warmer than Hong Kong and still guarantees you freedom from the stifling summer heat. The trouble with fair-weather chasers, however, is that most people tend to follow suit. This is the peak time to visit Laos, and you’re likely not the only one with the idea, so plan your trip wisely to avoid the crowds. For adventurous travellers and thrill-seekers, there are caving expeditions and trips down the Vang Vieng River to be had, while picturesque cruises are available for those in search of a slower pace.
Strictly speaking, Langkawi is still experiencing the tail-end of the monsoon weather in December, but cautious travellers who visit in December are near-guaranteed some sunshine. With warm waters and countless luxury beach resorts on offer, there are few better places for a relaxing beach retreat. Snorkel the Andaman Sea, visit protected reefs and nature reserves, or head for the hills at the island’s three-tiered waterfall.
Vietnam suffers much the same fate as Hong Kong in the summer months – a legion of tourists visit in the hope of experiencing the very best its cities have to offer, only to eventually fall foul of the oppressive humidity. Thankfully, it also ushers in much drier, cooler autumn and winter seasons. Ho Chi Minh City, in the country’s southern edge, boasts pleasant temperatures hovering around the mid-20s, and offers travellers the chance to go sightseeing without returning drenched in sweat. From markets to food tours to historic memorabilia, there is plenty of fun to be had.
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