Winter is an excellent time to visit Asia. From November to February, many places in Asia become frenetic with the season’s events, particularly Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Chinese New Year. If you want a change of pace to your usual winter holidaying, check out our top picks of winter destinations in Asia.
Bali is paradise on earth, with its lovely beaches and exotic atmosphere. Sure, the latter part of the year is rainy season in Bali, but that hasn’t stopped people from visiting this heavenly place. December in Bali is a time to relax and reflect. You can meditate on how the year has been for you by going round the island’s temples, particularly the Tirta Empul Temple whose sacred waters reputedly can heal the body and soul. If healing your body is what you need, you can enjoy an invigorating massage on the beach. The winter months may bring occasional rains to this island paradise, but you can still have some fun on the sand at the resort strips of Kuta and Seminyak whenever the rain ceases falling.
Bangkok pushes ever forward towards modernity, but it can never shake off its mysterious eastern appeal. Not that we ever want it to. This multifaceted city puts on its western face in wintertime as the city becomes covered in Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and other Christmas décor. You can enjoy a Christmas feast full of the fresh and spicy local food Thailand is known for. There is always a Christmas party happening at a pub somewhere in the city, and you don’t even have to crash it to have fun. While you’re there, don’t miss a visit to the older part of the city, where you will find Bangkok’s iconic landmarks such as the Grand Palace and the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun). To add romance to your holiday in this one of the top winter destinations in Asia, go on a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River.
Busan, South Korea
Compared to the bitter cold of Seoul, Busan’s winter is mild. In fact, if you’re in an introspective mood, you should travel to Busan in winter for meditation and soul searching, something you can effectively do while strolling on the beaches of Busan and visiting the remarkable temples within and just outside the city, such as the seaside Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. You can also relax and empty your mind while soaking in the warm waters of one of Asia’s largest hot springs, the Dongnae Hot Springs. If your idea of relaxing and meditation is retail therapy, you can get lost in Shinsegae Centum City Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in the world. Don’t forget to dine at Jagalchi Fish Market, the biggest fish market in South Korea, where they have a dizzying variety of seafood on display. The catch is always fresh at Jagalchi, and you can have it cooked while you wait.
El Nido, Philippines
Rivaling Bali as Asia’s paradise on earth is none other than El Nido, a town sitting on the northernmost tip of the island of Palawan in the Philippines. El Nido is known for its pristine white beaches surrounded by forests and dramatic limestone formations, characteristics that make it one of the best beach destinations in the world. It’s also one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet, home to nearly a thousand species of fish, birds and animals, as well as a hundred species of corals. Diving, snorkeling, and water sports are some of the most popular activities you can partake while you are here, but you can also explore the secret lagoons and the forests inland. The mild weather El Nido experiences from December to March, along with the fact that Christmas celebrations in the Philippines are one of the longest and most festive in the world, makes it one of the best winter destinations in Asia.
Goa in India is the perfect destination for you if you want to escape the cold of winter, enjoy some fun in the sun, and experience an extravagant Christmas all in one holiday. Winter – from October to March – is actually the best time to visit Goa because the weather is clear, the beaches are calm, and there’s so much to do. Goa’s people are mostly Catholics, and the majestic Catholic churches in this town are grandly bedecked in Yuletide finery. There are parties and feasting everywhere, featuring Goa’s ubiquitous and plentiful seafood. Aside from Christmas, people visit Goa for the Sunburn Festival, one of the biggest electronic dance music festivals in the world.
China’s ice city definitely belongs to this list of the best winter destinations in Asia because it becomes a true wonderland in winter, especially in January for the annual month-long Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. In January, the city is lit up with magnificent ice lanterns and decorated with towering ice sculptures, all done up in different, dazzling colors. Aside from admiring the feats of ice artistry, you can also partake in a multitude of winter activities happening only in Harbin on January, such as winter flower dances, ice hockey, winter swimming, ice fishing, skiing, and many others.
Kyoto, the cultural heart and soul of Japan, takes on a Zen appeal in winter, with its traditional houses and historical buildings layered with snow. Because Kyoto is more of a spring and summer destination, you can enjoy the city’s attractions – such as the Kyoto Castle, the Golden Pavilion, and the Silver Pavilion – without fighting your way through the crowds. That is, if you’re up to trudging outdoors in the snow. If you don’t feel like a stroll through the city’s historic sites, you can always hang out at an onsen or hot spa, as well as feast on winter nabe and Kyoto’s exquisite winter food.
Experience whole new cultures when you visit these top winter destinations in Asia. So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip today.