Some like it hot. Some like it cold.
Whether you enjoy basking in warm, balmy weather by the beach, or discovering quaint snow-covered alpine villages, here are six wonderful winter escapes you can plan for the upcoming holiday season.
Goodbye winter chill and hello tropical weather! Blessed with beautiful islands, diving spots teeming with marine biodiversity, national parks and the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, the state of Sabah in Malaysia is home to countless natural treasures – the perfect spot for a winter getaway. Adventurous souls can attempt to climb Mount Kinabalu, the tallest peak in the region, while foodies can tuck into scrumptious seafood and local delicacies.
While largely known for its breathtaking islands, there’s much to see in the capital of the Philippines, Manila, especially in the months leading up to Christmas. Being largely Catholic, the locals celebrate it with much aplomb – they start counting down the days from September! Dry season is from November to April, with cooler months from November to February – making it the perfect chance to explore historic Spanish forts, visit beautiful churches and take part in unique Christmas traditions such as parades and parol (lantern) making.
Exotic and colourful, Marrakech teems with history and culture. Winter is a good time to visit if you want to avoid the tourists – but that does not mean there is less to do or see. Dating back to medieval times, the city is home to breathtaking mosques, exquisite palaces and wonderful gardens, as well as Jamaa el-Fnaa, the city’s main square. Getting lost is a given as you venture through the narrow alleyways past spice bazaars, gold souks and apothecaries, but it’s all for the sake of adventure.
There’s nothing quite like a winter in New York City. Spend the day at Central Park, with its picturesque snow-covered trees and frozen-over lake near Bow Bridge; the scene of many a Hollywood film. Christmas sees the iconic Rockefeller Tree, while New Year’s at Times Square is always an unforgettable experience. Winter is also when the hottest events happen, from St Patrick’s Day celebrations to Lunar New Year events in Chinatown, as well as one half of the bi-annual New York Fashion Week.
An eclectic mix of the modern and the traditional, Tokyo is one of the best places to experience a Japanese winter. Stay warm in the chilly weather with a soak in an onsen (open-air bath) and indulge in special winter foods such as oden (various ingredients in a hot dashi broth), raw oyster and nabe (hotpot). Don’t miss out on traditional winter festivals, such as the Oshiroi Matsuri and the Setagaya no Boro Ichi flea market. Winter is also strawberry season, and many farms offer strawberry-picking experiences.
Val Thorens, France
Nothing screams winter getaway more than a trip to the ski resort. Val Thorens in France has the privilege of being the highest one in all of Europe, and thanks to its altitude of 2,300 metres above sea level, boasts a snowy landscape from November to May. There are quaint ski lodges where you can warm yourself by the fire with a hot chocolate or two, as well as various winter activities to keep visitors entertained, from riding a snowmobile to ice diving and ice driving, paragliding, sled-riding and more.