With just a few more months left in 2016, it is time to pick where you would spend those untouched, specially reserved vacation days before they burn off by year end. With record-low air tickets to various destinations catching your eyes as you scroll your social media timeline every day, choosing The One might be a bit stressful. Fret not, here we’ve put together some amazing year-end travel destinations that will potentially be the best vacation you’ve ever taken!
We might be in love with Japan, but there is nothing personal about recommending Tokyo on top of the list. A metropolis of 36 million residents, Tokyo is so diverse that it always has something for everyone (in your travel entourage). Visit Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara and Harajuku to experience the modern Japan, but do make time for the city’s traditional side by venturing to Asakusa, Yanaka and Fukagawa.
Credit: clio1789 on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: Tokyo is particularly decked with Christmas from November onwards. Check out the ones at Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills and Odaiba – you’ll feel as if you’re transported to a winter wonderland!
Credit: othree on Flickr
We all need THAT island getaway, and there is no better time to take it than the year-end! Bali, a tropical island off the Indonesian main island of Java, might be swarmed with travellers but it is big enough for you to chart your own path.
It might seem very touristy, but you have to go soak in the magnificent views of Tanah Lot temple perched on the rocks by the sea, and its equivalent Uluwatu temple. To complete a typical Balinese experience, the 150-dancers-strong kecak dance performance, a traditional dance depicting the battle of Ramayana at Puri Dalem Taman Kaja is an absolute must!
#HHWT Tip: Take the less trodden path by trekking paddy fields or cycle through quaint little villages. Visit a traditional market to sample local delicacies and mingle with the curious yet friendly locals. When the walking (or cycling) gets too much for your feet, take a break by getting a massage, another Balinese specialty.
It’s year-end, which means it’s winter in the northern hemisphere! So what’s more perfect that spending your vacation time somewhere very snowy? Oh no, you don’t have to travel far to Europe and the likes for the white powder, as Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, receives a lot of snow as early as November!
You would be too early for the Snow Festival, but snow is aplenty in Odori Park in central Sapporo. Walk along and shop in Tanukujoji, a 7-block long shoutengai (traditional shopping arcade), eat (halal) ramen in Susukino and enjoy a white Christmas scenery in Hokkaido University campus!
Credit: かがみ～ on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: For nature lovers, check out the Nakajima Park and Maruyama Park in the outskirts of the city.
Just because it’s year-end, it doesn’t mean that you have to go somewhere cold. So why not head to Melbourne, where summer is anticipated, but the mild chill of fall still lingers?
Credit: Flinders Landing Apartments
Find out why Melbourne was named as one of the most liveable cities in the world in 2014 as you explore the many sides of the city: modern (Federation Square, CBD), historical (Flinders Street Station, State Library of Victoria, Town Hall), artsy (National Gallery of Victoria) and the vibrant, youthful neighbourhoods of Fitzroy and Brunswick.
#HHWT Tip: Escape the city by driving along the famed Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay, and allow yourself a trip to Phillip Island. Visit the koala sanctuary to get to know of this unique Australian creature, and if you have the time, stay for the penguin parade!
Credit: square(tea) on Flickr
Seoul during the end of the year can be harshly cold, but a bore it is not. Several ice rinks will pop up in the city, so outdoor ice skating is a must if you find yourself in this South Korea’s capital during this time.
Credit: wwian on Flickr
The rink in Seoul Plaza, all decked up with winter illuminations, is highly recommended for its cheap admission fee! If snow sports are your forte, then head to the mountain for some white powder power! Err, I mean skiing and snowboarding…
Credit: Tan Cheng Joo on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: Keep yourself warm by eating Seoul’s street food as you stroll along the night market of Myeongdong or the street of Insadong; try some winter specialty such as sweet potato (mattang) and chestnuts, on top of the must-try tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), odeng (fish cake on skewer dipped in clear soup) and hotteok (sweet pancake). Mashisseoyo!
Credit: @haygry on Instagram
The climate would be getting milder in the Southern Hemisphere during the year-end, so it’s time to take New Zealand trip that you’ve been dreaming of!
Credit: wonderferret on Flickr
Soak up history and culture of the country’s rich heritage at its many museums and galleries, feed your adventurous streak by bungee jumping from the famed Auckland Harbour Bridge, and burn off the adrenaline by taking leisurely stroll (or strolls) in Auckland’s many exquisite gardens.
Credit: Botanical Garden Photography
#HHWT Tip: An escape from the city is a must in New Zealand – drive to explore North Island’s many natural parks and try caving in Waitomo for the glow worms! Don’t forget to get to Matamata – where you can visit Hobbiton from The Lord of The Rings movies!
We have to confess that London is wet, gloomy, miserable and depressing in winter. Yet, it has undeniable charms that keeps visitors flocking in, even during the worst period of the year.
You’ll gradually fall in love with London as you stroll along the Thames River embankments, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St. Paul Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Marble Arch, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. You’ll marvel at the brilliant assimilations of the old and the new as you explore Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden.
Credit: Mayor of London
#HHWT Tip: We love Camden for its bohemian vibe and the campuses of London School of Economics, University of London, Imperial College and University College London for their scholarly ambience. Do visit if you the city centre doesn’t distract you too much!
London a city for everyone, and we won’t be surprised if you’ll return to London again and again! (Maybe during a different season, though).
8. New York City
We often think of NYC as London’s long lost American sister; they’re continents apart, yet quite similar in many ways. Located on the East Coast of the North American continent, NYC is super cold during the end of the year. Still, it’s always bustling with people preparing for the holidays seasons
Credit: Found The World
So, crowded as it might be, NYC’s charms is obvious and we cannot not insist on the usual touristy spots: Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Central Park (beautifully blanketed with snow!), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Bridge and the 9/11 Memorial. Christmas decorations would be aplenty and you’ll feel transported to a winter wonderland for sure!
#HHWT Tip: To top your NYC’s year-end experience, go see a Broadway musical and ice skate on the rink in front of the Rockefeller Centre. These are New York’s traditions that would be a shame to pass!
Credit: Dirk Knight on Flickr
This mile-high city receives plenty of snow as early as October, but after the powder settles, the sun shines brightly and the magic happens! So don’t be surprised if you are snuggling under a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate in hand one day but happily sledding or tubing down the soft snowy terrains in the park under bright blue sky the next!
Credit: Matt Santomarco
Ice skating in an outdoor rink is a must, particularly in the evening. The downtown area is decked with winter illuminations that magnificently glitter in the snow. Even if snow sports are not your forte, a drive to the skiing resort towns is recommended, just for the view.
Credit: Metro Playgrounds
#HHWT Tip: Vail and Aspen – the world’s famous ski resorts – get all the hypes but closer ski areas of Loveland, Winter Parks and Arapahoe Basin are just equally beautiful! Stop by the Rocky Mountain National Park – you’ll wish you never have to leave!
10. Langkawi Island
Sometimes, one does not have to go far to travel far. Langkawi might be the last destination on our list, but the least it is definitely not! The little island in the northern part of Malaysia has a lot to offer – whether it’s a quiet bask under the sun on one of its many beaches, or a vigorous island hopping from one of its tiny islet to another.
Credit: Ben van Wijnen
Nature lovers would love exploring the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, and everyone in the family will be awed with an aerial view of the island from the comfort of the cable car – one of the steepest in the world! Meanwhile city dwellers – why not get in touch with your inner kampong girl/boy instinct by getting down and dirty trekking the paddy fields in Pantai Cenang?
Credit: Julia Johari
#HHWT Tip: Langkawi is famous for its diverse food offerings – go find your favourite at the night market, but also allow yourself to indulge in its fresh seafood!
Credit: Karen-Michaela Tan
We hope that the list entices you as you attempt to tick off the most important decision for your year-end trip. Wherever you go, the most important thing is to have a well-deserved stress-free time!
Happy planning, and happy travelling!