1. Tokyo, Japan
As one of the coolest cities on earth, it’s no wonder so many flock to Tokyo during the end of year period. With numerous airlines offering direct flights to this bustling metropolis, it’s easy to find a flight deal to get you there. Furthermore, December is one of the cheaper months to travel, making Tokyo one of the best year-end destinations for Singaporeans. Is it tradition you’re looking for? Buddhist temples like the famous Sensoji in Asakusa, ancient shrines such as the beautiful Meiji Jingu, gorgeous ryokan and onsen resorts will inspire your inner samurai. Prefer excitement? The lights, street scenes, pubs, clubs, and mass of humanity will have your blood pumping.
New Year is Japan’s biggest holiday. You can enjoy the countdown surrounded by cheering throngs of locals who will greet you with open arms and hot sake. Stop by a department store for a fukubukuro (lucky shopping bag) and take advantage of the year’s biggest bargains while you’re there.
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2. Seoul, South Korea
For lovers of Korean culture or just plain travel buffs, Seoul makes an amazing year-end destination for Singaporeans. You’ll never feel cold inside a jimjilbang, the traditional style spa where Koreans sweat their way through the cold months. Mingle and make new friends over beers and fried chicken. Make sure you go ice-skating at Seoul Plaza, and soak up some festive cheer as the city comes alive with Christmas lights and carolling. Check out a Sunrise Festival held on the first day of the new year all over Korea, or go for a romantic walk where the streets are decorated with beautiful illuminations and romance fills the air.
3. Taipei, Taiwan
If you’re not the type of person who enjoys a white Christmas, or if you just hate the cold, Taipei is a wonderfully temperate option for you. It’s cool enough that you’ll know you’re out of the tropics but not so cold that your extremities go numb. Average temperatures hover between 13-25 °C. Of course, there are tonnes of eating, drinking, and dining options befitting its status as a major Asian city. If stinky tofu is not your thing, make sure you don’t leave Taipei without trying shaved ice mountains, Taiwanese sausages, and beef noodles! With lots of traditional and innovative ways of celebrating our familiar holidays, Taipei is a top year-end destination for Singaporeans looking for a bit of variety.
4. London, United Kingdom
For a romantic European year-end vacation, London comes highly recommended. Stroll the Oxford, Carnaby and Regent Streets packed with throngs of shoppers, and take in the festive decorations that adorn the city. Near Christmas, carolers take to the streets and concerts are held across the city for the enjoyment of the people. Ice skating in Big Ben’s shadow is a delight to be savoured. The piazza and cobbled streets of Covent Garden Christmas Market are simply postcard-perfect!
5. Hong Kong, China
For an Anglophile Christmas, you don’t have to head all the way to Britian to get your festive fix. There are plenty of places in beautiful Hong Kong, with its long history of English influence, to scratch that particular itch. Plenty of events celebrating the season are being held during this time, such as traditional British feasts, ballet performances and Christmas specials at Disneyland. New Year’s Eve is, of course, a massive celebration. Victoria Harbourfront is thronged with people waiting to watch the laser show and fireworks. Don’t skip out on brilliant decorations in Central either! In addition, the shopping and the food during the year-end period is a cut above the rest. With exciting events to keep both kids and adults cheery during the festive season, Hong Kong is a particularly great year-end destination for Singaporean families!
6. Bangkok, Thailand
December is a dry time of year for Bangkok, so the weather will be delightful. Indoor or out, there’s so much to see and do in Bangkok at the end of the year. The Christmas bargains in Bangkok are insane, naturally, so you’ll be able to get a great price for all your presents (for others or yourself!). Bangkok really outdoes itself on New Year’s Eve. If you can’t find an awesomely fun party to count the seconds down at, then you haven’t been trying! There are classic options, like rooftop al fresco feasts with bubbly drinks and there are multiple fireworks displays happening throughout the city. A great spot for families is Asiatique, where the kids will have no problems staying up late to ring in the new year!
7. Osaka, Japan
Osaka rivals Tokyo in many ways. As an end of year destination though, it really holds its own. The city begins to light up in November, and walking the illuminated streets with a friend, family, or special someone can feel magical. Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen so you can expect the local culinary scene to be spectacular! There are lots of local favourites to try like okonomiyaki, takoyaki and more. You may have tasted these dishes in other parts of Japan, but they truly take it to the next level in Osaka!
8. Manila, Philippines
Manila is really coming into its own as a destination for revellers, and as the biggest city of a very Christian country, you know they’ll do Christmas right. It’s a great place to enjoy Christmas themed illuminations, and the shopping malls will be bursting with bargains. Check out Mall of Asia, Mega Mall and Robinsons Place Mall to fill up your suitcases with lots of good buys. If you’d like to catch a glimpse of their culture and religion, visit any church during Christmas too! English is the lingua franca, so you won’t even have to brush up on your language skills before you go. New Year’s Eve is also a draw, and the parties thrown at the grand hotels are always a blast. Try Resorts World Manila for a classy way to ring in the new year.
9. Sapporo, Japan
Japan’s snow capital is the place to be for a real winter wonderland. It will be very cold of course, and the snow will pile high. But with its heated streets and well-insulated buildings, you won’t have to suffer to enjoy the seasonal treats. For starters, check out the German Christmas Market, which runs from late November to late December 2018. This traditional German style market at Odori Park has been held in Sapporo for the past 14 years. Attendees can enjoy some of the best beer and sausages you’ll find outside of der vaterland. For enchanting light shows, be sure to check out Sapporo White Illumination from mid-November 2018 to mid-February 2019 at Ekimae Dori.
10. Sydney, Australia
Fancy a Christmas on the beach? Pull on your santa hat and board a flight to sunny Sydney where you can join the crowds on Bondi Beach. If the beach isn’t your thing, head to Martin Place to enjoy carols and lights. Music lovers can also take in a concert at Surry Hills or Rushcutters Bay. The city plays host to a number of brilliant markets at the end of the year. Head over to the Australian Design Centre and The Strand Arcade where you can grab some cool bargains to impress your mates with.
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Originally published in September 2016 and updated in November 2018.Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.