If you haven’t thought of booking a trip for your family for this holiday as a gift, why not? Nostalgic as you might be, you will find that Christmas elsewhere can be as jolly as home. Take the opportunity to indulge your child’s curiosity by witnessing how the season is celebrated in other cultures; a simple retreat in a steaming hot spring, or experiencing a winter wonderland. Come what may, it’s one way for you to do Christmas differently.
We cannot think of a more relaxing experience than soothing myself in a steaming hot spring bath while watching snow fall around me. A few hours in the air and you can immerse yourself in an oriental cultural winter experience. Yufuin is an onsen (hot spring) town located a train or a bus journey from the city of Fukuoka, Japan. The town has become more popular in recent years, but is still less developed than other onsen areas in Japan. Enjoy taking a peaceful break, lapping up the serenity while surrounded by untouched nature. Yufuin offers many options in regards to hotels and inns, or even a traditional Ryokan to really feel authentic. Another highlight of the town is a cluster of boutique gift shops, restaurants and art museums on the main street. Enjoy wandering through these before a warm onsen soak at the end of the day. Go on, treat yourself.
Christmas markets are probably the most traditional symbol of the festive season. If you enjoy the crowds, the atmosphere and the collective spirit from the markets, then don’t do things by half, take a trip to where it all began – Germany. Of all the great markets in Germany, Nuremberg is regarded as the most family-friendly option, with an area set up just for the little ones. Children can wander around the stalls by themselves, have a drink (obviously kid-approved), enjoy rides and mail a letter to Santa at a special children’s post office. At the end of the day, when the kids are getting sleepy from all the excitement, take yourself for a walk through the city’s old town, experience the ancient European ambiance and marvel at the architecture which dates back five centuries.
If the festive vibe is what you’re after, then a trip to Santa’s hometown should be at the top of your list. This Finnish destination is extremely family-friendly, understandably as it is said to be the magical dwelling of the most-loved jolly old man. There are many local resorts and services that offer a variety of family packages and include winter activities such as sledding, sleigh riding, skidoo, tobogganing, ice fishing and reindeer visiting. If you’ve been good all year, you deserve the treat of witnessing the breathtaking Aurora Borealis (Northern lights), a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Despite the slightly higher cost for a trip like this, Lapland is the closest you can get to a winter wonderland and well worth the indulgence.
A more economical option for a white Christmas is to travel northward domestically. Changbaishan is covered in snow throughout the year and the range is impressive covering three northeastern Chinese provinces. It is deserving of the name – Chang (long) Bai (white) Shan (mountain). The Changbaishan International Ski Resort relies on its rich natural landscape, the low drop terrain makes it perfect for family visitors and skiing beginners. At the base of the mountain is a Nordic-style village with international hotels, shopping streets, restaurants and hot springs that provide the non-skiers with other comforting ways to spend the holiday.
Shanghai’s winter can get very nippy in December and January, so getting away from the cold can be a very wise move. In Hong Kong, not only is the weather milder, you are guaranteed world-class festivities that you can’t find in mainland China. Enjoy the annual WinterFest at Statue Square, Hullett House Christmas Market in Tsim Sha Tsui, holiday celebration at Disneyland and Ocean Park, and not to mention the New Year countdown and the spectacular firework display on Victoria Harbour. Plus, a trip to Hong Kong doesn’t require comprehensive research and planning - everybody knows someone who has been there before! If not, that’s just part of the adventure, and Hong Kong will never let you down with its abundant offering of entertainment.