OK I’m going to get a little controversial now; do you hate or love Christmas? I love a few days off work, specific treats that are allowed at Christmas (think stilton cheese, ruby port, Michael Bublé CD etc) and crisp winter walks. I don’t enjoy the over-commercialization and the forced merriment however! Indeed my favourite Christmas holiday was spent in Kuala Lumpur a few years ago; curry for dinner, shops open until 10pm and beautiful hot sun! So if you want to survive Christmas and sidestep the festivities this year consider one of these alternative destinations.
Found on Australia’s eastern coast, the highly frequented Bondi suburb and beach is located in the city of Sydney, capital of New South Wales. Bondi Beach really is the antithesis of Christmas, think barbeques and volleyball on the beach. Public transportation to Bondi Beach is readily available and is actually preferable to dealing with issues of limited parking.
Sights to See – Expansive beach coast, soothing sand and diverse people are all available for your viewing pleasure.
Things to Do – Don’t miss out on swimming, surfing, and sunbathing at the beach! Also around for enjoyment are markets, bars and clubs, as well as many places to grab a bite to eat.
Where to Stay – Not quite a beach ‘resort’, but you’re bound to find a comfortable place to stay if you’re down-to-earth enough to “rough it” in a hostel or a bed and breakfast.
Spend your winter holiday in Southeast Asia with beautiful coasts and cultural treasures in nearly every direction. Visit the Andaman Sea as well as the Gulf of Thailand. Bordering cultural hotspots include the countries of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar which can easily be combined with Thailand to create a one-stop Asian explorer. Travel via airlines or train is recommended, but if those aren’t options take care on the roads, especially in personal vehicles. Buses, taxis, and boats are available for traveling as well.
Sights to See – When in Thailand, visit Bangkok, a contemporary city abundant with cultural history and a reputation that proceeds itself. Many surrounding cities such as Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and Siam will provide an equally engaging travel experience. Enjoy the scenery of islands, beaches, and tropical forests.
Things to Do – Pleasurable and exciting activities abound in Thailand whether you like to hike, dive, surf, canoe, golf, or partake in a luxurious spa; there is something for every longing heart here. Expect spicy, sharp, and tangy foods here, with the traditional Asian staples of soups, rice, noodles, vegetables and savoury meats.
Places to Stay – The prices of accommodations peak in December, but budget-friendly digs can be found, and comfort is available anywhere from a guesthouse to a luxurious hotel.
Why not spend the Christmas season on the Caribbean island of Cuba, situated south of Florida and between the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. Culturally rich but still in the grip of rationing, Cuba is an eye opening travel experience with splendid crumbling architecture, a vibrant music and culture scene, gorgeous beaches and abundant varied wildlife.
Sights to See – Take the time to visit the various parks and beaches of Cuba during the day. No silent nights in Havana nights, this city will provide you with an exciting evening every time.
Things to Do – Experience the rich Latin culture by attending theatres, musical performances, dance clubs and by visiting markets and historical landmarks.
Places to Stay – Thoroughly immerse yourself in the Cuban way of life by staying in one of the available ‘casas particulares’ which are personal homes that have been licensed to provide room and board. Of course, if this isn’t your cup of tea, hotels are readily available and all-inclusive resorts are plentiful in the beachside locations of Varadero and Cayo Coco.
Sure Florida and in particular Walt Disney World will be in full-on Christmas mode but it’s pretty easy to sidestep the main tourism haunts and head to a beach or a lake. Try South Beach where the hip and trendy party by night and lounge at the art-deco cafes and restaurants by day. Or try a kayaking trip to 10,000 Islands, which really is off the beaten track.
Sights to See – There are variety of sightseeing options in Florida browse museums such as the Salvador Dali and the Holocaust museum. Visit the Kennedy Space Center and even watch a space shuttle launch in Titusville. Also tour lighthouses, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, as well as Gatorland.
Things to Do – Have Christmas on the beach. From Daytona to West Palm, you definitely have options in Florida. Common tourist sites are Disney World, Universal Studios, Everglades National Park and Medieval Times.
Places to Stay – Hotels, resorts, house rentals and beach front accommodations are readily available to suit all budgets.
Probably not a conventional Christmas getaway destination, but how better to spend the festive season than with a trip to Southern Africa to observe the beauty of Zambia. Think of spending the day on a game drive or walking safari spotting animals in the South Luangwa National Park or Kafue National Park spotting lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and hippos.
Sights to See – View Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world and enjoy a safari and see the wild life and natural bounties of Africa
Things to Do – A safari is a must, but also take the time to tour the local areas and enjoy and observe the Zambian way of life.
Places to Stay – Opt for a luxury hotel room, dorm or tented camp in the heart of the action.
The tropical island of Sri Lanka sits in the Indian Ocean in Southern Asia and I have been lucky enough to have spent Christmas and New Year there a few years ago and actually ended up with my own personal chef (although that’s another story!)
Sights to See – Take in the scenic plains and mountains of Sri Lanka. Also explore gardens, ancient temples, villages, tea estates, beaches and wildlife. The notable sights of Sri Lanka are many; Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the Buddhist Dambulla Cave Temple which is a UNESCO site, elephant safari at Habarana, Mihintale where the king was converted to Buddhism, Wasgamuwa National Park and Kandy the hill capital.
Things to Do – Tour the area, surf, dine, enjoy!
Places to Stay – Sri Lanka has just been voted the cheapest long-haul travel destination in the world and rooming accommodations have become unique in Sri Lanka with villas, and quaint properties provided along with traditional hotels. There are hotels ad guesthouses for all budgets and all-inclusive hotels are fairly common too.
By Julie Bowman