IF you’re looking to escape the heat for a spot winter fun this festive season, you might want to consider Sapporo, the capital of the northern Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido. A recent Agoda study identified the city – Japan’s fifth largest – as the top “up-and-coming” destination of choice for Singaporean and Malaysian travelers.
According to the global online accommodation reservations provider, Sapporo December bookings spiked by 161 and 145 percent in Singapore and Malaysia respectively when compared against data from December 2015.
And it’s not difficult to see why. Southeast Asia’s year-round heat and oftentimes erratic weather mean many from this side of the world will opt for holidays in cooler climates around this time of year.
But why Sapporo?
Well, for a start, we hear the red pandas over at Maruyama Zoo are quite a hit among travelers.
These fluffy little creatures sometimes called the “lesser panda” or the “red bear cat” are really quite underrated.
Many seem to assume the only pandas in existence are the giant black-and-white ones that are scared of their own sneezes – but these lovable little fellas are more playful than these other pandas and they portray their personalities for almost everyone who goes to visit them.
According to the Agoda Travel and Tech study, millennial travelers see food and dining as among their top priorities whilst on holiday.
It’s no wonder therefore why Sapporo – said to be a foodie’s paradise – is popular among travelers. The world-famous Sapporo beer, snow crab, soup curry, and okonomiyaki are just some of the mouth-watering dishes on offer in this very snowy city.
“Travelers from Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines want variety when they’re abroad, so there are a diverse group of destinations emerging as year-end holiday hot spots,” Andrew Edwards, Agoda Global Director for Brand and Communications, said in a statement.
The study took data from over 16,000 respondents across 15 countries to reveal the top up-and-coming destinations for overheating Southeast Asians wishing to cool off in more mild climates across Asia.
Fun in the snow
For those looking for something more adventurous than feeding red pandas and feasting on Japan’s finest cuisines, then head up to the ski slopes that are just a 20-minute drive from the city center.
Odori Park is hosting the Sapporo snow festival this year, but in between admiring this rare form of art, you can ski, sled, snowboard or scadoo down snow-covered mountains.
Other cities Malaysians and Singaporeans like to explore in the later months of the year include London in the UK, South Korea, China and Taiwan.