12 days of Christmas travel bucket list

I HAVE some friends with a unique Christmas tradition: their family goes to a different location in Asia together every year. They have been to Japan, Malaysia and Thailand so far.

As it’s an effort to get my jet setting family in the one country we all tend to rendezvous back in Australia.

But still, in an effort to make all your Christmases travel filled, here’s the ultimate travel bucket list for the jolly season.

Just remember to book well ahead over Christmas.

1. Niseko, Japan
Dreaming of a white Christmas? With snow storms right out of Siberia, this region is always guaranteed good snow falls. It’s also easy to get to and there’s English spoken here. The ski season starts about mid December and goes through until April.

Pic: ninemsn.com.au

2. Kerala, India
Okay we all know about Goa, the famed hippie beach destination of India, but did you know there are quieter beaches in the state to the south? Head to Kovalam or Kochi for great food, views and lazy beach days. There are also Catholic churches in this state for those wanting to attend a mass or service and wonderful houseboating holidays to be had on quiet backwaters.

3. Luang Prabang, Laos
This incredible UNESCO world heritage town has great weather in December – not too hot and not too wet! The shopping is good, the food is good and there’s plenty to see in town — monks, temples, cafes — and out — caves, boat rides, hiking etc. It’s all here.

4. Ko Lao Liang, Thailand
Do nothing, absolutely nothing, on this small island paradise–you can walk around it in no time–or snorkel, scuba dive, kayak or rock climb. Whatever your fancy it’s all here and it’s not crowded, because there’s only one place to stay.

Pic: laoliangisland.com

5. Wanaka, New Zealand
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand no doubt, but beautiful Wanaka just a few hours away could easily steal the title too. There’s a beautiful lake here to rival Queenstown’s Wakatipu with plenty of opportunities for adventure: mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, cycling and walking.

6. Siem Reap, Cambodia
December is cool and dry in Siem Reap making it perfect weather to see the famed temples of Angkor Wat. As these are outdoor sights you’ll appreciate the good weather.

Pic: David Sim, Creative Commons.

7. Philippines
Being a Catholic country, Christmas is an interesting time to travel to the Philippines with colourful events and masses held everywhere. It’s worth staying through New Years and into January for further feasts and events.

8. Lord Howe Island, Australia
Want to get away from it all? To escape the carol singing and shopping endemic around Australia, head offshore. Located between Australia and New Zealand Lord Howe Island is only 10km long and 300m wide. Given its isolation it is protected of course and the population and facilities are limited but there’s a coral reef lagoon, amazing wildlife and great walks to occupy your time. Plus the views are to die for.

Pic: Fanny Schertzer, Wikimedia Commons.

9. Hoi An, Vietnam
Given its foodie status, Hoi An is a great choice for Christmas with restaurants guaranteed to serve up a feast come December 25th. It’s also a good place to pick up Christmas gifts with tailor shops, shoe shops and other crafts practiced in town.

10. Sydney, Australia
If you want an action packed Christmas you can’t look further than Sydney. There’s always so much going on in this city and Christmas is no different, particularly the quintessential beach outing to Bondi. You should stay right through to the famed fireworks of New Year’s Eve in the harbour.

Tourists on Bondi Beach. Pic: AP.

11. Hong Kong
December 25 is actually a public holiday in Hong Kong for Constitution Day. But there’s plenty of western influence in commerce as well to herald a break. Hong Kong is a great place for eating, shopping, trekking, hiking and beach bumming over the silly season.

12. Seoul, South Korea
Another place for a white Christmas, the South Koreans know how to enjoy the day. As one third of Koreans are Christian there are masses and other services. There’s also gift giving, plenty of food and wonderful lights and decorations everywhere.

Pic: Daderot, Creative Commons