Celebrate the New Year in style by jetting off to exotic and alluring destinations and return home all revved up to achieve those New Year resolutions.
Trip Planner: Where to travel and when’s the best time to go?
Here’s our top picks of where to go in January for enjoyable holidays. Go where the weather is great and fun events are happening in January. Read on to find out what makes these destinations the best places to travel this month.
An Icy Start to the New Year in Harbin, China
Great For: Frozen Fun, Winter festival, Architecture, History
Despite the frosty front, an avalanche of visitors descend on Harbin annually to attend its Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival – a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor fiesta featuring hundreds of intricately carved, neck-craning sculptures in many forms and sizes, created by some 15,000 craftsmen, including famous landmarks, monuments, skyscrapers, lanterns, pagodas and mythical creatures spread across themed zones. The sculptures are best viewed under the cover of darkness, when they are illuminated in a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colours.
Harbin’s Old Town is filled with exquisite examples of neo-classical architecture laid out on cobblestone streets. Russian influences permeate every corner of the district which was once occupied by dissidents of the Russian Revolution. Try Russian cuisine in one of the many restaurants dotted across the municipality, or stop by one of the many shops selling Russian goods including vodka, furs and dolls.
Weather in Harbin
Average Temperature: -24°C – -13°C.
What to Pack: Down-lined jackets, thick gloves and woolly hats are a must to keep warm and snug.
How to Get There: No direct flights to Harbin (HRB) from Singapore, but there are numerous options using a combination of full-service airlines via Beijing, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Shanghai and Seoul.
Average Flight Time: 10 hours.
Where to Stay
Adventure Awaits in Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Great For: Culture, History buffs looking to tap into their inner Lara Croft, Ancient civilizations
Siem Reap, known as the Great Gate to Angkor, is regarded as the epicentre of Khmer culture. The Apsara classical dance, an indigenous ballet-like performance that re-enacts myths or religious stories, is staged in hotels and restaurants across town
Before stepping foot in the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat complex, drop by the Angkor National Museum to view its vast collection of Khmer artefacts and gain a better understanding of Cambodia’s ancient past. Then head to Phsar Chas (the Old Market) next door, where most of Siem Reap’s shops, eateries and bars are located.
Visit Ta Phrom, one of Angkor Wat’s most impressive ruins, after midday when most of the tourist hordes have left. Then, head on to climb Bayon, another temple complex distinguished by its giant carved faces of a smiling Buddha. End the day watching the sunset on top of mountain-shaped Phnom Bakheng.
Weather in Siem Reap
Average Temperature: 21°C–31°C
Season: Dry and high.
What to Pack: Long-sleeved linen and cotton ensembles as well as wide-brimmed hats.
How to Get There: AirAsia and Vietnam Airlines operate flights from Singapore to Siem Reap (REP).
Average Flight Time: Under 7 hours.
Where to Stay
Colonial Splendour in Galle, Sri Lanka
Great For: Relaxing, History, Cultural tours, Untouristy
Here, you’ll find a region bursting with the sensuous scent of woody spices and salty breezes, and where the old clashes with the new.
Galle, Sri Lanka is a town of immense beauty framed by fading Dutch colonial grandeur. Today, its historic Fort district is filled with hotels, boutiques, shops and cafes, adding to its already endearing allure. Wandering through its streets, you will come across numerous architectural gems enclosed within its atmospheric walls which have helped it earn its listing as a UNESCO site. Requisite stops are the Dutch Reformed Church, the Maritime Museum and Flag Rock, where daredevils plunge from a terrifying height into shallow waters.
The sandy beaches and palm-lined shores of Unawatuna lie just six kilometres out of Galle, luring visitors for a refreshing swim.
Weather in Galle
Average Temperature: 22°C–31°C
What to Pack: Cool fabrics, sunnies and swimming gear.
How to Get There: Sri Lankan Airlines, Emirates and Singapore Airlines operate direct flights to Colombo (CMB), where it’s a two-hour taxi ride into Galle.
Average Flight Time: Less than 4 hours.
Where to Stay
Stay in the western half of Unawatuna for a better choice of modern quality hotels and resorts.
A Skier’s Paradise in Niseko, Japan
Great For: Chic and Sophisticated Winter Interlude, Ski trips
Hokkaido has its fair share of world-class ski resorts, but Niseko is the unparalleled winner. Comprising four interconnected resorts, this winter wonderland sees an average snowfall in excess of 15 metres each year, drawing skiers from around the globe.
Hirafu, the epicentre of the resort, has evolved from a sleepy little village to a fully-fledged international resort town with a choice of exciting dining, nightlife and accommodation options.
After spending the whole day on the piste, soothe those tired muscles in one of the many onsens or thermal baths scattered across the mountain range. Then Niseko Yumeguri Onsen Pass (1,440 yen) gives access to the three participating baths in the resort. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, take a two-hour drive south from Hirafu to Lake Shikotsu, where you will find outdoor onsens offering breathtaking panoramic views.
Weather in Niseko
Average Temperature: -11.3°C – -2.5°C
What to Pack: Down-lined jackets, thermal underwear, ski gear and loads of woollen sweaters.
How to Get There: Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways offer flights to Sapporo (CTS), with one stopover. There are coaches from Chitose New Airport to drop-off points in Grand Hirafu, Annupuri and Niseko Village. The journey takes approximately 2.5 to 4 hours.
Average Flight Time: Less than 4 hours from Singapore to Sapporo.
Where to Stay
Nestled in the mountains, the Hilton Niseko Village is one of the few hotels in the area with ski-in and ski-out access. It has its own onsen.
Take a Trip to Middle Earth, New Zealand
Great For: Awe-inspiring Landscapes, Road trips, Nature, Movie Locations, Adventure sports, Wine
If you can’t stand the bitter cold, head to New Zealand for a summer holiday, to admire its natural environment and the Maori culture.
Christchurch, still recovering from the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, has seen art projects springing up to replace what’s been lost. The skeleton of Christchurch Cathedral stands stoically on Cathedral Square, a fitting monument to the 185 lives lost in the tragedy.
Auckland is the birthplace of jet boating and bungee jumping. Naturally, it’s a mecca for thrill-seekers. Fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy would be delighted to know that Auckland is just two hours away from the Hobbiton movie set.
Wellington is regarded as the cultural heart of New Zealand and is known for its lovely vistas, superb lookouts on hilltops, golden sands and spectacular craggy coasts.
Weather in New Zealand
Average Temperature: 12°C –25°C.
What to Pack: Light jumpers, cardigans and jackets as well as summer pieces.
Average Flight Time: Approximately 15 hours.
Where to Stay
Decked in neon retro chic, Hotel DeBrett, a boutique property, is our pick for Auckland. Modern, contemporary comfort awaits guests in The George Christchurch while over at the The George Christchurch expect high levels of service and understated elegance.