December means snow, sunny beaches and hilly getaways – yes, all of them. How you are feeling this Christmas? How Christmas-y do you feel? Here are places to visit in December that we have rated based on Christmas spirit you can choose from.
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The remnant of Spanish reign long gone by, Guatemala is like a collection of all your comfort foods on one tray. From the ruins that tell compelling stories of the Mayan civilization, to an architecture that is unique and grandiose at once – case in point: Antigua’s Cathedral, to charming towns like Cobán and Quetzaltenango that have you hooked on their coffee to National Parks that leave you breathless. Really. Try trekking through jungles, paragliding over volcanic craters and white water rafting and telling us you aren’t gasping for breath!
Read more: Compelling reasons to visit South America.
Things to do:
Wander the cobblestoned streets of Antigua.
Explore the lost Mayan city of Tikal. Want to meet and greet with actual Mayans? The highlands of Ixil Triangle is now their home.
Snack on a volcano. That’s right – at Pacaya volcano, you can roast marshmallows with the heat emanating from within! No more campfires to enjoy your s’mores.
Head over to the charming town of Flores located amidst Lake Peten. Wine, dine and catch some of the best sunsets and sunrises here.
Temperature: It’s spring time, here; 23 degrees C
Christmas spirit: Skip the turkey, here the Christmas family meal consists of corn or rice and potatoes with large doses of prunes, peppers, olives, chicken and pork.
The 20 different ethnic groups each have their own way of celebrating Christmas. Get here to be part of several Christmases!
Wrapped in sense of mystique, Cambodia is more than just your average exotic location. Cambodia is a resilience and undying spirit – like Phoenix is rising from ashes. It’s more than just its past today, even though it proudly wears the scars for everyone to see.
Just visit its Civil War Museum, you will know what we are talking about! Although Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Banteay Srei get deserving mentions, this isn’t all that Cambodia houses. There’s the oddly charismatic city life of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, the grace of Battambang in its colonial French architecture and contemporary art scene. Alongside the countryside that deserves as much attention with its lush paddies, sugar palms, the south coast fringing tropical islands and towering mountains deserve a mention.
Things to do:
Although sunrise maybe beautiful here, the crowds gathered may kill the vibe at Angkor Wat. Catch the sunset here – one of the most breathtaking sights.
Explore the architectural wonder that is the temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
Discover the tree roots interspersed with temple walls site of Ta Prohm.
For a peek into Cambodia’s trouble ridden past, visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
Discover the countrysides on your ATV quad bike.
Tour the floating village of Tonle Sap.
And if you are brave enough, taste some crispy crawlies at Cambodia’s street food stalls. From tarantulas to crickets to birds, everything is on a platter!
Check it out: Cambodia Unpackaged.
Temperature: It’s balmy here; 23 degrees C
Christmas spirit: Given Cambodia is essentially a Buddhist country, Christmas is celebrated only by a small minority. Instead, they celebrate Vesak once the moon waxes to become a full moon. It marks the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha.
Ever got bowled over by cute puppies, kittens, and maybe bunnies? Laos feels like that. Preciously tucked amongst lush paddy fields, stilt houses, thickset jungles and tea estates blanketing mountain tops, Laos is the the paradise you think you have “stumbled upon”.
But, in reality, it has always been there. From the Buddhist monks of Luang Prabang to the Kahu and Alak communities of southern Laos, the country manages to outlive the burgeoning cityscapes and yet remain timeless.
Things to do:
Catch breathtaking views of towering mountains flanked by rivers from atop the Nong Khiaw/Ban Sop Houn viewpoint
Stumble upon a rice vodka here, a handmade scarf there as you walk into the Luang Prabang Night Market
Relax at one of the pools by the picturesque Tad Sae waterfall
Live the Tarzan life – stay at a tree house and zipline to get to places
Go tubing down the Tam Song river
Temperature: Mostly sunny and pleasant; 19 – 22 degrees C
Christmas spirit: With only 2% of Laos population being Christians, it’s understandable that Christmas isn’t a big deal here. If you want a break from the Christmas cheer, find solace in the Luang Prabang region that promises as much as getaway from crowds as Christmas.
Look in any direction – that street lamp, that bridge daintily hovering above the water, the patisserie-cafe place rumoured to serve the best coffees. They have one thing in common – they look like art. Everything here is art.
Prague makes you feel like you are in the Broadway set of a Gothic-Victorian house. And around December this comes in handy because, that’s right, it’s Christmas. Imagine the sparkle of Christmas trees as hop shop from shop and finally find yourself in front of Christmas.
And after you feel like you have had enough of eggnog, taste some classic Czech beers, won’t you?
Things to do:
Visit the Prague Castle – one of the prettiest in the world, just like Sandhya Raghu did.
Fan of The Beatles? Admire the John Lennon Wall – filled with lyrics from their songs.
Take the Prague Beer tour – if you are a beer lover and otherwise.
Overwhelmed by Christmas trees and crowds? Climb up the the Old Town City Hall tower for some of the best views of the market
Take a walk on the Charles Bridge – seriously. No better way to experience Prague.
Take the Vlata river cruise and enjoy watching the city go by along you.
Temperature: It’s freezing! So don’t forget to carry winter jackets, thick-soled boots & thermal socks; -2 degrees C – 2 degrees C
Christmas spirit: For the entire month of December, Prague dresses in its best Christmas robes. When here, get down to the Old Town Square, the center of all Christmas celebrations in Prague.
Read more: Best Christmas markets of the world.
The second smallest country in South America, Uruguay is all flat grasslands, balmy beaches and historic districts like the quaint Colonia and the metropolitan Montevideo.
If December doesn’t mean cold temperatures to you, Uruguay is the perfect match with its sunny beaches and toasty forest covers. Uruguay is laid back with the perfect mix of art, culture, nightlife, beaches, and adventure.
Things to do:
Explore the fortified walls and cobblestone roads of Colonia. Catch the best views from atop the El Faro Lighthouse
Try Uruguay’s favourite snack – the Chivitos, a sandwich served with ham, bacon, mozzarella, olive, tomatoes and eggs.
Stumble into Capo Polono, a hamlet by Uruguay’s eastern coast. Population 95, you have to take a 7 km truck drive to get here.
Taste some Uruguayan wine at wine bars in Montevideo.
Go parasailing, waterskiing and jetskiing at the the resort city of Punta del Este. By night, put on your party clothes and go dancing. One of the popular places to head out to is Soho Bar.
Temperature: Balmy and warm, get your beach shorts out; 17 degrees C – 28 degrees C
Christmas spirit: Christmas with a twist, it is either called Navidad or Día de la Familia in Uruguay. Papa Noel (Santa Claus here) delivers the presents sharp at 12 am here. After this, Uruguayans in Montevideo are known to head out for a drink or two by the beach or by La Rambla with music, dancing and a lot of merrymaking!
At Berlin, you are a stone’s throw away from history, art, culture and a very happening nightlife. From the Berlin Wall to the Prussian Palace to Checkpoint Charlie, everything in this city tells a story – of the Holocaust, the World War. From cafes to theatres to public spaces, Berlin is always buzzing with life.
Like to party hard? This is just the place to be. From underground clubs to multi-level clubs to beer gardens, it truly is work hard, party hard here.
Things to do:
Take a black and white photo in one of Berlin’s many Photoautomaten booths. Draw the curtain, pose and snap – your take away souvenir is ready.
Go on a cycling tour of the Berlin.
Take a walk along the restored part of Berlin Wall. Pause at Checkpoint Charlie and read up on the Wall’s history.
With more bridges than even Venice, visit Berlin’s most beautiful – the Oberbaumbrücke.
Take the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial tour for more insight into the city.
Temperature: Brr, it’s freezing; -1 degrees C – 3 degrees C
Christmas spirit: Christmas is everywhere – literally. Every part of the city is lit festively from the traditionally adorned Gendarmenmarkt to the fabulously lit boulevard of Unter den Linden – 60 km of fairy lights, imagine that! A must do, especially on Christmas eve as you’re walking back to retire for the night. The Christmas market at Alexanderplatz is a must-visit. With ice skating, carousels and even a Ferris wheel; this packs fun, Christmas cheer and festivity in one package!
The glittering Emirate city, almost always way, way ahead in innovation is bright, welcoming and warm any time of the year. The intimidating skyline only means you raise your expectations sky high when you are here because it definitely doesn’t disappoint.
A wide range of activities from dancing on the beach to desert safaris on jeeps to shopping in Dubai’s grand malls await you here. Speaking of shopping, ensure you are here for the Dubai Shopping Festival which begins in December this year – lucky you!
Hey, while you are at it, take that metro ride down to Abu Dhabi to catch a glimpse of the Floating Louvre.
Things to do:
Explore the iconic Dubai opera
Enter the Exit E11 Park on Sheik Zayed road themed to post-apocalyptic theme. Grab some food from the food trucks nearby and walk around to inspect close.
Watch La Perle, a water based show at the theatre in Al Habtoor city. One of the world’s first, this show consists an aqua stage filled with 2.7 million litres water.
Laze around on Jumeirah beach – one of Dubai’s snazziest beaches. Want a change of scene? The Burj al Arab is a close distance away.
Want to watch Dubai’s eye catching skyline? Take a scenic ride on a helicopter and awe.
There are many things to do for free here – check them out.
Temperature: It’s warm; 22 degrees C – 27 degrees C
Christmas spirit: Into the whole Christmas cheer minus the snow? Want to keep Christmas not too high key? Dubai is just the place. With malls hosting most of the Christmas trees – Christmas is never just that in this city. It is an excuse to shop, to jump on the trampoline, to take bungee jumps and to skate the ice rink. Hey, what’s better than pretend snow on Christmas? The views without the freezing temperature.
Ready to make your December beyond epic? We are listening. Reach out!
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