On the first day of Christmas, we’re hoping our true love gives us tickets to a fabulous holiday somewhere in the region or beyond. And to narrow the destinations down a bit, here are four festive suggestions from bespoke tour operator Lightfoot Travel.
BEACH – Phuket
While definitely not off-the-beaten-path, Phuket tops our list of Christmas beach destinations largely for its accessibility and weather – sunny skies and minimal rain. There are dozens of family-friendly resorts and romantic boutique hotels, and if you’re travelling as a group, fully staffed private villas provide excellent value for money. There really is nothing better than concluding each day with sundowner cocktails by the pool, followed by a delicious in-villa dinner with friends and family, prepared with the freshest of local ingredients.
Why go: Great weather, range of activities and day trip options, sophisticated dining scene
CULTURE – Sri Lanka
This tiny teardrop-shaped island packs a huge holiday punch in terms of things to do. Start by visiting the Cultural Triangle, for its stunning archaeology and mountaintop temples. Next, hop on one of the old British trains as it winds its way through magical hill country dotted with tea plantations and colonial hill stations. Then head down to the southern coast for some beach time, making sure to stop and explore the Dutch fort at Galle. Sri Lanka’s diverse landscape is incredibly safe to travel through with your private guide. Meet warm and friendly people, and for the foodies out there, savour their fresh seafood curries and world-famous dhal.
Why go: Great meeting point for families or groups of friends coming from both Asia and Europe or America, superb private villas
SKI – Niseko or Whistler
For a short-haul ski holiday in Asia, Japan’s Niseko takes the cake. Fantastic powder and beautifully appointed apartments and chalets alongside a great selection of restaurants and bars see people return year after year. Due to limited holiday availability in Niseko, however, Canada’s Whistler is also increasing in popularity among those who don’t mind the longer flight. The resort has two mountains connected by a peak-to-peak gondola, slopes for all abilities, a fantastic ski school, a charming village with excellent restaurants, and some of the friendliest people we’ve encountered.
Why go: Niseko – amazing powder, convenience; Whistler – variety of terrain, great Christmas atmosphere
ALL-ROUND – South Africa
South Africa provides a mix of safari, city, wine country and beach, and when you throw in amazing southern hemisphere summer weather it makes for a pretty epic holiday. Start with a few days in Cape Town hiking Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope, and visiting Robben Island. Next, head to stunning wine country to visit fine vineyards, before driving the famous Garden Route and spending a few nights in the coastal town of Hermanus. Lastly, embark on a safari in the north of the country, learning not just about the Big Five (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard), but all the other little animals that make up the area’s magnificent biosphere.
Why go: Sheer range of activities, some of the world’s best wine and exceptional dining
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