While the world shifts into a winter wonderland mood, some of us may be longing for the warm hug of the sun. Jet out to these corners of the world that enjoy the embrace of summer, at the year’s end
Get away from the rain and the cold while you’re clearing your leave for the year, in a dream beach vacation that you won’t have to break the bank for.
‘Tis the season of merry carols and snowy fantasies — but if you’re dreaming of a sunny paradise away from the Christmas crowds, check out these destinations for an easy breezy summer getaway.
KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
Koh Samui, Thailand, is an emerging beach destination.
Whether you’re hiding from crazy crowds or hazy skies, fresh air awaits on Koh Samui. From Singapore, hop on a two-hour plane ride and you’re in paradise. There are hardly any tourist crowds here, and the weather is cooler and drier than in Phuket or Krabi.
Hit the shores of Chaweng Beach, where the sand is white, the water clear and life is perfect. Enjoy the stunning sunset panorama along Bophut Beach, then feast on the local fair at the Bophut night market.
Tempted already? You’re in luck. We hear that luxury resort Samujana is offering visitors a limited-time package until Nov 30. Book at least a three-night stay and you can enjoy a complimentary private chef, a group beachfront yoga session, one Thai massage per adult and more.
DAVAO, THE PHILIPPINES
Mandaya Beach is one of the beautiful and secluded shores you can unwind on in Davao, The Philippines. (Photo: Philippine Department of Tourism)
Nature lovers and adrenaline junkies, here’s an undiscovered gem for you: Davao. The Philippines is often overlooked by travellers, which is a great pity as it has numerous little-known gems.
The city of Davao is home to beautiful beaches on Samal Island, the coursing Davao River that you can race down on an exhilarating raft ride and even a SkyCycling course at Eden Nature Park. That’s right, you can ride a bike on a zipline through the treetops. After your big adventure, retreat to the main city, which is fully equipped with the comforts of commercial enjoyment.
If you’re worried that Davao might be inaccessible, great news: Cebu Pacific Air will start direct flights between Singapore and Davao from Dec 17.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO
Take your beach vacation to greater heights at Playa del Carmen, where the crowds are thinner and the prices are lower than its popular neighbour, Cancun.
So, you want to take your adventure out of Asia altogether. Mention Mexico and you may hear a thing or two about Cancun; beautiful and recommended as it is by travellers, it has become somewhat of a tourist trap.
In place of the all-too-popular Cancun, head over to the nearby paradise of Playa del Carmen, where everything is cheaper and less crowded, but still equally beautiful. With its bay dipped in the exotic Caribbean Sea, Playa del Carmen is located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
The city itself bathes in a European-chic vibe, with Italian businesses filling up La Nueva Quinta (“New Fifth Avenue”).
The reefs are popular with both snorkellers and divers, and you can easily spot rare creatures such as rays, moray eels and sea turtles.
There are five-star, all-inclusive resorts here available for a fraction of the price of those in Cancun. For example, the plush Royal Playa resort is offering up to 60 per cent off stays if you book by Nov 15. For more budget-conscious travellers, there are other luxury hotels such as Sandos Caracol Eco Resort and Sandos Playacar Beach Resort going for $111 and less per night.
HAWAII, UNITED STATES
At Hanauma Bay, Honolulu, you can snorkel up close to endangered corals and reef species, as the area is a Marine Life Conservation District.
Who can forget one of the most laid-back and idyllic sandy states in the world? Hawaii has a place in many a beach-lover’s bucket list.
In December, you can enjoy the best of both balmy and cooling weather in Hawaii. In the day, temperatures average about 26 deg C, dipping to a nice 15 deg C at night.
Honolulu is the vibrant epicentre of the island, where you can do almost everything you’ve ever dreamt of doing in a tropical paradise. Dive into a Marine Life Conservation District for an eye-opening snorkelling trip at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, hike to the top of the iconic Leahi (or “Diamond Head”) for sweeping views of Honolulu and Waikiki, or simply bask in the flourishing arts scene in the city.
Early December is reportedly a low period for Hawaii, with crowds and hotel prices at a relative low. So do head down just as December rolls around, because the crowds will start pouring in nearer to Christmas and the New Year.
By Pamela Chow