(SPOT.ph) While the holidays present the perfect opportunity to explore the world, it can be a bit of a jolt for Christmas-loving Filipinos to realize that not everyone celebrates as extravagantly as we do. To keep you in the Yuletide spirit as you visit our neighboring Asian countries, we’ve compiled a list of festive destinations where you can experience this special season in all its glory.
Here are 10 festive holiday destinations:
Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination in Kuwana
While there are many eye-popping light displays in Japan, the winter illumination at Nabana no Sata flower park in the city of Kuwana—just outside Nagoya—is one of the country's biggest. Each year, crowds flock to the gardens lit by millions of twinkling LED bulbs. The light tunnels, animated light show, and breathtaking water reflections are among the best you'll see. Be sure to go in the late afternoon so that you can experience the garden in natural light before you experience the winter illumination.
Senado Square in Macau
With its Portuguese history, Macau is a great place to experience a European-style Christmas in the heart of Asia. And there is no better place to get the Old-World feel than on the cobblestone streets of Senado Square. At Christmastime, this plaza, which features centuries-old architecture, fountains, and monuments, gets decked out in festive displays. Visit at night to experience the full wonder of this cinematic setting.
Ice Skating in Seoul
Celebrate Christmas by bundling up in a cozy coat and holding onto your loved ones as you glide over ice! If you find yourself in South Korea over the holidays, make the most of the winter season by going skating. The capital city of Seoul has numerous ice skating rinks, including one formerly used in the Olympics. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a first-timer, this is a great way to experience a White Christmas.
Christmas Wonderland in Singapore
Christmas in Singapore's Gardens By the Bay is a unique way to experience the famous park. Even if you have been here before, the yearly Christmas Wonderland will give you an entirely new set of memories to come away with. From the enchanting decorations, to the carnival rides and games, to the festive European-style Christmas market—the Gardens are transformed this time of year. And of course, you’ll get to see the world-renowned botanical displays dressed up in Christmas cheer.
St. George’s Church Christmas Service in Penang
If while in Malaysia you’re looking to attend a church service, stop by Penang’s St. George’s. In addition to being a functioning Anglican church, this 200-year-old institution is also a piece of history. With its simple but gorgeous architecture set in a serene location, the church doesn’t need all the bells and whistles of standard Christmas extravagance to be a fitting place to celebrate the reason for the season. This year, they have a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day service open to the public.
Central Christmas Display in Hong Kong
If you are traveling through Hong Kong in December, be sure to stop by Central in the downtown area to enjoy the season's festivities and some of the city’s best displays. Not only is the city’s year-round glow even more pronounced this time of year, you’ll also catch snippets of Christmas carols, cheery chatter all around you. It can be easy to brisk through this fast-paced environment—but especially at Christmas, take a minute to look up and around, and be inspired by the warmth and hope this inspiring city offers.
Santa Claus in Manila
Even if you’re not traveling outside the country, you can create Christmas memories with the whole family in Manila! This kid-friendly activity is the perfect way to enjoy grand holiday displays, get immersed in the fantastic world of Saint Nick, and figure out what presents the little ones want (that is, if they haven’t told you already). There are many places to spend time with Santa around the metro. Some of the most anticipated meet and greets are in Megamall and New World Manila Bay Hotel.
Sukhumvit Skytrain Malls in Bangkok
While Thailand remains a primarily Buddhist country, the country's malls can't resist Christmas. And nowhere in the country has more impressive malls than on the strip that follows the Sukhumvit Skytrain line. Hop on and off the "green line" and you're sure to encounter stunning lights, trees, and other displays to get you in the holiday spirit. Amarin Plaza, Siam Paragon, and Discovery are some of the malls that consistently offer the most festive installations.
Traditional German Christmas Market in Shanghai
Believe it or not, one of the best German Christmas Markets can be found in China! The Jing'an Christkindlmarkt in Shanghai offers holiday food and gifts to purchase. It's a great place to catch up with friends, or to bring the whole family (kids under 10 get free admission!). Plus, in true German style, some of the best beer will be available.
New Year Fireworks in Taipei
If you're spending New Year's Eve in Taiwan, be sure to catch the fireworks display at the Taipei 101 tower. This is easily one of the country's biggest events of the year. While it might not bring you the same childhood nostalgia as lighting your own fireworks, this experience does give audiences a childlike sense of awe, with audible oohs and aahs rippling through the crowd. It's best to arrive early to avoid getting stuck in traffic!