If you’re picturing a sunny Christmas day, perched on one of Asia’s best beaches, you need to do your research. December/January can bring variable weather to some of our favourites, including Koh Samui, Hoi An/Danang, Bali and Lombok. Regular readers will know that I am usually to be found in Phuket, Thailand over the Christmas and New Year period. You can trawl Jetlag & Mayhem for all our villa reviews. Here’s our Thai Christmas tree conjured up by our clever villa chef.
So where can you go for guaranteed sunshine? Well we can’t make any promises but here are some ideas that hopefully won’t have you barricaded indoors with a deck of playing cards and bottle of gin. Although that could be a fun Christmas too.
South Coast beaches, Sri Lanka
Apparently tourist numbers to Sri Lanka have plunged 70% following the deadly bombings in April. Sad news for a country who relied so much on tourism. British travellers are no longer being warned against travelling to Sri Lanka following a change in the UK Foreign Office’s advice. In fact this is where we are headed this Christmas and I’m very happy to be able to spend my tourist dollars there.
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food. The beaches are glorious, with the south of the island generally clear of rain between October and April. You can either opt to stay in a hotel or there are many luxurious villa options. Here’s my review of Olanda Beach House in Thalpe, Galle. Unawatuna is an easy option with kids as it has plentiful accommodation and dining options. World Travel Family lists Mirissa as their favourite and you can head out on the famed whale watching boats from here.
Allow plenty of time to drive from Colombo down to the south (nearly 3 hours to Mirissa). Don’t forget to stop in Galle Fort for some sightseeing and shopping.
Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast. Only two of the archipelago’s islands are inhabited, the main one being Pulau Langkawi. This island has a special place in my heart as it was where Miss Jetlag spent her first Christmas.
You can reach Langkawi by plane from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Phuket and later this year, Doha. There are a multitude of hotel options. Many moons ago, we stayed at the Andaman which was in a gorgeous setting although the rooms slightly let it down. A friend just returned from a visit to the recently refurbished Datai but suggests it’s still not worth its exorbitant pricetag. Mum On The Move has a good roundup of family favourites. My vote is for The Danna which is about 20 minutes from the airport.
If you’re looking for beach on a budget, you could even choose to base yourself on Koh Lipe, Thailand’s southernmost island. Its the TraveLynn family’s favourite beach destination and I have heard rave reviews for the quality of beach and water.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam
If you’re looking for a fun city/beach combo you could fly in to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh and spend a few days soaking up the city.
Then hop on a plane to Phú Quốc, a Vietnamese island off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. The last time I visited the island, we stayed at the beautiful Chen Sea Resort. Next time I would go to the boutique Salinda, which has been collecting accolades, including ‘Luxury Beachfront Hotel Of The Year 2018’. Culture Trip has a guide to the best beaches on the island.
Palawan is a Philippine island archipelago comprised of around 1,780 islands and small islets. If you’re looking for all out luxury with no expense spared, head to the Amanpulo. Although I can only imagine how eye-wateringly expensive it would be at Christmas. Picture white powder sand, turquoise seas and at that time of year, the odd oligarch. The Amanpulo is an hour’s ride by private plane from Manila Airport.
For a more affordable Palawan experience, Wandering Wagars has an excellent island hopping roundup. As they note, ‘If you travel to Palawan it’s important to take travel time into consideration. The island landscapes are mountainous, so the road trips in Palawan are long and windy. And if you are traveling by boat in Palawan it can take quite a bit of time, especially if the weather isn’t ideal.’ El Nido resorts operate several properties that all look fabulous.
I would be remiss not be mention my own home of Singapore! We may not have paradise beaches with turquoise sea but we do have a beach that is in close proximity to Universal Studios. For a beachfront property, Sentosa is where its at. The Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa offers an excellent pool, Kids Club and activity schedule. The Sofitel has a more luxurious feel although lacks the kid friendly atmosphere of the Shangri-La. The Capella is the ultimate in 5* luxury and offers excellent Christmas day dining options.