5 charming destinations for a fun-tastic festive getaway

Beautiful sunrise at Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew Temple in Khao Kho Phetchabun, Thailand. /IANS

New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANSlife) This festive season, escape the commonplace winter retreats and welcome fresh adventures. With a blend of diverse activities and attractions, these destinations will brighten up your vacation, making it a memorable adventure:

Hungary

Hungary offers a magical holiday experience with its snowy landscapes and festive activities. The country boasts Europe’s largest outdoor skating rink, the City Park Ice Rink in Budapest, as well as charming options near Vajdahunyad Castle and Lake Velence. Lake Balaton’s frozen beauty is a must-see. Hungary is renowned for its opera and classical theatres, with the Budapest Nutcracker Ballet being a Christmas season highlight. Throughout December, the country sparkles with Christmas lights, especially along Budapest’s Andrássy Ăşt, adorned with the most spectacular displays and St. Stephen’s Basilica hosts a lively Christmas market with a laser show in its square during this time. This festive charm extends to country towns and villages, each adorned with delightful decorations and opportunities to indulge in fine wine and warm seasonal cuisines. The bobsleigh track in Visegrád, located near Budapest, is open all year round, while the snowy tracks of the Mátra Mountains, the highest point of the country, are favourite sledging spots. A breathtaking sight for tourists is the waterfalls in the BĂĽkk Mountains which transform into ice curtains creating an enchanting ambience identical to the world of Narnia.

Japan

Japan receives some of the highest amounts of snow in the world crafting ideal terrains for skiing and snowboarding. The country has a variety of ski resorts ranging from the largest and most developed ski resort, Niseko in Hokkaido, to Tohoku’s family-friendly resorts with beginner and intermediate terrain and a few others scattered in Niigata, Nagano and Gunma of central Honshu region. A day trip to see the snow monkeys in Yudanaka Onsenmakes a great rest day after skiing and snowboarding in the Japan Alps also known as the roof of Japan Theski resorts of Hakuba in the Northern Alps at Nagano are popular for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics and have 10 resorts combined, providing a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. For those looking for a more relaxed snow vacation head to the family-friendly Furano resort, east of Sapporo, where visitors also enjoy snowmobiling, ice fishing and several other activities with children.

Thailand

The cold season is the best time to visit Thailand due to the onset of soothing temperature that creates a pleasant atmosphere to explore the country and indulge in a wide array of activities Venture into the enchanting realms of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the northern regions, where historical wonders intertwine with the tranquillity of the Thai countryside. As daylight fades, immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of night markets and savour a delectable feast. For those yearning for sun-kissed shores and aquatic escapades, the southern gems of Krabi, Phuket, and Koh Samui beckon with their pristine beaches and a plethora of water sports. To the west, the charming Hua Hin district stands as a beacon of luxury, boasting resorts that pamper guests with opulent amenities, ensuring a revitalising escape. Gifted with diverse terrain, Thailand is brimmed with hidden gems that constantly entice both new and seasoned travellers, such as the Mae Hong Son province which is dotted with majestic mountains and grasslands and reveals popular attractions including Ban Rak Thai, Thailand’s most picturesque village whose beauty is further enhanced in the fog of winter.

St. Moritz

Switzerland’s luxury alpine resort town, St. Moritz is a paradise for snow sports enthusiasts and those seeking a luxurious staycation. In addition to unskippable skiing adventures, bobsleighing, ice hockey, snow polo and horse racing are popular activities to experience here. The bobsleigh track located in the Engadin Valley—the St. Moritz-Celerina Olympia bob run is the world’s oldest and the only natural ice bob run still in operation. It offers a 75-second thrilling adventure ride as you experience the adrenaline rush of a lifetime, zooming along at speeds up to 130kmph.In addition to icy adventures, the region is known for legendary hotels like Badrutt Palace, Grand Hotel Des Bains Kempinski, Suvretta House and the recently unveiled historic Hotel Grace LaMargna. The hotel perched above St. Moritz Railway Station, Hotel Grace LaMargnaisan excellent place for admirers of history and architecture and has world-class amenities to meet the requirements of modern travellers. The town also consists of premier Michelin restaurants, luxurious spas and panoramic viewpoints ensuring a wholesome and unforgettable stay.

Qatar

Qatar rarely comes to mind when discussing year-end vacations; despite this, the country has a diversity of attractions and special themed seasonal offerings that combine its cultural influence and the novelty of modernised amenities to craft a unique holiday experience. Discover the rich heritage at places like Katara Cultural Village, North Sedra Farm, and Mia Park. Luxuriate in Pearl Island, Lusail Boulevard, West Bay, and Al Maha Island for a lavish stay. For those seeking adventure, Khor Al Udaid offers a mesmerising meeting point of desert and water, while the Cave of Wonders promises a unique experience. Unwind at Souq Waqif, Qanat Quarter, and Mina District, ideal for shopping, dining, and relaxing at cafĂ©s. For an incredible family-friendly adventure, the Lusail Winter Wonderland is a favourite spot. Located in the heart of Qatar’s entertainment hub – Al Maha Island, the park has over 50 amusement rides and adventures including Pony Adventure, Air Balloon and Circus Swing. The park is also facilitated with live entertainment and kiosks serving premium food and beverages along with carnival games, and an ice rink.

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