We may be the sixth most vacation-starved country in the world according to Expedia's 2018 Vacation Deprivation Study, but did you know you’ll be able to get 10 long weekends next year by planning strategically? Here’s how.
There you go, a total of 28 days off work (i.e. travel goals waiting to happen) with just 14 days' leave and 2 days off-in-lieu!
Where to go?
New Year’s Day – Sydney, Australia
(Photo by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash)
Be one of the first to greet the new year by heading down under to Sydney. Lasting a full 15 minutes, the pyrotechnics are one of the world’s most extravagant.
The main show is at Sydney Harbour, so make sure you grab your vantage point in Sydney Habour National Park months in advance, as the New Year is Sydney’s busiest period. You could also book an outside table at one of the waterfront restaurants by the harbour, or even glamp out on Cockatoo Island for a view further from the madding crowd.
Chinese New Year – Nuanquan Town, Hebei, China
If visiting gossipy relatives during CNY ain’t your thing, you might want to escape the heat by immersing yourself in one of China's great examples of intangible cultural heritage: the UNESCO-listed Festival of Lights, otherwise known as the “beating tree flowers” (打树花) tradition.
Believed to be over 500 years old, it culminates in a dazzling show where the local blacksmith hurls ladles of molten iron at the city gates, producing a unique shower of blooms shaped like a tree canopy.
Be warned, though, you’ll need to steel yourself for the experience of being part of the world’s largest annual human migration if you’re travelling in China at this time.
Good Friday – Kyoto, Japan
There’re always plenty of reasons to visit Japan, but it gets especially stunning during the sakura season. Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) is almost a national obsession, and in Kyoto, this is a centuries-old tradition dating back to Emperor Saga of the Heian period.
Admire the cloud of ephemeral blossoms against old world elegance at the ancient temple of Kiyomizu-dera, commune with nature along the Philosopher’s Path or soak in a world of delicate beauty at Nijo-jo Castle – day or night, Kyoto becomes even more magical.
Labour Day – Bali, Indonesia
(Photo by Jara Lenz on Unsplash)
May is a holiday bonanza with three long weekends, so you’ll want to stretch your dollar with affordable luxuries. Start with a recharge to celebrate hard work – eat, live, spa Bali-style. Yoga by the beach? Check. Cheap massage? Perfect after a chilled coconut. Explore sacred spaces? Temples, canyon or mountain, take your pick.
Don’t miss out on the actual feasts after your visual feasts, though: bebek betutu (smoked duck), lilit ikan sate (fish satay), BBQ seafood, Balinese kopi.. and don’t forget the hotel Sunday brunches that are just a fraction of what they’ll cost Singapore.
Vesak Day – Ipoh, Malaysia
(Photo by Iqx Azmi on Unsplash)
Home of the white coffee, Ipoh may not be as well-known as its sister towns of Penang or Malacca, but it’s no slouch when it comes to a charming old town, gorgeous street murals, quaint little museums or cave temples.
Tuck into toothsome delights at Jalan Leong Sin Nam, known locally as “Dim Sum Street”, hunt for the best nga choi kai (chicken rice with bean sprouts) or gai see hor fun (chicken hor fun, sometimes also known as Ipoh hor fun). Top it off with a silk egg caramel or tau fu fa (soya bean curd) and we guarantee you’ll need some gym time when you’re back.
Hari Raya Puasa – Bangkok, Thailand
Almost our home away from home, Bangkok tops off a month of (almost) guilt-free indulgence. Shop till you drop at Chatuchak Market, pig out on cheap but oh-so-delicious eats, splurge on bespoke clothes, explore the Grand Palace or pay homage to the enormous reclining Buddha in Wat Pho temple – this city’s got it all.
Alternatively, you could unearth your inner Indiana Jones at Ayutthaya if the City of Angel’s too been there, done that for you.
Hari Raya Haji – Sri Lanka
(Photo by David Blacker on The New York Times)
Answer the call of the wild this July: catch the famous gathering of the wild elephants in Minneriya National Park as they converge in search of food and water. It’s a spectacle like no other, but along the way, you could also be rewarded with glimpses of foxes, deer, water buffalos, mongooses or the Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl – if you keep your eyes peeled, that is.
Plus, if you’re a tea-lover, don’t miss a visit to Lipton’s Seat – Sir Thomas Lipton’s favourite spot as he watched over his newly-launched tea empire in Hill Country’s Haputale Mountains.
National Day – Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is always a destination by itself, but come August, you can catch shows on the go at the three-week-long Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Billing itself ambitiously as “the single biggest celebration of arts and culture on the planet”, it promises artsy mayhem on medieval streets.
And if the theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre, circus, cabaret, children’s shows, musicals, opera and music get too much for you, you could always explore the Old Town or climb up to Arthur’s Seat for spectacular 360o views of the city.
Deepavali – Jeju Island, Korea
(Photo by Jeon Sang-O from Pixabay)
This is one of the best times to visit Jeju, as the island transitions from autumn to winter. With the temperature between 10 – 18 oC, it’s perfect for hiking up the snow-clad Hallasan Mountain, visiting the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall or simply watching the spectacular sunsets on the island. No sweat.
Just don’t forget to pick up some Jeju tea honey or onggi (traditional earthenware made from local clay) or souvenirs at Lee Jung Seob art street in Seogwipo to get your X’mas shopping in early. Alternatively, you could check out something from Love Land, a sculpture park dedicated to erotic art, for that friend with a good sense of humour.
Christmas & New Year – Bath, UK
Celebrate the birth of Christ with a difference this year – by paying tribute to Jane Austen too. It’s not just for Pride and Prejudice fans though, as the Bath Christmas market features over 170 wooden chalets selling British handicrafts in an enchanting Georgian setting.
What’s more, the entire city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you can be sure you’ll have plenty to explore, besides a white X’mas with plenty of old-world charm.
PS. Avoid vacay burnout with these handy tips!
- Research your destination, including transportation options and the type of electrical plug you’ll need, beforehand. If you travel frequently – and you know you do – you may want to invest in the Mogics Power Bagel Travel Adapter V2 that keeps up to seven devices juiced concurrently in 189 countries worldwide.
- Prepare a checklist, including packing list, for everything you’ll need to do before you leave and what you’ll need while you’re there.
- If you’re the type to bring your entire bathroom cabinet along, do it in style without the bulk or hassle with the Side By Side Travel Packer or Tic Travel Bottles V2.
- Lay out all the gadgets you’re planning to bring, and make sure you pack their corresponding chargers! There’s nothing worse than lugging a bunch of devices around with no way to charge them. Alternative, chuck that cable check forever with the credit card-sized KableCARD.
- Touch base with important clients or stakeholders to let them know you’ll not be around, and whom to contact in case of emergencies.
- Set your out-of-office email so senders will know/be reminded that you’re gone to minimise “oh crap” moments when you’re soaking in the scenery on your vacay.