Don’t want to spend your coming year-end vacation jostling with crowds at the regular hot spots? If you’re tired of having “been there and done that”, Expedia is here to provide some #TravelInspiration.

Whether you’re after relaxation or adventure, gastronomical delights or authentic local experiences, there’s something for everyone in our list of top 7 destinations to escape the crowds this year-end.

7 Travel Hot Spots To Mark 2017compass-divider

1. Manado, North Sulawesi, INDONESIA

MANADO, NORTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA

Fans of marine life and beaches will love Manado, home to the scenic Malalayang Beach and the famed Bunaken National Park bursting with a diversity of coral, fish and even marine mammals and a prime spot for snorkelling and diving. Foodies are also in for a treat as they tuck into the city’s famous spicy local cuisine and fresh seafood.

Recommended for: Diving enthusiasts, beach lovers,  foodies

When To Go

Manado is a great spot all year round, but avoid December and January if you intend to dive, as the sea is rough and dangerous for sailing.

Where To Stay

Check out Hotels in Manado.

Getting There

MANADO, NORTH SULAWESI, INDONESIA

What to do in Manado

Besides its natural attractions, Manado is home to the 2nd largest statue of Christ, located in CitraLand Manado, along with the serene Ban Hin Kiong Temple, a Buddhist shrine that’s one of the oldest Chinese temples in East Indonesia.

Savour local delicacies from the night market while enjoying a stunning sunset at the Boulevard: Ayam Rica Rica (Crispy fried chicken topped with an aromatic paste of herbs and spices); Cumi Woku (Squid with a piquant green chilli paste) and Panada (Fritter stuffed with spicy tuna floss).

 

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compass-divider2) Chiang Rai, THAILAND

chiang rai, thailand

Skip Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and Chiang Mai and make your way to Chiang Rai for its majestic temples, delicious Northern Thai cuisine and immersive traditional experiences such as homestays with the indigenous Akha Hill Tribe. Whether you’re seeking adventure or escaping the bustle of the city, Chiang Rai will be sure to surprise you with its natural charm.

Recommended for: Nature lovers, travellers looking for something different.

When To Go

Popular all year round, October to December is when Chiang Rai cools off, with temperatures averaging 21 degrees.

Where To Stay
Getting There
Fly in to Bangkok or Chiang Mai, then onwards to Chiang Rai.

chiang rai, thailand

What to do in Chiang Rai

Culture vultures will be awed by the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), made entirely from white stone and embedded with tiny mirrors for that extra sparkle. Another must-visit is the Blue Temple (Rong Suea Ten) which has equally awe-inspiring murals of Buddhist motifs and contemporary artwork. The temple also has some stunning mirror-work, so it’s worthwhile to catch the sunset if you can!

For something a little off the beaten track, spend a night with the Akha Hill Tribe. The homestay gives you a chance to experience traditional bamboo houses, farm the crops and see the how the tribe preserves its heritage through traditional handicrafts and customs.

 

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3) Da Lat, VIETNAM

DA LAT, VIETNAM

A cross between Vietnam and the French Alps, Da Lat has long been a local Vietnamese getaway with its cool climate, quaint French-styled architecture and local markets full of exotic produce. The pine-covered hills and splendid lakes are sure to appeal to budding photographers and those looking for a break from the bustle of the city.

Recommended for: Budding photographers, market hoppers

When To Go
Spring begins in December, which is a beautiful month to visit.
Where To Stay

Check out Hotels in Da Lat

Getting There
There are no direct flights between Singapore and Da Lat, so fly to Ho Chi Minh city before heading on to Da Lat.

DA LAT (DALAT), VIETNAM

What to do in Da Lat

The main attraction in Da Lat is the iconic Hang Nga Crazy House, whose distinct surrealist-style makes it one of the more unusual hotels to stay at. The property looks like a giant tree covered in sculptures of animals, mushrooms, spider webs and caves. Staying at the guesthouse is an even quirkier experience – the ten themed guest rooms are inspired by animals with elaborate decorations and furniture to match.

For more ravishing views, spend a day at the man-made Xuan Huong Lake in the heart of the city, visit the Da Lat Flower Park to smell seriously exotic blooms, check out the Bao Dai Summer Palace’s unique artefact collections from the last monarchy and pop by the Da Lat Railway Station.

 

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compass-divider4) Naoshima Island, Shikoku, JAPAN 

NAOSHIMA ISLAND, SHIKOKU, JAPAN

This 5.5 square-mile island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea features innovative architecture from bigwigs such as Yoyoi Kusuma, Ando Tadao and Ishii Kuzuhiro. Immerse yourself in a weekend of contemporary artwork, quaint cafes and many hipster photo opportunities without the crowds!

Recommended for: Art and architecture lovers

When To Go

Shikoku is great to visit anytime of the year, with temperatures dipping to 10 degrees during winter months.

Where To Stay

Check out Hotels in Naoshima.

Getting There
Fly into Tokyo and take the Japanese bullet train (Shinkansen) to Okayama. From Okayama, take a JR Uno Line from Okayama Station to Uno Station and then take a ferry to Naoshima through Miyanoura Port on the island’s west coast.

NAOSHIMA ISLAND, SHIKOKU, JAPAN

What to do in Naoshima Island

For a truly unique experience, visit the Art Houses on Naoshima island, located in seven locations: Kadoya, Minamidera, Kinza, Go’o Shrine, Ishibashi, Gokaisho and Haisha. Part of the island’s Art House project, these once empty houses have been transformed into installations by artists who take inspiration from history and cultural influences from when the houses were still inhabited.

Visit the Chichu Art Museum’s Claude Monet room, an underground gallery chamber made up of thousands of tiny stone tiles. Before entering the gallery, visitors are required to remove their shoes and wear soft slippers. Once you step inside, you’ll see the extra effort is absolutely worth it, as the setting accentuates the glorious hues of Monet’s blue and purple-based Water Lily paintings.

 

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5. Galle, SRI LANKA

GALLE, SRI LANKA

This quaint port city allows you to soak in the sun and seaside vibes without the typical crowds and cliché tourist traps of busier beach destinations. The old city of Galle is surrounded by a fortified wall and features unique architecture from its Dutch colonial past which will make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Water babies will gravitate towards the crystal-clear waters of Unawatuna Bay.

Recommended for: History buffs, beach lovers

When To Go

October and November are cooler months, while the temperatures dial up in December, with 7 hours of daily sunshine making for pleasant weather for outdoor activities.

Where To Stay

Check out Hotels in Galle.

Getting There
From Colombo’s main airport, the Bandaranaike International Airport, take a 2.5 to 3-hour drive down to Galle.

GALLE, SRI LANKA

What to do in Galle

Your first stop should be the iconic Galle Fort in the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site built by the Portuguese back in the 1500s, and then fortified by the Dutch colonisers in the years following. The formidable fort overlooks the ocean and is home to the Galle National Museum, which is the oldest Dutch building in the city.

For a truly chilled-out experience, head to Unawatuna Bay to relax in the clear waters, protected by a reef barrier and perfect for sheltered swimming and snorkelling. Alternatively, catch a cocktail as the sun sets and soak in the blissful, crowd-free calm.

 

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6. Vang Vieng, LAOS

VANG VIENG, LAOS 

Luang Prabang might be the current “it” destination in Laos. But the scenic town of Vang Vieng has plenty to enchant travellers. Long known as the party spot for backpackers, it is also home to many scenic caves, glorious forests and magnificent waterfalls. Whether you’re in the mood for an adrenaline-fuelled getaway, soaking in stunning sunsets or floating contently down the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng is the place to be at the moment.

Recommended for: Adventure enthusiasts, party-goers

When To Go

The dry season from November to March is the best time to visit as temperatures are cooler.

Where To Stay
Getting There
Fly to Vientiane and then take a bus or drive down to Vang Vieng.

VANG VIENG, LAOS

What to do in Vang Vieng

Adrenaline junkies should make a point of visiting Tham Nam, a water cave made up of interconnected rivers you can float through on a tube. For a more serene experience, tube down the blissfully calm Nam Song River.

If you’d rather be up in the sky instead of splashing about, Vang Vieng also has one of the cheapest hot air balloon rides rising up for a picturesque view of the riverside town. For photo-worthy experiences, be sure to join in the local tours that take you around temples, rice fields, waterfalls and glorious lagoons. 

 

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7. Qingdao, CHINA

Qingdao, China

Home of Tsingtao beer and the former largest bathing beach in Asia, Qingdao is a coastal city providing a welcome respite from the buzz of Beijing and hype of Hong Kong. With its winding cobbled streets, historic German architecture and cool temperatures, Qingdao has the perfect blend of the old and the new to appeal to travellers eager to getaway.

Recommended for: Café-hopping instagrammers, beer-lovers

When To Go

The best time to visit is during the months of March to November, when the weather is pleasant. Temperatures dip in December, making this a cold month to avoid.

Where To Stay

Check out Hotels in Qingdao.

Getting There
Scoot offers direct flights to Qingdao or you can also fly Air China or China Southern Airlines, which make stop-overs in Beijing or Guangzhou.

Qingdao, China

What to do in Qingdao

Have fun in the sun at the No. 1 Bathing Beach, located at Huiquan Bay in Qingdao, reputed to be the largest sandy beach in Asia at 800 metres long. The powdery sand and crystal waters are sure to captivate and rejuvenate even the weariest traveller. For more captivating views, visit Zhongshan Park which has splendid blooms and a mini theme park, or the historic Zhanqiao Pier.

Food lovers will have a gala time at Pichai Yuan, a former film set now peppered with street-side hawkers selling exotic snacks such as fried scorpions and seahorses. For a more mainstream experience, visit Minjiang Street, also known as the Coffee and Tea Art streets. Noteworthy options include Cafe Kona and Bossa Nova.

 

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From quaint coastal towns to under-the-radar cities, these destinations will ensure that your year-end holidays are crowd-free yet full of fun. Book your year-end trips via Expedia now!