Kawarau Suspension Bridge, New Zealand

Vacation Ideas: Where to travel and when’s the best time to go?

Here’s our top picks of where to go in January for a vacation. Go where the weather is great and fun events are happening at this time of year. Read on to find out what makes each of these destinations the best place for Malaysians to visit in January for holiday fun.

weather guideJANUARY HOLIDAYS – IN MALAYSIA
weather guide

Witness a Hindu Festival Like No Other in Batu Caves, KLBatu Caves Temple, KL

Every year, approximately two million Hindus congregate at Batu Caves for Thaipusam (January 24), an annual holiday in tribute to Lord Muruga. It’s a raucous, colourful parade like no other – kavadi bearers are often seen in a state of trance, spectators dance and chant along, and tourists snap away on their cameras. This makes the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur extra special in January.

While spurring on kavadi bearers, it’s worth climbing up the temple’s 272 steps to reach the limestone caves where the religious processions continue. The event is celebrated more extravagantly in Batu Caves than anywhere else in the world, and has become a major attraction for those visiting in January.

For first-timers, dress comfortably in loose clothing for there will be plenty of pushing and shoving amid the humidity.

 

Best place to visit in January: Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur

Let’s go!

How to Get There

From KL Sentral, hop on the KTM and head towards Batu Caves station. On Thaipusam, the train service runs 24 hours. 

Where to Stay

Where to Stay

If you are looking to stay the night, the KIP Hotel Kuala Lumpur makes a good base.

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Rejuvenate With a Hot Spring Bath in Kampung Ganun

majestic-melaka-hotel-treatmentThe Majestic Malacca

In Peninsular Malaysia, the first quarter of the year is dry and hot, perfect for a dip or two in the water. If you’re spending some time in Melaka, it’s worth taking the time to drive down to Kampung Ganun for a hot spring bath.

The public hot spring pools are open 24 hours, which means a swim at wee hours of the night is not off the table. The natural sulphur in the water is believed to encourage blood circulation, while the water’s high mineral content can help calm and soothe.

 

Best place to visit in January: Kampung Ganun

Let’s go!

How to Get There

It’s a two-hour drive down from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka town before continuing on to the hot springs. Avis and Europcar offer car rentals; alternatively, opt for a private transfer.

Where to Stay

Where to Stay

The Kampung Ganun area may not cater to tourists on a large scale, so it’s best to stay in the town of Melaka, about 30 kilometres away by car. For a feel of yesteryear, The Majestic Malacca will offer you a good night’s sleep after a day of soaking in minerals.

weather guideJANUARY HOLIDAYS – INTERNATIONAL

weather guide

Winter Ski Paradise in Niseko, Japan

Great For: Chic and Sophisticated Winter Interlude, Ski trips

hilton-hotel-niseko-winter-skiHilton Niseko

Hokkaido has its fair share of world-class ski resorts, but Niseko is the unparalleled winner. Comprising four interconnected resorts, this winter wonderland sees an average snowfall in excess of 15 metres each year, drawing skiers from around the globe.

Hirafu, the epicentre of the resort, has evolved from a sleepy little village to a fully-fledged international resort town with a choice of exciting dining, nightlife and accommodation options.

After spending the whole day on the piste, soothe those tired muscles in one of the many onsens or thermal baths scattered across the mountain range. Then Niseko Yumeguri Onsen Pass (1,440 yen) gives access to the three participating baths in the resort. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, take a two-hour drive south from Hirafu to Lake Shikotsu, where you will find outdoor onsens offering breathtaking panoramic views.

 

Best place to visit in January: Niseko, Japan 

Weather in Niseko

Average Temperature: -11.3°C – -2.5°C

Season: Winter

What to Pack: Down-lined jackets, thermal underwear, ski gear and loads of woollen sweaters.

Let’s Go!

Average Flight Time: Less than 4 hours

Cheap flights to Niseko

Where to Stay

Nestled in the mountains, the Hilton Niseko Village is one of the few hotels in the area with ski-in and ski-out access. It has its own onsen.

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Take a Trip to Middle Earth, New Zealand

Great For: Awe-inspiring Landscapes, Road trips, Movie Locations, Adventure sports, Wine

If you can’t stand the bitter cold, head to New Zealand for a summer holiday, to admire its natural environment and the Maori culture.

Christchurch, still recovering from the aftermath of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, has seen art projects springing up to replace what’s been lost. The skeleton of Christchurch Cathedral stands stoically on Cathedral Square, a fitting monument to the 185 lives lost in the tragedy.
Hobbiton New Zealand January Destinations

Auckland is the birthplace of jet boating and bungee jumping. Naturally, it’s a mecca for thrill-seekers. Fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy would be delighted to know that Auckland is just two hours away from the Hobbiton movie set.

Wellington is regarded as the cultural heart of New Zealand and is known for its lovely vistas, superb lookouts on hilltops, golden sands and spectacular craggy coasts.

 

Best place to visit in January: New Zealand

Weather in New Zealand

Average Temperature: 12°C –25°C.

Season: Summer.

What to Pack: Light jumpers, cardigans and jackets as well as summer pieces.

Let’s Go!

How to Get There: Find flights to New Zealand

Average Flight Time: Approximately 15 hours

Where to Stay

Decked in neon retro chic, Hotel DeBrett, a boutique property, is our pick for Auckland. Modern, contemporary comfort awaits guests in The George Christchurch while over at the The George Christchurch expect high levels of service and understated elegance.

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An Icy Start to the New Year in Harbin, China

Great For: Frozen Fun, Winter festival, Architecture, History

Harbin Ice Festival, China

Despite the frosty front, an avalanche of visitors descend on Harbin annually to attend its Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival – a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor fiesta featuring hundreds of intricately carved, neck-craning sculptures in many forms and sizes, created by some 15,000 craftsmen, including famous landmarks, monuments, skyscrapers, lanterns, pagodas and mythical creatures spread across themed zones. The sculptures are best viewed under the cover of darkness, when they are illuminated in a kaleidoscope of psychedelic colours.

Harbin’s Old Town is filled with exquisite examples of neo-classical architecture laid out on cobblestone streets. Russian influences permeate every corner of the district which was once occupied by dissidents of the Russian Revolution. Try Russian cuisine in one of the many restaurants dotted across the municipality, or stop by one of the many shops selling Russian goods including vodka, furs and dolls.

 

Best place to visit in January: Harbin, China

Weather in Harbin

Average Temperature: -24°C – -13°C.

Season: Winter.

What to Pack: Down-lined jackets, thick gloves and woolly hats are a must to keep warm and snug.

Let’s Go!

How to Get There: There are numerous options using a combination of full-service airlines via Beijing, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Shanghai and Seoul.

Average Flight Time: 10 hours

Where to Stay

Stay at the Shangri-La Hotel Harbin or Sofitel  to be close to the festival grounds.

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Adventure Awaits in Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Great For: Culture, History buffs looking to tap into their inner Lara Croft, Ancient civilizations

Ankor Wat January Destinations

Siem Reap, known as the Great Gate to Angkor, is regarded as the epicentre of Khmer culture. The Apsara classical dance, an indigenous ballet-like performance that re-enacts myths or religious stories, is staged in hotels and restaurants across town

Before stepping foot in the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat complex, drop by the Angkor National Museum to view its vast collection of Khmer artefacts and gain a better understanding of Cambodia’s ancient past. Then head to Phsar Chas (the Old Market) next door, where most of Siem Reap’s shops, eateries and bars are located.

Visit Ta Phrom, one of Angkor Wat’s most impressive ruins, after midday when most of the tourist hordes have left. Then, head on to climb Bayon, another temple complex distinguished by its giant carved faces of a smiling Buddha. End the day watching the sunset on top of mountain-shaped Phnom Bakheng.

 

Best place to visit in January: Cambodia 

Weather in Siem Reap

Average Temperature: 21°C–31°C

Season: Dry and high.

What to Pack: Long-sleeved linen and cotton ensembles as well as wide-brimmed hats.

Let’s Go!

How to Get There: Flights to Siem Reap (REP)

Average Flight Time: Under 7 hours.

Where to Stay

Chic French colonial splendour can be found at the family-friendly Victoria Angkor & Spa. Alternatively, stay at the historic and very elegant Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor.

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Colonial Splendour in Galle, Sri Lanka

Great For: Relaxing, History, Cultural tours, Untouristy 

Here, you’ll find a region bursting with the sensuous scent of woody spices and salty breezes, and where the old clashes with the new.

Galle fort, Sri Lanka January Destinations

Galle, Sri Lanka is a town of immense beauty framed by fading Dutch colonial grandeur. Today, its historic Fort district is filled with hotels, boutiques, shops and cafes, adding to its already endearing allure. Wandering through its streets, you will come across numerous architectural gems enclosed within its atmospheric walls which have helped it earn its listing as a UNESCO site. Requisite stops are the Dutch Reformed Church, the Maritime Museum and Flag Rock, where daredevils plunge from a terrifying height into shallow waters.

The sandy beaches and palm-lined shores of Unawatuna lie just six kilometres out of Galle, luring visitors for a refreshing swim.

 

Best place to visit in January: Galle, Sri Lanka

Weather in Galle

Average Temperature: 22°C–31°C

What to Pack: Cool fabrics, sunnies and swimming gear.

Let’s Go!

How to Get There: Sri Lankan Airlines, Emirates and Singapore Airlines operate direct flights to Colombo (CMB), where it’s a two-hour taxi ride into Galle.

Average Flight Time: Less than 4 hours.

Where to Stay

Stay in the western half of Unawatuna for a better choice of modern quality hotels and resorts.

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