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Dec 22, 2017

Plan a White New Year in Asia !

 

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, the hills were blanketed with snow and ice, and the people spent their days skiing and snowboarding, dancing and singing in the soft white drift. They celebrated the winter with festivals and food, drink and laughter. Tourists came from far and wide, and they all lived happily ever after.

There’s something about the winter that makes everything seem a little more magical, isn’t there? The snow softens the harsh crags of the mountain peaks, the cold gives you a new vim and vigour as you stir every morning from your cosy bed. An evening spent snuggled under a wooly rug watching the world go by becomes so much more special as you sip your hot chocolate and mulled wine.

Of course, there are some reading this wondering what on earth is the writer thinking? Vim? Vigour? Magic? Give me a balmy Australian or Balinese Christmas any day. What I want is to escape the winter, not embrace it!

Then, this article, dear reader, is not for you!

However, if you’re looking to move from the cool nip of Hong Kong to the blanketing freeze of snow-covered winter destinations, this article is for you, do read on.

 

Ice and Snow Festivals in Asia

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  1. Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival (Gangwon-do, Korea) (January 6-28, 2018)

The Festival offers winter activities like sleigh rides, bob sleighs, trout catching with hands in a pool and ice fishing.

 

  1. Lake Khuvsgul Ice Festival (Lake Khuvsgul, Mongolia) (early March, 2018)

The Festival features tug-of-war matches, horse-drawn sleigh races, and displays of detailed ice sculptures. Visit Mongolia’s largest lake by volume for a brutal Mongolian winter!

 

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  1. Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival (Harbin, China) (December 18-February 5, 2018) (http://www.icefestivalharbin.com/)

The biggest snow and ice festival in the world showcases over 1,000 gigantic ice structures decorated with multi-coloured lights, winter exhibitions, ice lantern art fair. Harbin is truly the Ice City of China!

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  1. Sapporo Snow Festival (Japan) (February 5-11, 2018)

With approximately 1.5km through Odori Park filled with masterfully created and lit ice and snow sculptures, and activities for the young and old alike, the Sapporo Snow Festival has been growing since its inception in 1950.

 

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  1. Monlam Festival, Lhasa (Tibet) (February 19-28, 2018)

Brave the cold and visit Lhasa during the Tibetan Monlam, or Great Prayer Festival, when monks and artisans create colourful butter sculptures for burning during the Butter Oil Lantern Festival.

 

  1. Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival, Nagano (Japan) (January 15, 2018)

The Festival is staged by men to celebrate the birth of a family’s first child, to pray for happy marriage and dispel evil spirits. The highlight is a “fire-setting battle” that ends with a huge wooden structure set ablaze by torches.

 

Winter Sports Abound

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  1. Yamagata (Japan)

A massive skiing and snowboarding area, Yamagata receives the highest average snowfall in Japan. The prefecture is famous for its Juhyo, or “ice monsters” (pine trees covered in thick layer of windswept snow, creating whimsical shapes), snow sports, snow festivals, onsen (hot springs), and Yonezawa beef.

 

  1. Deogyusan National Park (South Korea)

Hosting an annual Firefly Festival in the summer, Deogyusan is one of the nation’s most famous ski resorts, with long tracks. Tracks are suitable for skiiers of all levels.

 

  1. Almaty (Kazakhstan)

Surrounded by peaks reaching heights over 13,000 feet, Almaty is famous for skiing, snowboarding, sledging, eagle feeding, horse rising, skiing and hiking. The Almaty Lake is the perfect location for those looking for a scenic picnic day out.

 

  1. Shimla (India)

Monkeys roam freely along the overhead cables in this nature retreat. A skiing haven, you can find opportunities for various snow sports and spas, surrounded by truly magnificent mountain scenery.

 

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  1. Gangwon-do (South Korea)

Pyeongchang in Gangwon-do is in the process of preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics and South Korea has ramped up development of its winter zones. So now may be the best time to take advantage of the Taebaek Mountain slopes!

 

  1. Hakodate, Japan

While Sapporo in Hokkaido is the staple winter destination in Japan, Sapporo’s twin city, Hakodate, is a great opportunity as well. This port city in the Oshima subperfecture of Hokkaido features many attractions like the Goryōkaku star fort and Mount Hakodate, which affords a stunning night view.

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Happy Holidays – here’s wishing you all a super cool winter, wherever you choose to spend it!

 

 

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