Lush, frenetic Hong Kong isn’t necessarily the first destination that comes to mind when planning a holiday getaway, but in fact, the season is one of the best times of the year to visit this delightful city. Because of its history as a British colony, Hong Kong has a long tradition of celebrating Christmas. Festive decorations and glittering lights abound, amplified in hyper-merry mall displays, while soaring Christmas trees enhance hotel lobbies and public squares. Throughout November and December, markets and festivals allow revelers to get into the seasonal spirit with mulled wine, caroling and Santa Claus (who often arrives via helicopter or Rolls-Royce Phantom). The holiday visitor in search of Christmas dinner can find a traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings in such establishments as Foxglove, a swank restaurant hidden in the back of an umbrella shop, and most of the city’s top hotels offer multicourse meals. One of the best is the eight-course Cantonese Christmas dinner at Lung King Heen, the three-Michelin-star restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
Another great reason to travel at this time is the climate. In December, Hong Kong shrugs off its sultry humidity and ushers in clear skies and cooler temperatures, making it ideal for venturing outdoors—which is good, as the city is best explored on foot. Central Hong Kong offers the visiting pedestrian a surprise around every corner, from elegant art deco bars preparing perfectly crafted cocktails to no-frills cha chaan tengs serving delicious pineapple buns and milk tea.
There are luxury hotel options to suit all tastes, but The Peninsula Hong Kong is the city’s grande dame, a wonderful choice for couples or families. Across Victoria Harbour in Kowloon, it is a perfect vantage point for both the holiday light show and the New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Argentina’s luxe experiential travel company Naya Traveler sends guests deep into the forests, lagoons and waterfalls at Las Alerces National Park in Patagonia. View the crystal-clear waters at Torrecillas Glacier and Menéndez Lake when the weather warms up during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. Enjoy special outdoor Christmas meals in the Lake District and holiday treasure hunts for children.
Barcelona celebrates the season with its typical enjoyment of life, and the medieval neighborhoods feature colorful lights, charming crèches and holiday markets. Distinctive gift ideas include turrón, a favorite winter candy. Join locals at one of the many restaurants and bars open on Christmas Day, or at the Plaça de Catalunya on New Year’s Eve to ingest the traditional 12 grapes as the midnight bells toll.