Traditional Christmas market

Best places to visit in December

From frozen winter wonderlands to idyllic winter sun, the best places to go in December include Austria, New Zealand, Antarctica, India, Sweden and Vietnam.

1. Self-drive around New Zealand

For some, the month of December is all about snow. For others, it’s about escaping it. New Zealand self-drive holiday will take you to the country’s most sensational spots and national parks: from the Coromandel Peninsula’s coastal walks and whale-rich Kaikoura, to the glaciers and rainforests of the South Island. This holiday, exclusive to Times Expert Traveller, will put you at the wheel of a low-emission rental vehicle (great news for your budget and the environment), and you will stay in stylish-yet-sustainable hotels and lodges.

Designed by adventure travel specialist Discover the World, this itinerary is action-packed: you’ll cruise on Lake Wanaka and plant a tree on Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve; look to the heavens in Tekapo on a stargazing tour; and enjoy an exclusive Te Ra and Kai Ngawha experience in Rotorua – which includes a Maori weaving lesson and a picnic lunch cooked on a geothermal steam vent.

Next departure: October 18th 2019

2. Stay at the incredible ICEHOTEL

It’s the time ideal time of year to embrace winter, and what better place than Sweden. Sleep among reindeer furs on a bed of ice, explore frozen lakes and forests, and seek out the elusive Northern Lights in our Incredible ICEHOTEL holiday, exclusive to Times Expert Traveller.

On this four-day holiday with our trusted partners Discover the World you will enjoy a night in one of the ICEHOTEL’s incredible Ice Rooms (with the possibility to upgrade to a suite), and two more in a cosy Kaamos Room or Chalet. During your stay you will receive a complimentary three-course meal at the ICEHOTEL restaurant, and have the opportunity to take excursions including husky sledding, snowmobiling, and Northern Lights spotting.

3. Follow the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia

Starting with the unforgettable lost temples of Angkor Wat, this 15-day cruise and stay holiday provides a link between the ancient and the modern in Vietnam and Cambodia. The Mekong travels through the centuries, from the majesty of ancient Buddhist culture to the twin terrors of the Khmer Rouge, and the Vietnam War. Shore excursions show both the beauty and difficulty these countries have experienced.

A three-night stay in Siam Reap affords plenty of time to explore Angkor Wat before departing for the temples along the banks of the Mekong –  as well plenty of winter sun,  white sand beaches. and stunning national parks. The majesty of the French Colonial era brings us closer to our own times and the trauma of the 20th century.

Next departure: July 1st 2020

4. Sail along the Ganges

It’s the perfect time of year for an unforgettable cruise along Asia’s most spiritual river. Stay in a five-star hotel in Kolkata, and travel by train through India on our incredible 12-day Voyage Along the Ganges. In partnership with Steppes Travel, this exclusive itinerary promises to be a fascinating insight into a relatively undiscovered part of the subcontinent – with a luxurious 7-night Ganges cruise at its heart.

Your home for this voyage will be the plush, air-conditioned ABN Rajmahal, a ship designed specifically for the Ganges with spacious cabins, spa and sun deck. As it wends its way past mustard fields and mango orchards, you’ll stop at Kalna which boasts some of Bengal’s finest terracotta temples, and the superb mosques of Gaur.

Next departure: October 21st 2019
Ganges river cruise
12 days from

5. Explore Antarctica 

See the incredible White Continent in comfort and style, on our exclusive ten-day Antarctica cruise through the South Shetland Islands – sailing along ice-filled fjords and among spectacular icebergs. You’ll enjoy daily Zodiac trips to explore Antarctica’s landscape, with expert polar guides who will also give a series of engaging talks and presentations on board.

This epic Antarctica tour, in partnership with Steppes Travel, includes a flight over the Drake Passage – saving you a crucial two days each way and avoiding the stormy seas which often plague the usual journey. You will travel on a new state-of-the-art ship, with just 68 fellow passengers: a truly intimate once-in-a-lifetime adventure

Next departure: December 1st 2019


6. Celebrate the magic of Christmas in Austria

Treat yourself to a long weekend of fun this festive season, on our fabulous four-day trips to explore the Christmas markets in Austria holiday. This exclusive weekend break, in partnership with ECT Travel, will take you to the heart of Austria’s enchanting Tyrol region to visit the best Advent markets in the Alps – including the medieval alleys of Hall, six markets in Innsbruck, a candlelit market in Rattenberg and plenty of mulled wine at the christmas markets. The stunning settings mean there’s no need for fake Christmas trees – you’ll find the real deal here. 

You’ll also visit the sparkling Swarovski Crystal World, taste schnapps in a 500 year-old vault, learn how glassblowers make Christmas baubles, and take a ride through the snow on a horse-drawn sleigh. You will also receive a free Swarovski goody bag worth €49 – a beautiful early Christmas present, just for you at the perfect time of year.

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