With 2019 just around the corner, find out the top travel destinations for those hoping to avoid the crowds and swap the hustle and bustle for a relaxing and low-key destination to ring in the New Year.
1. Big Sur, USA
Explore California’s spectacular Big Sur and experience one of the world’s most unforgettable stretches of coastline. Big Sur is a nature lover’s heaven and is the perfect retreat to recharge your batteries in time for the New Year ahead. During your stay venture to McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall onto a scenic beach, Point Lobos, a scenic, oceanfront nature preserve and the beautiful Pfeiffer Beach.
Where to stay: Nestled in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is the charming Big Sur Lodge (http://www.booking.com/hotel/us/big-sur-lodge.en-gb.html), the perfect retreat for you and your loved ones this New Year’s Eve, especially if in the mood to swap the NYE parties and fireworks for hiking, whale watching and smores around the campfire.
2. Pontresina, Switzerland
If your New Year’s resolution is to improve your health and wellness, start 2019 off right in Pontresina, the perfect alpine retreat for New Year’s Eve. The mountain village in eastern Switzerland is surrounded by a forest of fragrant pine trees – a hiker’s paradise, but with so many other activities on offer including skiing, fishing, ice skating, canoeing, mountain biking and horse riding, visitors will be spoilt for choice in ways to recharge their batteries for the new year ahead.
Where to stay: The Aladin Appartments St. Moritz (https://www.booking.com/hotel/ch/aladin-appartments-st-moritz-st-moritz.en-gb.html) are just a couple of miles from Pontresina and offer cosy amenities that make it the perfect home away from home, not to mention balconies with breath-taking views. The apartments come with a fully-equipped kitchenette and separate living room, and several restaurants and Lake Moritz are just a short walk away.
3. Kyoto, Japan
If more of a culture vulture than party goer, Kyoto in Japan has a lot to offer during New Year. A time when families gather to feast and visit their local temples and shrines to pray for good fortune, New Year is the most important festival of the Japanese year. Enjoy a ‘o-sechi ryori’ – special New Year’s Eve cuisine, before heading to a temple to perform ‘joya-no-kane’ – a sacred bell ringing ceremony. After ringing the bell at the local temple, join the Kyotoites by heading to a local shrine to perform ‘hatsu-mode’ – a very important first shrine visit of the New Year.
Where to stay: The Besso Soso Kyoto (https://www.booking.com/hotel/jp/the-besso-soso-kyoto.en-gb.html) holiday home boasts garden views and is situated just over a mile from the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Kyoto International Manga Museum. Guests appreciate the separate living room, bathroom and kitchenette, as well as the location – it’s right in the heart of Kyoto.
4. Kandy, Sri Lanka
Find balance in the New Year by heading to the mystical sanctuary of Kandy, Sri Lanka. Home to famous and sacred Buddhist sites including the Temple of the Tooth shrine and the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue, learn all about the tradition that focuses on personal, spiritual development…the perfect, calming start to the New Year.
Where to stay: A five-star hotel located in the Ampitya neighborhood of Kandy The Golden Crown Hotel (https://www.booking.com/hotel/lk/the-golden-crown.en-gb.html) is set amongst lush paddy fields and just a 10 minute drive from the famous Temple of Tooth Relic. The hotel boasts a swimming pool, infinity pool bar, fitness centre, three restaurants and spa.
5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
The northern city of Chiang Mai hosts some of the country’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations – one of the most notable being the spectacular candle-lit lantern ceremony. Every year, thousands of Thais and travellers alike gather to release paper lanterns into the sky to bring about good luck for the year ahead. While notably more relaxed than other party destinations in Thailand and across the world, there is plenty of live music and Thai dancing to celebrate the year ahead.
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of Chiang Mai at the beautiful 99 The Heritage Hotel (http://www.booking.com/hotel/th/99-the-heritage-chiang-mai2.en-gb.html). After a night of celebrating the New Year, wake up to a hearty continental breakfast and go for a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool.
Text and photos courtesy of Booking.com