Festive Forward Planning

30 March 2023

Seasoned travelers know that it is always beneficial to plan early for the festive period. And that action plan is more relevant than ever for 2023 as travel continues to strongly rebound in Asia following the pandemic.

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Seasoned travelers know that it is always beneficial to plan early for the festive period. And that action plan is more relevant than ever for 2023 as travel continues to strongly rebound in Asia following the pandemic. Popular destinations around the region are reporting unprecedented demand. Indeed, some of the most sought-after luxury resorts in Asia — including Amanpuri on Phuket in Thailand and Soneva Kiri on Koh Kood (also Thailand) — are already fully booked. By booking early, travelers can guarantee peace of mind and ensure they have ample time to plan and prepare for their trip. Here are some ideas on where to home your radar in on this year — as well as some less typical alternatives.



Drone view of Patina Maldives

Why do we love The Maldives as a festive destination? Let us list the reasons. First, and most prosaically, the archipelago is a true tropical paradise with warm weather year-round, making it an ideal escape from the cold. Secondly, the Maldives boasts stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Another reason is the Maldives is home to some of the world's most beautiful coral reefs and marine life. Lastly, the Maldives offers a range of sumptuous world-class resorts including the Joali Maldives, One&Only Reethi Rah, and Patina Maldives. The problem? Extraordinary demand for the most popular resorts this year means if you're traveling with a big family or group, you have to book now. 


Wat Paknam at dusk, Bangkok

Thailand remains hugely popular, and it is not hard to see why. More than any other country in Southeast Asia, it manages to fuse the deep exoticism of the Orient with first-world comforts to create a package that is appealing all year round. Winter is a great time to visit the Kingdom, with relatively cooler temperatures providing respite from the searing tropical heat. Most visitors kick off their Thai adventure in the country’s capital Bangkok, where we are seeing many of the top-choice properties along the river approaching capacity, as well as Remote Lands' guides and experiences. Away from the big city, Thailand supplies the whole spectrum of travel experiences. The country’s north offers emerald forests and mist-shrouded mountains while southern destinations like Phuket has some of the world’s best beaches and diving — but be warned, if you want to have the best possible experience on Thailand's largest island, the booking window is rapidly closing. 


Nusa Penida, off the southeast coast of Bali

Bali — with its world-beating resorts, lush landscapes, and focus on the spiritual — remains one of Asia's most popular islands, and always needs to be booked early. But the perhaps most compelling aspect of Indonesia is the fact that there’s still so much to discover. From pioneer river rides in the remote jungles of Kalimantan in Borneo and Sumatra, the archipelago rewards virtually every kind of traveler. While tourism has been a fact of life in places like Bali for several decades, the surface has barely been scratched in other destinations such as Flores, Sumba, and Sulawesi. Other highlights, meanwhile, range from hiking up volcanoes in Central Java to surfing the legendary breaks of the Mentawai Islands off Sumatra. Exploring Raja Ampat both above the waves aboard a private schooner and below the waves remains an absolute must. 


Above the clouds in Dubai

To those who like a hefty sprinkling of glam with their winter sun, sea and sand, Dubai’s reputation as a place where the ‘good life’ can be taken to its most fantastical apogee is a large part of its appeal. By day the endless beaches, the azure waters of the Persian Gulf, and the mind-boggling shopping options provide a diversion while big-name restaurants and glitzy bars become the focal point when the sun slips into the horizon. There is plenty of culture here too — take our word for it, as a logical bridge between west and east and a totem of opportunity for many within the Arab world, Dubai tends to reward surface-scratchers with a multicultural tableau. Dubai is always a hot destination over the festive period, but its popularity is compounded this year with many of its best restaurants and bars reaching capacity particularly early. 


 Sri Lanka's Nine Arch Bridge

For every high-demand destination, there is an equally compelling unpolished gem waiting to be discovered. First and foremost, we recommend Sri Lanka, which still has plenty of availability. The island is as stunning as any place on earth, but what makes Sri Lanka special is the sheer variety it offers within its compact borders. There’s both ancient and colonial history, and world-class wildlife parks. The winter months are best for the south of the country where the delightful seaside fort town of Galle is a particular highlight as well as nearby beaches like Tangalle, which come into their own during the festive period. For a city break, head to the original cultural fusion metropolis, Hong Kong. The city is yet to see the same number of visitors as pre-pandemic, but its shops, dining, and nightlife still make it a top-tier urban experience. Adventure seekers should know that December is a great time to enjoy Nepal, with crisp air, superb visibility, and pleasant weather. For something different this year, Rajasthan, known as the Land of the Kings is perfect for culture, history, and epic scenery. 


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