As Christmas season approaches, weary high school students eagerly anticipate winter break. During these few weeks, they are granted liberty from the burdens of academic studies, and only one question remains: where is the best place to enjoy this freedom?
Escaping the Cold
After enduring the freezing cold Beijing weather for an extended period of time, you’re likely to desire staying in the warmth of your bed all day long. In subzero temperature, who wants to be outside? However, this problem can be easily resolved if you escape to warmer locations, such as:
Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is the perfect tropical island to visit in winter. In Hawaii, you can explore a unique local culture while also relaxing and enjoying the scenic beaches. However, make sure you book your tickets and hotels early, as space on Hawaii’s popular resorts fills up quickly!
Take your time to explore one of the most magnificent cities of the Middle East. With a temperature that hardly drops below 30° C, Dubai will definitely relieve you of Beijing’s chilly weather. While the cityscape is lined with skyscrapers and modern architecture, splashes of its historical and traditional culture provide a contrast to the urban appearance. There is plenty to do in Dubai, from visiting local marketplaces to exploring the desert, and if you ever start yearning for winter, visit the indoor ski center!
Want to remain in China, but still enjoy a warm climate? If so, then Hainan is the place for you! Spend your time having a perfect seaside holiday, drinking coconuts, relaxing on the beach and watching the waves as they hit the shorelines. Don’t forget to drop by the butterfly valley in Yalong Bay to examine the rare and precious butterflies of China. This winter, take the opportunity to visit this nearer, yet equally relaxing getaway from the cold.
As one of the world’s financial centers, Hong Kong definitely cannot be left out from this list. With warm weather year round, Hong Kong is an ideal location for escaping the cold. In this city, you can attend numerous festivals, enjoy scrumptious dim sum and shop your heart out in the countless high-end malls.
Embracing the Cold
As winter settles in, many begin to long for snow. However, Beijing is dreadfully dry and snow seldom frequents the city. But what is Christmas without snow? Here are some possible places where you can find your perfect Winter Wonderland:
As the capital of the UK, London will be lit up with Christmas spirit during the winter season, and you will be lost within the joy of the holiday season amongst the bright lights and joyous carols. Most importantly, snow often blankets London in the winter, creating a beautiful Christmas cityscape. From ancient squares to modern metropolis, the city will be filled with romanticism. While you are there, make sure to visit the Big Ben or take a ride on the London Eye to experience the magical view from miles above the ground.
Finland is truly a paradise of snow during winter. At night, you can observe the colorful mystery of the northern lights while enjoying the beautiful frost covering the country. There are also plenty of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and snowman building. Moreover, Finland is just the place for you if you love exploring new places.
If you are looking for some holiday spirit, Montreal has it! In Montreal, winter is to be spent outside in the open skating, hiking and sliding. Many parks are open to visitors, providing opportunities for romantic and elegant walks along a snow-covered landscape. There are also many holiday festivals during this time of the year, allowing you to fully experience the Christmas season.
Want to go somewhere close to Beijing? Well, Harbin has always been the winter wonderland of China. Imagine yourself walking by shimmering, glowing ice figures of all shapes and sizes. These sculptures are Harbin’s specialty, proudly displayed in its seasonal Ice and Snow Culture Festival. You can not only admire ice carvings, but also walk inside some of them, and even slide down an ice slide! Don’t neglect to include this unique festival in your holiday plan!
With these eight locations in mind or as a starting point, you can easily start planning your well-deserved winter vacation—UNIT-E wishes you the best in your few weeks of freedom!
This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Rosalind Chang, a student at the International School of Beijing.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.
Photos courtesy of Wikimedia commons, rincewind42 and tatumszymczak (Flickr)