For some, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. A celebration of all that makes life worth living. A time for introspection, when we are all supposed to be kind and honest to each other. If you are one of those people who live for exchanging gifts with their loved ones under the Christmas tree, this post is not for you.
Instead, we want to talk to all of the Grinches and Ebenezer Scrooge’s out there. Those who think that Christmas is overrated and overly commercialized. The people who will snarkily point out that Jesus was probably born in August and the holiday was moved to December to replace the pagan Saturnalia. The conspiracy theorists that claim modern-day Santa was an invention of Coca-Cola (well, that might actually be true).
We want to tell you that all is not lost and you too can have fun during the Christmas holidays. That’s why we’ve gathered some of the best Christmas destinations for even the worst curmudgeons out there.
Thanks to its relatively remote location, New Zealand is an ideal travel destination for people who want to avoid the Christmas season mania. While big cities like Auckland and Queenstown have massive “Kiwi Christmas” festivities, you can find plenty of retreats far from maddening crowds and Christmas songs.
Nature lovers should look into booking their holidays in remote areas like Stewart Island, Karamea, Nelson Lakes National Park, and Mount Hutt. Since most travellers will have to spend one day on a plane to get into New Zealand, you could miss Christmas day completely if you book your voyage during Santa’s sleigh ride (ho-ho-ho)! Definitely consider a New Zealand adventure if you’re a nature enthusiast and don’t expect to find any gifts under the Christmas tree (because nobody likes you).
With less than 2% of Japanese citizens being Christians, you would expect some peace and quiet during the holiday season. Unfortunately, you will still find some Christmas decorations in major cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Don’t be fooled, however, by these appearances.
Interestingly, Christmas Eve is far more important in Japan as a romantic holiday akin to Valentine’s Day in the West. The 25th of December is considered as a day in which couples exchange gifts and people spread happiness (you know, like Christmas should be).
If you want to totally avoid the Christmastime love epidemic while in Japan, there are plenty of smaller cities to visit like Kanazawa, Toyama, and Matsuyama. You could also enjoy fantastic winter-time sports and hot springs in the northern island of Hokkaido during this time of year.
If you’re a real holiday and fun hater, then there’s no better place to be on earth than North Korea. This small communist nation has only one major holiday every year celebrating the signing of the nation’s constitution on December 27th. Even then, partying with alcohol is banned from the government. In a sense, you could say that Kim Jong-un is the original Grinch that stole Christmas (they both have an equally lousy hairstyle).
As enticing as all of this may sound to people who would literally “watch the world burn” rather than celebrating Christmas, it isn’t exactly easy to get into North Korea. And once you’re there, there’s not a whole lot to see without a guard following you everywhere. There are a few tours you could take of this nation if you’re a government employee or join a special group (we don’t know if “Christmas hater” is one of these groups though). While these travel restrictions may change due to the West’s warmer relationship with Kim Jong-un, don’t hold your breath.
The landlocked nation Kazakhstan has a population comprised of 70% Muslims and 20% Christians. For this reason, Christmas isn’t such a big deal for most Kazakhs. During Christmas day, you’re unlikely to see any celebrations going on around the capital Astana. Instead, most Kazakh Christians celebrate Christmas on Sunday before with their families.
People who want to take in the beauty of Kazakhstan’s natural wonders should plant to visit Aksu-Zhabagly or the Karkaraly National Park on their tour. Tourists more interested in Kazakhstan’s history will enjoy a visit to big cities like Pavlodar, Turkestan, and Astana. Wherever you go, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many Christmastime decorations in the glorious nation of Kazakhstan (Borat jokes are not appreciated either).
Even in the big cities of Vientiane or Luang Prabang, you won’t find any Christmas decorations on a tour of Laos. Recent estimates suggest over 60% of Laos’ citizenry are Buddhists, and less than 2% are Christians. Also, the communist country of Laos is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia; it experiences less tourist traffic than nations like Thailand or Vietnam.
However, the tourism sector is experiencing sharp growth due to the country’s beautiful nature. Minimal Western influences mean that Laos is a paradise if you want to escape the holiday spirit in style. Anyone who wants to spend Christmas touring Buddhist temples, hiking, admiring the colonial architecture, and eating
Christmas-avoiders (that’s a nice term) looking for a sunny holiday season should consider taking a trip to the north-African country of Morocco. During Christmastime, you can expect average temps to hover around 15°C in this North African nation. So, get ready for plenty of sunshine and very little Santa Claus on this vacation!
Since the vast majority of Moroccans are Muslim, it’s pretty hard to find anything related to Old Saint Nick outside of select hotels that cater to foreigners. Whether you’re looking to explore the sites of iconic cities like Marrakech or feel like hiking through the Atlas Mountains, there’s something for everyone on a Moroccan holiday getaway. Except for the Christmas spirit.
How could a nation that gave the world the Nutcracker be on a list explaining how to escape Christmas? Let’s explain. Since the Russian Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar for holidays, Christmas actually falls on January 7th. So, if you’re looking to escape the madness of December 25th, then you’ll be safe touring Moscow or St. Petersburg. Just be sure to bring a few extra sweaters with you on this trip.
Depending on where you are, average temps could easily dip below -40°C. That’s enough cold to stop Santa Claus dead on his sleigh and keep your cold heart at natural levels.
In recent years, Thailand has become one of the most frequently visited nations on earth. For this reason, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid some Christmas festivities in big cities like Bangkok or Pattaya. Despite this fact, the vast majority of Thai people practice Theravada Buddhism and many areas outside of the big cities have absolutely no traces of Rudolph or Frosty the Snowman.
Temperature-wise, there’s no better time to visit Thailand than during the holiday rush. Also, you won’t have to contend with hurricane season and Thailand’s humidity is lower than in the summertime.
Whether you love or hate Christmas, you’ve got a friend in us! Store your luggage with us and enjoy (or not) your holiday hands-free!