December is a spectacular time of the year to visit Asia, as several major cities celebrate the holidays with colorful festivals and elaborate decorations. Even better, you can expect mostly pleasant weather around the region during the month of December.
From cutting-edge Singapore to tranquil Hanoi, culture-rich Bangkok and electric Hong Kong, Asia’s top destinations each have their own distinct charm and appeal.
Here are some of the best places to visit in December in Asia.
Nature seamlessly mingles with urban life in Singapore, a cosmopolitan oasis with a strong emphasis on green spaces and gardens.
A multicultural hot spot, Singapore has a mix of Malaysian, Indian, British, and Chinese cultures that come alive in the city’s food, architecture, and even in its unofficial language, Singlish, which is a fusion of English, Chinese, and Malay.
It’s one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia, with its stunning cityscape, full of modern buildings and impressive skyscrapers with lush greenery.
The crown jewel of Singapore is the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 1860. Inside, you’ll find a dense rainforest full of rare vegetation, as well as the Orchid Garden, which has the largest collection of tropical orchids in the world.
One of Singapore’s most popular landmarks is Gardens by the Bay, a huge nature park that spans over 250 acres. Connecting nature with technology, the park is full of breathtaking sights and exciting attractions, such as the 4-D ride within its blooming Floral Fantasy garden, the misty Cloud Forest, and the iconic Supertree Grove that has towering tree structures that light up at night.
Sitting close to the equatorial belt, Singapore enjoys hot and humid temperatures throughout the year. If you’re looking for warmth and sunshine in December, you will find just that during a visit to this Southeast Asian city.
Bangkok has earned its title as one of Asia’s top destinations due to its exciting metropolis, rich history, and delicious culinary treasures. You’ll find everything here from sky-high buildings and ancient temples to golden palaces and markets floating on the water.
For a dose of history, stop by the Grand Palace, an extravagant complex of buildings where the Kings of Siam and Thailand have lived since 1782. Admire the gold statues, intricate murals, and gilded pillars of the grounds, and end your visit by entering the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred statue that Thailand is known for, which is considered the ultimate protector of the country.
Fashion lovers will want to go to Jim Thompson’s House, the home-turned-museum of the late American silk merchant who mysteriously disappeared in the late 1960s. The house now serves as a museum exploring the history of Thai silk and showcases Thompson’s eclectic art collection, which includes Chinese porcelain figurines, Cambodian art, and Thai artifacts.
Don’t forget to stop at one of Bangkok’s multiple floating markets. Not only will you find plenty of Thailand souvenirs and handmade artifacts to bring back home as gifts, but it’s also worth going just to experience its full range of colors, scents, and bustling atmosphere.
Like much of Southeast Asia, Bangkok is hot year-round. It’s one of the best places to visit in December in Asia since the rainy season (which lasts from May to November) has just wrapped up and the temperature gets a little cooler than usual.
Located next to the Perfume River, Hue is a beautiful city that was once the cultural and political capital of Vietnam. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hue has a number of stunning temples and monuments, including the Temple of Literature and the Esplanade of Sacrifice to Heaven and Earth.
One of its most popular sites is the 19th-century citadel, which surrounds the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City, and a replica of the Royal Theater.
In nearby Da Nang, visit the impressive Marble Mountain, a cluster of marble and limestone hills where you can step into caves and tunnels and discover Buddhist sanctuaries throughout the mountains that are considered a place of worship.
One of the best places to travel in Asia in December is Hong Kong, where cool weather, clear skies, and low humidity are the norm during this time of the year.
Take advantage of the perfect weather and climb aboard a funicular tram that takes you to the top of Victoria Peak. At the summit, enjoy a 360-degree view of the city as you stare in awe at the beautiful hills, glittering harbor, and skyscraper-filled skyline below.
As one of the world’s best culinary destinations, there are plenty of amazing restaurants to discover here. Hong Kong’s foodie scene offers everything from Cantonese, Sichuan, Japanese, and French restaurants, as well as a number of Michelin-starred establishments to cross off your list.
Visit the Man Mo Temple, one of Hong Kong’s most popular landmarks. Built in 1847, it’s the oldest Taoist temple in the city and is dedicated to the gods of literature and war. Once you step inside, you’ll be amazed by the thousands of yellow incense coils hanging from the ceiling which emit scented smoke across the halls of the temple.
Read: 3 Days in Hong Kong
Stroll along the picturesque Victoria Harbor, or board a ferry cruise for a quintessential Hong Kong experience.
Hong Kong is one of the best places to go for New Year’s Eve. Grab a seat at the Avenue of Stars and enjoy the spectacular fireworks display that takes place above Victoria Harbour every year.
Known as the “Pearl of the Orient”, Manila is a bustling tropical destination that enjoys plenty of sunshine and warm weather, making it one of the best places in Asia to visit in December. The city is sprawling and vibrant, boasting striking urban architecture, museums, meticulously manicured parks and gardens, and the oldest Chinatown in the world.
The food scene in Manila is legendary, with flavors that treat the palate with savory and sour seasonings and spices. From minced meat and veggie kikiam sticks in Quiapo Market, to upscale dining at the popular Spiral restaurant on the waterfront, you’ll find the perfect fit for any taste.
Take a tour of Fort Santiago, a nearly 500-year-old Spanish citadel that served as one of the main defenses against the colonial British, Americans, and later the Japanese during WWII.
Don’t miss a visit to the National Museum of The Philippines, which features the country’s most historic artwork and artifacts. This includes ancient archaeological finds, botanical exhibits, and masterpieces from famed Filipino artist Felix Resurrection Hidalgo.
East meets West in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, where Vietnamese culture mingles with French tradition. Head to Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you navigate its lively labyrinthine streets.
For stunning examples of architecture, visit the Opera House, which was built by the French in 1901 and inspired by the beautiful opera houses of Paris.
One of the few examples of Vietnamese architecture that survived the war is the Temple of Literature, which pays tribute to Vietnam’s scholars, and eventually became the country’s very first university.
Another one of Hanoi’s most popular attractions is the Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes the Mausoleum, where communist leader Ho Chi Minh was laid to rest, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which celebrates his life.
Hanoi is also a good jumping-off point to explore Ha Long Bay, a stunning archipelago of green limestone pillars and islands scattered across the emerald green water. Sail around the UNESCO World Heritage Site and discover its coves, caves, and lush mountains.
Ho Chi Minh City
The old and new are closely intertwined in Ho Chi Minh City, a destination steeped in history but with a focus set firmly on the future. Feel the pulsating energy of the city as you explore its local markets and hip restaurants.
If history is what you’re interested in, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a beautiful, Neo-Romanesque church, which serves as an enduring symbol of the French colonial occupation.
At the Cu Chi tunnels outside the city, explore a network of underground passages that were once used by the Viet Cong as an escape route during invasions. Stop by the Reunification Palace, the famous site where the Vietnam War ended after a communist tank stormed through the iron gates of the government building.
If you’re looking for a more tranquil experience, visit Cao Dai Temple, a shrine to Caodaism, which honors all religions and promotes peace around the world.
Celebrity Cruises sails to some of the best places to travel in Asia in December. A luxury cruise to Asia makes it easy to explore the continent’s vibrant capitals, tranquil beaches, and cultural hubs all during the same trip.
On cruises with overnight stays in a variety of ports and guided shore excursions, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in each destination.
If you’re ready to cruise to some of the best places to visit in December in Asia, start browsing all of our Asia cruises and shore excursions on our website.