December 2019

Traditional Celebrations

Lovely December is an annual event held by the government of Tana Toraja, Indonesia featuring a variety of artworks from the Tana Toraja culture.

Mount Popa Spirit Festival (10-11 December) sees pilgrims gather from the countryside and nearby towns to enjoy this joyous festival to honor the nats, or local spirits in Myanmar.

Chichibu Yomatsuri (2-3 December) is the festival of Chichibu Shrine just 90 minutes from central Tokyo. The festival holds an impressive fireworks display lasting almost two and a half hours and gives visitors the rare opportunity to enjoy fireworks in Japan during the winter.

The Hagoita-Ichi (Battledore Fair) (17-19 December) is an annual fair near the Hondo or main hall of Senso-ji Temple. Some 50 open-air stalls selling hagoita (battledores), shuttlecocks, kites and other New Year decorations stand huddled together with people visiting from all over the country. This is a traditional fair dating back to the Edo Period.

Winter Solstice Festival (Hong Kong & China) takes place in December. The festival was traditionally a time when farmers and fishermen had to prepare for the coming colder months. In Hong Kong, most people finish work early and return home for large meals with their families.

International events

Of course, New Year countdown is a big event in many of the larger Asian cities with celebrations and parties going on through the night.

Hong Kong Winterfest is a series of seasonal events over the Christmas and New Year period.

The Angkor Wat International Half Marathon in December 2019 is the 24th edition of this charity race, taking runners past Angkor’s magnificent temples. Starting and finishing at Angkor Wat, the course is pleasantly flat and as expected, visually stunning.

‘Christmas on A Great Street’ in Singapore is a spectacular display of Christmas lights. Visitors can also hit Singapore’s famed shopping belt on Orchard Road.

Weather Patterns

It turns very cold in China and Japan (where the ski season starts); while in Southeast Asia the weather is reliably sunny and dry (great for Con Dao Island in Vietnam). Rain can be expected in parts of Indonesia though in Maluku and Raja Ampat, the weather is dry. Expect rain in Singapore and Malaysia.

Now is an excellent time to travel in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar) while the weather is sunny and dry.

Take advantage of the great weather with some trekking in Myanmar (Shan state around Inle Lake, Hsipaw, Kyaing Tong, Putao, Chin State). Now is also the ideal time to embark on a cruise between Mandalay and Bagan in Myanmar.