Asian Vacation over x-mas

Ok, here’s the deal.

I wanted to take my SO somewhere over the Christmas/New Years time period. I found some pretty cheap deals for Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong. All three I am sure will be an exciting experiance and will have enough to do. But I know Beijing will be a cold, but should that prevent us for going? Which would be the most interesting? Any reason to avoid any of them? General comments on the cities?

Thanks Dopers. :slight_smile:

I lived in Hong Kong for two Christmas’s. It is a interesting city; busy, vibrant, and everything moves at lightspeed. While I did see some Christmas decorations at the major shopping areas, namely Central and Causeway Bay, Christmas is not widely celebrated by the residents.

Otherwise, if you’ve never been to the East, definitely check out Hong Kong. There are so many sites to see and activities to do, you will be kept busy for the duration of your trip. And an added bonus, the temperature is milder in the winter during Christmas.

Well, HK’s where I live, so let’s see how objective I can be…

*Hong Kong is the shopper’s paradise, whatever you want you’ll find it here. Just one handy pointer though: if you’re shopping for electronics, avoid those infamous Nathan Road shops and try bigger retailers like Fortress.
*Hong Kong is pretty expensive. People prefer to stay in slightly cheaper hotels so that they can have more freedom going around shopping, sightseeing and dining.
*You simply can’t miss Hong Kong on New Year’s eve, it’s one of the most amazing spectacles I’ve ever seen
*Don’t worry about transport while you’re here - HK has one of the best transport infrastructures in the world. There’s always a bus or a train that can take you anwhere in the least amount of time.
*Everyone speaks English, so don’t worry about that.
*If the citylife isn’t for you and your SO, take a ferry out to the outlying islands, there’s as much to do on the islands as there is in the city.
*One of the safest cities in the world - you can walk around at 2 or 3am and not worry one bit.

Secondly, I refer you to this thread for some ideas of things to do whilst in HK.

Lastly, how long will you be vacationing for? If it’s for the entire two weeks maybe you could visit two cities instead of just one, budget permitting?

If you have any questions please drop me a line :smiley:

Christmas is a big commercial deal here. Obviously it’s celebrated by the Christian community, but also very popular among young folk, because (unlike with Chinese festivals) they can have fun and don’t have to visit aging relatives.

HK is usually mild in winter - Shanghai is colder and Beijing even more so. On the mainland, Christmas isn’t a public holiday (though increasingly popular with younger people, I think) so it would be more business-as-usual than HK.

Beijing - apart from a clutch of very impressive historical places like the Forbidden City - is a drab and featurless, traffic-choked city, IMO.

Shanghai is more interesting to look around, though again the traffic is terrible.

Both cities strike me as largely dead at night, outside of particular well-defined districts. HK buzzes a lot more. Also it’s much more user-friendly to non-Chinese speakers.

So I would say that’s 2 votes for HK.

Plus, Hong Kong is only a very short ferry ride away from Macau. I went in early december, IIRC, at the urging of some kind dopers, and it was great. Definitely one of the prettiest cities in eastern Asia. There were a fair amount of Christmas decorations in the old part of town; you might find it fun and exotic to have a Portugese Christmas in the Far East.

I don’t know where you’re traveling from; Arlington, Va… is what’s shown in your profile.

Thailand would be my choice: still inexpensive, great weather during your travel dates, urban, mountain and seaside venues to explore.

Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and similar cities are fabulous but Thailand offers more opportunities for a diverse vacation. I lived in Southeast Asia (Malaysia) and my first choice after visiting all the cities you’ve mentioned is for a return vacation to Thailand.

Other wonderful alternatives are Vietnam/Cambodia and Vietnam/Myanmar.

If you do decide on something other than Mainland China, your excursions can be booked once you’ve arrived in your chosen city.

If you’re the worrying type this can be stressful, but please believe me, once in Thailand you can get the same tours/airfares offered in the US for less than one-third the price,

No matter where you go, you’ll have a wonderful time. Good luck to you!

Beijing gets MISERABLY cold in the winter. I prefer it for living in many ways, but Hong Kong would probably be a more appealing vacation spot to most people, and is certainly more accomodating to English speakers. Don’t know about Shanghai, but in Beijing it’s pretty much get a guide or you’re going to be playing very bad odds as far as doing much in English.

From my experience living there, HK is a bit drafty at Xmas, but not too cold - you’ll need warm clothes and probably an umbrella. You could even

Another vote for Macau - wonderful place, and very accessible from HK. If you want to ‘do’ China you could travel up from HK or Macau to Guangzhou (though I warn you, it’s a bit of a shithole).

Finally, there’s one place that I had Xmas in once that was quite a bizarre but entertaining experience - Hainan Island, the “Hawaii of China” (yeah, right). We took an overnight Chinese cruiser from HK, arrived mid-morning, then got a bus down to the southern town of Sanya. It was warm and sunny, but not overbearingly hot - nice enough to go swimming and jetskiing - and we found a hotel that did an approximation of a Christmas dinner buffet, which was all we really wanted. A lovely few days away.

Yeah… if we’re doing countries or cities outside those that you mentioned (Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong), then I’ll second straykat23’s suggestion of Thailand. You can’t go wrong there.

I cannot say how much I appreciate your opinions. I’ve talked to some people at work, and have been looking into Thailand too now that I have heard such wonderful things about it.

It isn’t as much as a budget restraint for two weeks, but much more of not enough vacation time to use.

And yes, my location is right outside of DC, so Dulles is probably my gateway, out to the west coast, then to Hawaii or Japan (I’d suspect), before going to SE Asia.

I would third going to Thailand. It’s where everyone in China that isn’t going home for the holidays heads to. Phuket is nice although there are definately sleezy parts. You can stay in a resort and really enjoy it. Koh Samui is great but harder to get to.

China in the winter basically sucks. I’ve lived in China for many winters in many different parts of China. Plan a late spring or autumn trip.

Shanghai is a great place to wander around in, although not much of a tourist city. It will be chilly (no snow) and a lot of buildings are not well heated (insulation is not yet a concept).

I personally don’t find HK a shoppers paradise. It was in the 1980’s but IMHO isn’t anything special these days.