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Best year-end travel destinations to beat the crowd

Best year-end travel destinations to beat the crowd

The year-end season is a peak period for travel, making many popular destinations too crowded for comfort. When you’re trying to have a relaxing holiday, the last things you want are snaking queues, long waiting times and elbows poking into your personal space at every turn.

To help you beat the crowd, here are five alternative destinations to consider for your year-end trip.

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Located at the southern tip of Taiwan, the port city of Kaohsiung offers plenty of the same attractions as Taipei — but with much more space and lesser crowds all round. You’ll find you can breathe easier with wide open boulevards and open skies, and even the buzzy night markets can feel a lot more relaxed than you’d expect.

Some of the city’s highlights include the Pier 2 Art Centre, a harbourside attraction chock full of art galleries, flea market stalls, cafes, and souvenir shops, and the nearby Love River, recommended for evening walks and golden hour photography.

There are also contemporary art museums, shopping districts, old streets filled with quaint shops, generations-old family-run restaurants tucked away in winding lanes, and of course, night markets filled with favourite Twianese treats.

As a bonus, Kaohsiung is also generally cheaper than Taipei, so your holiday budget will go a little further here.

Hua Hin, Thailand

For a taste of Thailand beach vibes without the rowdy crowds of Phuket, try Hua Hin. Located just hours away from Bangkok, the lesser-known beach resort town is ideal for an unhurried trip made up of sun-filled days, gorgeous views, and historic architecture.

By day, explore the magnificent Phraya Nakhon Cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, bask in some Greek vibes at Santorini park, go for afternoon tea at the Railway Museum, or simply laze the day away at the edge of crystal blue waters.

Come nightfall, feast on Thai street food at Hua HIn Night Market, haggle for handmade souvenirs and unique artwork at Cicada Market, or trawl for international brands at Hua Hin Market Village.

Jeonju, South Korea

Tucked away in the southwest, Jeonju, a charmingly laid-back city filled with traditional Korean architecture, including hanok villages, temples and shrines. Behind its rural character, Jeonju stands as one of Korea’s centres of gastronomy, offering a deep dive into authentic Korean cuisine to those who come in search of it.

The birthplace of makgeolli, Jeonju is filled with bars specialising in the milky spirit made from fermented rice. For non-alcoholic options, head for the aptly named Coffee Street (Jeonju Gaekridan-gil) instead, a busy thoroughfare filled to the brim with trendy cafes and hipster vibes.

Kurashiki, Japan

Known as the "Venice of Japan", Kurashiki features waterways framed by greenery-filled banks flowing amidst classical Japanese houses. Its former glory as a wealthy trading hub in the past is still palpable here, and the best way to take in the sights is with a languorous boat ride on calm waters.

The birthplace of Japanese denim, Kurashiki today has become something of a best-kept secret among fashionistas. The town’s Kojima District is your best source for authentic Japanese denim, great as unique gifts or souvenirs. It is also where you can try denim blue ice cream.

Meanwhile, the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter offers striking temples, traditional sights and photo-taking opportunities.

Colmar, France

The lesser-known French town of Colmar makes for a great alternative destination for a winter-themed holiday without the maddening crowds. It is known for its Christmas markets, which open as early as November, creating a lively Yuletide atmosphere everywhere you turn.

The town enjoys a relatively mild winter with gentle snowfall deeper into the season. Its cobblestone streets lined with medieval European houses make for a magical sight in the snow, like something straight out of a fairy tale movie.

In fact, Colmar was the actual, real-life inspiration for the town depicted in the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, so Disney fans definitely shouldn’t miss paying a visit!

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