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Winter In Asia: Adventures

December 9, 2013

Winter vacations can conjure up images of skiing through the Alps or snowshoeing across Canada. But here’s a place that can offer just about anything you want in a winter vacation—let’s take a closer look at winter in Asia.

India

A trip to the contested region of Kashmir could be a little risky—the area has attracted international attention recently for its disputed borders and you’ll probably see a lot more guns here than any other ski area. If you are up for a different kind of trip, the skiing and winter attractions in the area are unlike anything else in the world. Nestled in the Himalayas, the Gulmarg Ski Area provides just about any winter sport available—cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and snowmobiling, plus lots more. The terrain can be a bit treacherous, so finding a local guide to take you through the area is recommended for safety and to add to your overall experience. Gulmarg isn’t a luxury area, but is a fairly undiscovered gem that can provide a winter vacation unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced.

Japan

As the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano, Japan got lots of screen time for its skiing and winter sports attractions. But the winter adventure doesn’t stop there, with great locations around the country.

The town of Niseko is surrounded by six ski resorts that attract tons of international visitors and was named one of the top ten ski areas in the world. Even better, you can ski the four major resorts on just one pass. What sets Niseko apart is the high-class experience—the area is improving and growing each year. Even if you aren’t a skier, the resorts offer amazing luxury accommodations and restaurants catered by top culinary masterminds. Your best bet may just be to eat your way through town—favorites are Kamimura Restaurant and the in-room dining Niseko Gourmet. This rural area of Japan is a refreshing break from other areas of the world and offers a long snow season, typically running from November to May.

Head south to central Japan for a visit to the relaxing Nozawa Onsen. The skiing and outdoor winter activities are world class, but the top attraction in the area are the hot springs. First, take a snowfield sightseeing tour on a massive snow vehicle to see some of the amazing winter countryside. Then take a dip in one of the 13 hot springs, all of which are 100 percent natural spring water. The bathhouses are a great way to mingle with the locals—you might stand out as an international visitor, but locals welcome visitors with open arms.

Thailand

Looking to escape the cold this winter? Lots of Asian areas cater to a warmer and more tropical clientele, but Thailand takes the cake. Winter temperatures in Bangkok hang right around 90 degree Fahrenheit and it is considered one of the best times to visit the area and escape the unbearable heat and rain from the rest of the year.

Instead of the ski slopes, head to the beach this winter with a visit to Ko Tarutao in southern Thailand. The islands provide pristine beaches and waterfalls, plus some amazing hiking and views of wildlife like whales, crabs, and sea turtles. The area provides some R&R and a break from the busyness of the rest of the country.

For a more urban experience, go to Chaing Mai to check out the Night Bazaar. Browse the blocks of artisan shops and food stalls to get a true glimpse into Thai culture. Be sure to stop for a fish foot massage to rest your tired toes. The nearby Patara Elephant Park lets you ride the massive creatures on tours through the local jungle. How many of your friends can say they spent their winter vacation on an elephant?

No matter if you want to ski or surf, Asia gives lots of options for your perfect winter vacation. Where are you headed in the next few months? Plan you trip right here on Trekeffect.

-Michelle Kaiser

Michelle Kaiser