Christmas is synonymous to snowy landscapes, Christmas markets, and hot Glühwein (mulled wine). Or is it? This article presents places to visit in december, here you can find the craziest, out-of-the-ordinary places in the world to spend this year’s Christmas holidays and it guarantees to change the images that pop up in your mind when you’re thinking about Christmas Time.

Places to visit in december tip #1
Hong Kong, China

Craziest places to visit in december - Hong Kong in China
Photo source: GuoZhongHua / Shutterstock.com

If Christmas lights is your thing then wait until you visit Hong Kong. The city covers up in glittering lights and neon signs reading Christmas wishes to passersby. Skyscrapers at Victoria Harbour, get decorated from around the beginning of November looking even more spectacular from what they already do. Special events such as Winterfest and Hong Kong Pulse Light Show take place throughout December while a Christmas market inspired by Finland’s oldest Christmas market is set on Stanley Plaza. And if you miss the snow while you’re visiting Tokyo the city’s indoor ice rings will do the trick and add a bit of wintery feeling to your holidays.

Hong Kong as one of the most beautiful cities in the world! We created a ranking of the 10 most beautiful cities worldwide and Hong Kong has so many to offer this place has to be a part of the TOP cities 2018!

Places to visit in december tip #2
South Iceland, Iceland

Craziest places to visit in december - Iceland

Who said you can’t find a crazy place in Europe to spend your Christmas holidays? Take a tour in South Iceland and let the aurora borealis lighten up your nights while you’re warming up in a hot tub in a wooden bungalow in the countryside. The word spectacular isn’t enough to describe the Icelandic landscape and if low temperatures isn’t a problem for you then, December is the time of the year to visit the Nordic country. Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, go snowmobiling and glacier hiking and listen to the legends about the 13 naughty trolls known as Yule Lads.

By the way: Did you know that Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland, is one of the most kid-friendly vacation spots? One fact is that Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. Pretty cool, hm?!

Places to visit in december tip #3
Rovaniemi, Finland

Craziest places to visit in december - Rovaniemi, Finland
Photo source: Smelov / Shutterstock.com

Known as the official hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi in Finland is one of the most popular Christmas destinations. A visit to Santa Claus Village will make you believe that the white-bearded man lives there all year round and along with his elves is preparing for the big day on December the 25th. Reindeers and husky farms complete the already magical scenery while the fact that you’re only about 6 kilometers (4 miles) away from the Arctic circle, where the story of Christmas begins will get you into the festive spirit right away.

Places to visit in december tip #4
Sydney, Australia

Craziest places to visit in december - Sydney, Australia

Escaping Europe’s winter and traveling to the southern hemisphere where summer is on its peak, should be on every Christmas lovers to-do list. Visiting Christmas markets surrounded by snowy landscapes is certainly a great way to spend your Christmas holidays. But sunbathing with palm trees on the background when the calendar shows 25th of December is unquestionably a unique experience for those living in the northern hemisphere. And there couldn’t be a better place than Sydney for your sunny Christmas holidays.

Bondi Beach the city’s most popular beach gets packed with people of all ages. There you’ll see locals and tourists surfing wearing bathing suits and a Santa Claus hat on top. If that’s not an interesting image, then we don’t know what it is. Spend this year’s Christmas Day with sand in your toes and an ice-chilled cocktail on your hand.

Of course, there are other beautiful beaches worldwide! Why not discover these too? On this list, you find 6 breathtaking beaches worldwide where you can celebrate Christmas in a special way.

Places to visit in december tip #5
Hakuba, Japan

Craziest places to visit in december - Hakuba, Japan
Photo source: M_blue_surgeon / Shutterstock.com

Fitness lovers and outdoor enthusiasts like Christmas holidays because they can fit in a few days practicing their favorite winter sports and relaxing in nature. If you fall into this category we have the perfect destination for this year’s Christmas escape: The Japanese Alps. Hakuba village a few miles outside Nagano is a popular ski destination filled with luxurious resorts. Christmas isn’t celebrated in a spectacular way in Japan, so, this place is for those preferring to avoid Christmas carols, large crowds and of course the jam-packed shopping malls.

Places to visit in december tip #6
Orlando, Florida, US

Craziest places to visit in december - Orlando, USA

Orlando in Florida might not be the first destination that comes to mind when you’re thinking of Christmas vacation but trust us, it should be. The sunny US State has much more to offer than tropical beaches, blue clear skies, and high temperatures. Not that we imply that these reasons aren’t enough to book a ticket for the next flight to Orlando. But Orlando brims with theme parks and resorts that will add a dash of magic to your Christmas holidays. Walt Disney World Resort is definitely the star of the city but if you want to avoid large crowds there are plenty of other things you’ll find to do. The Singing Christmas Trees, Orlando Ballet’s annual Nutcracker performance and the annual Now Snowing event are some of them.

Places to visit in december tip #7
Tokyo, Japan

Craziest places to visit in december - Tokyo, Japan
Photo source: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com

Tokyo is an impressive city any time of the year, let alone when myriads of lights decorate the impressive skyscrapers and modern-design buildings. Every street around the city center is adorned with sparkling lights that sometimes are in the shape of snowflakes and other festive illuminations. Take a walk down The Marunouchi area near Tokyo Station and catch a glimpse of Japan’s tallest Christmas tree which reaches over 14 meters. Another popular district that shouldn’t be missing from your list is Roppongi. Here you’ll find locals and tourists strolling around Keyakizaka Street admiring the thousands of lights placed on every corner of the street. This year’s theme is “Snow and Blue” so the 700,000 LED lights placed along the street have a cool bluish color.

Do you spend your summer in Asia? This is awesome! Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and Beijing – check out the 7 top cities to spend your summer in Asia.

Places to visit in december tip #8
Moscow, Russia

Craziest places to visit in december - Moscow, Russia

Moscow has something special during Christmas time and it makes you feel like you’re taking a journey back in time. Maybe it’s the staged fairytales performed on Tverskaya Square, the scenic Christmas market on Red Square or the city’s imposing buildings illuminated by thousands of lights. Dozens of events, theatrical plays, and music concerts take place throughout December while “Journey into Christmas” festival runs from December 18 until the 14th of January featuring street art shows, cooking and decorating classes, and many other events. Ice rinks and Christmas markets are placed all over the city so, if you’re visiting the capital of Russia in wintertime you’ll never get bored. Whatever you’ll decide to do, just don’t forget to slide down the country’s largest ice slide which spans 100 meters, between Manezhnaya Square and Revolyutsii Square.

Over the past few years, the way people choose and book accommodation for their vacation has changed dramatically. More and more travelers replace hotel rooms with Airbnb properties while house swapping is becoming increasingly popular. The new trend is: exchange your house and spend your holidays for free. House swap is easy, fun and cuts holiday costs, but there are a few things to keep in mind before joining this worldwide community.

What is House swap?

House swap is the new trend when it comes to accommodation while traveling. And it actually works pretty easily: you lend your house to other travelers while you’re staying in theirs. It can be a house, a cottage, a boat or a room -you name it-, and you can swap it from a weekend to a year. In that way, not only you save a lot of your vacation money but instead of living in a touristy hotel you get to experience the city like a local.

How does it work?

House swap - Feel like home

There are many House swap companies online that will help you find the perfect accommodation for your dream holidays. Love Home Swap and Home Exchange are among the most known. Swappers have to set up an account and share information about their house and personal profile. Then they can start choosing destinations they’d like to travel to. Once a perfect match is found, exchange members can start discussing the details and then sign an exchange agreement form. Most sites have an annual membership fee that ranges from 36 US$ to 312 US$ while some offer a free-trial and few are for free.

Types of House swap

There are different types of house swapping but the most common are the following three.

  • The “simultaneous exchange” which means that you’ll stay in your exchange partner’s place while they stay in yours.
  • The “non-simultaneous exchange”, when someone lets you stay in his holiday cottage or second house.
  • The “hospitality exchange” when you’re hosted in someone’s place while they also stay in the house.

Why is it better than hotels?

House swap is much cheaper than staying in a hotel or renting a place via Airbnb, especially if you’re traveling for long periods of time. But the vacation cost isn’t the only reason to get into house swapping. Staying in a cozy apartment in a friendly neighborhood helps you experience the city like a local and not as a tourist. Moreover, if you choose the “hospitality exchange” and spend your holidays sharing a house with your hosts, you’ll get a real taste of the local culture. Plus, your hosts will show you around the city and introduce you to all the lesser known places and hangouts.

You want to travel on a budget but you have no idea where to go? We suggest these 7 super romantic getaway ideas

Important things to know before becoming a house swapper

First and foremost you have to ask yourself if you want to be a house swapper. Allowing people that you’ve never met before stay at your house isn’t easy for everybody. So before creating a profile on a house exchange site, consider if the thought of another family staying in your house could ruin your holidays. Another thing to consider is whether you are willing to cook and clean on your holidays. Many people don’t appreciate doing household chores while traveling.

If you decide to jump into the house swapping game, make sure to discuss in detail with your exchange partner what he expects of you well as what you expect of them. Finding the right house swapper is of great importance. Therefore, you should also start planning your house swap well in advance. Unlike other accommodations, house swapping isn’t a great choice for last-minute trips. Especially for international travels, swappers are advised to start arranging a house swap three to six months prior to the exchange.

Last but not least, make a proper research on your exchange partner. Devote a lot of time talking to them, check out their references and do a little online digging in their social media profiles.

Present yourself, your house and your expectations in detail

House swap - Cosy Appartment
House swapping means: to feel cosy and like home.

It’s equally important to create an informative profile to present your house in detail as well as letting your exchange partners know what they should expect. Is your house suitable for families with kids? Do you have any pets and do you allow any? What are your requests when it comes to cleaning? Some of these things should be included in your profile while others you should discuss with your exchange partner. Leaving a guide with instructions for your house such as electrical appliances, plant care, and garbage collection is a good idea if you want to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you get back house.

Reliable house swap companies

As mentioned above, Love Home Swap and Home Exchange are among the most known house swap companies but aren’t the only ones. Intervac has been helping people exchange their houses already since 1950 and they still have a great community with thousands of members while new sites such as HomeExchange, Home Base Holidays and Digsville keep popping up.

For hospitality exchange, Bedycasa and Culture Go Go are quite popular while IVHE, which focuses mostly on vacation- or second-house swapping is for those who prefer “non-simultaneous exchange”.

To make your vacation a little bit easier there are a lot of Apps to offer help. But we have the 10 most helpful Apps for you. Check them out here.