With the new year comes dazzling fireworks, late-night partying and…a new cycle of leaves to clear for the year. It’s never too early to start planning your holidays. In fact, the earlier you plan, the more savings you’re bound to get because flights are typically cheaper when bought in advance.
So on top of penning down the usual list of new year resolutions, plan your pockets of vacation pronto. We’ve found the public holidays in 2020 with long weekends and strategised possible days of leave you could take to maximise those breaks. Plus, possible countries to travel to based on the weather, festivals and duration of stay.
To properly plan your trip, here are some useful guides you can read up on:
You’re not just counting down to the new year here – you’re also counting down to a public holiday that falls on a Wednesday this time around. Because it’s smack right in the middle of the week, maximise it with 2 days of leave from 2019’s pool and 2 more from 2020’s. It’s not a bad deal when you can end up with up to a 9 days break altogether.
An extended break paired with the winter season makes the best opportunity for a trip to Europe. Don’t worry too much about the cost as we’ve got some tips to keep your budget in check.
For first-timers to Europe who don’t know which country to pick, try Switzerland for mix of heritage, adventure and feasting. Make sure to include these day trips for the best of scenery and thrilling experiences. For those looking to conquer the mountain trails around Europe, we’ve got the perfect hiking trail checklist for you.
Alternatively, hop over to London instead. It sounds like an expensive trip but we’ve got budget guide to London and a list of non-touristy places to explore to make every penny worth. It’s also must to visit the Harry Potter Studio since you’re already in the area!
But if you’re not a fan of the temperatures dipping to the negatives, head down south to New Zealand. It won’t be winter during that period but the cool temperatures will still give an aircon-like chill.
Aside from the stunning views of the aurora and glaciers, New Zealand takes adventure to a literal new height where you can skydive, have a picnic atop Mount Victoria and even kayak amidst tall mountains.
For the rebels out there who want to get away from the relentless questions about your degree and love life, or bank-breaking angbao giving, Chinese New Year would make a great window of escape for a short vacay. The public holiday falls on a Saturday with an off-in-lieu on Monday this year. Take leave on Friday or Tuesday and you’ll get 4 days off just like that.
The trick here is to find a nearby destination that’s not celebrating Chinese New Year as well because 1) you don’t want to spend half your public holidays on the plane and 2) you don’t want to face closed shops or overcrowded areas. As such, you’ll want to avoid countries like Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. Beachy options like Phuket and Bali are a good choice.
It’s not all sun tanning and snorkelling, as Phuket has outdoor activities like canoeing through the blue waters of Phang Nga Sea and standing in the cold shower of Bang Pae waterfall.
Bali on the other hand, has tons of cafes for foodies to get their fill, as well as the giant Bali Swing that’ll bring you way up high in the air with a view of the forest below.
For an adrenaline rush, visit Chiang Mai for some cave exploring, hiking, and hot air balloon rides. The best part is the weather is a comfy 26°C in the day and drops to a chilling 10°C at night during this period of time.
No surprises here but the Good Friday based on the public holidays 2020 calendar falls on a Friday – that means we are given a 3-day long weekend. Stretch it to 4 when you take a leave on either the preceding Thursday or the Monday after. This 4-day break is the perfect duration for a quick getaway to neighbouring countries and a timely break for surviving the first quarter of the year.
Thailand might just be amongst your considerations for a nearby getaway., but you’ll be scooting straight into the Songkran festival during this period. To avoid the busy streets and loud celebrations, choose tranquil locations like Kota Kinabalu and Langkawi for a change.
White water rafting at Kota Kinabalu’s Kiulu River
Both destinations offer get scenic beach views and opportunities for cheap loot hunting. You can get adventurous and snorkel or hike, catch glimpse of the milky way, or take a cruise through the flickering lights of fireflies – find out more here.
Seven Wells Waterfall in Langkawi
If you prefer splurging on one long vacation rather than take multiple short trips throughout the year, here’s the first chance to do so: Labour Day and Vesak Day. These two public holidays are just 5 days apart including a weekend. Taking 3 consecutive days of leave plus 1 more to connect to the next weekend will give you a grand total of 10 days off.
Travel a little further to Fiji for a beach vacay and meet massive manta rays on your snorkelling adventures here. Or float freely on a tube in the open sea to catch the sunset.
If adventure does not float your boat, settle for a trip to Japan or Taiwan to take in the spring views. Whether it’s spotting Mount Fuji from Tokyo or exploring lesser-known prefectures like Nikko, Akita and Nagano, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights of cherry blossoms blooming from every corner in Japan during this period.
Myojin Pond in Nagano
While you’re at it, equip yourself with these travel apps to overcome the language barrier and travel around without a local guide.
Taroko National Park in Taiwan
For a balance of adventure and sight-seeing, Taiwan has beach destinations, outdoor activities and list of aesthetically pleasing cafes to visit.
Owl Market in Bangkok
Hari Raya Puasa not only marks the end of a month of fasting for the Muslims, but it’s also a long weekend for everyone. The public holiday is set to fall on a Sunday meaning we’ll get a Monday off-in-lieu. If you take a leave on Friday or Tuesday, you’re essentially creating an even longer weekend and a great opportunity for a quick escape.
Mermaid-themed cafe in Bangkok
You’ll want to avoid Malaysia and Indonesia though. Hari Raya festivities would be ongoing so plenty of shops will be closed. Instead, visit Bangkok for night markets, cafes, and even more cafes, or Vietnam for an affordable yet rejuvenating getaway.
A royal tomb in Vietnam
Steeped in culture and tradition, Vietnam will be a treat for those looking to get away from the city buzz. Here, you’ll get to marvel at the biggest Buddhist statue in Southeast Asia, cook with the locals and catch the sunset over Perfume River. Better still, the weather remains at a cooling 24°C till May.
Da Nang’s highest driveable point
Besides the majestic fireworks that’ll cover our skies, 2020’s National Day will bring a long weekend we can all look forward – and stretch even longer thanks to the Hari Raya Haji holiday. Take 5 days of leave from 3rd August to 7th August to merge the two public holidays together and tada, a grand total of an 11-day break.
Image credit: Disneyland
Get adventurous during this long break and visit USA for road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Or fly straight to Seattle to find out why it’s called the emerald city, visit an active volcano, and spot the Milkyway above it.
If you’re not a fan of long-haul flights, travel half the distance to Australia. Whether you’re dipping your toes in a waterfall up North or spotting dolphins down South, Australia has an endless itinerary to fit every traveller’s needs.
A favourite among many is beachy Gold Coast. Get in touch with nature by going glamping and visiting rock pools, or challenge your fear of heights atop one of the skyscrapers, SkyPoint Climb. You can even explore Gold Coast on bicycle and go cafe-hopping with ease.
For a less conventional holiday, plan a trip to Mongolia. This is the best time to visit this otherwise freezing land and it’s every adventure-seekers dream come true with opportunities for outdoor camping, trekking through the rough terrains on board a horse, and meeting locals.
You also can’t get a clearer view of the stars from the Gobi Desert.
December means we’ve come full circle and are on to a new year once again. We all know Christmas break is just a week New Year’s so a 5 days of leave will patch these two holidays together to make an 11-day break. This is also the perfect time for travelling with your family now that your kiddos are off on their own school breaks.
Consider exploring either Korea or Japan over this long break – or both. Both countries have special festivals that happen only during this period – such as the snow festival at Korea’s Taebaeksak Mountain, and Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan – and it’s easy to get around via train.
Petite France in Korea
From the thrilling theme park Everland in Seoul, hiking spots and island day trips, Korea has everything you need for a vacation with a mix of activities. Try your luck at ice fishing at the Hwacheon Trout Ice Festival and reward yourself with a sashimi-style meal or grilled dish with your catch.
Giant snow sculpture that’s part of Sapporo Snow Festival
Image credit: @adrianwanders
Once you’ve sung your K-Pop tunes, hop over to Japan in a 2-hour flight to conquer the land of sashimi and ramen. But visit the less-known prefectures for an off-the-beaten-path experience of Japan away from the crowds. There’s Kinosaki, an onsen town, Fukuoka – where one of Japan’s famous cat islands is located and Niigata – to look for the freshest seafood buffet.
Snowy alps of Tateyama
It might seem a little kiasu of us to be chope-ing our leaves for these public holidays in 2020 even before the fireworks are set off for the new year. But planning ahead won’t only save you big bucks, it’ll also give you a peace of mind when you don’t have to think up an itinerary while rushing through your work deadlines.
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