With New Year’s Eve barely weeks away, it’s time to tackle the most pressing question: how to spend it? Fine-dining spots across town are starting to dole out their festive offers, and the Ratchaprasong lights are switching on for the big day, but maybe you’re looking for something a bit different. Tired of yearly predictable hurrahs? Prestige has got you covered. We’ve put together a list of alternative ways to countdown this year—and, to make things even more exciting, most of them aren’t set in Thailand. Kick off 2019 with your wanderlust-mode on, from making mochi in Japan to cruising down a world-heritage bay in Vietnam. Scroll to see what you could be doing this year end!
Tokyo: Try mochi-making and countdown with jazz and cocktails.
Take the Nippon route to a memorable countdown with a culturally-rich getaway to Japan. The Palace Hotel Tokyo is offering the best of both traditional and modern worlds with an array of fun activities, divine food and endless entertainment spread over three days of festivities. Try your hand at mochitsuki (mochi-making) and relish in a New Year’s feast of Japanese culinary delights, including slurp-worthy toshikoshi soba. Ring in 2019 at the jazz countdown cocktail party, but don’t forget to set your alarms for the next morning—you won’t want to miss the osechi ryori breakfast, or the chance to witness the first Japanese tea ceremony of the year.
Interesting fact: This will also be the last countdown with Japan’s current Emperor Akihito, as he plans to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne—aka the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy—in April 2019, making this the nation’s first abdication in over two hundred years. palacehoteltokyo.com
Hong Kong: Sip some bubbly at the highest bar in the world.
Avid Instagram-addicts, brace yourselves. Chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of fireworks on your feed soon. If you want to experience first-hand a globally hyped firework extravaganza, another must on your countdown bucket list is the stunning display at Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Ringing in the festivities, Hong Kong’s skies are lit up for ten minutes with a spectacular lighting display to mark the start of a new chapter. Where to get the best views? Book yourself a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong—the Ozone bar on the hotel’s 118th floor is the highest bar in the world, offering you front-row seats to the Hong Kong cityscape and putting you eye-to-eye with the firework show. There bar will also be hosting ‘Party at The Emerald City’ later in the evening—glam up and prepare to drink and dance your way into the new year. ritzcarlton.com
Taipei: Watch the world-famous fireworks at Taipei 101 from next door.
Since we’re on the topic of fireworks, another must on your countdown bucket list is the stunning display at Taipei’s iconic building, Taipei 101. Here’s a tip: book a stay at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. Taipei 101’s next door neighbour, the city’s biggest five-star hotel puts you at the heart of all the festivities, without having to worry about crowded commutes or not snagging the spots with the best views. Hotel guests get exclusive access to the outdoor terrace, meaning you’ll get to see the spectacular firework extravaganza up close and personal, sans push-and-shove. There will also be an in-house countdown party—cue live entertainment, free-flow drinks and a delectable buffet line, ensuring you ring in 2019 well-fed and jolly. taipei.grand.hyatt.com
SEE ALSO: Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Halong Bay: Cruise down a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Maybe the traditional bubbly and fireworks display is too mainstream for what you have in mind. If that’s the case, why not ditch the grounded hurrahs and opt for a cruise instead? And what better venue for a cruise than Vietnam’s picturesque Halong bay. Luxe cruise provider Paradise Cruises is offering special menus in celebration of the countdown. Expect fresh seafood catches and live music, surrounded by the bay’s breathtaking limestone karsts. Put down your smartphone cameras once the sun rises for 2019 and let yourself live in the moment—the sight of limestone karsts rising from blue waters is truly a sight to behold. paradisecruise.com
Cam Ranh Bay: Or enjoy a New Year’s Eve rich in artistic inspiration.
Maybe you aren’t fond of cruises—no worries, other exciting countdown alternatives await in Vietnam. On Cam Ranh Bay, The Anam resort has transformed its lush gardens into an open-air art studio, where it’ll be hosting its annual ‘Garden and Sun Artist in Residence’ until the year end. Get a truly immersive experience of the local Vietnamese art scene, as well as the rare opportunity to watch and talk to talented local artists as they create their masterpieces over the course of the event from December 26-29—the resulting artwork will be exhibited from December 29-31, 5-7pm. Marvel at the works of art, to a backdrop of traditional Vietnamese melodies, along with complimentary drinks and small bites. If you’re looking for a more filling way to welcome the new year, don’t fret—the resort will also be hosting a gala dinner, buffet and degustation menu on New Year’s Eve, so you’ll definitely be energised before the in-house countdown party. theanam.com
Koh Samui: You can even stay close to home with a quick island getaway.
Who says you need to leave the country to go on a “getaway”? There are plenty of wanderlust-inducing escapade opportunities here in Thailand. Stay on home-ground with a quick trip out of town. The options are endless—among them is Banyan Tree Samui, which is hosting a special six-course meal with Alaska king crab, Boston lobster and Wagyu beef, followed by refreshing champagne sorbets. There will also be activities and entertainment held at the resort’s private beach, from traditional Thai dancing to live music and the customary fireworks display plus cocktails. banyantree.com/samui