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Auli india
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The best snowy destinations that we're dreaming of this winter

These winter wonderlands are worth bundling up for

Cheryl Sekkappan
Written by
Cheryl Sekkappan
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It's that time of the year when we all start dreaming about the December holidays. It's winter time in much of the world, promising a cool respite from the unrelenting heat in Singapore. There are amazing cool weather destinations in Southeast Asia to escape to, but the mention of 'winter' inevitably conjures images of powdery snowscapes, twinkly Christmas lights, and toasty drinks by the fire. So, whether it's an adrenaline rush on snowy slopes or a relaxing onsen session against a wintry backdrop that you're looking for, here are the best winter destinations that we're dreaming of. 

RECOMMENDED: The best diving spots in Southeast Asia and The best road trip destinations from Melbourne

Dash through the snow

Nagano, Japan
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Nagano, Japan

Nagano's snowy Japanese Alps and pristine alpine streams make it a picture-perfect winter holiday destination. Popular ski resorts like Hakuba and Shiga Kogen are a huge draw for winter sports enthusiasts, but there's still lots to do for those who don't partake. Head to Jigokudani Yaen Koen to catch wild Japanese macaques soaking in natural hot springs, or join a free guided tour around Matsumoto Castle – particularly lovely in the winter. Take your pick from over 30 onsen at the charming Nozawa Onsen Village, and snowshoe across powdery landscapes in Togakushi and Norikura Kogen. In January and February, Nagano lights up with a number of winter festivals, including the Iiyama Snow Festival with its majestic snow sculptures, fun performances, and delicious local snacks. 

Lapland, Finland
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Lapland, Finland

Santa Claus, reindeer, and the Northern Lights – Finnish Lapland sounds like something out of a fairytale. Located in the far northeast of Finland,  this destination will burn a hole in your pocket but is well worth the magical sights and activities. Find out if you're naughty or nice with a visit to Santa Claus Village, which is an easy bus ride from the capital city of Ravaniemi. Experience ancient mode of travel on a reindeer safari with the indigenous Samí, which will take you through wintry landscapes complete with meals and coffee breaks by the campfire. Not to forget the Aurora Borealis, which you can enjoy out in the wild North or from the comfort of a bed in an Aurora Bubble at the Wilderness Hotel Nellim

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Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
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Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

For those who are willing to brave the subzero temperatures of Mongolia's notoriously long and harsh winters, you will reap the rewards: this is when tour and accommodation prices are low and tourist crowds are nowhere to be seen. Ulaanbaatar, the capital, is a good base for you to launch your adventures in the vast Mongolian steppes. Two hours away is Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, which has stunning pine-covered mountains and a 'Bridge of Heaven' at the Ariyabal Meditation Temple. Dog sledding is a popular activity here, which doubles as a cultural excursion if you go with a local nomad camp. If you're travelling at the tail end of winter in March, don't miss the lively Khövsgöl Ice Festival, which takes place on the mirror-like surface of a frozen lake. 

Berlin, Germany
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Berlin, Germany

For the quintessential winter holiday, head to Berlin for Germany's famous Christmas markets. This is where you can get your fill of currywursts and mulled wine and pick up handmade crafts and decorative items – all in gorgeous squares around Berlin. That's not all, of course. Hide away from the cold in one of it's many world class museums. You can easily spend a day on Museum Island, an island in the middle of the Spree River which has five museums to hop between. Or get cosy at rare winter rooftop bars like Klunkerkranich Rooftop and Monkey Bar. 

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Muju, South Korea
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Muju, South Korea

Grab your winter sports gear for a trip to Muju, a county in South Korea that's known for its long and exhilarating slopes. Deogyusan Ski Resort is undoubtedly the most famous resort destination here, thanks to its fortunate location in a beautiful national park at the base of Deogyusan Mountains. If you're not in the outdoors slicing runs through the snow, then you can head to the outdoor hot springs for a well-deserved soak. There's more to explore nearby, including stargazing at the Bandibyeol Astronomical Science Museum, a tour at Muju Firefly Market, and wine tasting at Muju Muru Wine Cave. 

Bergen, Norway
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Bergen, Norway

Bergen is situated on the southwestern coast of Norway and famous for its magnificent fjords, colourful wooden houses, and charming cobblestone streets. In winter, the best way to enjoy Bergen's natural charms is to take a fjord cruise to Mostraumen, which will bring you past steep mountains and cascading waterfalls – warm wine and drinks included to keep you toasty. Back on land, visit Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage site with 62 wooden houses casting vibrant reflections into the wintry waters. And pay a visit to Pepperkakebyen, a sprawling city of gingerbread houses that smells as good as it looks. 

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Auli, India
Photograph: Unsplash

Auli, India

Known as the Switzerland of India, Auli is a Himalayan ski resort and hill station located in Chamoli of Uttarakhand. It is one of the world's highest ski resorts, and offers stupefying views of the Nanda Devi range – the second highest mountain in India. The adventurous and outdoorsy can fill their days with camping, trekking and paragliding. Others won't miss out too, as there are more sedate activities to enjoy, including a stroll around the placid Chenab Lake and a cable car ride for unparalleled views of the Himalayas. 

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