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Top Tips! Your Holiday Planner for 2023

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Determined to make the most of your precious annual leave this year? We have it all worked out for you, plus suggestions for an action-packed, year-long itinerary

PHOTOS COURTESY OF Unsplash & Wikimedia Commons

Living in such a multicultural city, we get to celebrate both Chinese and Western festivals, and this means many public holidays – 17 in total. We are fortunate in this because we are less blessed in terms of annual leave, which for most of us starts at just seven days. Many employers have a more enlightened attitude but, by law, the most paid leave we can expect per year is 14 days, and that only kicks in once we’ve been with the same company, on a continuous contract, for nine years.

This gives us plenty of time to work hard certainly, but what if we want to play hard too? The solution is actually pretty simple – plan trips around Hong Kong’s wealth of public holidays. The trick is to maximise your travel time, while minimising the impact on your valuable annual leave… and here’s your guide to doing just that in 2023.


If you’re on the ball, you’ll have already booked a full nine-day Chinese New Year holiday, using only two days of your annual leave. January 22 to 25
(Sunday through Wednesday) are public holidays, so by taking the Thursday and Friday off, you’ll have a generous amount of time to welcome in the Year
of the Rabbit.

If you’re thinking big ticket, Europe, Amsterdam could be where you’re headed this CNY. A 12-hour direct flight from Hong Kong, the Dutch capital is known for its narrow, gabled houses; elaborate canal system; bike paths; art museums (the Van Gogh Museum hosts the world’s largest collection of paintings by Zunder t-born Vincent), and, well, nightlife. To get a feel for the ‘real’ Amsterdam, head to the Albert Cuypmarkt, where locals shop for bike locks, fresh flowers, herring sandwiches and, of course, Dutch beer and cheese.

Arrive before January 22, and you’ll be in time to catch the Amsterdam Light Festival; an open-air light museum curated by big-name, international artists, designers and architects. Interested in Amsterdam’s favourite herb? Visit non-profit Cannabis College to get educated about coffee-shop etiquette and browse hemp-made products.


This year, Ching Ming Festival falls on April 5 (Wednesday), closely followed by Good Friday on April 7 and Easter Monday on April 10. Take one day off (April 6) and you’ll get yourself a crafty five day escape.

Is Singapore calling? Five days will give you plenty of to time to explore the Lion City and the experience starts right upon landing at Changi Airport, a destination in itself. Once you collect your luggage, follow signs to Jewel Changi, a nature-themed entertainment and retail complex, home to the world’s tallest indoor water fall, Rain Vortex.

There is also a 14,000 square-metre Canopy Park with a botanical garden and attractions for kids. Swimming in the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands, having a Singapore Sling at Raffles’ Long Bar, taking a night safari at Singapore Zoo, exploring Gardens by the Bay, shopping on Orchard Road, the list of things to see and do in Singapore really is endless. And of course, there’s all the cultural diversity to explore in Chinatown, Little India and Arab Street.

You’ll be visiting at Ramadan (March 22 to April 20), so the Malay neighbourhoods will be in celebration mode once the sun sets. Head to Kampong Glam for the night bazaars, mosques, carpet shops and spicy Malay cuisine.


Tuen Ng Festival falls on June 22 this year (a Thursday), so you may well want to take the Friday and Monday off work, for a well-earned five-day break. How about a steamy, 30˚C beach holiday?

Head to Hua Hin, simply because you can. A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Bangkok, on the western side of the Gulf of Thailand, Hua Hin is known for its long, wide, white-sand beaches and warm waters that are safe for swimming. This is your invitation to spend a balmy couple of days beach-hopping – in addition to Hua Hin Beach itself, check out Khao Takiab, Suan Son Pradiphat, Khao Tao and Cha Am.

As one of the oldest and most affluent holiday resorts in Thailand, complete with summer palaces built by Kings Rama VI and VII, Hua Hin is the perfect getaway for families, and it’s a lot easier to access from Bangkok than the southern islands. Hua Hin’s ambience continues to get more cosmopolitan with excellent golf courses, child-friendly water parks and a wide range of tempting places to stay.


Now, assuming you save three days of your precious annual leave for a long Christmas vacation (more on that later), you may still have a couple of days leave to play with, setting you up for a tasty four day mini-break or two.

You could take these in May, tagged on to the May 1 Labour Day public holiday, which falls on a Monday, or The Buddha’s Birthday, May 26, a Friday. But assuming you’re heading overseas in June, at Tuen Ng, you’ll likely want to wait until October when two public holidays – National Day, October 2 and Chung Yeung Festival, October 23 – neatly fall on a Monday.

Macau is always the right place for a mini-break, but if you’ve got four days, Hanoi, just a two-hour direct flight from Hong Kong, might be the right fit. The charming Vietnamese capital is compact and easy to navigate, meaning you can cram a lot of sightseeing into a short space of time.

Landing in Noi Bai Airport, hop in a cab and head straight to the historical city centre, where you’ll find most of the major sites within walking distance. Its tree-lined boulevards, elegant squares and cobbled lanes are packed with French-built colonial buildings and ancient temples, but also bustling markets, cafés and hawker stalls.

When in Hanoi there are a couple of things you simply have to do: Explore the French colonial Old Quarter; visit St Joseph Cathedral, often likened to Paris’ Notre Dame; take a walk around picture-perfect Hoan Kiem Lake; drink bai hoi, reportedly the world’s cheapest beer and eat (a lot of) street food.


This year’s Christmas holidays fall on December 25 (Monday) and 26 (Tuesday), which means you can get yourself a full nine days off by taking just three days annual leave – better, add one or two days’ unpaid leave and you can jingle all the way through to 2024.

If you’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas, 2023 may be your year to head to Whistler, the largest skiable area in North America with over 200 runs. Encompassing more than 8,000 acres over two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, it’s a paradise for adventure sport lovers all year round but thanks to roughly 12 metres of annual snowfall, Whistler exists because of skiing. While beginners are well-catered to on the bunny hills, there are 20 double black diamond runs (plus heli-skiing options) for adrenalin junkies.

Picturesque, chalet-style Whistler Village comes into its own in the winter season and there are varied accommodation options including ski-in, ski-out resorts. Compact and fully pedestrianised, it’s easy to get around with great shops, restaurants and après-ski.

Happy holidays 2023!

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