December is here and with it the time of the year you might know to be cold and comfy. I, for my part, can’t help thinking of white landscapes completely covered in snow, children building snowmen and cozy evenings before the fire with a cup of hot chocolate to warm my hands. In Singapore, with an average temperature of 27 degrees and humidity of 80%, a tropical island completely covered by what seems to be a sea of apartment blocks and skyscrapers, this mental image appears to be entirely out of place. However, against all expectations, it is possible to experience winter in and around Singapore. So, all of you who miss the cold temperatures and the fun winter sports just as much as I do, here you will find some things to do that will give you a little piece of wintertime from home.

Winterly activities in Singapore

Winter Adventures at Snow City
Since June 2000, the only indoor snow center in Singapore has offered 365 days of snowy fun every year. This is the perfect place for you if you need a break from the hot temperatures outside and want to get out your winter gloves and hats. In six different snow zones you can experience wintery adventures only 10 minutes' walk from Jurong East MRT. Their offering ranges from Arctic Exhibitions over snow sculptures to blizzards and snowfall. The highlight of your visit, though, may well be the 60-meter-long snow slide, where you can show off your snowboarding and skiing talents. If you are a complete beginner or want to improve your skills, you can also take lessons at the complex.

Ice-Skating in Singapore
Have you ever dreamed of learning professional figure skating, ice-hockey or speed skating? Try one of the various courses at The Rink. Don’t worry if you are a complete beginner, their Learn-to-Skate programs cater for all ages. The only Olympic sized ice-skating rink in Singapore, which also hosts international competitions, provides you with a professional-level ice-skating experience all year round. Check out the online schedule for the public skating sessions. All the necessary equipment can be rented and purchased at the center, which is located five minutes from Jurong East MRT.
Throughout the year, The Rink also offers public events and activities, such as their “Disco Night on Ice”.

Wintery destinations for a vacation from Singapore

You like the idea of a wintery vacation, but don’t want to spend 12 hours or more on a plane on your way to Europe or the States. No problem! Asia and the Pacific region have fantastic destinations for a winter holiday.

Niseko, Japan
Mount Niseko-Annupuri is Japan’s premier vacation spot for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. The residents in the region are very open towards foreigners and the numerous hotels and resorts offer a wide range of after ski activities. The towns around the mountain bustle with an active nightlife and après-ski that would appeal to international guests. If you need a break from your sporting activities, the next bigger city, Kitchan, is a good option to spend the day shopping or to go out for dinner. With the numerous activities and winter sports the region has to offer, you are sure never to get bored.

Craigieburn Valley, New Zealand
Craigieburn is a ski-area situated in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Spanning two wide basins, the region is especially appealing to advanced or expert skiers and snowboarders because of its steep terrain. The place is not just perfect for skiers, though, as it also offers plenty of hiking and ski-touring opportunities. For you to make the most of your vacation, stay in one of the ski-lodges near the mountain, as nothing beats the ski-in ski-out experience of staying directly on the slopes. You will be as near to nature and winter as you can get.

Harbin, China
With its 10 million inhabitants, this city in the north of China is not only one of the world’s coldest cities, it also hosts the world’s biggest winter festival. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, attracting millions of tourists every year, displays ice and snow sculptures in four different venues. Visitors can wander about the artistically lit and beautifully carved ice sculptures and buildings, some of which reach a height of 50 meters. You can connect your visit with a trip to China’s biggest ski resort, Yabuli, or the Harbin Siberian Tiger Park, home to no less than 1,000 tigers.

Shirakawa-go, Japan
The region adjoining Shogawa River Valley was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 for its gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Gassho-zukuri directly translates as “constructed like hands in prayer”, which is what the residents saw in the roofs of their houses. The wooden roofs need to be strong enough to bear the weight of one or two meters snow each year and it’s their tall chalet-like construction that makes them so stable. You can stay at one of the farmhouses to experience how the residents live. During high season, the houses are illuminated on special days which is a spectacular experience with a wintery charm.

Originally from a small town in Southern Germany, Julia Kratofil moved to Singapore with her parents after high school and has recently volunteered at the AAS office. She enjoys reading and is very interested in music. In winter, she normally spends her free time in the ice stadium or skiing in the Alps.

Read the full publication online by clicking here.