Christmas time in Asean cities is a lot of fun!


It’s a tropical Christmas, so how about Christmas by the beach? Photo: Photopixel

Christmas is coming! Whatever your religion, this is a festive time of year to sit back and appreciate friends, family and the strange pleasure found in the blinking multi-coloured lights. Let’s take a look at some of the delightful things to enjoy during Christmas in the tropics.

Of course, for some, Christmas isn’t just coming, it’s here in full force. As the largest Christian country in Asean, the Philippines has a definite advantage when it comes to displaying the Christmas spirit. That’s probably why they start as early as September! The Philippines is a riot of festive colours and excitement at this time of year, with neighbourhoods illuminated by the soft glow of the iconic parol lanterns.

These traditional illuminations add a surreal beauty to the country, from Manila to Davao, and offers a wonderful festive ambience. If you’re lucky, you might even catch one of the great lantern parades that carry the colours through the streets.

For a more spiritual encounter with the Filipino Christmas, there’s Simbang Gabi (Dawn Mass), a traditional mass held on the nine mornings prior to Christmas Day. It’s usually held at 4am, between Dec 16 and Dec 24, so you have to be up really early to take part.

Singapore’s Orchard Road is always decked out in lights and ornaments at Christmas time. Photo: Kinsei
Singapore’s Orchard Road is always decked out in lights and ornaments at Christmas time. Photo: Kinsei

The Simbang Gabi culminates in the Misa de Gallo (Spanish for “rooster’s mass”) that’s celebrated around midnight on Christmas Eve.

If you’re one for shining decorations and vibrant seasonal shows, then you can enjoy such delights right here in Malaysia. Malls throughout the country compete to offer a very Malaysian slice of Christmas, such as giant Christmas trees reaching to the ceiling, covered in colourful fairy lights.

Some places have “snow” – how’s that for some enjoyable Christmas kitsch?

Malaysia isn’t the only place with a love of shining festive lights. The shopping heaven that is Orchard Road in Singapore is also decked in festive glow, with spectacular ribbons of lights wreathing the street in Christmas spirit.

Malls throughout the region, including Malaysia, are gaily decorated for Christmas.</p><p>Photo: The Star/Izzrafiq Alias
Malls throughout the region, including Malaysia, are gaily decorated for Christmas. Photo: The Star/Izzrafiq Alias

Or you may well want a more vibrant celebration. Singapore has that covered too, with a huge Christmas Eve party taking place at Siloso Beach on Sentosa Island. Dance the night away with a foot-tapping festive countdown.

If Christmas Eve parties are your kind of thing, then Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi might be the festive destination for you. Christmas Eve sees the fun crowd gathering in the city centre, throwing confetti into the air, taking photos amidst elaborate Christmas displays and partying the evening away beneath the glow of decorations that bedeck big hotels and fancy malls.

Asean has a whole lot of festive fun to enjoy, so wherever you are, have a very merry Christmas!


This article is courtesy of GOASEAN, the first multi-platform channel on all things Asean. For more information, go to www.goasean.com and Astro channel 737. Watch GoAsean videos at www.thestartv.com/programme/asean-now-go-asean/

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