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Tourism

Five of the best places in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve this year

From a firework festival in Vietnam to Northern Lights tours in Iceland, we have picked some of the top deals and experiences to help you ring in the new year in style

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 November, 2017, 7:18pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 November, 2017, 6:22pm

We’re approaching one of the busiest times of the year as travellers prepare to head to all corners of the globe to see in 2018. Here, we have taken the hard work out of finding the best destinations to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

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We’ve asked travel experts to come up with their recommended destinations based on the best deals and special experiences on offer, to cater for those who want to welcome in 2018 with a quick break in warmer climes, as well as those looking further afield. A firework festival in Vietnam and Northern Lights tours in Iceland are just some of the ideas to help you plan a spectacular start to the new year.

Da Nang, Vietnam

Home to the annual Da Nang International Firework Festival, this city puts on a spectacular display along the Han River when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. Prime places to view the fireworks from include Dragon Bridge, Han Swing Bridge and Tran Thi Ly suspension bridge. Alternatively, head to one of the rooftop bars that line the riverbanks, including Novotel Hotel’s Sky 36, Grand Mercure and Hilton, or hit the water on a New Year’s Eve river cruise. HGV Travel hosts a series of bespoke boat trips along the river via its tourindanang.com platform.

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Watch local bands perform at the Da Nang Countdown Concert, starting at 9pm at 29/3 Square, or book into a hotel offering family-friendly New Year’s Eve party packages, such as the Furama Da Nang resort. The advantage to celebrating in Da Nang is that you can take your pick from a collection of beautiful beaches to recover on the next day. Get on a scooter (or jump in a taxi) and head north away from the crowds to Lang Van beach. With return tickets from Hong Kong between December 30 and January 1 starting at HK$1,568, Skyscanner puts this destination as its top recommendation for Hongkongers wanting a mini new year break.

Penang, Malaysia

Singled out by Skyscanner for its vibrant New Year’s celebrations, Penang’s main hive of activity is at George Town’s Esplanade waterfront – known locally as Padang Kota Lama – where some of the country’s finest musicians, singers and performers put on an evening of entertainment on December 31. The Esplanade offers a host of bars and cafes from which to see the midnight fireworks. Straits Quay is another hub for parties, where the shopping centre and marina’s collection of bars and restaurants provide the perfect place to watch the sky light up over the Andaman Sea. Return flights between December 30 and January 1 start at HK$2,174.

Cebu, the Philippines

Referred to as the Philippines’ Queen City of the South, Cebu has got it all – from picturesque islands to historical museums and temples, shops and nightclubs. Its cluster of luxury hotels – including Waterfront Cebu, Radisson Blu, Parkland International Hotel and Crown Regency Marco Polo Plaza – will all be putting on countdown parties, with live entertainment, fantastic food and drinks flowing throughout the night. Or head to Mountain View Nature Park to enjoy great views of the fireworks exploding over the city below at midnight. SM Seaside City Cebu – one of the country’s largest malls – is also a hive of activity on the last day of the year, where shoppers bag last-minute bargains in the sales. Return flights between December 30 and January 1 start at HK$2,356.

Reykjavik, Iceland

TripAdvisor recommends Reykjavik as a spot to see in 2018, and points to its increasing popularity, having observed a 67 per cent increase in online searches for Iceland on their website by Hong Kong users in October this year compared with the same period in 2016.

Expect a crisp, white New Year, with average temperatures sitting at below zero, don’t forget to pack those winter woollies. December is also one of the best months to catch the jaw-dropping Aurora Borealis display of polar lights flash in the sky. A series of tours take in the lights, with TripAdvisor’s Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik popular.

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New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik is renowned for being wild, when for more than a week the year-round firework ban is lifted, meaning the city echoes with bangs, whizzes and pops. Viator offers a series of special New Year’s Eve tours that take in cruises, bonfires and firework displays. British Airways offer return flights from Hong Kong to Reykjavik, with a stopover in London, starting from HK$11,643.

London, UK

Recommended by TripAdvisor and Hong Kong-based travel agency Charlotte Travel as one of the best places to ring in the new year, the hip UK capital is home to one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations. The River Thames is where the majority head to when Big Ben – which stopped ringing earlier this year but will break its silence for the occasion – strikes midnight.

From here, the spectacular light show and display of more than 12,000 fireworks, shine above the London Eye. Tickets are HK$104 and can be bought online (london.gov.uk). Alternatively, step back in time and see in 2018 in retro style at The Vintage New Year’s Eve Party at the Royal Festival Hall (southbankcentre.co.uk). Pop-up venues inside the Southbank Centre include jive dance classes, cocktails, an 18-piece orchestra and a ballroom. Make it onto the terrace at midnight to watch The fireworks over the Thames.

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If you want to squeeze in a ride on the London Eye, then skip the queue – which sits on average at 2.5 hours – with TripAdvisor’s London Eye Skip the Line tour. Several airlines, including Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly non-stop from Hong Kong to London.