With 8 long weekends and 3 mid-week breaks in 2017, it’s never too early to plan for vacations!
This guide will demonstrate how you can get 55 vacation days with 16 leave days only. I will also recommend a few destinations based on seasonality so that you get to visit each country at the best times possible!
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1. The Long Weekends: 24 vacation days possible with 0 leave taken!
>>> 31 December–2 January
>>> 28–30 January
>>> 14–16 April
>>> 29 April–1 May
>>> 24–26 June
>>> 1–3 September
>>> 23–25 December
>>> 30 December–1 January
2. From Mid-Week Breaks to 5-Day Getaways: Together with the long weekends, 39 vacation days in a year are possible with 6 leave days only! 2 leave days needed for each break below.
>>> 6–10 May or 10–14 May
>>> 5–9 August or 9–13 August
>>> 14–18 October or 18–22 October
3. From Mid-Week Breaks to 9-Day Getaways: Together with the long weekends, 51 vacation days in a year are possible with 11 leave days only! 4 leave days needed for each break below.
>>> 6–14 May
>>> 5–13 August
>>> 14–22 October
4. Pro Tip for a 16-Day Vacation: This super kiasu strategy connects a long weekend with one of the mid-week breaks. With only 4 extra leave days needed, you get to have 16 days of vacation instead of 9 days!
>>> 29 April–14 May
The Long Weekends
31 December–2 January
There’s no better time to visit Dubai (UAE) than this year.
Not only that it hosts one of the world’s largest firework displays, Dubai’s usually harsh desert climate hit its lowest temperature in January. As 2017’s official public holiday falls on 2nd January, this is THE YEAR you can party hard without having to worry about the dreadful 7-hour return flight after a sleepless night.
[Image Credit: Aaron Smith]
With cool and dry weather, the entire Indochina region is ideal for a short Chinese New Year getaway. Indochina is brimming with culture, with the majestic Angkor (Cambodia), the vibrant Bangkok (Thailand), the laid-back Chiang Mai (Thailand), and the charming Luang Prabang (Laos) being the most famous.
Exception: This is not the right time to visit Vietnam as they are celebrating Tết. Streets will be empty and all the usual activities won’t be running.
14–16 April & 29 April–1 May
This is the time to hit the coastal area of Indochina and the Philippines, where the tropical sun is shining at its full glory but raining season has yet to kick in.
Some of the best beaches can be found in Krabi (Thailand), Phuket (Thailand), Koh Samui (Thailand), Boracay (Philippines), Cebu (Philippines), Phu Quoc (Vietnam), Nha Trang (Vietnam).
For 14-16 April, it’s a good time to visit Thailand as well, as the whole country will be celebrating Songkran for a momentous water fight!
Maldives also enjoy plenty of sunshine. The peak season is already over so you might get a better price to stay at one of the resorts. Rain may start to shower in nearer to the end of the month, so this is more suitable for mid-April.
[Image Credit: buianhha]
This is also a good time to visit Vietnam. Northern Vietnam is no longer as cold and plants are blossoming, making it an ideal time to trek Sapa. For a more cultural experience, places like Hoi An and Hue will surely impress.
24–26 June & 1–3 September
The rain has fully stopped in Indonesia, East Malaysia and the Eastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
[Image Credit: ksEjVcnM]
Plenty of options are available in Indonesia, from cultural (Borobudur and Prambanan temples) to adventure (Mount Bromo) to relaxing getaways (Bandung, Lake Toba, Berastagi Highlands). And of course, there’s the evergreen Bali.
For Malaysia, you can observe orang utans at Kuching, engage in soft adventure at Kota Kinabalu, or bask at one of the famed beaches (Redang, Tioman, Perhentian Islands).
23–25 December & 30 December–1 January
The Western side of Malaysia are now getting all the sunshine. Langkawi and Pangkor Laut are excellent islands getaway during this time, as are the great street food cities of Penang and Malacca which turn vibrant during Christmas as well.
[Image Credit: Jonas Hansel]
Indochina gets cooler and drier again, which is a great time to return to the aforementioned Angkor (Cambodia), Bangkok (Thailand), Chiang Mai (Thailand), or Luang Prabang (Laos).
6–10 May or 10–14 May
Labuan Bajo (Indonesia) is an excellent choice. Weather has stabilized and the green landscape is particularly picturesque during May. Wild animals, including the famous komodo dragons, are active.
[Image Credit: H. Abanil]
In similar fashion, Coron and Palawan (Philippines) offers moderate temperature, minimum rain and lush, tropical panoramas.
China offers beautiful spring weather, but it’s more suitable for the 10–14 May period as the first few days of May can get very touristy with the Labour Day. The following destinations are exceptionally good:
– Beijing: Flowers are blooming and many shows/performances are concentrated on May. This is before peak travel season so it’s relatively quieter than usual. While rain has began in some parts of China, Beijing side is still dry.
– Hangzhou: Weather has warmed up, with occasional rains. However, with peach blossom, snow-like petals and green leaves, this is the prettiest time to admire the painting-like landscape of Hangzhou.
– Zhangjiajie: Neither too cold nor hot. Landscape is becoming green and fresh, but tourists are still far and few. While raining can happen, it actually enhances the view with gorgeous misty mountain peaks Zhangjiajie is famous for.
5–9 August or 9–13 August
The Northern part of Australia is exceptionally beautiful during this period. This is the coolest period for Kakadu National Park, while the Great Barrier Reef has milder weather, gentler current and clearer visibility which is ideal for snorkeling.
[Image Credit: Petter Lindgren]
In the tribal land of Tana Toraja (Indonesia), where life revolves around death, you can find some of its most elaborate funerals in August. Lombok (Indonesia) is sunny with blue sky, which is ideal for beach times or trekking up to Mount Rinjani.
[Image Credit: Nicholas Kenrick]
Bagan (Myanmar), with its hundreds of temples, remain dry whereas rain precipitation has started in other parts of the country. It may get slightly hot, though, so make sure you apply enough sun lotions!
14–18 October or 18–22 October
Another great time to visit China, if you admire autumn colors. Summer heat and rain have gone, and so are the summer holiday crowds! The Longji rice terraces at Guilin are at its most beautiful golden color. Huangshan is stunningly beautiful with fall foliage among ravines and valleys.
[Image Credit: Jean-Marc Astesana]
Similarly, the rice fields at Sapa (Vietnam) is at its peak golden color just before harvest time. Halong Bay (Vietnam)‘s autumn weather is cool and pleasant.
Bhutan has clear, fresh air with sunny skies during this period. This is the top tourist season in Bhutan, though, so make sure you plan the trip in advance!
[Image Credit: Galeri Universal]
Bunaken (Indonesia) is slightly after peak season so it’s not as crowded and the rain has yet to pour. The sea stays calm and visibility is good for snorkeling/diving.
Summer is perfect for Norway, with lush green fields hugging the wild Norwegian landscape. In the fjords, mid-May sees a thousand cascading waterfalls fed by the melting snow and wild flowers in abundance. This is also the season of midnight sun, a must-see natural phenomena!
[Image Credit: Diego Delso]
Middle East has pleasant spring weather in the otherwise harsh temperature. Jordan is colorful during this period, with wildflowers and lush forests coating the valley, which can be combined with a trip to Israel where skies are sunny and weather is cool. Similarly, Turkey is bursting with color and you won’t have to face merciless sun heat when visiting one of the ancient ruins.
[Image Credit: Wikipedia]
This is a good time to head to Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) just before the summer heat and crowd starts flocking in. Occasional showers may happen, especially in Georgia, but rain helps to soothe the heat and bring beautiful spring blooms into your photos.
Lijiang and Shangri-La (China) is another place with moderate weather and blossoming flowers. The sky is blue and clear every day. Even better, there are fewer tourists in spring than other seasons!
[Image Credit: Ultimate Africa Safaris]
Tanzania‘s dramatic wildebeest river crossing occurs between July and August. Animals are more easily found in thinner vegetation and they congregate near water sources, while enormous crocodiles wait patiently to snatch them. Overall, lots of sun and little rain!
[Image Credit: Moyan Brenn]
Iceland is blessed with long daylight hours and warmer temperature, which is great for sightseeing and hiking activities!
The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka (Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa) are great during August. On top of that, the getaway dates overlap with the 10-day Kandy Esala Perahera festival (29 July–7 August).
Plenty of choice here!
– Japan is brimming with striking red and gold hues, marking the start of the cooler autumn season.
– In China, Jiuzhaigou is particularly picturesque with the lake’s mirror effect on the autumn foliage.
[Image Credit: wreindl]
– Both Tibet and Nepal are ideal with beautiful clear skies, fresh air and incredible views. Drier days mean trekking is easier and visibility is better!
[Image Credit: wreindl]
– Rajasthan (India) begins its winter and the desert sun is not as intense as usual. This also coincides with Deepavali and the markets around Jaipur is magical with illuminated lights and fireworks can also be seen in Delhi.
– October is the beginning of aurora-hunting season in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. The warmer weather is palatable for those who can’t take extreme Arctic winter, while the ice-free lakes and rivers look dazzling as it reflects the beautiful aurora in the water. Snows have yet to fall so there’s also less chance of clouds blocking your aurora views.
[Image Credit: Brendon Wainwright]
– South Africa‘s best attractions shine during this season. Flowers can still be found along the west coast. The whales have migrated from Antarctica to the warm waters along the South African coast. A combine visit to Zimbabwe/Zambia‘s Victoria Falls also reveal the falls at its most dramatic but without water sprays blocking your view.
[Image Credit: Mstyslav Chernov]
– Egypt is undergoing mild and pleasant winter. Though still warm, this is the best weather possible to visit the Egyptian temples.
– Oman is also much more comfortable during this season. Moreover, October also sees plenty of autumn harvest such as pomegranates, walnuts, olives and grapes in Oman.
– Ha Giang (Vietnam) is a great off-the-beaten destination with dramatic landscapes, vibrant hill tribes, pleasant sunshine and cool weather.
29 April–14 May
This is the perfect time to visit all those exotic countries you’ve been longing for!
[Image Credit: Charlesjsharp]
Latin America: In Peru, rain has ceased so you get to admire Machu Picchu in the sunshine and trek against backdrops of snow-capped mountains. Bolivia is colder but you get to witness the salt flats and Lake Titicaca on exceptionally dazzling blue-sky days.
[Image Credit: Ohio State University]
Slightly different from other Latin America countries, Ecuador may see a few afternoon showers, but Galapagos Islands’ waters are at their warmest, calmest with highest visibility during this time, so the rain doesn’t matter since you’re gonna get wet from having fun snorkeling anyway. Moreover, this is the breeding season for land birds, sea lions, turtles and marine iguanas.
[Image Credit: Remote Lands]
The Stan countries of Central Asia, which usually face hot summer and equally harsh winter, is undergoing springtime perfection. From the wilderness of Kyrgyzstan to the culturally rich Uzbekistan to the burning gas crater of Turkmenistan to the incredibly diverse Kazakhstan, there are plenty to see.
The Middle East also undergoes pleasant spring in the otherwise unbearably warm climate.
[Image Credit: The Confused Dasher]
– Morocco‘s amazing diversity sees different weather through different landscape with occasional showers, but there’s no better time to hit the Sahara desert than now!
[Image Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji]
– Iran is another outstanding cultural gem best visited during this time.
[Image Credit: photos.uncoated.uk]
Europe also experiences pleasant springtime, particularly in the Central, Western and Mediterranean region. All the classic destinations like Greece, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, UK, Ireland, Belgium are perfect at this time of the year!
[Image Credit: Florian Fuchs]
Canada may still has some chill in the air, but snow has largely gone and flowers have begun to bloom. It’s an incredibly rare chance to explore the country in solitude before peak season, and it costs lower than usual! This is also the right season for whale watching on the Atlantic coast.
[Image Credit: MartinStr]
On the Southern hemisphere, New Zealand sees cooler days with vibrant autumn leaves. The summer crowds have long gone and prices are lower too!
Where are you planning to go this year?