Winter is one of the best times of year to travel, as the season boasts a unique natural beauty—vistas of snow-capped mountains, flurries of snowflakes sparkling in the sun, a chance to encounter wildlife in the white-cloaked forests and so much more. Many places that get good snowfalls in winter become even more beautiful, so stunning that you will forget why you wanted to escape the cold and instead immerse yourself in the beauty of glittering winter wonderlands.
There is no denying that winter in Beijing is bitterly cold, but winter offers some unique photo opportunities. The Forbidden City, a palace complex which houses the Palace Museum and the former Imperial Palace from the 15th to early 20th Century, looks even more stupendous with a blanket of snow.
As the world’s largest imperial palace and a masterpiece of Chinese architecture, it covers an area of 720,000 sq m (being nearly twice as large as the Vatican, which occupies 440,000 sq m). It contains more than 90 palace quarters and courtyards, 980 buildings and over 8,728 rooms. About 6 km to the southeast of the palace is Tian Tan Temple of Heaven, an imperial complex of religious buildings which was used for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven. About four times larger than the Forbidden City, Tian Tan Temple of Heaven is a masterpiece of architectural and landscape design which, as described by UNESCO, “simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations.”
The UNESCO world heritage site village is famous for traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which have stood for more than 250 years. The iconic farmhouses’ steep thatched roofs look similar to the hands of Buddhist monks pressed together when praying, giving the name gassho-zuruki, ‘constructed like hands in prayer’.
The roof design also helps the houses to withstand heavy snowfall in this region of high mountains. Situated in a secluded valley, once considered wild and unexplored, the village maintains its originality and attractiveness to this day.
Having long been a destination for winter sports, the capital of the Austrian state of Tyrol is famous for its stunning natural beauty. Nestled in the heart of the Alps, the city without doubt offers some of the best scenes for winter photos, as well as winter activities like riding a cable car to the mountain top, visiting the ski jump designed by the world-famous architect Zaha Hadid, and climbing the Town Tower for a panoramic city view.
Visitors can also enjoy attractive centuries-old architecture in the old town and Schloss Ambras, a medieval fortress which was converted into a Renaissance castle for the wife of Archduke Ferdinand II. There are displays of medieval armor and works of art.
Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany
A ski town in Bavaria an hour and a half from Munich by train, Garmisch Partenkirchen makes a convenient base for enjoying Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.
Visitors can take the cogwheel train to Eibsee and then ascend to the top of Zugspitze by cable car. Besides, Oberammergau, a charming little town nestled in the Bavarian Alps, is a hidden gem not to be missed, as it houses some very fine frescoes in the elegant Parish church of St. Peter and Paul. Close to the borders with Austria and Liechtenstein, visitors can also make day trips to cities and towns like Innsbruck in Austria.
Lying in far northern Sweden and bordering Norway and Finland, the Swedish Lapland occupies nearly a quarter of the country’s land area and is larger than Austria. It contains one of Sweden’s largest nature reserves, Vindelfjällen, and some of the most spectacular national parks. In Lapland, where the Midnight Sun can be seen during summer and the Northern Lights enjoyed in winter, the skies are cloud free all year round, so this is the best place to view and photograph the Northern Lights.
Visitors can also get extra ice experience by staying at the world-famous ICEHOTEL,where everything - from plates and glasses to tables and beds - is made of ice.
Fly THAI from Bangkok to the photogenic winter wonderlands of Beijing, Nagoya, Vienna, Munich and Stockholm. Book now at thaiairways.com