By Rosanna Spence, i-escape contributor

Ever thought about spending Christmas in Asia? It has guaranteed sunshine, feel-good food and laid-back living. If you’re trying to avoid the usual festive overindulgence, or simply craving some vitamin sea, there’s an Asian island to provide the perfect midwinter boost.

Thaa Atoll, Maldives: best for sea views

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Como Maalfushi

Why go? Swap your roast dinner for a Robinson Crusoe-style family picnic on Christmas Day on Thaa Atoll (known as Kolhumadulu locally). Ocean and land blend seamlessly at the Maldives, so spend this year’s festive season in your diving gear. Explore submerged islands and swap bad cracker jokes with whale sharks, turtles, batfish, and manta rays. Reach Thaa Atoll by seaplane from Malé, and while away the hours exploring these vibrant waters on a traditional dhoni fishing boat.

Stay:  You can have your own white Christmas underfoot on the flawless beach at Como Maalifushi. If you’ve got little ones who are keen to know if Santa can reach this far-flung private paradise there’s a cracking kids’ club to keep them entertained. Prices and occupancy will be higher in December, but this location is worth it.

Price: from £572/night


Koh Rong, Cambodia: best for barefoot luxury

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Song Saa Private Island

Why go? It may have become a haven for partygoers who stomp until sunrise but a visit to Koh Rong is still a return to the basics. There’s dodgy WiFi reception (great for some), no ATMs and no roads despite being a short boat trip from built-up Sihanoukville. But with 27 miles of beach, seven bays and 30 square miles of dense forest to explore on foot, you won’t mind missing the Doctor Who Christmas special this year.

Stay: Spend your Christmas in Asia relaxing in a villa wrapped around jungle trees or suspended over the ocean. The palm-roofed villas of Song Saa Private Island sit in a marine conservation reserve surrounding an undeveloped archipelago. It even has its own established time zone to soak up every second of that sunset. All-inclusive rates are available, but this is a resort unlike anything you’ve seen before. December offers dry, clearer days with balmy moonlit evenings.

Price: from £1010/night



Koh Samui, Thailand: best for ‘me time’

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Kamalaya

Why go? Look up and you’ll see no buildings taller than a palm tree on Koh Samui. And, thankfully, there are still pockets of peace to retreat from the creeping westernisation of this jungled gem surrounded by the coves, coral and islets that inspired Alex Garland’s novel The Beach. The government is cracking down on mass tourism to protect its fragile environs, so spend Christmas somewhere that is in harmony with its natural surroundings.

Stay: Looking for healing and rejuvenation this Christmas? Kamalaya is a serene wellness sanctuary tucked away from Koh Samui’s party hotspots. It’s a haven for spa-seekers on the undeveloped southeast coast of the island. Kamalaya is a spiritually-minded getaway with a close-knit atmosphere. Instead of turkey and all the trimmings, indulge in steam rooms, tai chi, yoga, a detox veggie menu (which promises to be just as mouthwatering as that roast) and meditation.

Price: from £193/night



Phu Quoc, Vietnam: best for the simple life

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Mango Bay

Why go? If you think life is better on two wheels, then Phu Quoc beckons. Hire your own motorbike and head towards the northern tip of the island, where the pace is sleepier, the beaches quieter and canh chua ca (sour fish soup) is readily available. Save some to share with a Phu Quoc Ridgeback, the island’s very own dog breed. There are weekly direct flights from the UK or a quick transfer from Ho Chi Minh City.

Stay: Mango Bay has limited mod-cons, is totally affordable and offers uninterrupted chilled beach vibes. Spend Christmas Day with your feet in the warm ocean and swap carols for birdsong and cicadas. This laid back eco-friendly island escape is an ideal festive stopover as a retreat from Ho Chi Minh city’s craziness, as part of a longer trip.

Price: from £76/night



Langkawi, Malaysia: best for rustic romance

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Bon Ton Antique Wooden Villas

Why go? Christmas shoppers, rejoice! Langkawi may be a wild archipelago of around 100 islands (of which only two are inhabited) but this virgin jungle landscape is also a duty-free area. You can indulge in festive revelry one day, and hike waterfalls while watching for flying squirrels and monitor lizards the next. Hire a bike or scooter if you prefer, but getting around by taxi is a breeze, with one fixed price for the whole island.

Stay: Although the area gets busier in December, Bon Ton Antique Wooden Villas are in the perfect location for a hassle-free couple’s Christmas escape. It’s a 10-minute drive from the airport but not too close to the island’s ‘main strip’. 8 traditional stilted houses have been painstakingly restored; they’re rustic but full of character, offering a fascinating insight into traditional Malaysian living. What’s more, the on-site restaurant is widely considered as one of Langkawi’s best, so you barely need to move a muscle.

Prices: from £97/night



Havelock, Andaman Islands: best for a digital detox

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / The Jalakara

Why go? Havelock is home to swimming elephants, otherworldly coral reef and one of the best beaches in Asia. If you’re seeking complete peace at Christmas (helped by lack of mobile signal, internet connection and absence of typical beach bars) then make the most of the driest time of year here. Explore Havelock’s seven tropical talcum powder bays and hidden waterfalls. Jump on a boat from Port Blair, the capital of the Andamans, and sail across in a couple of hours.

Stay: Choose to’ be present’ rather than give presents at The Jalakara. Immerse yourself in virgin rainforest and completely unplug (that’s right, there’s barely any WiFi). Spend this Christmas in Asia without distraction from smartphones and instead kayak through mangrove creeks, snorkel the reef and take a sunset dip in the canopy-level infinity pool.

Price: from £130/night



Koh Jum, Thailand: best for relaxed family fun

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Koh Jum Beach Villas

Why go? Breaking from the mould of Thailand’s party reputation, Koh Jum is known for being the most laidback isle in the country. It’s small, authentic and reveals a side to Thailand less disrupted by big resorts and Full Moon ravers, yet it’s only a short boat ride to the lively Phi Phi islands if you crave a bit of buzz. The peaceful vibe, warm welcome and calm seas make it the ideal Thai island for a family Christmas in Asia.

Stay: Immersed in the jungle, and only footsteps from 700m of golden sand, Koh Jum Beach Villas are the best we’ve found on the island. The eco-luxe villas blend mod-cons with Thai antiques and sleep up to 10, so even Granny and Grandpa can come along for a chilled out tropical Christmas. Borrow bikes and tour the island, finding hidden beaches and tiny villages with the loveliest locals in Thailand. Kids will love the cookery classes, while the grown ups kick back with Koh Jum’s best cocktails.

Price: from £127/night



Nikoi Island: best for stopovers near Singapore

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Nikoi Island

Why go? Nikoi is one of Indonesia’s Riau Islands. Its closest and biggest sister island, Bintan, is a short ferry ride from Singapore and has long been a favourite holiday destination for its long white beaches and gin-clear seas. These islands are blessed with warm weather year-round as they’re just a degree north of the equator, so no need to pack that itchy Christmas jumper. December can see a little rain, though it’s far from a monsoon season.

Stay: A quick transfer from Bintan takes you to Nikoi Island, a totally private paradise. It’s still blissfully unspoilt, and suits couples and families seeking wild, barefoot luxury. Days are spent simply, either snorkelling the teeming seas, coming face-to-face with sea turtles and colourful fish, or snoozing in your beach house to the jungle calls of monkeys, birds and geckos. And at only 2 hours from Singapore, paradise couldn’t be easier to reach.

Price: from £264/night



Tioman, Malaysia: best for nature lovers

the i-escape blog / Amazing Asian islands for Christmas / Japamala Resort

Why go? Satisfy your inner naturalist by stepping ashore Tioman (a 90-minute boat journey from the east coast of Malaysia). The island is home to a number of endemic species like the Kajang slender litter frog and the Tioman walking catfish. Spot the Devil’s Peak shooting up from the ocean as you moor up onto the set of 1958’s iconic film South Pacific. Or you could make like a pirate and take shelter in a secluded cove – Tioman was rife with them in the 19th-century – though you may prefer to head to Genting village and explore a simpler life mingling with local fishermen.

Stay: Watch the sunset on Christmas Day at the end of a jetty with a complimentary cocktail in hand. For adults wanting to get away from it all, the spacious villas at JapaMala Resort are set in lush jungle on a private beach only reachable by boat. So instead of jostling with last-minute Christmas shoppers, the only worries you’ll have this festive season are which restaurant to eat at and watching out for the local monkeys (who are apparently big fans of an unguarded minibar…)

Price: from £239/night