12/09/2014 06:39 pm ET Updated Dec 01, 2016

No More Rudolph or Jingling Bells: Where to Go to Escape Christmas

It's that time of year -- the colorful trees, the endless Christmas music, the two-hour hunt for parking spaces at the mall. It's easy to get swept away in the magic of the holiday season, but it's also just as easy to get annoyed by the whole thing. If you want to take a vacation to a place where nary a mention of "Santa" or "Rudolph" can be heard, check out these destinations -- and then start planning your trip before you accidentally spend all your travel money on spy pens and socks for your entire extended family.

1. Central and North India
Photo: Agra by: Celeny Da Silva - Courtesy:

You might not be getting rid of any of the chaos with a visit to India (just trading the parking lot fiascos for some rickshaw fiascos), but you will be blissfully free of jingle bells. While some of India celebrates Christmas, much of the central and northern parts of the country have a very small Christian population and, therefore, does little to celebrate the holiday. This means it's a great time to visit a city like Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and be guaranteed that your tour guide will not be wearing a Santa hat.

2. Morocco
Photo: Medina of Marrakesh by: Roubicek flickr - Courtesy:

This primarily Muslim country shows very little sign of Christmas throughout the country, so you are free to travel around without risk of accidentally showing up at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony with tons of children crying over spilt hot chocolate. Head to Marrakech to get even further from Western culture and enjoy lots of sounds, lights, and colors -- that have nothing to do with the holiday season.

3. Laos

Photo: Laos by: jmhullot flickr - Courtesy:

While much of Southeast Asia has succumbed to an odd fascination with Christmas and the gift giving spirit (despite not having significant Christian populations), Laos has remained (mostly) true to its Buddhist roots and has ignored Santa and the materialism of the season. In fact, you'll find the country rather untouched by Western culture altogether, making this a perfect destination for those looking to explore a truly unique and traditional culture.

4. Turkey
Photo: Cappadocia by: Arian Zwegers flickr - Courtesy:

Although you might see the odd Christmas decoration or hear a carol or two in Istanbul, most of Turkey is Muslim and, thus, looks at December 25th like any other day. Head down the coast to cities like Izmir or Bodrum, or travel into the interior to check out Cappadocia, one of the most scenic regions of the country and one of the best places on the planet to take a hot air balloon ride.

5. Japan"s Countryside
Photo: Kyoto by: jcb2u flickr - Courtesy:

While Tokyo gets a kick out of celebrating Christmas (complete with a strange tradition of lining up for a champagne and Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner on Christmas day), the countryside, especially around Kyoto, is still very traditionally Buddhist and thus free of any of those pesky holiday carols. Spend the 25th checking out Buddhist temples and exploring World Heritage sites in peace (from Christmas carols, and just generally).

6. Bhutan
Photo: Bhutan by: thomaswanhoff flickr - Courtesy:

Bhutan is a country where very little of Western culture -- including the tourists -- get in without approval from the government. In fact, television was only recently allowed at the end of the last century, so there isn't exactly a tradition of having a 24/7 Christmas movies channel. It's cold in winter, but that's a small price to pay for truly getting away from all that you find normal. And if you get too cold, warm up with some traditional food, which uses hot peppers like Americans use salt.

7. Thailand
Photo: Pattaya by: Pietro Motta flickr - Courtesy:

In Bangkok, there are a few signs of Christmas that have been slowly creeping in (it's hard for businesses to resist the financial opportunities associated with the holiday), but if you get out of the city, say to the beaches of Pattaya, you will be able to shed the holiday rush and relax. As an added bonus, you'll not only be escaping the season, but also the cold.

8. The Great American Outdoors
Photo: Everglades National Park by: MiguelVieira flickr - Courtesy:

While Christmas appears to have fully infiltrated the American way of life, there are still some remote places where you can go to get away from the noise. Head deep into the wilderness in isolated places like rural Utah, the woods of upstate New York, or, for a warmer option, try spending the holiday with the decidedly unreligious crocodiles of Florida's Everglades.

Dig deeper into non-Western religions and traditions with the Spiritual Seekers and Local Culture Tribes.