China's Shenzhen Composite was the region's best performer with year-to-date gains exceeding 66 percent.
The index may be lesser well known than its Shanghai counterpart but it boasts smaller companies covering new-economy sectors, such as healthcare, Internet and technology, compared to Shanghai's state-owned giants.
Analysts say these companies are becoming increasingly in-demand among mom-and-pop investors, the key drivers of Shenzhen trade, as the world's second-largest economy undergoes a transition to consumption-led growth from its previous dependence on large scale manufacturing.
New Zealand's NZX 50 came in second place with a near 14 percent increase. The index has rallied to multiple record highs during the past two weeks thanks to a recovering dairy sector, the nation's top export, and expectations for more monetary stimulus.
Dairy prices rose 2 percent at the last auction of the year on December 15, with the benchmark GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) Index ending at $2,458, off a thirteen year-low of $1,815 hit in August. Meanwhile, a stronger Kiwi dollar has boosted hopes that officials will unleash further easing to offset the currency's negative impact on growth. The local dollar is 5 percent higher against the greenback over the past month despite the central bank's wishes for further depreciation.
In third place is the Shanghai Composite with a 10 percent spike. Despite a rout that wiped trillions off its market value from June to August, Beijing's multi-billion dollar support program to buy stocks seems to have paid off.
The Nikkei 225 came in fourth with a 9 percent rise, followed by Vietnam's 6 percent gain.
A near 15 percent loss for Singapore's Straits Times Index makes it Asia's worst-performing market this year.
Despite the city darting a technical recession in the third-quarter, a weakening manufacturing base, cooling construction activity, poor corporate balance sheets and a tepid property market are weighing on overall growth.
Thailand's SET followed closely behind, down 14 percent, while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite trailed with a 12 percent fall, due to oil pressures, a strong greenback and fears of higher U.S. interest rates.
Despite both countries being net energy importers, oil's sweeping decline this year hit big-cap energy stocks. Jakarta also exports some of its oil overseas so lower energy prices are double-edged sword for Prime Minister Widodo's administration.
Elsewhere, Taiwan's benchmark Taiex dropped 11 percent while the Hang Seng slipped 7 percent.
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