Where Should I Travel in January?

If you are looking for some winter sun, then considering destinations in the southern hemisphere is a good place to start. Countries in South East Asia, like Cambodia and Thailand, offer dry and warm weather in January. Long days of sightseeing and exploring in Cambodia’s Angkor temples are possible, with shady spots found among the ancient stonework and the urban jungle. South Africa is also a great option as it is their summer. You can enjoy Cape Town, the Winelands, the beaches and go on safari with temperatures around 30° Celsius and minimal rain.

Cape Town South Africa

South Africa

Where to stay – Compass House, The Cape Cadogen, Great Fish River Lodge

Although South Africa is a year-round destination, the best time to visit the Western and Eastern Cape in South Africa is the summer months between December and February. These areas include the iconic Garden Route, Hermanus, and the Eastern Cape Reserves such as Kwandwe, Shamwari and Addo Elephant Park. With temperatures averaging around 77°F and plenty of sunshine, itineraries combining Cape Town, the Garden Route and some time on safari offer exceptional conditions. The city of Cape Town comes alive on the 2nd January for a local celebration known as the Second New Year (Kaapse Klopse). Essentially an extension of a New Year’s celebration, locals wear bright clothing and traditional songs bring joy and energy to the city. Because of its size, there are variations with weather conditions across the country, so except high temperatures (around 95°C) and sporadic rain showers in the north and east (including Kruger and Madikwe).

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Catarata del Toro Waterfalls, Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Where to stay – San Jose, Guanacaste, Northern Plains

Although there are variations across the country, Costa Rica offers some beautiful weather conditions in January, as it is the peak of the dry season. With temperatures averaging around 82°F, Costa Rica is especially popular for travelers coming from the UK and the US as it is an opportunity to escape the cold winter months and head to the tropical jungles and white-sand beaches that Costa Rica offers. For wildlife enthusiasts, January is a great time to visit as the humpback whales start to arrive in December, and usually stay in surrounding waters until April. Sightings of green turtles and soaring quetzals are also reliable. Aside from wildlife, parts of the country come to live with vibrant and energetic festivals like the Zapote bull festival in San Jose. With bull running, local food stands, fair grounds, and lots of music, this week-long celebration is certainly the place to be at the end of December/ early January.

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Torres Del Paine, Chile

Chile

Where to stay – Chilean Patagonia

Identified by jagged glaciers, crystal-clear lakes, and remote mountains, the Chilean Patagonia is often top of a traveler’s bucket list when it comes to visiting South America’s Chile. As Chile is in the southern hemisphere, the summer period is between November and March. With sunshine and clear skies, exploring destinations like Torres del Paine National Park and Tiera del Fuego in January is a great time. On average, temperatures are between 44-57°F in Patagonia in January which is the warmest month, on par with December and February. With that in mind, camps and lodges in these areas do generally fill up quickly because of this peak season, so it’s worth booking in advance. The weather in Santiago is dry and warm, which are good conditions for sightseeing and exploring Chile’s capital. During this period, many of the locals head out of the city for vacations, so it’s a good opportunity for tourists to see it without the excessive local traffic.

Phuket Thailand

Thailand

Where to stay – Anatara Chiang Mai Resort, The Nai Harn Resort, Belmond Napasai

Relatively speaking, traveling to Thailand in January offers warm weather and dry conditions. Thailand is a country of diverse landscapes and topography, so conditions do vary quite substantially across the country. Northern Thailand, around the Golden Triangle and Chiang Mai, temperatures average around 68-75°F. This temperature, combined with little rain and a refreshing breeze, makes it a great time to trek or cycle through Chiang Mai’s countryside, valleys, and rice paddies. South of Thailand, islands like Phuket, Kho Lak and Krabi are worth visiting as the temperatures are warm as January is one of the driest months of the year. This presents good conditions for those relaxing on the beaches, or those wanting to be a bit more active with diving or snorkeling. Phuket is a great base for keen divers, and with colorful coral and tropical fish, Kho Phi Phi and Surin are good options for snorkelers.

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Maldives

Maldives

Where to stay – Coco Bodu Hithi, Karumba Maldives, Anatara Veli

Located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is a tropical paradise island, often fantasized about the warm ocean swims and the villas that sit on platforms in the middle of the azure waters. The period between November and April is the dry season, so typically warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine can be found here every day. For those looking to dive and snorkel, visibility is good in January so colorful coral and tropical fish aplenty can be seen. That said, November is often regarded the best time to see species, like manta rays and sharks so bare this in mind if diving is your main priority. For other things to do in January, a day visit to the Male Fish Market is regarded one of the biggest tourist attractions. You’ll see the local catches of the day, and most likely sample them in your evening meal.

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Angkor Wat

Cambodia

Where to stay – Phum Biatang Resort, Royal Sands Hotel, Shinta Mani Wild Hotel

Although Cambodia’s climate is distinctly tropical, there are large variations between destinations across the country. The period from October/November until March is the dry season which is arguably the best time to visit Cambodia. You’ll be able to visit the ancient temples including Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, the rich history in capital Phnom Penh, and the beautiful coastline along Battamburg, all with little (or no) rain and plenty of sunshine throughout the day. With that in mind however, January is often one of the busiest times to explore Angkor Wat, so try to get ahead of the crowds and start your day exploring the temples as early as you can. We’d also recommend a 3-day pass to give yourself a longer opportunity to see as many beautiful temples and remains as possible.

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Cave Temple of Dambulla, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Where to stay – Colombo, Galle, Kandy

January is outside of the monsoon season in Sri Lanka, and with hot temperatures and over 9 hours of sunshine every day, it makes it a fantastic time to travel to this tropical island. Located south of India in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is one of the most diverse islands on Earth. Home to national parks and jungles with elephants and leopards aplenty, and monumental religious and cultural structures and temples, there is so much to do on the island and as a result, the most popular itinerary is one where you travel around the island. The western and southern coasts of Sri Lanka have excellent weather conditions in January but note that as you head further north (to key destinations like Wilpattu, Anuradhapura, and Sigiriya), you may encounter a couple of showers. That said, these are short and sporadic and will not impact on your activities – be it hiking Sigiriya Rock, getting a guided tour of the temples, or enjoying a 4×4 safari in the national park.

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Olakira Migration Camp, Tanzania

Tanzania

Where to stay – Entamanu Camp, Olakira Migration Camp, The Highlands Camp

Tanzania is located close to the equator and offers warm and reliable weather conditions throughout the year, with the best times to visit being the July to October window, and the December to March window. Tanzania homes 19 national parks, and each one offers slightly different temperatures and conditions which in turn, contributes to the success of the game viewing. January is a fantastic time of year to visit the northern parks of Tanzania, including the Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park, and the Serengeti National Park. Although the wildebeest migration herds can be seen year-round, their location in the southern Serengeti makes it very accessible to do a driving combining other parks. It is also the calving period for the herds which is a fundamental time for the herds. The wildebeest herds must protect the calves from lurking predators like lion prides, leopard, cheetah and hyena. We’d recommend staying in a camp in the Ndutu plains or southern Serengeti region for the best sightings.

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Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland

Where to stay – Rekykjavik

There is a constant debate whether Iceland is best visited in the summer, or in the winter. Of course, each season has its own benefits and attractions, and it really depends on what you are looking for. The winter months – between November and April – the temperatures are bordering freezing, with an average of 33°F. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that this period is the low season in Iceland. However, despite the absolutely freezing temperatures and brutal weather conditions, it is one of the most unique and captivating times to go, especially for professional or amateur photographers. Adrenaline-filled activities like touring ice caves, doing a snowmobile safari, or even riding Icelandic horses in the snow can be enjoyed in January. It is also one of the best times to potentially see the northern lights dance through the dark skies.

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George Town City view from Penang Hill, Malaysia

Malaysia

Where to stay – Georgetown, Penang, the Cameron Highlands

The period between December and February is regarded the best time to visit Malaysia as it is the dry season, in between monsoon months. Whether you are exploring Penang, Georgetown, or Kuala Lumpur, you should expect warm weather (average 86°F), with an abundance of sunshine and relatively dry conditions. You may experience one or two showers, but these are often short and sporadic. There is so much to see and explore in Malaysia, so we’d recommend speaking to our specialists to find out how to curate a tailor-made itinerary for you. Malaysia is renowned for its colorful temples (such as the Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur), the vibrant Cameron Highlands, and of course, the delicious local cuisine – from the food capital Penang to local street food in George Town.

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