Start 2019 with renewed spring in your step, pack the suitcases and head out to explore some of the world's far-flung places that are best visited at this time of year. You may have made a New Year's resolution to discover more of the world and January marks no better time to do so. Celebrate in style in Moscow or take some time out from it all surrounded by the desert in Jordan, or perhaps set yourself a physical challenge and take on Mount Kilimanjaro.
To help you plan your January 2019 holiday we've put together our selection of New Year destinations and top experiences to enjoy as well as a guide to the best beach breaks and wildlife spots at this time of year. You'll also find our choice of recommended tours.
Every month of the year holds its own unique offering of special events and festivals. January kicks off the calendar with worldwide parties that ring in the new year. There's plenty more happening elsewhere too and here's our choice of the best festivals that take place around the world.
Where? Moscow, Russia
When? 31st December 2018
Technically this worldwide-celebrated event starts in December but any New Year's holiday will fall across January and there are plenty of amazing places to join in the fun. In Russia you can watch the impressive fireworks display over Moscow, in Jordan you can celebrate with local Bedouins in Wadi Rum or in Morocco you can unwind in coastal Essaouira.
Where? Harbin, China
When? On all January
In January the northern city of Harbin in China becomes a winter wonderland with the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Gigantic sculptures artfully carved from blocks of ice stand beside monumental frozen buildings and compete for awards. With fireworks displays, fairground rides and neon lights at night, it's the perfect event adults who never quite grew up.
Where? Bikaner, India
When? 12th & 13th Jan 2019
Every year the Rajasthani town of Bikaner becomes a colourful playground for the beloved camel. Affectionately known as the 'ship of the desert' in India, camels participate in races, dances, sports and neck shaking competitions. Over the course of two days there's also an array of cultural performances with folk dances, puppet shows and musical displays.
Where? South Africa
When? 2nd January 2019
Cape Town's most vibrant and largest carnival kicks off on the 2nd January and lasts over a month. Known also as the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, Kaapse Klopse originated in the 19th century when slaves enjoyed their one day of the year off. Since then it has grown to an epic parade of costumes, singing and dancing through the streets of Cape Town.
Beach weather graces destinations around the world in January, perfect for spending the start of the year somewhere warm and sunny from Central America to Asia. The southwest coast of Sri Lanka is still dry with plenty of sunshine and popular at this time of year with so many beach resorts to choose from while temperatures in the Middle East and specifically the Red Sea are pleasantly warm with consistent sunshine. If you're looking for a city and beach combo then consider Cape Town - it's the middle of summer at this time of year in South Africa and there's miles of sandy beaches to choose from.
With the monsoon rains largely gone, you can take your pick of idyllic islands and pristine coastline across Southeast Asia from Krabi in Thailand to Phu Quoc in Vietnam, Ngapali in Myanmar and Sihanoukville in Cambodia. The weather is mostly cool and dry so the rest of these countries are ripe for exploration, perfect for combining a bit of culture and adventure with your relaxing beach break.
It's dry season across Central America which means cooler but still deliciously warm temperatures and less rainfall on both the Caribbean and Pacific coast - the rains that do occur tend to be short afternoon showers that quickly move on. The choice of beach destination is as varied as the countries that make up the region from the glam resorts of Cancun to the pristine and quiet beaches of Belize and Honduras.
This popular tropical island is hot and dry in January with temperatures sitting in the high 20s (degrees centigrade). The sandy shores are drenched in sunlight with spectacular sunsets a common sight. You may go days without seeing a single cloud in the sky and at night this means romantic sky gazing on the beach. Off the south coast of the island diving is particularly good at this time of year too.
Peak tourist season is in full swing at the beach resorts of Goa and the state of Kerala, and for good reason - the weather is perfect for enjoying sun, sea and sand along the Arabian Sea. Think clear sunny days and comfortable temperatures with humidity at its yearly lowest. These climatic conditions also mean it's great for exploring the rest of the region and its attractions like Munnar & Periyar.
Rains are covering much of southern Africa so the scenery may be beautiful and lush but this makes wildlife a lot harder to spot - not ideal if you're planning a safari holiday. However, the equatorial location of East Africa means countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are experiencing a mini dry season, which is perfect for safaris. In the Amazon the wet season means higher water levels making more waterways accessible, ideal for cruising, while India's national parks are the place to go for wild tigers.
A secondary, reasonably dry season hits East Africa from mid-December to mid-March and with the wildebeest of the southern Serengeti beginning their calving season, it's a great time to visit Tanzania for a safari adventure. The drier conditions will mean the bush has thinned for better wildlife spotting opportunities and with thousands of wildebeest being born each day, you're almost guaranteed to spot the creatures and the predators they may attract.
It's the warm and wet season in the Galapagos which means low winds and calm seas so ideal for those that suffer from sea sickness. There's plenty happening in terms of wildlife with adult marine iguanas becoming more brightly coloured on Espanola Island, green turtles arriving on the shores to lay eggs and birds at their most active. The warmer water temperatures also make it an ideal time for snorkelling with clear waters and plenty of marine life.
The dry season in Costa Rica brings with it huge concentrations of bird species including herons, ducks, spoonbills and numerous other water birds, particularly around the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast. Hawksbill turtles are still nesting at Tortuguero National Park while leatherback turtles nest on the Pacific Coast at Playa Grande and the northern Guanacaste province. The great weather also means great outdoor adventures.
The compact size of Sri Lanka means the wildlife that exists on the island can largely be seen year-round though the months between December and March are a particularly good time to see wild leopards in Yala National Park. At this time of year the southern region is hot and dry, which means sparser vegetation and conditions that encourage the nocturnal creatures to head out at dawn and dusk looking for food and water. Be ready with your binoculars.
Here's a selection of our tours perfectly suited for January travel from New Year celebrations in Russia to safari adventures in Tanzania.
On The Go's Signature group tours place local interaction and authenticity at the heart of your cultural travel experience. Upping the comfort stakes, this range is a clear cut above our Budget range.
Appealing to a wide age demographic from the 20s to 60+, we maximize your days with excitement and awe and then bring you home to a comfortable 4* hotel with western amenities, air-conditioning, WiFi and, where appropriate, a swimming pool. Hotels can sometimes be of 3 or 5 star standard too, ensuring you get the best value for your holiday.
Visiting all the main attractions you’ll be accompanied throughout by our highly qualified English-speaking local guides too. Group size is typically 18 with a maximum for 28, apart from festival tours, where group sizes can be larger due to the one-off nature of these events.
Our Active range brings you thrilling trekking and cycling holidays to some of the world's most popular destinations. Whether it’s trekking to the Lost City of Petra in Jordan or cycling around the Angkor temples in Cambodia, you’ll get to explore more of your chosen destination than just the standard highlights, either by bike or on foot. There will still be lots of cultural experiences and even the occasional wildlife encounter along the way. You'll need a good level of fitness and an intrepid spirit.
Group sizes are small and average around eight travellers. The accommodation you’ll be staying in reflects the off-the-beaten track nature of these trips with simple hotels, wild & fixed camping, homestays and local guest houses for value and convenience.
Our Budget range is the perfect choice for independent spirits travelling on a shoestring. As well as guided sightseeing of the key highlights, there’s also ample free time to explore independently or partake in optional excursions that maximise your time in each destination. Few meals are included, allowing you the freedom to choose exactly where you eat and spend your evenings out, with the added bonus of enabling you to stay in control of your spending.
Many tours in this range include a local payment and this pricing system helps keep costs down so you can be sure we’re delivering the best possible value. You’ll be travelling by both private and public transport – think buses, trains, feluccas and even camels. Accommodation ranges from dome tents to a surprise 4-star hotel at a 3-star price. And with a maximum group size of 32, these tours are designed to create a social and fun travel experience.
On our Handpicked range we bring you the most iconic experiences in destinations where you’ll join travellers from other travel brands on your tour, safari or sailing holiday. Collaborating with our carefully handpicked portfolio of local partners, these holidays represent exceptional value and there’ll be plenty of cultural experiences shared with other like-minded travellers.
Group sizes and accommodation standards vary by destination where typical group size is 18 travellers and hotels, boats and safari lodges are of a 3-4 star standard.