Best Vacations in January 2021
Where to go on vacation in January
As the Northern Hemisphere braces for the coldest month of the year, why not wait out the chill somewhere with a little more warmth and sunshine this January. While the sandy beaches and tropical vibes of the Caribbean or balmy temperatures of the west coast are just a short hop away and a popular choice for American tourists, those looking for a little more excitement on their vacation may want to venture further afield.
Whether you want to catch some rays with waves lapping at your feet or would rather leave the beach towel at home to uncover the history and culture of intriguing far-flung destinations around the world, here are some wonderful places to chase away those winter blues this January.
Best Festivals in January
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 2020
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 January 2021
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
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.
Best Beach Destinations in January
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.
Best Wildlife Destinations in January
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.