17 Cheap destinations for 2015 with great weather in January

Vagator Beach, Goa, IndiaJanuary really begins prime time when it comes to people looking for a cheap getaway to a warm place. Fortunately the weather is pretty much perfect in almost all of the cheapest places on earth this month as well. Latin America and Southeast Asia are mostly warm and dry this time of year.

The two tricky parts are that flights to those areas won’t be cheap in most cases, so it’s less than ideal if you only have 5 to 7 days for your trip. However, if you can get away for 10 days or more then the cost of the flight and the hassle to go to one of these regions will be more than made up by the super cheap prices once you arrive. If you are mostly interested in beaches, scuba diving, and other water sports you should start with our list of the cheapest Caribbean islands to see which ones are in your price range.

It’s worth nothing that even though they don’t celebrate Christmas in most of Asia, it’s still peak season there because they see the highest demand of the year during that week. If you can go the second week of January or after then it’ll be cheaper and easier to find hotel deals.

Prices listed for each city are from our Backpacker Index for 2014, which compares cities around the world for the same common budget travel expenses.

The Americas

Obviously the first week of January is peak season for most Latin American and Caribbean destinations, so book early to lock in the best deals. After that January will remain high season through that same region, but plenty of bargains are out there if you look around.

The Caribbean

Negril JamaicaThe Caribbean in January is a bit of a paradox here because it’s the busiest month of the year, and prices are relatively high, but there are still many cheap options available if you know where to look. The cities below are better if you are in the mood for a but of culture, but for those mainly looking to relax in the sun, you can’t beat the Caribbean in January.

The new trend is towards all-inclusive hotels, but you may not realize that they are mainly concentrated in only a few places. Specifically, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are where you’ll find most of them, although many even cheaper ones are on the Mexican coast in Cancun and just to its south. For most people, an all-inclusive resort will end up saving a lot of money, as long as you aren’t so interested in exploring the whole island.


Cartagena, Colombia

  • January avg high: 85F/29C
  • January avg low: 75F/24C
  • January avg precip: 0.2″/0.5cm

January marks the best weather month of the year in Cartagena and most of Colombia, as days will be uniformly sunny and warm, but rarely too hot, and nights are pleasant as well. With almost no rainfall in the forecast you can confidently leave the umbrella at home and work on your tan as long as you like.

Of course the first week of January is still the peak season for hotels and flights, and the rest of the month is in high season, so hotel deals might be challenging to find. On the other hand, it’ll still be far cheaper than almost anywhere else in the Caribbean, so if you can’t afford Cartagena you should stay home.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$37.22

>>>Cartagena prices


Mexico City, Mexico

  • January avg high: 70F/21C
  • January avg low: 42F/6C
  • January avg precip: 0.4″/1.0cm

While it’s true that Mexico City – mostly due to its elevation – isn’t warm enough in January for a proper tropical escape, it can make an excellent cultural city break this time of year. Evenings will be cool for sure, but the days will be pleasant with almost no threat of rain.

Mexico City can make for a great trip all by itself, with fascinating sights, great shopping, and excellent nightlife, but it’s also close to ruins and many other interesting sights that can make for good day trips. Flights from almost anywhere will be fairly cheap this time of year, at least compared to Europe or most of the Caribbean.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$32.73

>>>Mexico City prices


Lima, Peru

  • January avg high: 79F/26C
  • January avg low: 68F/20C
  • January avg precip: 0.0″/0.0cm

January is definitely part of the high season in Lima, but it’s still quite affordable by international standards. The weather will be pretty much perfect with warm days, mild evenings and pretty much no chance of rain all month. Many middle and upper class people from around South America will be in Lima on their vacations, so it’s an interesting mix of people for an outsider.

The historic city center is quite interesting, but many will choose to stay in the trendy Miraflores district along the beach instead. There’s more restaurants and tourist infrastructure there, yet it’s a short ride into the center for sightseeing. By the way, the rainy season in Cusco goes on in January, so the trails can sometimes be cut off, although many people go anyway.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$31.30

>>>Lima prices


San Jose, Costa Rica

  • January avg high: 75F/24C
  • January avg low: 57F/14C
  • January avg precip: 0.6″/1.5cm

San Jose, Costa Rica is used on this site as a placeholder for the entire country, and the entire country has fantastic weather all January. Yes, this is high season without a doubt, especially the first week of the month, but there are many areas from which to choose so the crowds will be spread out.

The beaches along the Pacific are better for surfing while the ones along the Caribbean are less crowded and better for relaxing and sunbathing. The center of the country is loaded with national parks plus active sights like zip-lining and canopy tours, and the Arenal Volcano is a huge draw in spite of its frequent cloud cover.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$31.93

>>>San Jose prices


Santiago, Chile

  • January avg high: 86F/30C
  • January avg low: 55F/13C
  • January avg precip: 0.0″/0.0cm

January is part of the peak season in Santiago as the ideal weather draws people from all over South America who have vacation time. It’s a huge city with much to offer, and prices even during the peak season are quite reasonable by international standards.

Many people include Santiago on a trip combining many different South American countries, but those who don’t want to jet around quite that much will find that Chile itself is loaded with great sights. There’s the colonial town of Valporaiso and great adventure activities in the foothills of the Andes. Book well in advance to get the best deals.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$36.77

>>>Santiago prices


Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • January avg high: 87F/31C
  • January avg low: 69F/21C
  • January avg precip: 4.7″/11.8cm

Being completely honest, January isn’t an ideal month to visit Buenos Aires, as it will be quite warm, day and night, and also quite crowded. There’s also the threat of rain on any given day, but we are including it here because it’s still a fantastic place to visit and the warm weather isn’t a problem for many.

Another thing to note about Buenos Aires compared to most other South American cities is that BA is more about culture, food, and other indoor pursuits. It’s a great place for just strolling in the shopping districts when it’s not too hot, but even when it’s raining or too muggy outside you’ll have an endless list of interesting things to see and do, all quite cheap for what you get.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$45.29

>>>Buenos Aires prices


Ambergris Caye, Belize

  • January avg high: 75F/24C
  • January avg low: 70F/21C
  • January avg precip: 4.5″/11.3cm

Currently San Pedro (the main city on Ambergris Caye) is the only city in Belize that we cover, and it’s also the most expensive resort area in the country. In other words, if you are really looking for great value in wonderful weather you should consider other parts of Belize instead or in addition to San Pedro.

Caye Caulker is a similar and smaller island even a bit closer to Belize City, and prices there are lower for hotels and for food. There’s also Dangriga and the Placencia Peninsula which are both great choices for sunny holidays. Dangriga has interesting culture while Placencia has the better beaches. Even San Pedro is fairly cheap by most standards, and the round-the-clock warm weather is enchanting even when it rains a bit.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$49.79

>>>Ambergris Caye prices


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • January avg high: 90F/32C
  • January avg low: 73F/23C
  • January avg precip: 5.1″/12.8cm

January is the middle of the wet season in Rio de Janeiro, but this is the typical tropical rain pattern that almost always amounts to a 30-minute downpour a few times a week, and sunny skies before and after that. This is a very busy time of the year for Rio, behind only Carnival the following month for crowds and hotel rates, but it’s still relatively cheap and it’s an amazing place to visit at any price.

Hotels along the famous beaches will be quite expensive in January so finding a bargain will be tough, but if you are willing to stay 2 or 3 blocks inland you can find nice places for a fraction of the price. Book well in advance to get the best deals since in busy season like this prices generally just keep going up as the dates approach.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$54.04

>>>Rio de Janeiro prices


Cancun, Mexico

  • January avg high: 82F/28C
  • January avg low: 69F/21C
  • January avg precip: 5.4″/13.5cm

Unlike most of the Caribbean, it can get a bit rainy during January in Cancun. Of course this is the normal sort of tropical rain that comes in and is over within an hour or so, which means that it’s a minor inconvenience for most people. Cancun is actually the most expensive of the major Mexican resort cities but it’s the only one we currently list. Resorts along the Pacific coast will have even nicer weather and less rain.

To get the best hotel deals in Cancun it’s wise to look into packages that include airfare and then try to book as early as possible. You won’t be shut out of a room if you wait until the last minute or come without a reservation, but you are much more likely to end up spending way more for a crummy place rather than finding a great deal upon arrival.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$43.23

>>>Cancun prices


Europe

From November through February there are literally no European cities that could qualify as having “great weather.” So during the winter Europe is all about cultural tourism, and lower hotel prices make it especially appealing for those who like to stretch their travel budgets and avoid crowds at the same time.

If you are thinking about a city break instead you should check out our recommended cheap London hotels, our recommended cheap Paris hotels, and our recommended cheap Amsterdam hotels, recommended cheap Rome hotels, recommended cheap Prague hotels, and recommended cheap Berlin hotels.

Africa

It’s too cool in northern Africa to qualify as “great weather” during January, but it’s not a bad time to visit Cairo for smaller crowds and reasonable temperatures. Otherwise you’ll have to head to the south for a proper sunshine holiday in Africa this month.

Cape Town, South Africa

  • January avg high: 79F/26C
  • January avg low: 60F/16C
  • January avg precip: 0.6″/1.5cm

January is peak season in Cape Town so finding hotel deals will be challenging, but still it’s quite reasonably priced compared to Europe, North America, or Australia. The weather is pretty much perfect in January with warm days, mild nights, and virtually no rain at all.

The tricky part of an affordable holiday in South Africa will always be the airfare. Being so far from almost everywhere it’s tough to find a good price. The good news is that the country is filled with great sights, including safaris, of course, and history, so a 2-week trip can still be affordable all things considered.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$38.46

>>>Cape Town prices


Asia

The peak season for all of Southeast Asia starts around Christmas and goes through February, so you won’t be alone and prices are at their yearly peak. The good news is that things are still far cheaper than pretty much anywhere else in the world.

Goa, India

  • January avg high: 89F/32C
  • January avg low: 67F/19C
  • January avg precip: 0.1″/0.3cm

Goa is incredibly popular around the Christmas holidays and through January so hotels will be more expensive this time of year than any other. That said, it’s still incredibly cheap compared to any other sunshine destination in the world as long as you know your way around. This is a large area and package hotels in some beach cities will actually show fairly expensive prices this time of year, but independent hotels not far away will still be very cheap.

Prices in Goa, as well as the rest of India, have been rising steadily in the past few years. It’s more important than ever to choose your resort and area wisely. In Calungute and Baga it might feel like prices are only a bit cheaper than in, say, Spain, but if you go to Anjuna or Vagator and find a family-run hotel and eat in local restaurants you’ll be spending a fraction of that. If you are in the mood to tour around, Mumbai has great weather during January, and Delhi has warm days but cool evenings this time of year.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$18.25

>>>Goa prices


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

  • January avg high: 89F/32C
  • January avg low: 70F/21C
  • January avg precip: 0.6″/1.5cm

Saigon (as it’s locally known) is certainly not a beach city, but it’s a very popular part of the SE Asia backpacker circuit that really heats up this time of the year. There are beach cities like Nha Trang along Vietnam’s east coast, and a few islands to the south and over in nearby Cambodia as well. HCMC is quite cheap by almost any standards and it’s a great stop to mix in between beach destinations if you are in the region.

The weather in January is perhaps the best of the whole year, as the evenings are reasonably cool and it’s less humid that other times. This is also an emerging party city, unlike others in Vietnam, so it works on many levels for the budget tourist or backpacker.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$18.27

>>>Ho Chi Minh City prices


Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • January avg high: 84F/29C
  • January avg low: 57F/14C
  • January avg precip: 0.3″/0.8cm

If you have more than a week or two off around this time of year you’d be hard pressed to find a better travel value than Chiang Mai. The weather is perfect, with warm sunny days and mild nights that aren’t annoyingly muggy like they are in Bangkok and Saigon. It’s the high season for hotels for sure, but since hotels are so incredibly cheap here that still puts them well below the price of a dorm bed in almost any European city.

While Chiang Mai itself may not be as charming as you might expect, considering it’s a historic former capital filled with temples, the best part is that this is a fantastic part of Thailand for trekking and other outdoor activities. Come to Chiang Mai and then shop around for multi-day trips to nearby forests and temples, which are also very cheap, even in January.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$17.66

>>>Chiang Mai prices


Luang Prabang, Laos

  • January avg high: 82F/28C
  • January avg low: 58F/14C
  • January avg precip: 0.5″/1.3cm

Another city with perfect weather in January, Luang Prabang is the biggest tourist city in Laos, and it can get quite crowded this time of year, for good reason. Again you have the warm and dry days with evenings that are pleasant rather than steamy as they are down south.

In the past few years Luang Prabang has gotten many more upscale hotels so it might look like the city isn’t friendly for budget travelers, but there are still many cheaper guesthouses left, although most aren’t bookable online. If you just show up in town there’s a good chance you can find a cheap room, but arrive early in the day if possible. If you are coming on the slow boat you will have plenty of competition for the cheaper beds.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$21.71

>>>Luang Prabang prices


Bangkok, Thailand

  • January avg high: 90F/32C
  • January avg low: 70F/21C
  • January avg precip: 0.4″/1.0cm

January can be very crowded in Bangkok so this is really the only time of year you should seriously think about booking a hotel well in advance. Things lighten up a bit as the month goes on, but around the New Years week it can be brutal. The weather is perfect with spectacular sunny days and mild evenings. It will still be humid in the evenings, but not as bad as other times of the year.

If you are shopping online for hotels in Bangkok you’ll find that most of them seem quite expensive, at least this time of year. It’s worth knowing that many hotels in this city don’t take online reservations and most of the cheaper ones do accept reservations by email. Meals will be very cheap, especially if you don’t mind eating the wonderful (and safe) street food available on almost every block.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$21.78

>>>Bangkok prices


Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • January avg high: 90F/32C
  • January avg low: 68F/20C
  • January avg precip: 0.0″/0.0cm

You visit Siem Reap to visit the amazing temple complex of Angkor Wat just to its north, and this is the best time of the year for that, even though it’s also the most crowded. Most other times of the year it’s so hot and humid during the day that you have to break your temple visit up with an afternoon break, but in January you can actually go straight through most of the time.

There are many really expensive hotels in Siem Reap since this attraction brings in almost as many 5-star travelers as it does backpackers, but there are still plenty of cheap guesthouses and even hostels. The price average for a day in Siem Reap is actually quite a bit lower than what is shown here, and it’s only inflated this much because admission to Angkor Wat is quite high if you only go for the one-day option.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$26.62

>>>Siem Reap prices


Phuket, Thailand

  • January avg high: 89F/32C
  • January avg low: 74F/23C
  • January avg precip: 1.2″/3.0cm

As the most expensive part of Thailand, Phuket barely qualifies as cheap if you are detemined to stay in one of the many beach resorts in the posh towns. The prices we list on this site are for Phuket Town, which is inland and much cheaper than even the cheapest beach cities.

January has excellent weather and is incredibly popular in Phuket for Europeans in particular. If you are flying all that way to sit on a beach then you are probably going to want to spend a bit more on a proper beach hotel rather than trying to save money by commuting to the beach from Phuket Town each morning. Book early for the best prices since they usually just keep rising as the dates approach.

2014 Backpackers Index: US$26.09

>>>Phuket prices


Middle East

January is cool and even a bit rainy in most of the Middle East. An exception is Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which both have perfect sunny weather. However, they don’t make this list because they aren’t really cheap enough for the cut.



5 Responses to “17 Cheap destinations for 2015 with great weather in January”

MB says:

What about Quito and Cuenca, Ecuador ?…I know average high probably will be around 64 degrees farenheit but will it typically rain at least part of every day? We have 4 weeks, speak Spanish, can’t afford Galapagos and like to “put little teeny roots down” (so will rent a furnished place for 3 weeks in Q and 1 week in C.)

Also, if you were traveling to Ecuador, which websites would you recommend researching? I love just stumbling upon good sites, but thought I’d ask.

 

    MB,

    Your hunch is correct that I didn’t include Quito here because it’s not really warm enough to qualify as “great weather” for most people. It’s also a city (and country) I’ve yet to visit so I can’t give much advice on it. When I research new places I usually start on wikitravel.org and Lonelyplanet.com. Good luck. -Roger

     
John Morgan says:

Not true about europe not being warm. Lanzarote has average temperatures of 25 degrees in January and flights and accom are quite cheap.

 

    John,

    Bonaire, in the Caribbean, is part of the Netherlands, but that doesn’t mean that Europe itself is tropical. Lanzarote is obviously a European territory off the coast of Africa, so I still contend that Europe is not warm in January. That said, I do include Tenerife on the list during months when it’s just a bit warmer than in January. Thanks for the comment. -Roger

     

Tenerife 20 to 26 degrees jan 3/1/14 to17/1/14 rained 1 day brilliant holiday

 

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