25 Cheap destinations in 2021 with great weather in December

Phuket Beach ChairsThe final month of the year marks the time when people in northern climates start looking around for an escape to the sun. Fortunately, there are big parts of the world that have their best weather of the year at this time, and are very cheap as well, once you get there. The best places to visit in December are of course close to the equator or even below it.

Most of the destinations below are in Latin America and Southeast Asia, so depending on where you are starting from it might be a rather long flight to get there. Many of us can take two weeks or even more around this time of year, but that fact means that all of these places do get crowded and raise hotel prices for the weeks around Christmas and New Year's. Speaking of that, we have a separate list of cheap and warm places to go over Christmas and New Year's, only listing beach areas around the world with affordable hotels during that period.

It's best to book as far in advance as possible for both your flights and hotels, since so many people have the same idea and prices generally just keep going up as it gets closer.

This article was updated in August, 2021.

Important December 2021 Holidays

  • December 2 and 3 – National Day Holiday in United Arab Emirates (major public holiday)
  • December 6 – St. Nicholas' Eve and Day (major public holiday in many European countries)
  • December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception (public holiday in many Catholic countries)
  • December 10 – Constitution Day in Thailand (major public holiday with celebrations)
  • December 24, 25 – Christmas Eve and Day (major public holiday)
  • December 26 – St. Stephen's Day and Boxing Day (major public holidays in many countries)
  • December 31 – New Year's Eve (major public holiday, celebrations)

Where to go during COVID19?

Those looking for a winter getaway from the United States or Canada will be happy to know that they've got many great options for sunshine trips during the pandemic, including many of the destinations on the list below.

>>>Best places to go during COVID19 for Americans and Canadians (updated at least weekly)

The Americas

A few parts of Latin America are still rainy in December, but most of it is clear and enjoying the best climate of the year. Every single city on this list and in these regions will get more crowded and expensive just before Christmas, so visit earlier if you are looking for bargains.

The Caribbean

Negril JamaicaJust as with Cancun mentioned below, the rest of the Caribbean has excellent weather yet very moderate prices, until just before Christmas. On the Friday before Christmas the region fills up and stays packed (at high prices) until mid January, but for those first 3 weeks you can get great deals, especially on Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

If you are mainly looking to just relax on a warm beach then your best bet is an all-inclusive resort. Prices at some beachfront 3-star hotels start at just over US$100 per night for two people, with food and drink included. Of course the better ones cost more, but not as much as you might expect if you know where to look.


Cancun, Mexico

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 70°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 3.8″/9.5cm

While Cancun has become the king of the Mexican beach resort towns in the few decades since it was formed, it's only one of many, and all of them on both coasts have very nice weather in December. In fact, Cancun is probably the most expensive of them, so especially if you are coming from the west coast you are better off in Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, or Los Cabos instead.

Once again, it's worth noting that the first half of December will be cheaper and far less crowded than the time around Christmas, so if it's possible you should come early for best value. Still, compared to, say, Miami Beach, Cancun and the other Mexican resort towns are far cheaper and at least as fun as well. By the way, Cancun is mainly just a strip of high-rise hotels along a lovely beach, while Playa del Carmen (about an hour south) is a real tourist-friendly town with smaller hotels as well as hundreds of restaurants and shops to choose from.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$60 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$126 per night for two people

>>>Cancun prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Cancun resort and package deals

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • December avg high: 84°F/29°C
  • December avg low: 73°F/23°C
  • December avg precip: 0.8″/2.0cm

As December begins in the Caribbean, the hurricane season is officially over and the weather is pretty much perfect by any standard. Punta Cana is the Dominican Republic's most popular resort areas, especially for those who aren't particularly interested in absorbing the local culture. This is a resort area with wonderful beaches and not much history.

Unsurprisingly, the end of December is the beginning of the peak season for resort prices, so those who are able to come earlier in the month will be getting better deals. Still, the all-inclusive resorts are locked in heavy competition all year so this area can be a great deal compared to the alternatives, even in high season. If you are looking for where to go in December for an all-inclusive beach holiday, this is your best option for most people.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$45 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$84 per night for two people

>>>Check current Punta Cana resort and package deals

Montego Bay, Jamaica

  • December avg high: 85°F/29°C
  • December avg low: 73°F/23°C
  • December avg precip: 1.6″/4.0cm

As with other Caribbean resort destinations, the weather in Montego Bay is perfect in December, and the first half of the month is still cheap for flights and resort prices. The weekend before Christmas is when peak season here starts, and if you book early enough you can still get a good deal then, but don't expect many last-minute bargains during that period.

Montego Bay's busy airport has cheap flights from most major hubs including many in Europe, so it's one of the easier places to reach as well. If Montego Bay itself doesn't sound perfect then you might instead consider Negril or Ocho Rios, both of which are about 90 minutes from the same airport and each has a different feel.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$206 per night for two people

>>>Check current Montego Bay resort and package deals

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

  • December avg high: 86°F/30°C
  • December avg low: 64°F/18°C
  • December avg precip: 0.9″/2.3cm

The destinations above are good choices for anyone in Europe or the eastern half of the US or Canada, but those in the western US and Canada should consider Puerto Vallarta instead. Unlike many other tropical resort destinations, Puerto Vallarta is a real town with history and an interesting downtown area right on the beach.

The December weather is pretty much perfect and dry, and airfares and hotel rates are very reasonable up until Christmas itself. If you are in California you might also consider Los Cabos, although Puerto Vallarta is more interesting and usually cheaper as well. This is definitely one of the best places to go in December if you are anywhere near the Pacific Ocean.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$32 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$53 per night for two people

>>>Puerto Vallarta prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Puerto Vallarta resort and package deals

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

  • December avg high: 91°F/33°C
  • December avg low: 70°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.5″/1.3cm

Costa Rica is known as the adventure travel capital of Central America, partly because a third of the country is national parks. But Costa Rica is also famous for beaches, and the best ones are mainly clusted along the northern Pacific coast in the Guanacaste region. The nearby Liberia Airport provides a convenient way to get in and out quickly.

Tamarindo and Smara are two of the most popular beach areas, but there are other good choices in the area as well. This part of Costa Rica is known for large chain resorts on the beach, and the 4-star resorts can be pricey, while the more traditional 3-star hotels are still very reasonable. Costa Rica is obviously one of the hot countries in December in both temperature and popularity, so book early.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$60 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$170 per night for two people

>>>Guanacaste prices and travel tips
>>>Check current San Jose hotel and package deals

Mexico City, Mexico

  • December avg high: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg low: 44°F/7°C
  • December avg precip: 0.2″/0.5cm

Surprising to some people, December can actually be a bit cool in Mexico City, especially at night. Its elevation keeps it mild all year, but at least the rainy season is totally over by December, so it's an ideal month for a cheap cultural holiday, perhaps combined with a trip to one of Mexico's many beach resorts. You can get cheap flights between Mexico City and Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, for example.

As Christmas approaches the city will fill up much more, so if you can go early in the month you'll be much better off. But even if you can't go before the last week of the month you'll still find Mexico City to be a tremendous bargain compared to pretty much anywhere else in North America. It's a great shopping destination, and not just for goofy souvenirs, so that's something to think about as well.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$60 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$63 per night for two people

>>>Mexico City prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Mexico City hotel and package deals

Cartagena, Colombia

  • December avg high: 86°F/30°C
  • December avg low: 76°F/24°C
  • December avg precip: 1.3″/3.3cm

By early December the rainy season is pretty much over in Cartagena, and it cools down just a bit more as well, so the weather really doesn't get any better than this. As with most others on this list, right around Christmas you'll find that hotels get more expensive and are more crowded, so if you can go earlier in the month you'll be paying less and dealing with fewer crowds.

Cartagena is becoming a very popular winter beach destination for people from North America, and it's still a fantastic bargain compared to better known places, but it might not stay that way forever. As Colombia gets more popular (and as long as it stays safe) then prices should keep going up at these resort towns.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$74 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$105 per night for two people

>>>Cartagena prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Cartagena hotel and package deals

Lima, Peru

  • December avg high: 76°F/24°C
  • December avg low: 66°F/19°C
  • December avg precip: 0.0″/0.0cm

While December is quite busy in Lima, as a very popular summer beach destination for South Americans, it's also still very reasonably priced so it's worth considering if you are exploring the continent. The beaches aren't spectacular as they are in Brazil and elsewhere, but Lima is still a great summer city with great outdoor life this time of year.

The food, including its famous ceviche dishes, is a particular highlight here, and the tourist district of Miraflores is packed with interesting and cheap restaurants. Basic and cheap hotels are in the same neighborhood, so it's a better alternative to the historic center of Lima for most people. By the way, the rainy season in Cusco starts in December, so the trails can sometimes be cut off, although many people go anyway.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$52 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$83 per night for two people

>>>Lima prices and travel tips
>>>Check prices on Peru hotels and resorts

Santiago, Chile

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 54°F/12°C
  • December avg precip: 0.1″/0.3cm

The weather during December is Santiago is pretty much perfect, with warm days and nights cool enough so that anyone can sleep without needing air conditioning. This is obviously part of high season in Santiago, although the first half of the month won't be as crowded or expensive as the second half.

It's true that Santiago is not considered a top-flight destination by everyone, but it's a fantastic base for a trip involving several stops in Chile, especially this time of year. There's the Colonial town of Valparaiso and many adventure towns in the mountains, so you can get a bit of everything in at very reasonable prices.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$67 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$98 per night for two people

>>>Santiago prices and travel tips
>>>Check prices on Chile hotels and resorts

Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 65°F/18°C
  • December avg precip: 4.1″/10.3cm

Unlike most cities on South America's west coast, Buenos Aires has fairly consistent rainfall all year long, and you might see a bit of the wet stuff even during December. Still, the temperatures should be ideal for being outdoors, and this is really mostly an indoor city anyway, so when it does rain you'll be able to pop into a shop or museum or cafe and have a great time.

Hotel prices definitely go up in around Christmas so it's best to come early in the month if that's possible, but it's still a pretty good bargain even during the peak weeks. Book early if you can because the better and cheaper hotels will fill up first, of course. Also consider a side trip to the Mendoza wine region, Patagonia, or the amazing water falls of Iguazu.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$41 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$59 per night for two people

>>>Buenos Aires prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Buenos Aires hotel and package deals

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • December avg high: 88°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 72°F/22°C
  • December avg precip: 5.1″/12.8cm

December is yet another fantastic month for weather in Brazil, although you can expect some short tropical rain storms a couple times each week, usually only an hour or so each time. It's also getting warm enough that you are going to want a hotel with air conditioning to get to sleep at night, since it'll be warm and muggy even in the wee hours.

As with most on this list, hotels get very full and more expensive just before the Christmas holidays, so it's better to come early in the month if possible. That way you'll have your pick of places at some surprisingly good room rates, even at some high-end places on the famous beaches. If you are coming during Christmas then book a hotel NOW because they'll be full and will keep getting more expensive the longer you wait.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$58 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$70 per night for two people

>>>Rio de Janeiro prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Rio de Janeiro hotel and package deals


From December through February there are literally no European cities that could qualify as having “great weather,” except for the Canary Islands, which is listed below. 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.

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

  • December avg high: 71°F/22°C
  • December avg low: 61°F/16°C
  • December avg precip: 1.7″/4.3cm

December might be the only month of the year in the Canary Islands where very few people would consider sunbathing. Still, compared to everywhere else in Europe, Tenerife is balmy. The largest and most English-speaking of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is no mystery to the hundreds of thousands of northern Europeans who spend a month or more here every year.

Even if you can't sunbathe, the weather is still reliably pleasant all the time, with almost no rain. Weekly and monthly apartment rentals here are very popular, but there are plenty of hotels and hundreds of restaurants for those coming for shorter periods. If you want to be with the most English speakers you'll want to focus on the southwest area of the island around Los Cristianos and Playa de la America.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$66 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$77 per night for two people

>>>Tenerife prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Tenerife hotel deals


December is ideal in much of Africa, though Morocco might be a bit too cool by this time. The list below is quite incomplete due to how few cities we cover in the region.

Cairo, Egypt

  • December avg high: 68°F/20°C
  • December avg low: 50°F/10°C
  • December avg precip: 0.2″/0.5cm

In spite of its image of being blazing hot all the time, December in Cairo can actually be on the cool side, at least in the evenings. This is great though because almost all the important sights are outdoors and requite a lot of walking between them. For 9 months of the year it can get very hot doing that, so these few cooler months are ideal for visiting the famous sights.

Fortunately, it rarely rains at all in Cairo, so even though December is one of the wetter months, that means nothing and you are unlikely to see even a drop of rain. Hotel prices do reach their peak in Cairo starting late in December, so it's best to go early in the month if possible. Egypt is definitely one of the cheapest places to travel in December, and the weather is surprisingly nice as well.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$37 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$51 per night for two people

>>>Cairo prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Cairo hotel deals

Cape Town, South Africa

  • December avg high: 77°F/25°C
  • December avg low: 59°F/15°C
  • December avg precip: 0.7″/1.8cm

Cape Town obviously has its summer beginning in December, so temperatures should feel nice to anyone coming from a winter climate. It's about as far from the equator as Los Angeles is, and it has a similar climate in reverse, meaning that it rarely gets too hot or cold, at least near the coast.

This is a fairly cheap city compared to Europe or North America, so at least bargains are not hard to find on the ground once you get there. The flights are of course long and usually a bit expensive, so the whole trip will add up for sure. Hotels will be cheaper in early December than during Christmas week, of course.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$61 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people

>>>Cape Town prices and travel tips
>>>Check South Africa tour prices and travel tips


December is an ideal month in most of Southeast Asia, except for much of the coast of Vietnam, which gets rain this month. Crowds, of course, get big just before Christmas, and hotel prices go up accordingly. It's too cold in China, Korea, and Japan to make this list.

For a longer list see our best December destinations in Asia choices, which includes some of these but quite a few more.

Boracay Island, Philippines

  • December average high: 82°F/28°C
  • December average low: 75°F/24°C
  • December avg precip: 7.1″/17.8cm

The traditional rainy season winds down in early December in Boracay, but even early in the month you are only likely to get a few quick showers each week. Typical of the Tropics, the rain often hits in the afternoon, and is over 30 minutes later, leaving behind yet another amazing sunset as the clouds slowly disappear.

If you are looking for something far less developed than Phuket or any other Thai island, Boracay might be for you. This gorgeous strip of sand is a bit out of the way, but partly because of that it still feels only partly discovered. You'll spend your days relaxing along White Beach or walking up and down the sandy paths that serve as the only real form of transport for most people. Many visitors come every year, and quite a few of those never seem to leave.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$70 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$108 per night for two people

>>>Boracay prices and travel tips
>>>Check Boracay resort deals

Bangkok, Thailand

  • December avg high: 88°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.4″/1.0cm

The driest and coolest month of the year, Bangkok is ideal during December, or at least as ideal as it's ever going to get. It's very hot and quite humid almost every day of the year, but the humidity backs off just a bit during winter, and that will be much appreciated for anyone spending more than an hour or two outside.

There's a massive range of quality and prices when it comes to hotels in Bangkok, and the city is enormous as well, so you really want to do your research for this place. Most people are happier paying a bit more to stay near the river and all the tourist attractions, or even in the infamous Khosan Road backpacker district, which is cheap and fun, if tacky.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$37 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$47 per night for two people

>>>Bangkok prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Bangkok hotel deals

Goa, India

  • December avg high: 91°F/33°C
  • December avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.3″/0.8cm

If you are looking for a cheap, beautiful, and relaxing beach destination during December then Goa is ideal. This has become hugely popular with package tourists from Europe and Israel (and more recently Russia), and the facts that pretty much everyone speaks English and there aren't many cultural opportunities means that it's a perfect place to just vegetate in a beach chair for a week or two.

Not surprisingly, the weeks around Christmas and New Years are literally the busiest of the year in Goa, so either book a hotel way in advance or be flexible once you arrive. Some towns, like Calungute, are lined with package hotels that fill up completely, but other towns, like Anjuna and Vagator, are usually booked in person or by email, so you can often find a place just walking around. If you are in the mood to tour around, Mumbai has great weather during December, and Delhi has warm days but cool evenings this time of year. Goa has some of the best beaches in December in all of Asia, so give this one a serious look.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$40 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$71 per night for two people

>>>Goa prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Goa hotel deals

Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 59°F/15°C
  • December avg precip: 0.8″/2.0cm

Unlike Bangkok, which has warm evenings and blazing hot days pretty much all year, Chiang Mai cools off nicely during December, at least in th evenings. This is an outdoor city with an emphasis on hiking and exploring temples so the cooler temperatures will be welcome for most people. It's still hot most days, and quite dry as well, so it balances nicely.

Hotels in Chiang Mai are among the world's greatest travel bargains, with decent private rooms available for under US$10 per night in the city center. Pay more and you get a lot more, so it's fun to feel like a big shot in a US$20 room that is almost like a suite. It gets crowded around Christmas so prepare for that and book early.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$27 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$55 per night for two people

>>>Chiang Mai prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Chiang Mai hotel deals

Luang Prabang, Laos

  • December avg high: 80°F/27°C
  • December avg low: 58°F/14°C
  • December avg precip: 0.5″/1.3cm

It's not the most famous city in Southeast Asia, but Luang Prabang is incredibly popular among those who've visited, and fortunately the weather during December is pretty much perfect. There's no rain to worry about and it even cools off enough in the evenings to where you won't need an air conditioner and morning hikes will be very comfortable.

Hotel prices definitely jump up around Christmas, so this is yet another place where you should come in the first half of the month if possible. Most people visit along with a trip to Bangkok and Siem Reap, but other cities in Laos are worth a stop as well, especially Vang Vieng (if you are a backpacker type) and Vientiane.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$52 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$59 per night for two people

>>>Luang Prabang prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Luang Prabang hotel deals

Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • December avg high: 88°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.4″/1.0cm

There is a key reason why December is the best month of the year to visit Siem Reap. More than any non-beach city on this list, Siem Reap is an outdoor town due to the main attraction being the glorious Angkor Wat temples just to its north (and the whole reason you are coming to Siem Reap in the first place).

Those temples are all outdoor for the most part, so cooler and dryer conditions mean you can spend more time touring the temples and still being comfortable. Almost any other month of the year and you'll be better off going back to your hotel for a few hours in the afternoon, but in December you can carry on all day if you like. The town of Siem Reap is a delight in itself, but of course it fills up near Christmas.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$35 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$54 per night for two people

>>>Siem Reap prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Siem Reap hotel deals

Phuket, Thailand

  • December avg high: 88°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 75°F/24°C
  • December avg precip: 2.3″/5.8cm

Phuket is incredibly popular among Europeans in December, especially the final week, of course, so it's critical to book early to get a good price at a beachfront hotel if that's your mission. It's also important to mention that Phuket is an island with more than a dozen different beach towns, each with its own personality and price range. Some are raucous and down-market while others are quiet and very expensive.

The prices given here are on the low side, especially during the winter season, so you are going to pay more unless you are willing to stay in one of the simple hotels in Phuket Town. It's not a beach resort, but it's a fun place itself, cheaper than the beaches, and allows an easy way to cheaply visit multiple beaches during a visit.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$42 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$57 per night for two people

>>>Phuket prices and travel tips
>>>Check Phuket hotel and resort promotions

Hanoi, Vietnam

  • December avg high: 71°F/22°C
  • December avg low: 60°F/16°C
  • December avg precip: 0.8″/2.0cm

It's actually a bit chilly in Hanoi in December, but generally very dry and exceedingly pleasant around the clock, so it's a very good time to visit. Nearly everyone who visits Hanoi will be doing it as part of a larger tour of Vietnam or other countries in Southeast Asia, and this is one of the cooler cities this time of year, therefore a nice balance to some of the places that are still quite hot.

Hanoi is actually the cheapest tourist city in the world according to our Backpacker Index, and that's partly due to beer and museums being incredibly cheap. In reality, you'll want to spend more money than the minimum because everything is great value.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$28 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$64 per night for two people

>>>Hanoi prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Hanoi hotel deals

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

  • December avg high: 87°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 71°F/22°C
  • December avg precip: 2.2″/5.5cm

December is the coolest month of the year in Saigon (as it's locally known) and the rainy season is pretty much over by November, so this is an ideal time to come as part of a tour of Southeast Asia. It's normally blazing hot and humid here, so the moderate temperatures will be a bonus even if you have nothing to compare it to.

HCMC is not quite as cheap as Hanoi, and it's not as nice to look at either, but it's definitely worth a visit for a combination of history and culture. This is a huge and sprawling city so it's important to choose the location of your hotel carefully. During Christmas things do fill up and prices go up as well, so book early if possible.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$46 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$75 per night for two people

>>>Ho Chi Minh City prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Ho Chi Minh City hotel deals

Middle East

December 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.

Dubai, UAE

  • December avg high: 79°F/26°C
  • December avg low: 61°F/16°C
  • December avg precip: 0.6″/1.5cm

December and January are the busiest two months in Dubai, primarily because it's one of the closest places to Europe that actually has warm weather this time of year and is also safe. Even though the UAE is a Muslim country, the Christmas weeks are the most expensive here because most visitors are from Europe anyway.

The December weather is actually warm enough to sit on the beach, but most people who come to Dubai tend to just relax and do a lot of shopping at one of the enormous and modern malls here. The restaurant scene is very interesting as well, and you can eat cheaply if you follow the local workers, or go to one of the hotel restaurants and get world-class cuisine.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$51 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$69 per night for two people

>>>Dubai prices and travel tips
>>>Check current Dubai hotel deals


Auckland, New Zealand

  • December average high: 71°F/22°C
  • December average low: 57°F/14°C
  • December avg precip: 3.6″/9.0cm

Auckland is where most international flights to New Zealand land, but most people get their fill of the crowded city within a day or two. The real magic of New Zealand is in the scenery and smaller towns. December is the beginning of summer in New Zealand so temperatures should rise as the month goes on. If you've got at least a week and hopefully more, New Zealand is best discovered by doing a tour. You can rent a campervan/RV in Auckland and drive around to see the best sights on the North Island, and then take a ferry to the South Island to see even better scenery.

You can also rent a car and drive to the same places where you can stay in cabins in holiday parks/campgrounds, and small hotels and guest houses are reasonably priced as well. But renting a campervan is the classic way to see New Zealand and it can be surprisingly cheap since you'll only be paying a small fee to park for the night in the abundant campgrounds. You'll also be cooking many of your own meals, which is helpful because New Zealand doesn't have many cheap restaurants or take out joints outside of the bigger cities. Queenstown on the South Island is the adventure sports capital of New Zealand and not to be missed. Rotorua on the North Island is also very much worth a stop.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$58 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$71 per night for two people

>>>Auckland prices and travel tips

251 Responses to “25 Cheap destinations in 2021 with great weather in December”

kelly says:

Hey great picks, what about morocco though? 🙂

    Roger Wade says:

    Thanks, Kelly. Morocco is a bit too cold in December to really qualify as having “great weather” but it does make the list in spring and autumn for sure. -Roger

    Innahid Sadik says:

    The paradise of the world a country named Guyana in South America.
    With temperature in December between 25-33 degress, good hotels, eco tours, rare birds and wild life, great food and lovely people.

Puh Ani says:

I am surprise, Indonesia is not in the list. Well, of course December Bali will be too crowded even for the local.

C. F. says:

What about the Maltese islands in Europe? Most of the time the weather is still sunny and the temperatures are not low when compared to other countries.

    Roger Wade says:

    C. F., Thanks for the suggestion, but Malta doesn’t really qualify based on the criteria we are using. Compared to the rest of Europe, Malta is warm in December, but the average high is still only 17C during the month, and that’s not really “great weather.”

hung says:

Mauritius is the best place to go on holidays…cheap,hot,beautiful beaches,good food,multicultural,nice people…

Alisa says:

What about Malaysia? I hear east coast is monsoon season but what about west coast beach areas in Malaysia in Dec and Jan time?

    Roger Wade says:


    In December I really think the beaches and islands of Thailand are a better option. Malaysia is still quite hot in winter and the best beach areas in the country like Langkawi are relatively expensive. They are a good choice compared to many other places though, so they could be on this list. Thanks for commenting. -Roger

Ed says:

What are cheap destinations for Christmas and New Years? I am sure that many countries do not celebrate Christmas and should not be more expensive than the weeks before.

    Roger Wade says:


    For really cheap destinations during Christmas week you’ll need to look at places with cold weather but also nothing interesting to do. For example, you could go to beach resorts in Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean where it’s cold and a few hotels remain open anyway.

    Interestingly, the fact that a country itself celebrates Christmas (or even New Years) doesn’t matter because all the rich countries do so those people fly wherever it’s warm. All over Tropical Asia, those weeks are the busiest time of the year, and the same is true in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the same reason. Good luck. -Roger

K.H says:

why not mention african distinations,to be specific East Africa

    Roger Wade says:


    If I had more information about destinations in East Africa that would qualify I would love to include them. But unfortunately, it’s one of the few regions I haven’t been to myself, and according to every source I hear, very few foreigners are visiting as well. I know many (especially wealthy) people do the safaris in that region, or they walk up Kilimanjaro, but outside that it still sounds like there is almost no tourist infrastructure or even a backpacker scene. If you know things to be different, please let me know because I’m very open to it. -Roger

Jana says:

What about the Canary Islands and Madeira? Perfect weather all year round and within the schengen zone! 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


    I do have the Canaries listed for several months of the year, although you are right that it could conceivably be on there every month. Thanks for the comment. -Roger

Max says:

Canary Islands is definitely missing here, there is an average high temperature of 25 degrees in December pretty much on every islands except Tenerife North and other areas.

Kellie Leanne says:

What about Australia? Perfect weather in December/ january

    Roger Wade says:


    Although Australia has gotten a little cheaper due to its currency finally weakening a bit, it’s still too expensive to be on the “cheap destinations” list. Thanks for asking though. -Roger

Barry says:

I spent a few weeks in Ghana in Dec 2010 (as part of two months in West Africa) – beautiful weather, extremely cheap, rich in history, and all in a variety of gorgeous ecosystems/settings.

Not to mention having some of the warmest people you could possibly meet.

Claire says:

Can anyone recommend a family holiday , I have twin boys age 13 both with ADHD and a girl of 14, we need a holiday where we with things to do but also a bit of relaxing time . They won’t go to any kids clubs . We have done Florida , Dubai, Turkey . Would like some where hot

    Roger Wade says:


    There are a lot of possible places that might work for you, so it’s hard to narrow my suggestions down without knowing where you are starting from and how far you are willing to travel from there. But two things that come to mind are Bali, Indonesia, and the Cancun area of Mexico. If you are in the US or Canada then it will obviously be a long flight to Bali, but things are quite cheap once you get there so it’s really worthwhile. The island has beaches and water sports, but also really interesting culture, not to mention loads of shopping and beach resorts. Its main problem these days is vehicle traffic, so getting around the island is slower than it used to be.

    Cancun and the Riviera Maya area are also quite affordable, and warm, in December. There are thousands of beach hotels and water sports, but also the ruins nearby and some other interesting options. Best of luck and I hope you find something nice. -Roger

May Alli says:

Hi, I am from the African Continent and have travelled extensively in December in this region as it is our summer vacations. A few suggestions; Yes, Mauritius is cheap, safe and warm; Zanzibar is another beautiful destination with friendly people, beautiful weather and stunning beaches and resorts; I would recommend almost any province in South Africa, especially the Cape Regions, Kwa Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga Province- the seaside resort without the sea and The Sun City Resort in Rustenberg. I suppose a first time visitor could book a package to a few regions. And no, we don’t have lions running around, nor is it as dangerous as the media portrays it to be. Good luck May!

carmenrosa says:

Rincon, Puerto Rico!!!

HEMANT says:

Hi, You have nice list of recommendations, but don’t u think New Delhi (North India) should also make the cut? It has excellent weather and is certainly an inexpensive destination.

Nazneen says:

Hi. Looking for good summer vacation areas to go to in December/January with children?

anteos says:

bali is no longer cheap. dont ask for that, hotels are expensive, boutiques selling 400usd dresses, fine dining restaurants priced the same like in develop countries but bali aint develop yet. bali is a paradise if you can live so cheap and didnt expect much, or you have no budget lifestyle and live like a royalty there.

new delhi is not a tourists city, its too noisy esp in december. or is it always noisy since the city is busy?

I agree luang prabang is a nice city eventhough 3 days is enough, like seriously enough.

what about bagan? I find it beautiful eventhough the food and the transport going around the city really painful, same goes to cambodia. get ready to be scammed.

john says:

Hi – I want to go to se asia islands in nov, dec, jan and feb.

I intially thought of going to koh phi phi but heard its very expensive, heard Koh Chang and Koh Lanta are good but then they are more expensive now too.

Other options are Sri Lanka or Palawan in Phillipnes

Anyone know what the general cheapest daily budget would be during these months? I’m afraid of going to a thai island and prices exceeding my budget.

As a solo male traveller my preference is cheap, not too crowded not too deserted, but a friendly nightlife scene. I never enjoyed deserted beaches or overcrowded.

I thought Koh Tao, Pai, Siem Reap, Vang Vienne, Varkala Kerala in India were about the best places in asia I’ve been too. Bangkok, koh pangyan, hanoi and goa were a bit too much and difficult to get to make friends with other travellers.

    Roger Wade says:


    Sri Lanka doesn’t really have a good infrastructure for budget travelers at this point. There are loads of nice hotels if you are willing to pay US$40 or more per night, but almost nothing below that except for a few hostels. I haven’t been to Palawan but I have been to Boracay and Palawan can’t be too much cheaper. Boracay doesn’t have many budget options either, so my guess is that Thailand or Cambodia is your best bet.

    Have you been to Sihanoukville? I haven’t, but I believe it’s cheap.

    My first thought was Goa, which you say you’ve been to before, but maybe you don’t realize that there are about 20 different beach areas that are different from one another in terms of vibe and types of visitors? Personally, I found that Anjuna and Vagator were both kind of mellow but also busy enough and easy to meet other people. But if you don’t like those, there are many different beaches in the south, which I’ve heard are also great and draw different groups. It’s something to think about because it doesn’t get much cheaper than Goa for beaches anywhere in the world. -Roger

      john says:

      Thanks for your speedy reply (excellent site btw)

      When I was in Goa I think I stayed in Palolem Beach. I guess travelling solo depends a lot on the luck of the draw meeting people I remember my neighbour in the guesthouse was a bit cold. If I had of met some people I would of had more fun.

      Varkala on the other hand, had more of a community feel and easier to make acquaintance and friends with people.

      But I’ll take a look at Anjuna and Vagator, do you know if the rates go up a lot in Goa in Dec / Jan?

      I guess also the last time I was there the exchange rate was bad for me and it seemed a bit more expensive. The exchange rate has got better for the British pound vs Indian Rupee, so perhaps I could at least enjoy some more beer next time!

      I only did a small section of India last time, I didn’t head up to Mumbai and Rajasthan and over to Nepal. Part of me would love to do that, part of me dreads the trains, buses and overcrowding.

      I also generally loved the conveniences of Thailand regarding the easy access to atms, street food and even the 7elevens.

      I’ll look into Sihanoukville too.

      Do you know the visa situation in Thailand for British person, if I land by plane I’d get 30 days if I then went to cambodia Sihanoukville for 30 days, could I get a two month visa for thailand there and go back to thailand?


        Roger Wade says:


        I totally agree about the solo traveling thing being down to luck in many cases. Right now I’m on a long trip around Europe again, and from one night to the next I might meet a bunch of interesting people, or be sitting there alone in a sea of locals with no interest in chatting with foreigners. At least in a place like Goa, everybody is on holiday, so I’ve had good luck meeting people.

        The hotel rates all over Goa are highest in December and January, but in Anjuna or Vagator they still start at around £10 per night for a private room with ensuite. The cheap places are quite shabby, so it might be worth spending more. Vagator has an amazing beach, but it’s often filled with Russians these days. Anjuna is famous for its beach raves and music scene, but I’ve honestly heard nice things about many other beach areas in Goa.

        Traveling around India is a shock to the system, but it’s not as bad as it looks. If you pay a bit more for the AC3 class on trains (air-conditioned, 3 bunks per side of the compartment), or AC2, it’s pretty comfortable and civilized. Mumbai is worth a couple days before you’ll be desperate to get out, but many parts of Rajasthan are much nicer and fascinating.

        I know what you mean about how easy everything is in Thailand, with a 7-Eleven on every corner. But I don’t know the current visa situation because it’s changed recently and might change again. Still, I think they are mainly trying to cut off the people who try to stay forever on consecutive Tourist Visas, and they are still welcoming of the 60-day visits. I hope so anyway because I might be heading there this winter myself.

        Also, have you been to Bali? It can rain a bit in December, but I find it more welcoming than Thailand, and at least as comfortable. I’ll be spending a month there this winter myself. It’s very easy to meet people there, and prices are similar to the Thai islands. I’m sure you’ll find one or two good places for the winter. -Roger

      john says:

      Hi again Roger, sorry for the delay in my reply.

      Yes I know it’s difficult sometimes especially in western nations meeting people as you can blend into the scenery, people don’t know you’re a tourist, so no-one makes any effort talking to you.

      But at the same I don’t mind that as much as being in a fun place like Goa, and not having the luck of making friends early then sitting in a café or bar as Johnny-no-mates, slowly feeling more like a loner by the day.

      Yes I travelled a bit by train in southern India, I got lucky on my first few journeys with lack of people, then I hit some Indian holidays and it was hellish. I remember the trains being booked up for all the upgraded a/c and upper class carriages. One time even the Indians were fainting on the over packed carriage so you can imagine the heat for little old gringo me!

      Yes I’ve been to Bali, but it was a short stop in hectic Kuta, before heading up to the more tranquil Ubud. Though I wish I would have explored the island more, as so many people said the people and the scenery is beautiful.

      The first night I was there in Kuta I had prostitutes accost me and later in the week saw western tourist handing out wads of money to woman street beggars with their kids scurrying around like excitable pigeons.

      I felt a bit sad with Kuta, spoiled by the tacky booze ridden Australian tourists, just like many Mediterranean spots are spoiled by British boozers, and I’m guessing the same for Mexican resorts with Americans.

      Bali was the legendary well-travelled TV presenter, Alan Whickers favourite location; he praised the friendliness of the people. So exploration of the lesser corrupted parts of Bali is on my must do if I go back there list. I don’t mind the rain too much, I find the big SE Asian clouds amazing.

      I think I had a bit of a wayward dream about staying in Thailand for £10 a day inc food and drink, because last time I was there it was the off season June-Aug, some places were £5 a night. I even found a decent place for £1.50 a night!

      Looking at the Nov-Feb prices looks like I would have to pay upwards of £10 a night for any Thai island accom. Perhaps I’ll look at volunteering, teaching or bar work just to save money on accom and food.

      Do you know much about getting work out in Thai/Cambodia easily?

        Roger Wade says:


        I definitely know what you mean about feeling a bit more like a loner every day. That has happened to me many times as well, and sometimes it’s hard to pull myself out of that.

        In India I’ve always had good luck with the trains by booking at least a couple days in advance, and also being flexible and only going when an AC3 ticket is available. As you know, the actual train stations are nightmares. But every hotel has a person who can fetch a ticket for you by going through the back door and bribing someone at the train office. Like a AC3 ticket might cost US$20, and for an extra US$4, your hotel will go buy it for you and it’ll be waiting at the front desk later that day. It’s a pretty sweet system.

        The Bali thing is also kind of a mess for those on low budgets. Kuta is a headache, and pretty much the opposite of what is so beautiful about the rest of the island, but it’s also where nearly all the really cheap beds are located. If you go a bit north in that same area into Legian and Seminyak, it’s nicer, but prices also go up. And Ubud is nice, but also more expensive for hotels and such. I’ll probably rent a place in Seminyak for a few weeks, which won’t be cheap.

        As far as finding work on the road, the only decent-paying job that is fairly easy to get that I’m aware of is teaching English, but I think those gigs tend to last at least a few months. Right now Thailand is trying to get rid of any foreigners who are working in hotels and bars without permits, so Cambodia might be better at the moment. I’m one of the thousands of people who work online while traveling, and it seems much easier to make a decent living that way compared to working in hostels and such. Good luck with whatever you decide, and maybe I’ll see you on the road at some point. -Roger

      john says:

      Yep those lonely times can seem awfully long, but I think it makes up for it when you meet up with some good people eventually, you appreciate it all the more.

      I’ll keep in mind the Indian hotel train ticket system, though I don’t think I ever stayed at any hotel that had a guy to do that.

      I’m now tied between the thought of Goa-northwest India-Nepal, more interesting and adventurous but equally taxing or relatively stress free Thailand-Cambodia

      Online work sounds good, any tips? Thanks for the advice.

        Roger Wade says:


        If you ask at a hotel in India about getting train tickets, they almost certainly know a way of getting them for you. They share in the profits of the commission, so they will usually find a way. However, perhaps in Goa it is less common because the train stations are a long way from the beaches so it could be a 3-hour return trip to the station instead of a 20-minute trip in the cities.

        If you are going to Nepal, keep an eye on the climate. There are only 4 to 6 good months per year, divided into two sections, and in the rainy season it can be miserable. Also, the end of the dry seasons you only get maybe 10 hours of electricity per day, which can also be frustrating.

        As for working online, many people start out with writing and editing projects. You seem to write pretty well, but it would take me many pages to explain how to get started in this. Best of luck, and feel free to keep in touch. -Roger

Miraj says:

Hey Roger. My girlfriend and I are planning to go during Christmas for 13 days from San Diego, CA to South America mainly on the west side. We are not up for beaches but rather historical, adventurous, and scenic places. We are keen on Cusco (Peru) (Inca Trail), Quito (Ecuador), Costa Rica (Rain Forest), Bogota (Columbia). Please can you help us with your expert advice on which cities are a must for first timers to South America. We are not picky and simply want to have a fun time. Thank you for your time.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try. First off, if you are doing the actual Inca Trail hike, you’ll need 4 days for that plus another couple of days in Cusco to get acclimated. So really that whole part of your trip would be a week. Also, to get to Cusco you pretty much have to go through Lima, and it’s also an interesting city so I’d recommend probably 2 nights there. If you don’t do the Inca Trail and take the train instead, you could save 3 days in Cusco.

    With the remaining week or so I think Costa Rica is probably the the best place for thrills, although I assume you realize that the Christmas weeks are the busiest of the year there.

    I’ve yet to make it to Quito or Bogota, and to be honest I don’t hear many raves about either of them. They are mainly popular among people on long, slow trips through the whole region. It would be like someone visiting Tuscon on their first trip to the US. They’d enjoy it, but there are more dramatic options for a first trip.

    Costa Rica, as you probably know, is all about nature and adventure sports, along with some decent beaches. It would be perfect if you are up for that sort of thing. If not, Santiago and Valparaiso (nearby cities in Chile) could be good for more of an urban adventure. Or Buenos Aires is even nicer and more interesting (and probably cheaper if you bring cash) if you can get a deal on a flight there.

    In Central America, Panama City is interesting, and elsewhere in Panama you have scenery options that are a bit cheaper than Costa Rica.

    So I’d say half your trip in Peru, and choose one of the other options mentioned for the other half of the trip. If you go to Lima, and Cusco, I don’t think it’s wise to add more than one other major destination because you don’t want to be spending half your time on flights and such.

    Hopefully this helps, and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Natalie says:

My boyfriend and I are trying to plan a somewhat last minute trip for the second two weeks in December. We would love somewhere that is a little more laid back, but interesting enough that we wouldn’t get bored. We also would prefer a one-stop destination that doesn’t require a lot of additional travel outside the initial flight. If it was a beach that was good for surfing that would be a huge bonus, but we also like snorkeling or hiking. We aren’t really fans of all-inclusives, mostly just because we’re not heavy drinkers and don’t like buffets so it seems like a bad fit. Any ideas off the top of your head for a budget friendly place that would fit all that? I greatly appreciate your time and think it’s really awesome you’ve been replying to all the comments!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to help, but I’m unsure of your starting point so it’s hard to know which would be the one-stop destinations. Even if you are in the US (a bit more than half the visitors of this site are in the US), it depends on where.

    Assuming you might be in the US or Canada, my first hunch is Costa Rica, or Panama, which is a bit cheaper though not as well organized. Costa Rica has good surfing on its Pacific beaches, and there are very few all-inclusive resorts, which means that the restaurant scenes in resort areas are vibrant and interesting. Costa Rica also has limitless adventure opportunities, like zip-line tours and such, although they aren’t exactly cheap. Going inland you’ve got loads of national parks, as well as the famous volcano and its little spa town.

    If you let me know your starting airport I might have another suggestion or two. -Roger

Pireh says:


Me and my friend are planning to visit Thailand around 10th of Dec. We really need some guide. Our starting point is Pakistan.


    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to help with advice if I can, but I don’t know much about flights out of Pakistan. If you ask specific questions about the help you need, I’ll try to help. -Roger

Sunny says:

How about going to Maldives in December

    Roger Wade says:


    The weather in the Maldives is great in December, but it’s not nearly cheap enough to make the list. Even the modest hotels on the resort islands are fairly expensive by Asian standards. -Roger

Abhi says:

Me and my wife are planning to travel somewhere out of Asia(we come from India), perhaps europe. Any suggestions on budget destination(s). We are willing to pay out like 100$ each night of accomodation.

    Roger Wade says:


    In December you can get a hotel in most European cities for around US$100 per night. But in London, Paris, Amsterdam, or Rome, the room would be quite small and not in a convenient neighborhood.

    If you are looking for first-rate destinations that are among the cheaper European cities, I’ll suggest Prague, Budapest, Krakow, and Berlin. You could visit all four of them by taking trains, or choose any one, two, or three. In December you can get quite a nice room in any of those cities, with Berlin being the most expensive by a bit. Food and attractions are also quite affordable in those cities.

    Hopefully this helps at least give you some ideas. Feel free to comment again with any other questions and I can help you narrow it down a bit more if you like. -Roger

Mayank says:

Hello Roger,

Thanks for writing this insightful article. Me and my wife are planning to go Amsterdam,Paris,Milan,Florence,Venice,Rome between 15th to 31st Decemeber. Will it be a good idea ???
Thanks !

    Roger Wade says:


    Yes, those are mostly great cities for a winter trip. None of them are “cheap” enough to include on the list above, and the weather will obviously be cold. But all of those cities have dense city centers and most of their attractions are indoors.

    In Rome, the Coliseum and Ancient Rome are outdoors, but the city also doesn’t get as cold as the others so most likely you’ll be fine if you bundle up a bit. In Venice, they often have those floods during December, but they come and go every 6 hours so even if you get unlucky you’ll still be able to get around half the day, and it’s a small city anyway.

    Milan isn’t as much of a tourist destinations as the others on your list, and if you decide to skip one city to spend more time in the others I’d recommend that one. You can see all of Venice in two days, while Paris and Rome are good for at least 3 if not 4 days each. Have a great trip. -Roger

Danish says:

Hi Roger, we are family of 4. 2 adults and 2 children aged 3 and 6.We are planning to visit Europe for 10-14 days in December although i know weather will be tough. This is our first trip to Europe, we are excited. Please suggest which cities we should go and for how long???? Thanks in advance!

    Roger Wade says:


    Actually, most of the popular European cities have fairly mild winters, in that they don’t spend much time below freezing and snowstorms are rare as well. It’s hard to make suggestions without knowing about your tastes, but I will tell you that the most popular European cities are London, Paris, and Rome, and none of them get snowed in often. If you are going to Italy, you should also go to Florence and maybe Venice as well.

    Spend at least 3 days in each of the big cities (London, Paris, Rome) and one or two in the others.

    If you instead went to Barcelona and/or Madrid, the weather will probably be a bit better, although still cold.

    Let me know which of these options sound interesting to you, and I can help you with an itinerary that will be efficient and enjoyable. -Roger

Jaco says:


I would like to know which country is cheap to go to and requires no visa for south africans.
Prefer nice city life similar to london.


    Roger Wade says:


    I wish I could help but I’m not familiar with South African immigration options. If you list some places you can go or are considering then I’ll happily help you figure out which are the cheaper ones. Best of luck. -Roger

Mun says:

Hi roger,
Have u been to Norway & Scandivanian countries? Is it a good choice to have a trip between 24 dec to 2 jan? I know there’s trip chasing the aurora borealis/northern light. Would it possible to travel from norway to sweden & finland.. Good option for transportation? Thank you in advance

    Roger Wade says:


    Yes, I’ve been to all of the Nordic countries, but mostly during the summer months. However, I know that those Northern Lights tours are popular and well established. On one hand, you know you’ll be visiting areas where there is only a bit of sunlight in the middle of each day, so it won’t be great for general sightseeing. But the cold months are also the best Northern Lights months, and if you want to see them then it’s your best bet.

    One thing I can assure you of is that those countries are very modern and well organized, and they know how to deal with winters well. So you really don’t have to worry about getting stuck or things being cancelled. As for getting around, the trains are modern, and they can be reasonably priced if you buy a couple months in advance. Otherwise, flying is probably your best bet because it’s a large area and you’ll probably want to go well to the north, and the trains might take many hours. You could even rent a car, which could be good if there is more than one or two of you. Have a great trip. -Roger

Alex says:

I’m thinking of going somewhere warm/fairly hot this year. I’ve been to Cook Islands before & I’m looking for somewhere similar but cheaper to get to.
As a single female traveller, I don’t want really want a clubbing scene, I would prefer a yoga resort over loads of bars etc. ideally I would like a place I can relax, maybe meet a few people, read &’possibly do some diving. Long haul is not a problem I would just like to feel ‘safe’.
Thanks Alex

P.S I wish to take a trip which incorporates Christmas & New Year.

    Roger Wade says:


    This is a bit challenging without knowing your starting point or where else you’ve been, but still my first recommendation will be Bali, even though December is part of the rainy season there. I’ve been to Bali twice in December and the rain is rarely an issue.

    The reason for the recommendation is that Bali is not only a yoga and “spiritual” hot spot, but it’s also the most popular island for solo women travelers in the region. The book and movie “Eat, Pray, Love” was inspired by this trend, and they have in turn inspired thousands of solo female visitors to go there and stay for long periods, particularly in and around the Ubud area. It’s gorgeous and quite cheap once you get there, and the locals are generally gentle and kind to all. Most other tropical hot spots in Asia have far more solo male visitors than solo females. Just avoid lingering in the Kuta Beach area, because it’s packed with bars and loud backpacker party people. Most of the rest of the island is quite mellow.

    I hope this helps, and if you were looking for something different, please let me know. -Roger

Jolie says:

Hi Roger, Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to compose this list. I always refer to your destinations (with great weather) lists prior to booking future-dated vacations. I was a little worried that you didn’t mention Bali but there was more than enough in the comments to reassure me that it would be a great spot to visit in December. I also saw your other post for places to visit over Christmas and NYE. Thanks again!

    Roger Wade says:


    That was very nice of you to take the time to mention this. Interestingly, I’ve been to Bali exactly twice so far (going again in early 2016) and both times have been in December. As you have probably noticed, the rainy season in Bali can be VERY rainy at times, which is why I didn’t put it on the list during the worst months. I still clearly remember standing in almost 2 feet of water trying to push the minibus I was riding in to a dry enough area to start the engine again. That was on the way to Ubud, but most of the time the rain isn’t problematic and I’d go back again again in December if given the chance. Just don’t expect any Christmas decorations or celebrations because they pretty much ignore it there, even in tourist areas. Have a great trip. -Roger

Jolie says:

Oh no. I don’t mind rain but that would be a little disheartening. I come from a tropical place and it wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I realized that “rainy seasons” don’t really mean much. More so, I went to Punta Cana last October during the cold period and it was gorgeous every day, and what little rain fell was usually overnight or little drops that you could stay on the beach unbothered.

Do you have any articles on Bali/Indonesia? I’d love to read/hear any insight you have about your time there. Haven’t booked my flight either so any other suggestions for amazing and affordable places (warm weather a must) to visit (3-4 weeks over Christmas/NYE) would be greatly appreciated. Distance is not an issue.

Once again, love your blog!

Thank you

    Roger Wade says:


    Now that you mention it, I don’t really have any in-depth articles about Bali that I’ve written myself, although I recently published one by a writer who was recently there for several weeks and has always written very reliable stuff. Bali luxury on a budget.

    I like your comment about how “rainy seasons” are almost always overstated. I totally agree based on my own experiences and research, although there are a few places where they should be taken more seriously than others. On my most recent December trip to Bali (2.5 years ago, I think), I spent 30 days there and the rain only became a problem that one time I mentioned. It was just an insane cloudburst while taking a minibus from Kuta to Ubud, and in the end it’s actually probably my best Bali story. Aside from that, it’s very humid during Bali’s wet season, but even that really didn’t slow me down. The thing is, in Bali you are usually on or near the beach or a hotel pool (feeling the breeze) or in your air-conditioned room. Or you might be touring around to see temples and rice terraces and whatnot, and everything is outdoors and beautiful. When it does rain it’s usually over in 15 minutes, but often the rain comes over night. That kind of humidity can be a killer when visiting a city, but for me it’s a small issue on a tropical island like Bali.

    If you are very sensitive to humidity (I normally am, to be honest) then you’ll find more pleasant weather pretty much anywhere else in Southeast Asia in December. It can actually be cool at night in places like Chiang Mai that month. On the other hand, I LOVE Bali and I’ll probably spend all of next February there, which is still in the wet season. I’d still seriously think about Bali if I were you.

    As for alternatives, the most obvious are the various islands of Thailand, with Phuket being the largest. It’s peak season in December in Thailand, but still pretty affordable by most standards. I spent a month in Phuket the following December, interestingly enough, and I prefer Bali even though it’s hotter and more humid. Hopefully this helps and let me know if you have other questions. Helping people figure out where to go is something I really enjoy. -Roger

Jolie says:

Thank you very much Roger. I truly value your insight and am taking into consideration everything you’ve noted above. I’m going to check out the link you posted as well. That just reassured me that Bali would be great during that period. I’m thinking principally of staying in Ubud, Sanur or Seminyak for the type of trip I have in mind which is equal parts warm weather, walking/discovering, culture and some beach life. I’d love to visit Thailand but it’s just not the right time. At this point, I’m more intrigued by all of the many, still remote islands of Philippines than the chaotic lifestyle in Thailand. Perhaps, that’s just me still reeling from my trip to India a few months ago.

It was either Bali or South/Central America which is a beast of its own with each country even cheaper and more beautiful than the last which would require a lot more research and at this time, I’m ready to book before prices skyrocket. Thanks again for your input, keep up the incredible job with the site. It’s my go-to!

KK says:

Hi Roger,
Planning to travel to Australia in late nov/early dec. We are not beach people. More like to see the interesting places and monuments in the city. Want to cover as much as we can in Australia. How many days/weeks trip should we plan? We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teenagers. Starting point is singapore. Is it going to be very expensive.

    Roger Wade says:


    Yes, Australia is pretty expensive by most standards, although it shouldn’t seem too bad since you are coming from Singapore. Hotels in Australia are pretty expensive no matter where you go, although quite a bargain compared to the same thing in Singapore. Restaurants in Australia will seem quite expensive compared to the hawker centers, but not bad compared to Singapore’s sit-down restaurants.

    Needless to say, Australia is a huge country so you could spend 6 months there and not get bored, or you could spend one week there and barely see any of it. The obvious destinations are Sydney and Melbourne, both with plenty to do for non-beach people. Melbourne is known a bit more for culture and food, while Sydney is more pleasant and still very interesting. There is also the Great Ocean Road, which is a very scenic drive just a bit south of Melbourne.

    Otherwise the big draws are the Great Barrier Reef, which is obviously focused on diving, snorkeling, and water activities, so it may not be too interesting, and Uluru, which is the big rock in the center of the country (and not near anything else of interest). There is also wine regions in the south near Sydney, and of course nature parks to see kangaroos and the other indigenous animals.

    Without knowing more about your interests, my top suggestion would be to focus on Sydney and Melbourne and the areas around both. The Blue Mountains near Sydney are also nice for a couple days or so. The main challenge you’d have in seeing a lot of Australia is that it’s all so spread out. You can hire a car for Melbourne and Sydney and that whole area, but it’s better to fly to get to Uluru (near Alice Springs) or Brisbane or Cairns/Great Barrier Reef or Perth. You’d be driving for days in between those places if you started from the southeast area where most people live.

    I’d plan on at least 8 days, and I’m sure in two weeks you’d still be rushing a bit to see the main things you want to see around Melbourne and Sydney. But if you have different preferences please let me know and I’ll try to offer some other suggestions. Have a great trip. -Roger

Shavon says:

Hi Roger,

My husband and I want to do some traveling December 18th – January 2nd, where would be the best place to go in Europe if we wanted to visit multiple cities and celebrate New Years Eve. We will be traveling from NC.

    Roger Wade says:


    This is a difficult question to answer without quite a bit more information. First off, it’s obviously going to be pretty cold in most of Europe that time of year, although most of the major cities aren’t known for accumulations of snow. As long as you are okay with cold weather then it’s mostly down to budget and your main interests. I’m guessing that you haven’t been to Europe yet since you didn’t mention any places that you’d prefer to skip this time.

    Here is an article that should be helpful on European cities ranked by price for 3-star travelers. All of your best choices will be on that list, and most of the best and most famous ones are closer to the bottom because they tend to be pricey.

    In colder weather it’s probably better to focus on the great cities rather than places more known for scenery and outdoor activities. If your budget is generous then my top choice would be London, Paris, and Amsterdam. You could fly into any of those and then visit the others by high-speed train. The train that connects London to Paris and Amsterdam is called the Eurostar, and the earlier you buy your tickets the cheaper they will be. Paris and Amsterdam are linked by normal high-speed trains, which are also cheapest when you buy early. Speaking of that, your dates are prime travel dates over the Christmas holidays so the airfares will be kind of expensive and they will only go up from here. In other words, buy as soon as you can.

    In general I’d recommend at least 3 nights in any city you visit, and the huge cities like London and Paris (and Rome) could be better in 4 nights.

    Another option would be to focus on Italy’s Big 3 cities of Rome, Florence, and Venice. It’s a bit warmer in Italy that time of year, but still pretty cold. You could do those 3 cities and also add Paris with a flight between Rome and Paris.

    Those are the most obvious choices and hopefully that gives you something to consider. If you have other preferences or budget constraints please let me know in a reply below and I’ll try to come up with some alternatives that could work. -Roger

PP says:

Hi Roger,

I will start my two week trip from Singapore in first half of December. Do you have any reccommend place for teenagers with good but cheap outdoor activities and if there are some night life scenes or cultural/historic places to go it would be great.
Ps. I totally agreed with you that December is an ideal month for great weather in SEA though i want to go to another region this year.
Thank you.

    Roger Wade says:


    Hmmm…this is a tricky one. Since you want to get out of SEA, you might have to go a long way to reach someplace that could be considered cheap and also has decent weather in December. Japan and South Korea will be cold, and not really cheap. If you go south you hit Australia, which is very expensive by most SEA standards (although not bad by Singapore standards). Perth is obviously closest and it’s a real city, and of course Sydney and Melbourne will be in early summer in December so those could work if your budget allows. Brisbane and Cairns are both known for outdoor activities, although nightlife might be tough for teenagers and there are no real cultural sights.

    Taiwan could fit the bill because Taipei is a proper city and the weather is still decent in December. Hong Kong is another to consider if you haven’t already. Neither is really famous for “outdoor activities” though.

    Heading east, India could be a possibility, although it’s not for the faint of heart. As a resident of Singapore, I assume you know a fair bit about India. Outside of Mumbai, it’s all quite cheap and the weather will at least be good. Personally, I love the southern state of Goa, and it has everything you are looking for, without the insanely crowded conditions of India’s big cities.

    Continuing east, the only very-easy place to go is Dubai (or Abu Dhabi, which is more expensive). But I wouldn’t recommend it for a teenager because the main focus is on shopping, and the “nightlife” consists almost entirely of hotel bars which are extremely expensive and filled with tourists or fairly expensive and half filled with prostitutes.

    Even southern Turkey is cold in December, and the resort towns are mostly shut down until spring. Southern Europe is also too cold to reliably enjoy the outdoors. Morocco isn’t too cold and has loads of great outdoor activities, but there’s no real nightlife there unless you know some locals or want to sit in a generic hotel bar.

    So in summary, I think one or more stops in Australia could be ideal if you can afford it. If not then I’d head to Goa. It’s fun for me to try to solve these little puzzles so feel free to respond if these suggestions were off the mark or you have more information that could help. Best of luck with this. -Roger

Warren says:

Hey roger, I’m looking on taking my girlfriend on a surprise holiday during the first two weeks in December can you reccomend a warm destination for young adults.
I’m looking for a nice beach a spa and a few clubs to visit.

Thanks warren

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to give you some suggestions, but it would really help to know your starting point and approximate budget. At this moment I am writing this reply from Cancun, which could be perfect if you are in or near the US, but if you are in another part of the world there will likely be better choices. Although thinking about it, even if you are in Europe, a place like Cancun might still be best. Let me know and I’ll give you my best answer and an alternative or two. -Roger

Tasha says:


This thread has been an interesting read! I’ve been lucky enough to have visited the majority of the places you’ve listed – good list!
I’m looking for some ideas for driving holidays and have a month off over December and January. I’m not into trekking and looking for good warm/hot places to visit for the less mobile. Went to South Africa last year which was amazing. I like diversity, definitely not into trekking or just laying on a beach. Ideas that are floating around in my head are Bolivia, Chile and Argentina (worried about accessibility and state of roads) but loved Buenos Aires when I went there. Was also considering NZ with a fun stop on the way. I’ll be flying from the UK and will be solo.

    Roger Wade says:


    Always happy to hear that people find this useful. If you are looking for a driving holiday with warm weather in December I think you’ve already narrowed down the best choices. New Zealand will be ideal, although maybe not for more than two weeks or so. As you might know, the South Island is more scenic than the North, but the North has many great things to see and do as well.

    You might also combine that with an Australia road trip. You could hire a car in Melbourne and do the Great Ocean Road before heading east towards Sydney and the Blue Mountains. You could even drive up to Brisbane or even Cairns if you like long trips.

    I haven’t driven in South America, but I do know that road conditions tend to be poor outside of the main population centers (and even within many of them). If you speak fluent Spanish and are a real adventurer, it might be fun, but otherwise I don’t know how safe it would be.

    Let me know if you have any other questions I might help with. -Roger

Franz says:

Hello Roger, we thats me, my wife, our 2 year old daughter and parents inlaw are planing our december vacation. Our starting point is philippines. We have been to thailand last year and are looking at vietnam , cambodia or laos for this year. We are not much for beaches and party but we like culture, history and beautyfull landscapes and warm weather and good food. We are greatfull for ideas and tips that point us in the right direction. Thx a million.

    Roger Wade says:


    Weirdly enough, there is a huge difference between Thailand and Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Thailand is much wealthier and more modern, and it’s much better at dealing with tourism. The others are a bit cheaper and they all have lovely parts to them, but getting around tends to be more complicated.

    In Cambodia and Laos most people get around by bus, and the quality of service tends to be well below what you get in Thailand. In Vietnam you can get from Hanoi to Saigon by train, and the train is fairly nice, but it’s somewhat slow so the whole journey takes more than a day.

    I’ll give you what I consider the highlights of each country and you can hopefully decide which appeals to you most.

    In Cambodia the best place by far is the Angkor Wat temples just outside of Siem Reap. Siem Reap itself is a nice town with plenty to see and do, but 3 or maybe 4 days should be enough. Otherwise you have Phnom Penh, which isn’t too special, or Sihanoukville, which is a pleasant beach town that doesn’t really match up to most of what you are used to in the Philippines.

    In Laos, Luang Prabang is a really lovely city, and Vang Vieng is nice, but Vientiane is kind of plain and probably not worth a stop. I don’t think I’d recommend Laos for a multi-generational trip, unless you just want to fly into and out of Luang Prabang. Laos is really interesting for backpackers and adventure travelers, but it’s behind the times for family travel.

    Vietnam might be your best choice of the three. Most people (if they can) fly into Hanoi and fly out of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or the other way around. Again, you can travel between them by train, although getting tickets can be a bit complicated. Hanoi is really interesting and nice (and super cheap). The best tourist city in Vietnam is Hoi An, which is between the two big cities. There’s a nice beach there and a bit farther away is Denang, which has large resorts along an excellent beach. Nha Trang is another good beach city in Vietnam, but probably not great for families. Ho Chi Minh City is bigger and more crowded than Saigon, but it’s also more modern (and hotter). You could spend two really nice weeks going north to south in Vietnam with a long stop in Hoi An.

    But again, Vietnam can be a bit complicated for first-timers. Specifically, you need to book trains and tours through travel agencies, and Vietnam’s many travel agencies have a worldwide reputation for being hard to trust. They are all great salespeople but the product they deliver isn’t always what you expected. I spent 4 months in Vietnam and loved most of it, though I think it was much easier as a solo traveler who didn’t have a set schedule.

    You might also consider Malaysia and perhaps a stop in Singapore. Malaysia is actually more modern than Thailand so everything is easy and reliable. They have cheap VIP buses that are very comfortable. Penang in the north is really nice and also interesting. Kuala Lumpur is a modern and pleasant big city. A bit south of that is the colonial town of Malacca, which is also very nice and worth a look. Going south from there you can reach Singapore in a few hours, and that is an amazing city, although accommodation there is expensive.

    Hopefully this helps and feel free to write back if you have follow up questions. -Roger

Yasir says:

Dear Roger,
I appreciated your precious advices. I live in Saudi Arabia . I want to travel some where in December . I want to travel cheap destination because my budget is limited. I like natural beauty and cool weather and some night life in clubs…

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m not sure what you mean by “cool weather.” I’ll assume that you are interested in someplace warm instead of blistering heat, but if you really want cold weather I’d make different suggestions.

    My best recommendation would be somewhere in the islands of Thailand. December has very pleasant weather with warm days and nights that can be a bit chilly (for some people). Best of all, it’s a very beautiful place and the tourist infrastructure makes it easy to get around speaking English and with very few headaches. The largest island is Phuket and it has famous nightlife in the Patong Beach area. In fact, the nightlife is so notorious that many people think it’s too much so they avoid the place. There are many other beach areas that are quiet and still close enough to go into Patong once in a while.

    There are many other Thai islands that could also be ideal and have what you are looking for. Another option is Boracay Island and I mention it because I spent an evening hanging out with some guys visiting from Saudi Arabia and they liked it a lot. The weather won’t be “cool” but it should be nice, and they do have very good nightlife in the Boat Station 1 area.

    If you had something different in mind please let me know and I’ll try again. -Roger

Loren says:

1What about Belize? Too expensive for the list? Thanks

    Roger Wade says:


    The rainy season in Belize doesn’t really end until early January, which is why it didn’t make the December list. Belize is definitely affordable enough to make this list and it appears for many of the following months. If you are thinking about going to Belize in December I think it’s a good choice. As you probably know, the Tropical rain patterns are such that the showers tend to come and go quickly, and they are often overnight. -Roger

Joe says:

Good place to go for 3 weeks in december until after new years with cheap flights and places to stay? any recommendation?

    Roger Wade says:


    That really depends on your starting point. Most of the cheapest places are in Asia, but the flight would be quite expensive if you are in North America or Europe. If you are in the US, your best bets for cheap places with good weather that time of year will be the non-resort towns of Mexico, or even the resort towns if your budget is a bit higher. Let me know your starting point and more about what you are looking for and I can give you a more complete answer. -Roger

anka says:

we are travelling from toronto to delhi in end of december but would like to take a bfreak inbetween, debating morocco, sevilla, malaga, barcelona. which one would be the best. would south spain be a good weather wise and for connectivity. its like toronto – barcelona – delhi

    Roger Wade says:


    This is a bit tricky. The weather in Spain in December is okay, but still quite cold for most people. In Morocco it will be warm enough to enjoy the outdoors, even if it’s not warm enough to sit on the beach.

    As for flight connections, Barcelona and Madrid should have decent connections to Toronto and Delhi, while Casablanca (Morocco’s largest airport) probably does not. So Spain is the better choice by that standard. On the other hand, you can get to Morocco by ferry from Spain in a short time, so you could go to Spain and also visit Morocco for a day or two.

    If you are looking for pleasant weather in December you might also consider the Canary Islands. They have good connections to many destinations. You would probably have to change planes in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or Qatar on your way to Delhi, but the flight will at least be fairly cheap. Good luck with this and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Elize van Niekerk says:

My Husband and I plan to holiday in a warm place in December from the 20th away from Namibia where we live. We are not looking at South Africa at all. We would like to see interesting places and cultures. We are not the beach type. We are interested in scenery as well. We visited China last year and it was too cold. We don’t surf and we don’t snorkel. We love people, not too expensive shopping, wildlife and birds.

    Roger Wade says:


    Looking for a place that is moderately priced and warm in December is tough in most of the world, and it sounds like you are interested in getting out of Africa. My best two suggestions are India (and perhaps Sri Lanka), and Southeast Asia.

    Most of India is warm in December and the culture is fascinating, if a bit overwhelming at first. If you choose India my best advice is to minimize time in the largest cities, as they can be frustrating after a short time.

    Southeast Asia is easier to deal with, and there are cheap flights connecting in the Middle East and landing in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. Each of those is a very interesting city, and there are many smaller places to go in the same region. In Malaysia there is Penang and Melaka. In Thailand there is Chiang Mai and quite a few others in that area. In Laos you can visit Luang Prabang, which sounds like it could be a winner for you. And there is also Siem Reap, which is home to the amazing Angkor Wat temple complex.

    Hopefully one or more of those suggestions sounds interesting to you. If not, let me know and I’ll see what else I can think of. -Roger

Rahul says:

Hi, I stay in Delhi and I am planning a December Honeymoon trip to places in Europe.Places not decided yet but would prefer to include some beaches and some place with rich architecture. It would be a 7 days trip. I do have a budget constraint. Can you please share what is the expected budget. Please advise ways we can enjoy our trip without feeling the cost.


    Roger Wade says:


    It’s going to be pretty cold in December all over Europe, although not quite so bad in the south, of course. As far as where to go, I’ll refer to our Europe 3-star traveler index, which lists every major city in Europe from cheapest to most expensive. The price is the typical daily expense per person for a couple traveling and staying in 3-star hotels. Once you scan through that list you should have some ideas.

    Let me know if you have other questions and best of luck with the wedding and honeymoon. -Roger

Anna says:


Can you give me any suggestions, we would be coming from Milwaukee/Chicago area, looking for a all inclusive safe tropical warm beach trip that’s not too pricey ($2,000/ couple) for 5 days for two people maybe 4 people if another couple comes with us. Looking to travel in October or November this year. We love beautiful scenery, lots of different activities, like tours, wild life, kayaking, parasailing, etc.

    Roger Wade says:


    If you are looking for an all-inclusive resort with reasonable airfares from Chicagoland, your best bets will be in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, or the Cancun/Playa del Carmen area. Both have everything on your list, except perhaps wild life, depending on how you define that. You can get cheaper flights into Cancun, and there is a wide variety of offerings once you are there. If you don’t think you want to leave the hotel much, then stay in the Cancun hotel district or along the Maya Riviera nearby. But if you want to interact with a real and lovely town, then stay in Playa del Carmen or over on Cozumel. There are many nearby activities and some very interesting ruins.

    Punta Cana has fewer cultural options, but the resorts are even cheaper, even though the flights are a bit more expensive.

    The only other good option I can think of for a shorter trip like this is the Tamarindo area in northern Costa Rica, but it will be a bit more expensive. Have a great trip, whatever you decide. -Roger

Pranav says:

Hey Roger.

First of all thank you so much for sharing what you know unconditionally. It really helps!

So, I am from bombay. I wish to see much of Central and/ or South America this December. Would love to know your take on the most interesting places in terms of culture, language, people, good nightlife, nature, adventure, wildlife, on a shoe string budget possibly. I have never stayed at a 3/5 star so just backpacking hostels, couchsurfing and potential friends. I am also open to your suggestions about Africa and any other musts if any, but not in asia. Since you do know how versatile Goa is, are there places equivalent, close to or better than it? Also, if its not too much to ask and too hard to pin down, what places/destinations would make your top 10 or 15 in all? Irrespective of the time of the year or whether it is a city or an island or the Himalayas, what places would make the ‘touched the heart & soul’ list? That have become a feeling to you, rather 🙂 cheers

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m always happy to hear that people find this information to be useful. To answer your questions about possible places in the Americas to visit, I’ll give it a shot.

    Weirdly enough, Central America and South America aren’t really known as top “culture” destinations, as the colonial history has mostly wiped out the indigenous history in the larger places. There are Aztec, Maya, and Inca ruins and sights, but not really enough to build a whole trip around. I’d say the most interest of those would be the Inca culture of Peru, specifically around Machu Picchu and the valley around Cusco. Alternatively, visiting Argentina is pretty much like visiting Europe from a culture standpoint. It’s quite nice there and prices are low if you know about the blue market for currency, but otherwise it may not be what you are looking for.

    If you are more interested in nature and adventure than culture, then the top choice would be Costa Rica. The country has many beautiful national parks and it’s filled with things like zip-lining and canopy tours, just to name a few things. There are also volcanoes and surfing beaches and much more, plus a very good backpacker infrastructure of cheaper hotels and hostels.

    If you are open to Africa you should consider Morocco. It will be a bit chilly in December, but still warm enough to enjoy everything. The culture there is fascinating and it’s also very tourist-friendly and safe. I think it would be cheaper for you to fly to Morocco than to the Americas, and the daily costs are very reasonable as well. Those should give you some things to think about, and feel free to follow up if you have other questions.

    As for my own Top 10 destinations in general, that’s a tough one for someone like me because I can’t help but factor costs into the equation. For example, I really love Amsterdam and I even lived there for awhile, but it’s also very expensive and maybe not a great choice for everyone. And it’s also hard to avoid cliches for a list like this, because I honestly feel that most of the places on these sorts of lists are great.

    To name at least a few, I love Bali and will spend a month there again early next year. Iceland is very high on my list, partly because it’s so different from everywhere else. I also love New Zealand, partly for the same reasons. I’ve really enjoyed much of what I’ve seen in India, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that Goa is the place I’d like to go back to most because it’s relatively uncrowded and low-key compared especially to the cities of India. By the way, Varanasi is the single weirdest place I’ve ever visited. I love a lot about Vietnam, although like many other people, I’m not crazy about how you always have to be on guard for people trying to scam you there. Laos is nice, although with no coast and far fewer scammers.

    Some of my favorite big cities are New York City (where I lived for 5 years, off and on), London, Paris, and Singapore. I like and admire Abu Dhabi and Dubai, although I don’t think they are good choices for everyone. I lived for a year in a small Mediterranean village in Turkey called Kas, which is wonderful, but it has its limits being so small.

    Those are some places that stand out to me, and I’m sure there are at least a few more I could have listed that have slipped my mind at the moment. Again, feel free to follow up if you have more questions. -Roger

Pranav says:

Hey Roger!

Thank you for the insightful details about South America and the others! Peru, Costa rica sound ideal! Always wanted to work at a sustainable place is Costa Reecs. However, I am also quite interested to know what Brazil , rather the different parts of Brazil are like, since it is so huge would be interesting to visit during the same time of the year.. Since I love and play Capoeira too, I’m pretty tempted to visit Brazil and draw inspiration. 🙂 And what is Colombia like?

Haha yeah Varanasi is pretty weird. Haha. Have you been to Hampi, Kerala, Himachal and Ladakh? They’re brilliant. Also Gokarna. Hampi is special though, real special.

Yeah Indian cities aren’t really open and they’re really society oriented. The bombay nighlife is pretty chilled but it has its downsides. Curfews, no 24 hr places, beaches but no beach culture only rubbish, traffic, population, and the weather! The weather is decent only late nov-feb.

Yeah the tickets to SA would be expensive but let’s just say I’ve got my hands on free tickets and got lucky. I just need to choose a destination 🙂

Would there be any key events anywhere in the world in December that you know of that would be worth visiting? I’m sorry if this is out of your way, just curious if you are aware of something like that.

Thanks Roger!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad that was helpful. I’ll answer your other questions in the order they came up…

    The only places I’ve visited in Brazil at this point are Rio de Janeiro and the Iguazu Falls area. Both of those areas are very nice and justifiably popular. Aside from those, I hear a lot of mixed things about Brazil. I’m sure I’ll explore more of the country at some point, though I’m in no rush. Among other things, English isn’t widely spoken in Brazil (and in Latin America in general). You might know as much about the country as I do, aside from those places I’ve visited.

    I’m making my first visit to Colombia (Cartegena) in November, but I hear good things.

    Of those on your list I’ve only been to Kerala, in Fort Cochin, but I’ve been to many other places in India and quite like most of them except for the biggest cities. Pushkar was another favorite.

    As for key events in December, I typically avoid those sorts of things myself, so I’m not a good source on that. I actually visited Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, by accident, and it drives hotel prices so high and also crowds that it’s probably the worst time to visit unless you specifically want to spend all night watching the parades. And Oktoberfest, as another example, literally triples the prices of hotel rooms in Munich, so it’s only worth it if you REALLY want to get involved in the Oktoberfest thing yourself. But plenty of other travelers love to go witness the biggest events, and I assume they love it, so there is no right or wrong.

    I’ve met many people who’ve earned a modest living teaching English in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, and I’m sure you’ll love it. They really need and greatly benefit by native English speakers, so it’s a great deal all around.

    This year I’ve based myself in Miami, USA, primarily so I can visit many places in the Caribbean that I hadn’t been to before. I just got back from a week in Jamaica and soon I’m going to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Colombia, as mentioned. But in December I’m hitting the road again and I’ll be in Asia for the winter and probably in London for much of 2016. Sorry I don’t have more specific information to help you plan your trip, but it sounds like you’ve got some really good choices already under consideration. And I’m sure you’ll have a great time. -Roger

Pranav says:

Yes I have stayed in Bali for a month too, that place is really special I agree. I haven’t been to any other places that you mentioned above except for Any Dhabi and Dubai but I didn’t really explore or have cash to do anything really there. I have been to Singapore but only on transit. I hope to spend the next year in and around south east Asia teaching English, after April/May onwards. Inshallah!

Where are you now? And is it blogging or writing that earns you a buck to live the nomadic lifestyle? Or do you have other special skills in your pocket? 🙂


Claire says:

Hi Roger I am thinking of flying to Singapore on December 18th returning to Munich (where I live)on the 31st. I would like to stay in Singapore a few days then fly drive/sail to someother place or places before returning to Singapore for my return flight. I will be travelling with my 2 daughters 16 and 18. have you any suggestions..
Thank you

    Roger Wade says:


    I think a side trip or two will be a great idea. Singapore is a large and very interesting city, but you can see everything that you want in maybe 3 days or so. You have almost limitless options if you include the possibility of a flight. Even though Singapore itself (especially hotels) is kind of expensive, you can get cheap flights to all points of Asia from there, and the airport is awesome. Air Asia and Tiger are two great low-cost airlines with many flights out of Singapore, so you could check their destinations and find something good.

    But if you wanted more to explore the area near Singapore then Malaysia and Thailand are the obvious choices. The three most popular stops in Malaysia are Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, and George Town on the island of Penang. I quite like all of those so it’s hard to recommend one over another. I really like Kuala Lumpur and have spent quite a bit of time there, but honestly compared to Singapore it seems a bit untidy and old fashioned. In other words, if you are tired of a big and busy city like Singapore, then don’t plan much time in KL. Malacca and George Town are both smaller tourist cities with great food and interesting sights. There is frequent and cheap bus service from Singapore going through Malacca and onto KL. Then more buses from there to Penang and onto Bangkok.

    If you wanted to spend maybe 7 days outside of Singapore, I think I’d do 2 or 3 in Malaysia and then the rest in Thailand. Bangkok is another huge city but it’s also somewhat exotic compared to the other two, and much cheaper as well. Or if you wanted to spend some time on a beach you could instead go to one of Thailand’s islands. Phuket is the easiest to reach, but it’s not very interesting. Kho Phi Phi or Kho Samui are probably better choices because they really feel like islands (Phuket is more of a peninsula) and there is still plenty to do.

    Since you might be open to flying then another nearby option to consider is Siem Reap in Cambodia. It’s a pleasant tourist town on its own, but it only exists as the gateway to the amazing Angkor Wat temples nearby. Those temples are by far the most dramatic and memorable tourist attraction in southeast Asia, and I think your daughters are old enough to appreciate it all. But again, the town of Siem Reap is nice with plenty of other things to do, so it’s a great all around stop.

    Those should give you some ideas. I’ll be happy to give you more info on any of it if you still have questions. Have a great trip. -Roger

      Nicolene de Beer says:

      Hi Roger

      I have been reading the thread with great interest. I took my 2 daughters aged 11 and 18 to SE Asia in December and they loved it. Siem Reap – lovely vibe over new year and not too busy. Would stay longer than 3 days because the heat and humidity slows you down and you would rather want to cool down in the hotel pool in afternoons and try and squeeze in more than 1 wat in a day. Easy to get around and good food and vibe in Pub Street.

      Koh Chang, Thailand – reachable from both Siem Reap and Bangkok. We travelled there by private taxi from Siep Reap. good alternative to busy Phuket. Best beach is White Sands beach in north west side. we stayed 5 nights and loved it. Beach barbeques and little beach bars. Lovely weather and beach. no rain. good snorkeling and some diving possible.

      Just came back from Luang Prabang, Laos. Cheap and easy to navigate. If with kids you can do an elephant training camp few days. Airport 15 min from hotels and just 2 minutes to get visa (30USD). Not so much to see, but nice vibe and cheap. If you have to choose between Luang Prabang and Siem Reap, Siem Reap has more to offer, but is much hotter than LP in December.

      Hanoi – best to do it in Sept as one would combine it with Sapa and Halong Bay. We just did this and it was fantastic. Rice harvesting seasion in Sapa. Too cold in Sapa December.

      Hong Kong is also lovely over Dec (19 – 21 degrees) but double as expensive as Thailand.

akshat says:

Hi Roger,
We’re a couple and are planning a 5/6 nights trip [around Christmas] from India to some place that is slightly reasonable and wonderful, of course! What we’ve been considering till now is Maldives or Cambodia or Thailand. Can you suggest anything around these or even completely different from these? The reason why we haven’t been able to finalize till now is that we’re trying to find a destination other than beaches, which isn’t as easy as it appeared!

    Roger Wade says:


    If your main goal is to go somewhere in the region and avoid beaches, then I agree that it can be a bit tricky. Aside from the crowded city of Male, the Maldives is just a string of small islands so there are beaches everywhere.

    Cambodia could work because Siem Reap is inland and the amazing Angkor Wat temples are worth a full day or two, and the town of Siem Reap itself is quite nice. You could actually combine a couple days in Siem Reap with a few days in Bangkok, and take a (cheap) luxury bus between the two. Bangkok is a really fascinating city with a lot to see, plus it’s a great transport hub. The other main non-beach option in Thailand is the city of Chiang Mai, which is wonderfully inexpensive with quite a bit to see. It’s even a bit cool during December, so that might be a nice change of pace from India. Many people are also going to Myanmar these days, although I haven’t been yet so it’s hard for me to recommend it. I’d say if you combined 2 or even 3 of these places you could have a very interesting holiday.

    Another non-beach option in your area would be the mountains and national parks of Sri Lanka. Hopefully this gives you a bit more to think about. Let me know if you have any other questions that I might answer. -Roger

akshat says:

Hey Roger,
That definitely helps! Though I think I was quite unclear in the first place. Being in the same region is definitely not a constraint. We’ve been considering Africa as well, for example! Also, a couple of days of beach time is also sort of desirable, and we’re not really into visiting cities as such. Ideally, we wish to have some time to spend on beaches/resorts/hotels along with some time in a place like a safari or something.
Myanmar seems a bit more rustic as of now, and would let the tourism flourish there a bit more with travelers like you providing better reviews before we can venture into visiting it! 🙂

Adite says:

Hi Roger,

This is a very informative thread and I see that it can be of great help to a lot of people. Kudos for the same!
I would like to ask for your advise for a travel in the month of December for about 4-6 days max. I am from Delhi and my husband and me plan to travel somewhere near but a not so expensive destination. I read Thailand to be a good option in the comments above but we went to Seychelles and Goa in the past few months so I am looking for a fun place to go but looking for if there is any place that is different from the mentioned or any other place that you would suggest. Thanks in advance!

    Roger Wade says:


    If you are interested in a place that isn’t focused on beaches in that area then I’ll point you to some recent answers just above where I mention the charms of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, or Luang Prabang in Laos, and/or Siem Reap in Cambodia. All of those are wonderful places with temples and other sights, and they are quite affordable once you are there as well.

    And Bangkok itself is a very impressive city that won’t remind you much of Delhi. It’s worth a couple days on its own if you are going to visit one of the other places I mentioned.

    One more destination to consider is Dubai. Its beaches are a small part of the charm, and the whole place is very impressive. Shopping is probably the most famous activity, but there is plenty more, and flights there are quite cheap from Delhi. Hopefully one of these options sounds good. Either way, feel free to follow up if you have other questions. -Roger

Terry says:

Hey Roger, first time reading this website and sound your advice very interesting and sound … My friend and I (both singles) are planning for a early Dec trip to somewhere..starting point is Singapore. Got about 9 days in all to travel and hopefully a reasonably budget trip with beach, shopping and cultural stuff .. please advice.

    Roger Wade says:


    Being from Singapore I assume you know all about the best choices in Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia. Vietnam might be interesting as well. You could go to Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang (great beach town) and then a few days up in Hoi An before flying home from there.

    You could also go to Sri Lanka or southern India (Kerala and Goa are most popular). And you can’t go wrong with Bali, even though December is part of the rainy season. You could book a cheap flight on Air Asia or Tiger and have 9 wonderful days in different parts of Bali.

    If you are looking for something different, please let me know. -Roger

LEENAC says:



    Roger Wade says:


    Europe in general and Greece in specific are not ideal in January because it’s cold and many sights are closed. I’d go to Thailand, which has a great variety of things to see and do, and January is the best weather month. Spend at least a few days in Bangkok and then either go to one of the islands like Phuket or Kho Samui, or head up to Chiang Mai for its temples and shopping and outdoor activities. You could even head over to Siem Reap to spend a couple days seeing Angkor Wat. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Leenac says:

Thanks sir the price of both the tour Dubai and Thailand fall the same which is value for money .

    Roger Wade says:


    Thailand is better value for money once you get there. Dubai is a very modern city where there aren’t many cheap prices for food or attractions, while Thailand has plenty of bargains in the lower categories. Have a great trip. -Roger

Adite says:

Thank you so much for the quick reply! And apologies for the late reply from my end. We have pretty much finalized Dubai to celebrate the NYE. It is not coming cheap though. Thanks for all the options.

Esteen says:

Hi Roger,

Myself and my girlfriend are looking at travelling to a sunny destination during the first 12 days of December. We like beach and city vacations. Being from South Africa where it is warm in December we would prefer something different to our own culture. We’ve been to Thailand and Malaysia but never India, Sri Lanka or Vietnam. What would you recommend? Thanks Esteen

    Roger Wade says:


    Vietnam and Sri Lanka could both be excellent choices for what you have in mind. Both are best for people who already have experience in these sorts of places, which you do. Twelve days could be a perfect length of time for a classic tour of Vietnam, flying into Hanoi and spending a few days there and in Halong Bay (with a possible side trip up to Sapa), and then taking the train down to Denang for a quick transfer to Hoi An. Hoi An is really a wonderful place and 3 or 4 days there would be great. There are good beaches nearby as well. Then take the train down to Ho Chi Minh City for a few more days before flying home from there. You could also do a side trip to Nha Trang (wonderful beaches) or Dalat up in the mountains. Vietnam really is gorgeous and the food is wonderful (French influences remain) but it can be a bit complicated for new travelers because you’ll find that many people you meet are trying to hustle you a bit, particularly travel agents booking trips and tours. The hotels are generally honest and great value, and so are the restaurants. You’ll learn to ignore the annoying people quickly.

    Sri Lanka could also be great, and it’s very different. In fact, you might even consider a trip to India itself, which is obviously similar to Sri Lanka. But Sri Lanka is far easier to do in about 12 days, with most of your time spent in the mountains and a bit along the southern coast. Colombo is mainly just good for flying in and getting your bearings. Sri Lanka is also a bit more expensive than Vietnam, but both are great value. And again, you could instead go to Kerala and Goa in India on a short trip, although those are more about relaxation than culture. Let me know if you have any other questions, and I hope this helps. -Roger

NISHA says:

I am from india and is planning a trip to europe in the month of march or april please tell me the places one must see in and around europe .and more how many days


    Roger Wade says:


    This is a huge question and I’d need to know more about your preferences and your budget to answer it properly. But I can give you a short version here. In my opinion, which is matched by many other people, the most interesting and dramatic cities in Europe are London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, and Venice. Visiting those would require about 16 days to do it properly because you’d want to spend 3 or 4 days in each city, except maybe only 2 days in Venice because it’s quite small.

    If you have more time I’d add Berlin and Prague, giving them at least 3 days each. If you still have more time you might want to spend 3 days in Madrid and 3 days in Barcelona. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more specific questions about this. -Roger

Ujwal says:

Roger, This thread has been a great read and thanks for your insight on so many places it really helps!

I am planning a 12 night or close to 2 weeks holiday from London for the last week nov/or first 2 weeks of December to avoid the holiday season. Looking for a sunny holiday so nearest bets are a minimum 7 to 8 hr flight from here. I had few things on my mind mix a wildlife safari and beach holiday in Tanzania (but the safari’s appear v expensive!)or travel to south/central America I haven’t been to any part of south America and was considering costa rican region. Ideally looking for few days on a good beach snorkelling etc and few days exploring the country and nature. Do you think costa rica is a good starting point if it’s the first country I was visiting in south America ?

Also open to any other options in Africa (maybe south Africa ?) (excluding my flights I would prefer not to spend more than 4k USD for my entire vacation)
Thanks looking forward to your reply.
Best, Uj

    Roger Wade says:


    I haven’t personally done an African safari yet, but I know many people who have, including a few who have done affordable ones. I’m told that if you get to Kenya or Tanzania or South Africa you can usually find a space on a safari going in the next few days, at a big discount. But obviously there is a bit of a risk in trying that.

    As for Costa Rica, I think it would be ideal for what you have in mind. It’s by far the most tourist-friendly (and English speaking friendly) country in that area, so it’s a great starting point. Belize is pretty easy as well, although there is far less nature to enjoy. Panama and Nicaragua are a bit cheaper and have similar things to offer, but Costa Rica has the best infrastructure and nature parks, so it’s less stressful for a first-timer. The snorkeling is better on the Caribbean coast, I believe, but the better tourist beaches are on the Pacific. The country is pretty quick to get across, so you could easily spend a few days on both sides, plus another few exploring the rain forests and volcanoes and such.

    By the way, Costa Rica is quite different from the popular countries of South America itself (Peru, Argentina, Brazil etc), so it’s a different experience and not much of an introduction. I think in 12 days you could have a great time in several areas of Costa Rica, and maybe also spend a few of those days in Panama or Nicaragua. As always, feel free to ask more questions if you have them. -Roger

Steve says:

Hi Roger,

What an absolutely excellent website. I’ve learned so much. Thank you.

I am just interested in whether you are still planning to go to Bali this winter, in light of the recent Mount Rinjani ash cloud trouble?

I would love to visit Bali this winter, but unfortunately I can’t be very flexible with dates, and am therefore nervous about booking a trip where I cannot be sure about the times of arrival and departure.

What’s your plan?

    Roger Wade says:


    Thanks for the kind words and I’m happy to hear that this info helps. The Mount Rinjani ash cloud situation is also a mystery to me at this point. My plan was to fly into Bali more or less for the full month of February, but according to the news it does seem possible that the skies in the area will still be unsafe at that point. I will already be in Asia and if the Bali airport is still closed I’ll just go to the Philippines or Malaysia. But I wouldn’t book a long-haul flight into Bali for the coming months at this point, at least not unless I knew I could change it cheaply if the flights are canceled.

    Obviously you’d get a refund if an airline canceled your incoming flight, so I guess it’s more a matter of being able to book an alternative without much notice at that point, and that can be tricky. I’ll probably be coming from Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur, and those flights are always pretty cheap. If I was coming from Europe or North America, I’d probably just wait and hope that the ash cloud starts to subside, and also get a back-up destination ready. If you mainly just want to hang out on a lovely beach and do some water activities and such, then I’d take a look at Boracay Island. However, it’s small and doesn’t come close for cultural activities or natural sights, although other parts of the Philippines are better in those regards.

    So I’ll be keeping an eye on it just like you, and hoping that the ash cloud starts dying down soon. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions I might help with. -Roger

Larry says:

Hi Roger,

Simply outstanding! It’s how I describe what you are and the quality of information gleaned from this website.

My Wife and I are looking to go on a last minute break from 26/12/15-04/01/15. Somewhere warmer than England and child friendly (for our kids, age 4 and 7) would be nice.

I like the idea of visiting the 3 Italian cities then flying to Paris and hoping on a train to Amsterdam. I’m just not sure how child-friendly those places are. What are your thoughts?

Even though a warmer weather would be ideal, I have to say we are not opposed to the idea of a ski holiday or even a trip to Norway to see the Northern lights:)

What would you recommend?

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank for the kind words, and I’m always happy to hear that this information is useful.

    Italy should be at least a bit warmer than England this time of year, but not by all that much in a typical year. Also, if you only have about 9 days I think I’d try for no more than 3 or perhaps 4 total cities (Venice can be appreciated in about 24 hours if you are in a hurry). And of course, Paris and Amsterdam will both be quite chilly, so I think I’d save those for another trip. My recommendation would be to spend the whole trip in Italy so you aren’t so rushed. Do Rome for at least 3 nights and Florence for 2 or 3 nights, and then Venice for 1 or 2 nights. You could still have time to pop down to Sorrento for a couple nights to see Naples and Pompeii and whatnot.

    I’ve only been to Norway in the summer and I’ve not gone skiing in Europe, so I can’t be of my help with those. Pretty much everyone who comes to this article (and this site) for December recommendations is looking for tropical destinations, so that’s what I’ve mostly provided. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, and feel free to ask more questions if you have them. -Roger

Muhamed says:

Hi Roger

Excellent Wow…..thanks for all the comments & lovely suggestions

Not sure if you’ve been to Sharm al Shiek? I am looking for another destination
Ion like that for the December period. Sun shine, beaches & super night life. Any recommendations. Family destination



    Roger Wade says:


    Thanks. I’ve been to other places in Egypt, but have yet to make it to Sharm el-Shiek. It’s hard to find places that are that inexpensive these days. Most of my best suggestions are in the article above. If your main priorities are beaches, sunshine, and nightlife, my favorites are Goa, India; Boracay Island, Philippines; and almost any of the Thai islands. Goa has many family-oriented beach towns, although some others are not so family oriented so you have to choose carefully there.

    Is there a part of the world you are more interested in? Or some other criteria I should know about? I am not sure what you are looking for that isn’t already on the list above, but I’ll try more suggestions if you provide a bit more guidance. -Roger

Mayur aiya says:

Hey roger what a beautiful web site i have travelled almost the world on business but wana travel to some out skirt location in europe aroubd december .. With my family can u pls suggest moutians , beaches and some adventure ..

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you, and I’ll be happy to try to help. But first I have to mention that ALL of Europe is quite cold in December and there are no beaches that are anywhere near warm enough to even spend time on, much less go swimming. The only place that could possibly fit the bill is the Canary Islands, which is off the northern coast of Africa although technically part of Spain. It’s reasonably warm there during December, and there is quite a bit to do.

    Aside from that I’d recommend Morocco if you want to be near Europe. You can get there by a short ferry from southern Spain or a cheap flight. It’s still chilly, though warmer than Europe and there is plenty to see and do. Let me know if you had something else in mind and I’ll be happy to try to help. -Roger

Sanjana says:

Hi Roger,

Andaman and Nicobar Islands in India would be a great pick too. It should be on this list.


Nikhil says:

Greetings Roger,
First of all what an amazing work you are doing here.. Kudos to you !! Went through your replies..too good the knowledge.
Anyways, me & my wife are planning for our 1st marriage anniversary vacation (24th December is our anniversary). I stay in Mumbai, India & im planning to keep my travel dates from 16th dec 2016 to 30th dec 2016.I had been to New Zealand for my honeymoon & was one hell of an experience with the beaches..adventure & everything. Well, this time around we plan for EUROPE. I know it’ll be freezing down there in December but how about places like Spain.. Portugal ..France ? southernmost part of these areas? ( we would love beach side destinations & i know water will be freezing cold in this month but just lying on the beach would do as well no need to enter the water)
Also we wish to experience Aurora Lights.. So any suggestions which 2 countries can be clubbed with any 1 of the Nordic countries for the Aurora Lights ?
If not Europe can you suggest any other place ? We dont want any south east asian countries…we dont want South Africa..Seychelles..Mauritius..Maldives..Australia..NZ..nor the US or Carribean Islands.
Our budget would be within 3 lakhs (INR) for both of us.say around 4500 USD ( 1 USD = 68 Rs )
Do let me know your inputs. Waiting to hear from you. Have a splendid week ahead.

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you for the kind words, and I’ll be happy to offer my advice.

    Being from Mumbai you can be forgiven for not realizing how unappealing beach areas are when the air temperatures are only a bit above freezing. Seriously, even beach on the European mainland is totally deserted by November 1, and many of the local hotels and restaurants are closed by then until April or so. Now, if you are mainly after the novelty of being on a beach in the European winter, you can certainly go and still find open hotels and restaurants. If I had to recommend one place to consider it would be Spain’s Costa del Sol, which is the resort area around Malaga. The average high in December in Malaga is 17, and the average low is 8. You’d be the only one on the beach, which might be kind of nice. It’ll also probably be windy. If you were going to do that I’d recommend staying in Malaga itself, which does have a nice beach area in the city, and since it’s a city the hotels and restaurants will all be going.

    If your real goal is to sit on a European beach and not freeze or be alone in December, your only real choice is the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest of them, and the best one for English speakers. The average high in December there is 22C with 16C as a low, and in December it’s packed with Swedes and Brits and Germans who actually do sit on the beach or around pools, even though it’s a bit cool for most of us. It’s important to note though that the Canary Islands are technically part of Europe because they are a territory of Spain, but only the largest cities on each island are “European” at all. The beach resort areas are quite generic, and not very special aside from the pleasant weather and modest prices.

    Since you’ve got 2 weeks I hope you are planning on also spending some time in cities. As you might expect, Europe’s larger cities are all crowded and busy during December, many with great Christmas decorations and events. There are very few foreign tourists, so hotel prices tend to be quite low.

    As for the Northern Lights, Iceland is one to consider, and its Aurora Tourism sector is pretty famous. You can get a cheap flight to Iceland from London or most other large cities in Europe, and it’ll cost about the same as a flight to Stockholm or Oslo. If you want to stay on the continent, I’d think about Sweden, even though Norway has more northern area. Both are very expensive, but Sweden is a bit cheaper and easier to get around in.

    As for other possible places to visit, you’ve ruled out pretty much everything except northern Africa and South America. Morocco could actually be good and the weather there in December is decent, with even some nice beaches. Egypt would also normally be a suggestion, except that it’s not reliably safe enough as of now.

    Let me know if any of the above things sound interesting, and I’ll be happy to fill in some details if you like. -Roger

Sam says:

We are couple looking for moderate weather not too far from Australia. Looking for relatively quieter place if you could recommend. We got around 10 days starting from 26th Dec 2016. Not too expensive but not too cheap and crowded as well.

    Roger Wade says:


    You don’t say whether you looking for a beach or a cultural destination or a mountain retreat, so it’s hard to be confident with any recommendations. Still, I’ll toss out a few possibilities and hopefully they will help.

    I’m not sure if there are affordable flights to South Africa, but that is one to consider with really nice December weather and modest prices yet not too crowded. I assume you’ve already considered and dismissed New Zealand, by the way.

    If you want to go into Asia you could consider Goa or Kerala. They are both states with many beaches and towns to consider, some of which are very popular and crowded, and others that are more mellow, and all are cheap.

    Another option is Chiang Mai, Thailand, which has wonderful weather in December as long as you don’t require constant heat. It is popular with tourists and expats, but it’s not an overly touristy city so it never seems too crowded. Other options in that general area to consider are Luang Prabang, Laos, and Siem Reap, Cambodia. Let me know if any of these sound interesting and I can provide more info if you need it. -Roger

Andy West says:

Hi Roger! Great article, and nice to see all the time you must use to answer!

Me and a buddy is traveling late december, till mid january (about 2 weeks). We’re relatively young and would appreciate a combination of some partying, some beach, and offcourse some cultural input. We were in Bali and Lombok this summer and really enjoyed it. Its great to being able to travel around a little, so that would be a plus for sure:) Right now we’re looking at Vietnam, Goa, and some of the Thai islands. I know the two latter can be quite lively, but how about Vietnam? We’re from Norway, so we need it to be as warm as possible.

Thank you:)

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to help, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in all of those places. Vietnam is cheap and quite nice, plus the food is very good, but it’s much better for cultural visits than for partying. Alcohol is very cheap there, but they don’t really cater to the party crowd in the same way that Thailand and Goa do. I’d save it for a future trip.

    Of the others, I’d say that Thailand would probably be your better choice. Goa is obviously famous for its beach parties, and drugs are easily available there just in case that is important, but there really isn’t much else to see or do there. Goa is a collection of beach towns, some of which are filled with raucous Westerners all winter. But once you go inland, it’s kind of falling apart, and it’s not even very “Indian” because it was run by the Portuguese until about 60 years ago.

    If I were you I’d fly to Bangkok and stay at least 2 or 3 nights in the famous Khosan Road area, which has a bad reputation with some people, but it’s really fun. It’s also cheap, and a short walk from most of the main cultural sights. After that you could fly to Ko Samui or Ko Phagnan or Ko Phi Phi, and easily find the better party spots. You could also go to Phuket, but I prefer the others for younger people. Phuket has loads of nice beaches for families and couples, but the one “party town” (Patong Beach) is a bit over the top, and mostly geared for groups of men who want to go to the “beer bars” and strip clubs and whatnot. The smaller islands will have a more mixed crowd, including many backpacking females. Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Andy West says:

I want to specify that when I say partying I dont mean it in a Kuta kind of way, but more in a easy way to get to know other people.

    Roger Wade says:

    I know what you mean. Definitely avoid Patong Beach in Phuket then. Those smaller islands do have pockets that are like Kuta, but also more chill places that draw in mixed crowds. -Roger

Agnes says:

Hi Roger. We are a family of 4 from Europe. Parents in their 30s, kids will be 5 and 1 end of December when we are planning to travel.
We are looking to explore warm Central American destinations safe for kids and affordable in price. We love beaches. Not in the typical sun-bathing type of way, but rather appreciating the raw beauty of the nature. We also like to eat out and having activities for the kids and as a family would be excellent. Could you suggest a destination that fits the bill? Central America appeals to me but open to other suggestions you may find worth mentioning.
Best regards, Agnes

    Roger Wade says:


    Based on your description, you definitely want to go to Costa Rica. The neighboring countries have many similarities, but Costa Rica is the shining star in Central America for tourism. They have endless national parks and nature sights, but also lovely beaches and adventure activities. The area in the north around the town of Tamarindo is the more luxurious part of the country, but there are many other beach towns on both coasts that could work for you. You will also probably want to spend one or more days in the Arenal volcano area, which has many other great activities. The Caribbean coast is more laid back and less family oriented, so better to focus on the Pacific. Have a great trip. -Roger

matti says:

If Ethiopia only had beach it would be perfect destination. Still without I highly recommend.

Ginny says:

Hello. I love what I have read and hoping you can solve our family vacation debate. We are from the US (MI) and have two families (4 adults) plus kids aged 20, 17, 16, and 12 (8 total travelers). We are an adventurous bunch and want A TRIP OF A LIFETIME experience THIS Dec. 26th with two weeks ANYWHERE in the world. We all agree WARM, and money in the range of $35,000 total with airfare. How about 2 or 3 suggestions of some amazing, extremely fun vacation destinations with lots of activity 🙂 ???

    Roger Wade says:


    You’ve got a pretty good budget so you can afford to go almost anywhere, assuming you are okay with renting one or two houses or villas instead of 4 hotel rooms. If you are willing to fly all the way to Asia, your best bets would be Bali or one of the Thai islands, probably Ko Samui or Phuket. In all of those places you should be able to rent a house or villa near the beach and then do activities and day trips very easily.

    However, I would probably recommend staying closer to the US, unless you are really interested in the Asian cultures or that kind of experience. If you are mainly just interested in family time and a fairly easy holiday for all, and you aren’t specifically interested in getting to know an Asian culture and its food, I think I’d stay in the Americas.

    The three places that jump out to me are the Playa del Carmen area just south of Cancun in Mexico, the island of Puerto Rico, or Costa Rica. All of those have endless beach activities and sights and great food and everything else, and they are all well within your budget. Puerto Rico would be easiest, and probably my first choice. Costa Rica is better known for adventure activities that might suit the younger ones. There are several good resort areas along the Pacific coast that would work.

    Think about those suggestions and let me know if any of them sound good to you. If so, I’ll be happy to provide more details. -Roger

      Ginny says:

      Spend the past two days discussing your ideas. Group thoughts; Is that adventurous and cultural enough? We want a “wow” factor. We have vacationed in Cayman Islands about a dozen weeks since the kids were little (been there done that.). We have ruled out Asia only because don’t see a huge Wow factor for the amount of travel. What about African Safari? Still not ruling out your ideas, just want to know what is Wow about Puerto Rico? Costa Rica?
      We are hanging on your every word to make this decision by the way. We have 13 days in total with college and high school schedules… and this December 26th, 2016 is our GO date. Thank you again for helping us make this fun decision of where, why, and what to do:):):)

        Roger Wade says:


        Sorry for the delay in responding, but I’ve just come back to London from Ibiza and Paris and I’m catching up on things now.

        Hmmm…there may not be a Wow Factor in Puerto Rico, especially if you are that used to Caymen. I was thinking more about a really nice place that was easy and with great weather. Costa Rica could have the Wow Factor, however. The country is something like one-third national parks and it is packed with great scenery and adventure activities. It is the zip-lining and canopy tours capital of the Americas, so there are many great options along those lines. And there is the volcano and hot springs and really nice beaches. I’m not sure what you’d consider a Wow Factor, but Costa Rica is probably the most Wow destination other than Hawaii.

        Asia is loaded with amazing things and affordable prices, but it takes a full day to get there and a day to get back, so it may not be suited to a larger group trip.

        I’ve yet to do an African safari, although that is probable next year for me, and I know quite a bit about it from reading and publishing articles on them. That certainly would be a Wow thing to do. They tend to last around 5 days, so you could do that in conjunction with a visit to South Africa itself. That is another that I’ve yet to reach, but people rave about Cape Town and many other places in that country.

        And of course, Hawaii is amazing, and would be wonderful, if a bit more expensive than the others for your dates. I hope this helps and feel free to comment again. I’m back in full-time mode so I can respond within 24 hours. -Roger

          Ginny says:

          Hello once again. We have decided on an African Safari to Tanzania. 1. because they had a great itinerary for us factoring in how late we are booking this for Christmas/New Year 2016/17.
          2. We read lots of things that leads us to believe that Tanzania is great this time of year. We are choosing 7 day safari with time on back end to rest for 3 days at hotel. Anyway, my question to you is ANY tips or must do’s on a safaris. We are personalizing the trip to some extent because we are a group of 7 and are not joined by other families. Also, any DONT DO’s on a safari? Any advice on booking our flights? Websites?
          Thank you once again for the advice this far!!!

          Roger Wade says:


          This looks great and I wish I could be of more help. As I mentioned before, my first safari will probably be in 2017. I have a couple safari articles on this site from writers who have done them, and I’ve read a lot about the experience and the extremely positive reviews that most of them get. But having not yet done one, I wouldn’t feel comfortable offering specific advice. There are hundreds of articles on the internet that discuss these safaris, so I recommend you seek advice from someone with plenty of first-hand experience. Just be careful not to rely too heavily on a commercial safari outfitter, and try to seek advice from a travel blogger or other regular consumer. Have a great trip. -Roger

faith says:

I am wanting to plan a college graduation trip for 10 days/2 weeks during the last days of December and early January. We live in Az. The graduate would like to do the Galapagos or Austraila or New Zealand. I am thinking it is too late to plan the Galapagos as those trips seem to get booked so far in advance. We want to have a memorable trip. Are these destinations you would suggest? Any other suggestions? We want to be somewhat active, not just driving and looking at sights.
Thanks so much

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ve yet to do Galapagos myself, but some of my writers have done it and it sounds like you can book those trips on short notice, even once you get there. I’d keep that on your list and look into it.

    Pretty much everywhere is going to be at or near capacity for those dates because half the world is on Christmas break. Between Australia and New Zealand, I think New Zealand would be far more interesting for 10 to 14 days. In Australia you pretty much have to spend a few days in Sydney, a few days in Melbourne, and a few days at the Great Barrier Reef, all of which require flights and will be very crowded over those weeks.

    New Zealand will also be crowded, but the country is otherwise mostly empty so it is still wonderful. You could fly to Auckland for one day or so and rent a campervan/motorhome. Drive it for 3 or so days on the North Island, and then onto the ferry to the South Island for the rest of your time. The South Island is far more scenic and less crowded. You’ll be doing some driving and looking, but after a few hours of that you can stop at a campground and have plenty of things to do such as hiking or water sports and much more.

    Aside from those places, you might also consider Hawaii, but of course it’s quite expensive, especially that time of year. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Shelley says:

Hello Roger,

We (my husband and I) have really enjoyed reading this thread and found it very interesting and informational, thank you.

We are looking to travel somewhere warm in December of this year, for approximately 3-4 weeks. We are originating from Canada – Alberta, to be exact, and have done a fair bit of travelling throughout our lives, however, we are now bringing along our 4 year old son. With that in mind, I suppose our biggest concerns are now flight durations and safety (in our younger years and without children, these weren’t so much a factor, but definitely are considerations now).

We spent a month in Costa Rica last year and although we thoroughly enjoyed the trip, we don’t tend to be “repeat customers”, so we’d like to venture somewhere new (we saw that you had mentioned this as kid-friendly a few times, so just wanted to let you know that we’ve already been there). Some available attractions and activities would be ideal, but, we’d also quite enjoy the beach towns of some sort. We love hostel type of accommodations, aren’t overly-indulgent and can get by on a fairly modest budget. We are of the mind-set that spending more time, is more valuable than spending more money.

Ultimately and up to this point, we’ve been considering Mexico and Central America, but after having read this entire thread on your site, we would love to hear if you have any suggestions in particular?

Your advice is appreciated and we look forward to your response, so thank you again for this site and for your time, and we hope to hear back from you.

Warm regards,

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you for the kind words. Interestingly, had you not included that you’ve been to Costa Rica, I’d say that was the obvious suggestion because they really do that sort of thing well and it’s at least a bit better organized than its neighbors. And if you were less concerned over travel time, I’d have some interesting suggestions for you in Asia. However, as you know, it takes nearly a full day just to get to Asia from the US or Canada, and then a few days to adjust, so you might be best off saving that for later.

    Hawaii, as you probably know, would be great for what you have in mind, except that there are no cheaper options there at all. After that I agree with you that there are places in Mexico that could work. One in particular that I like a lot is the area around Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. It’s a lively and tourist-friendly town, instead of a strip of big hotels like Cancun, and there is a wide range of activities and accommodations in different price ranges.

    In Central America you could consider Belize. It’s small, but it’s got islands and beaches (not everywhere though) and forests and other cultural sights, and English is more or less the official language. It’s not as well organized as Costa Rica, but it’s not bad and it feels safe. The other to consider there is Panama, which obviously has a lot in common with Costa Rica. It has far fewer adventure activities and the good beaches are spaced out a bit, but still it’s a relatively rich country with tens of thousands of Americans and Canadians living there as well as visiting, so they have a good tourist infrastructure and it’s safe.

    In South America, and you start getting into some longer flights here, the best and safest places are Argentina, Peru, and Chile. I’m not sure if this helps you much, but at least it should let you know that you were thinking along the right lines already, and there are no obvious places that you’d overlooked. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jun Hong says:

Hi Roger!

I am from Singapore and looking to travel in mid December for about 7-14days (we are still deciding). i am looking to travel with my spouse and so far had travel to Japan and Vietnam this year.. from the recent comment, seems like New Zealand is a good options with a relatively good weather of between 11-21 Degrees Celsius.

How many days you think it will be good to explore NZ and if there is other better options out there?

    Roger Wade says:


    New Zealand is an excellent option in December, as it’s before the Christmas crowds and just before the summer holidays there. The best and most popular way to explore New Zealand is to rent a camper van or a car and drive from one “holiday park” to another. Auckland is a pretty generic city so it’s not worth spending more than 1 or maybe 2 days there. Just fly in, and rent a vehicle to leave the next morning, and drive south. The North Island has a lot to see, but the South Island is even more scenic and pleasant. You can take a ferry between the two with your vehicle.

    I’d recommend 1 night in Auckland, then 3 nights on the North Island, and then a ferry to the South Island. If you can spend a week there, and return the camper van or car to Christchurch for a flight to Auckland and home, it would be perfect. As long as you can spend at least 4 nights on the South Island, it will be worth it. But if your schedule or budget don’t allow that much, you might just stay on the North Island. The most interesting place on the South Island is Queenstown, but there is plenty to see all over.

    If that’s the sort of holiday you are after, then New Zealand is the best place. However, if you wanted to visit cities or beaches or ancient cultures, there are better options. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

      Jun Hong says:

      Hi Roger,

      First of all thank you for the fast reply. I am amaze that this article is still so relevant despite written in 2013! alot of people has benefit from your knowledge, so many thanks in writing this!

      I know why New Zealand did not make it here as it is not Cheap. However i really like your earlier suggestions and curious to find out more on the ideal itinerary on NZ…
      i am wondering if it is practical to fly into Auckland and drive all the way, do you mean i can take my car in the ferry to south island and continue my drive down?

      is it possible to do so as the 2 island look rather big to cover… how many days would it be ideal to cover New Zealand well enough? would it be better to depart from Queenstown to Singapore or to Auckland then home?

      Star gazing appeal to me, i should probably spend more time in SOuth island?

      sorry to ask so many questions, i am noob in NZ landscapes… cheers

        Roger Wade says:


        The article was written in 2013, but then updated and expanded every year. Since so many people visiting New Zealand do it in a rented car or camper van, all of the companies have deals that include the ferry crossing and returning the car on a different island. Just shop around online and you’ll find prices that include all of that. And also look into renting a campervan if that appeals to you at all. It’s really a wonderful way to see the country, and it’s cheaper than renting a car and staying in hotels or cabins.

        On my own trip I spent 3 nights on the North Island after leaving Auckland, and then 4 nights on the South Island. The South Island is more scenic and interesting, and much less crowded, so I would have liked to have stayed another 2 or 3 nights if I had the time. So I’d recommend 3 or 4 nights on the North Island and 5 to 7 nights on the South Island. With smaller towns and smaller crowds on the South Island, that is the better place for star gazing, though most of the North Island is fairly empty as well. It’s an amazing place and I’m sure you’ll love it. Have a great trip. -Roger

Akshat says:

hello Roger,
Love the way you help people in deciding the places and itineraries.
We are couple and are planning a 4/5 nights trip (starting from 22nd december) from US(WA) that is not very far,slightly reasonable and beautifull.
can you please suggest the destinations??

Thanks and Regards

Yee K. says:

Hi Roger,
First of all, applause to all your kind help (and your time). My 8 years old boy and I want to travel in December to a warm country and I am a little bit nervous to be only two of us since my hubby could not join us. I am just wondering if Costa Rica (or Brazil) safe to travel for a woman alone with young kid? Any other safe countries in your mind (with affordable price)? We live in D.C and don’t want to fly too far like Asia, Australia, etc. We have been in Dubai and Mexico.

    Roger Wade says:

    Yee K,

    I’d say Costa Rica is definitely safe for a woman with a young kid, as it’s very well organized and the crime rate is quite low compared to its neighbors in the region. It’s also a bit more expensive than Panama and its other neighbors, but it is loaded with well-kept national parks and many other attractions so you get good value for your money.

    Brazil, on the other hand, has a famous problem with petty crime in tourist areas so I wouldn’t recommend it for a woman and young child. Another to consider is Puerto Rico, which has a lot to offer including great weather, and it’s also more or less part of the US, so it’s fairly safe and well organized. Hotels in Puerto Rico are a bit expensive, but you should be able to get an apartment rental in the San Juan area (gorgeous, by the way) for a modest price if you are staying for more than a few days. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

mohit says:

Hi Roger,
Amazing work.. Kudos to you !!
Anyways, me & my wife are planning for our honeymoon vacation. I stay in Delhi, India & I am planning to keep my travel dates from 14th dec 2016 to 1st Jan 2017. Well, we plan for EUROPE or NZ. I know it’ll be freezing down there in December but how about places like Spain.. Portugal ..Malta ? southernmost part of these areas?
If not Europe can you suggest any other place ? We dont want any south east asian countries…we dont want South Africa..Seychelles..Mauritius..Maldives..
Our budget would be within 3-4 lakhs (INR) for both of us.say around 4500-5800 USD ( 1 USD = 68 Rs )
Waiting to hear from you.

    Roger Wade says:


    This is an interesting question. As you know, your honeymoon dates are right in the heart of the Christmas and New Year’s travel season, so flights to most places are going to be expensive. And it will be quite cold in all of southern Europe, including Malta and Greece, with the only exception being the Canary Islands off Africa.

    You mention New Zealand and of course it’s summer there then, so it would be a good choice. However, all of these places will be crowded and near peak hotel rates if they are warm. So I’ll be happy to give you advice if you tell me if you’d rather visit one or more European cities in the cold season, or if you are looking for a warm place like New Zealand where it will be fairly crowded. By the way, the southern European cities such as Rome and Barcelona are lively and enjoyable that time of year, as the Christmas season goes on, and there aren’t too many tourists except for a few that travel to see their families around the holidays. So it can be a good time for southern Europe, as long as you don’t mind wearing a jacket or jumper during the day, and maybe a bit more in the evening. Give me a bit more guidance and I’ll be happy to try to help. -Roger

Jun Hong says:

Dear Roger,

I am now deciding between Bandung, Indonesia or Philippines. NZ have to be put on a later date as deem too expensive with the car rental for us both. If you do suggest Philippines, can you recommend which part will be better? Cheers!

    Roger Wade says:


    Those rental cars and campervans in New Zealand can be a bit expensive any time, and if you want to go in the peak holiday period I’m not surprised that they are out of reach.

    As for Indonesia vs. Philippines, I’ve been to Bali quite a few times but I haven’t been to Bandung. And for the Philippines I’ve spent time in Manila and in Tagaytay just to its south, and I don’t think I’d recommend those for a longer trip. And I also spent two weeks on Boracay Island, which is quite nice, but it’s small and also a place I wouldn’t recommend for a longer trip like yours. For information on Indonesia you might go to my friend’s site – travelfish.org – which is an excellent resource. Unfortunately, they don’t cover the Philippines yet. Best of luck with what you end up doing. -Roger

Mike w says:

Looking for a four day weekend in early to mid December. Departing from Philadelphia metro area. Looking for something inexpensive, relatively warm, possible beach destination. Not too touristy. Other areas of interest include dining, hiking, drinking wine perhaps, relaxing. Just need a good starting point. So many choices to make!

    Roger Wade says:

    Mike W,

    Starting from Philadelphia, your best options are all going to be in and near the Caribbean, including the destinations mentioned a the top of this article. You’ll be able to get some great deals if you are home before the Christmas holidays are going.

    When you mention, “not too touristy”, the first thing that comes to mind is San Juan, Puerto Rico. I’m not sure if you’ve been there already or not, but one great thing about it is that the “tourist” areas close to Old San Juan are filled more with apartments than with hotels, unlike Cancun, where it’s nothing but hotels and timeshares. I can highly recommend the Condado neighborhood, which does have some large hotels but is mostly apartments for expats and seasonal visitors. There is even a free bus that goes from there to the heart of Old San Juan, which is a gorgeous colonial town filled with great restaurants, bars, and interesting attractions.

    Puerto Rico isn’t quite as cheap as Mexico or the Dominican Republic, but it’s MUCH easier and less stressful since it’s part of the US and security is good.

    If you don’t need sunbathing temperatures, you might also consider the Gulf coast of Florida. The area around Fort Meyers is modestly priced and won’t be too busy that time of year. You can get a cheap flight into Naples and rent a car quite cheap as well. I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nancy says:

Hi Roger – my family and I would love to travel to a warm location 84-85 degrees or hotter would be nice. Price isn’t really an issue – crowds are as my husband has some anxiety. Love the beaches – open to suggestions – have passports – ready to go first two weeks of December. Thanks!! Nancy

    Roger Wade says:


    Since you mention the temperature in Fahrenheit, I’ll assume you are in the United States. You might have to go to the Southern Hemisphere to reliably get 84F or higher, but you can get over 80F in most of the Caribbean. You’ll get low 80s in Hawaii in early December as well. Fortunately, neither of those places get too crowded until just before Christmas, so either should work.

    If you have a budget that allows at least US$300 per night, you should be able to rent a nice condo in Hawaii. If you haven’t been there before, it’s worth knowing that each of the 4 main tourist islands is quite different from each other, and only Oahu has an urban center that should probably be avoided. You’ll want to rent a car as well, as getting around is difficult without one.

    If the Caribbean sounds better, I’ll recommend Puerto Rico. The area around San Juan is fairly crowded, although not nearly as crowded as a typical resort area that is loaded with hotels. And there are many smaller resort towns on other parts of the island where people usually rent a condo for a week or two. In a town like Rincon you won’t get crowds, and you will get great beaches.

    There are many other good possibilities in the Caribbean as well. I really like Puerto Rico and think it would suit you, but many islands have little tourist towns on beaches with no crowds. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Samir says:

Hi Roger,

Nice work, I really appreciate it..

Me and my wife are planning to take about 5 days vacation around 10th December this year. We are more like nature lover people, like to do some outdoor activities not too extreme though…like to stay away from the beaches though…That will be from Atlanta….what all options do we have…I was leaning towards Iceland….

Thanks in advance,

    Roger Wade says:


    It would be hard to find a bigger Iceland fan than me. The problem is that the days there are extremely short in December (it’s just below the Arctic Circle), so nearly all of the travelers who go there in winter are there to see the Northern Lights. If that sounds good to you, then it’s worth considering.

    From Atlanta, the places that come to mind with the theme of “nature” would be Costa Rica and Belize. Costa Rica is probably the better choice, as it famously has around a third of its land as natural parks. Much of it is jungle, and they have all sorts of activities including zip lining, but also canopy tours and much more. There is also the Arenal volcano there, which is really nice and has some fun hot springs around it. They also have beaches, of course, but there is plenty in the interior of the island to keep you busy. If you know a bit of Spanish, it helps, but most other visitors know little or none.

    Belize has similarities, except it’s not as slick and developed. There are a few towns off the coast with jungle tours and other sites, and the Tikal ruins (amazing) is not far away inside Guatemala. English is one of the main languages there, so some things are a bit easier.

    Puerto Rico has a rain forest and quite a few outdoor and nature activities, and it’s probably the easiest Caribbean island to do that kind of trip in. Let me know if any of these sound interesting, and I’ll be happy to help more. -Roger

nain says:

Hi Roger,

I will be going to Istanbul-Turkey on 17th Dec for a week, could you please advice how bad is the weather in December.

    Roger Wade says:


    Istanbul will be chilly in December, but it rarely goes below freezing. Most of the attractions are indoors as well, including the Grand Bazaar, so it should be enjoyable. I prefer spring and autumn in Istanbul, but winter isn’t terrible. Have a good time. -Roger

Dave says:

Hi Roger,
What a fantastic site you have. I am in Dallas, TX and looking for a 7-10 day getaway in late November or any time in December, depending on when my passport renewal comes in. I am going solo and have a reasonable budget. My goal is relaxing mostly but as a solo upper 40’s male, it wouldn’t be bad to run into some people (and ladies) to visit with some of the time. I thought of SE Asia but travel time burns up much of the trip. Do you think all-inclusives are worth it? And any recommendations for places I won’t be overrun with families and screaming kids?

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ve done most of my travel as a solo, and I’m now a couple years older than you, so I know exactly what you are asking about. If you had even 2 full weeks I’d suggest going to southeast Asia, but as you say, the travel time could be a killer for a shorter trip. Still, it’s a unique experience with a lot of positive aspects to it, so you should keep it in mind. If you are still considering it, I’d suggest flying to Bangkok for 4 days or so, and then spend the rest of your time on one of the islands such as Kho Samui or Phuket. If you want more information on that, let me know.

    For a solo traveler I would not recommend an all-inclusive. They are fantastic for couples and groups of couples or families, but only a few of them are at all suited to solo travelers, and those tend to be the “singles” places.

    My top recommendation would be San Juan, Puerto Rico. It offers a wonderful mix of history and culture and nightlife and great food, alongside excellent beaches and abundant activities. Hotels and rental apartments are mostly in the mid-range for the Caribbean, but food and drinks and most other things are great value. You could get a place in the Condado area, which is close to the lovely Old San Juan neighborhood and plenty of nightlife all around. And then perhaps you could rent a car and stay for a few days at one of the smaller beach towns elsewhere on the island. You wouldn’t even need a passport, although it does feel fairly exotic while you are there. But because it’s part of the US, it’s also well organized and safe. Most people you’ll meet will speak at least some English, and many are fluent, so it’s easy even if you don’t speak Spanish.

    And one of my favorite things about San Juan is that because it’s a real city with a gorgeous historical district, you meet a lot of real people rather than just fellow tourists who are probably all in couples or groups already.

    If that doesn’t appeal to you for some reason, I’d recommend the Playa del Carmen and Cozumel area just south of Cancun. It’s also very nice and would be an easy place to mingle with non-couples. Let me know if you need any more information on any of this. Have a great trip. -Roger

Martina says:


Thank you sooo much for helping everyone here for so long 🙂

We are a couple that are trying to find our honeymoon destination. We start from Italy so south America is kind of out cause the plane tickets are just too much. We love adventures nature, not so much for cities…and we’ve been to thailand sri lanka philippines and my partner now wants something little bit different to see, different scenario 🙂 im in love with Asia 😉

First question: what would you do? One trip from one month (december) or 3-4 smaller trips untill may-june?

Second: december destination for one month/10 days? If its smaller trip, even 2 weeks, it will be for christmas new year time

Hope i dont askfor toomuch and thank you again!!!


    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to try to help. It’s hard to say whether one 30-day trip would be better than several shorter trips. On one hand, it’s much more efficient to go for a month because it obviously saves you all the going back and forth. Also, one week is a short time to go 7 or 8 time zones away, as it takes pretty much an entire day each way, and at least a few days to adjust to the time change. Hmmm…

    If a December trip would be over the Christmas week, it means you’d be paying peak rates at any resort in a warm place. You might want to check out my recommendations for cheap Christmas destinations, in case you haven’t already. That could really get expensive unless you choose one of the cheaper spots.

    Since you’ve been to several of the top places in Asia already, and you love it, I think Bali might be your best bet. As I’ve written many times recently, I feel that the main tourist area of Kuta/Legian/Seminyak is just too crowded and overdeveloped to recommend, although it is interesting for a couple days and some nightlife. The arts and crafts town of Ubud is still nice, although also a bit crowded, but it’s not anything like a city so I still think you’d enjoy it.

    My favorite part of Bali is now the area around Lovina along the north coast, which is still very mellow and mostly open spaces with light development. It’s really beautiful and there is plenty to do. You can get similar experiences by visiting the nearby Gili islands, which also feel like Bali used to be 20 years ago when it was much nicer. They are all really beautiful and relaxing islands with great scenery and very friendly people. You just need to steer clear of the places that are the most crowded.

    And if you are mostly interested in adventure and nature rather than cities, you might also consider India. The cities in India are complete insane asylums, but once you get outside of them it’s a beautiful country. The area of Kerala and its backwaters are a big highlight. They’ll remind you a bit of Sri Lanka in some ways, although things are cheaper and the scenery is quite different. The various beach areas of Goa, just to the north of Kerala, are also worth considering.

    Another option would be Cambodia and/or Vietnam. The town of Siem Reap, which is just next to the Angkor Wat Temples is the real highlight. Phnom Penh is worth a quick look, but not on a shorter trip. Vietnam itself is a wonderful and gorgeous country, and you can see a lot of the highlights in 10 days or so. It’s also very cheap, even around Christmas. You could fly into Hanoi and then go see Ha Long Bay, and then take a train down to Hoi An. After that you could go to Nha Trang for the best beach experience or the hilltown of Sapa. The city of Ho Chi Minh City is quite crowded and you might not like it for more than a day or two.

    Let me know if you have any questions about any of these options and I’ll try to help more if I can. -Roger

Michelle says:

We are from Ireland. We have 5 children(3 boys & 2 girls). We r looking somewhere hot Surf & skateboard park nearby. Fly around 20th December for 2 weeks

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m not really an expert on surf destinations and even less so on skate parks, although I am aware of many places that do have good surf beaches. From Ireland I think your two best bets would be either Rincon, Puerto Rico, which has the best surfing in the Caribbean and is good for longer rentals like that. You could get a reasonably priced flight into San Juan, which is also a really nice place with some surfing and great beaches, and then hire a car for the drive to Rincon.

    The other option is Costa Rica, which has great surf along the Pacific coast and is definitely the adventure capital of Central America.

    There are a few other Caribbean islands with surfing, and some of the other countries in Central America also offer it, but those are the best spots and the easiest to reach. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Carol says:

Hi lm looking to go to penang and langkaiw 29 Dec till the 23 January can you help needed how to book flights and boat

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m not sure what you need help with. You can book a flight into Penang and then an onward flight from there to Langkawi. Or you could book a ferry to Langkawi from Penang when you get there. Let me know if you have specific questions. -Roger

Rachel Lee says:

Hi Roger, do you suggest to go to Boracay in Mid of December? I never been there so I was planning to find somewhere which I can relax there alone but I heard it takes long journey to reach Boracay beach.

    Roger Wade says:


    December is the end of the rainy season in Boracay, but by the middle of December you would probably only get a few quick tropical showers a week. Room rates are a bit lower at that time as well, so it can be a great time to visit. If you were looking for a place to go for 2 or 3 days, I wouldn’t recommend it because it does take some time to get there and you could be a bit unlucky with the rain. But if you are going for longer than that I’d highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful little island that feels like you’ve gone back in time to before mass-market tourism in places like Phuket.

    Even when those quick rain storms come, you can see them forming and head indoors for a while. Nearly every hotel on Boracay is on the beach or within 200 meters of the beach, so it’s really easy to stay dry. If you stay along White Beach (where most hotels are) I think it would be easy to meet other people if you choose as well. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Rachel Lee says:

      Thanks Roger, I will definitely stay a bit longer more than a week probably but I only able to be there by 17 Dec onwards 🙂

sue says:

hi we have 3 boys age, 9, 7 and 5. we want to go on a two week holiday anywhere ( not europe or africa)over december for christmas and new year. we are from england. where is the cheapest to go/ fly to for a beach holiday and some day trips to experience the culture of the country? some tips on where to stay,best towns for families, and is package holidays better than booking everything individually? many thanks

    Roger Wade says:


    From England I would say your cheapest and best late December destination with warm weather and reasonable prices is going to be Phuket. There are some other Thai islands that might be a bit cheaper, but they would be more complicated to reach, and they’d have fewer activities for the boys. Here are some Phuket resorts good for families. You can see that the price range is wide from cheapest to most expensive. In late December it’s peak season so you’ll pay at or near the top of those ranges.

    For a family I’d recommend Kata Beach or Karon Beach, but of which are just a bit south of the main town on Phuket’s west coast called Patong Beach. Patong has great shopping and dining, but it’s also home to a lot of nightclubs and such, so at night it might not be the best place. And it’s quite crowded as well.

    You might get a decent deal on a package from one of the UK online travel agencies or a high street agency. But it’s worth checking the prices online because with the flights and a hotel booking, it’s pretty easy to do it yourself.

    It could be even cheaper to go to Goa, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a family like yours.

    It would probably be a bit more expensive, but another idea that could be great would be to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and rent an apartment for two weeks. It’s a wonderful place that is family friendly, and rental apartments can be good deals. It’s obviously peak season there as well so nothing will be cheap. But the weather will be fantastic and the beaches are great, even in and near the city. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Jasmin says:

Hi Roger,
First of all, this is probably the most informative travel advice I have ever read. Great stuff!

My partner and I (in our 20s) are thinking about where to travel next December. We are from Australia, and since our last 2 trips have been to cold places (US and Japan) we are looking for a warm place to head to next. We aren’t into partying and I would love somewhere with nice beaches, wildlife and rainforests, but my partner can get easily bored so we need some activities and civilisation too. Probably looking at around 2-4 weeks depending on how much there is to see and do and would like to spend $100-200 AUD per night accommodation. Also, would like to feel safe wherever we end up.

Sorry for the long post and hopefully all the info helps!
Thanks in advance.

P.s. I know SE Asia is probably best suggestion, but I have heard many stories of being robbed and how many drunk people are around (mainly Thailand and Bali), so am a bit put off. Saying this, I don’t know much about SEA and am open to anything.

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you for the kind words. I know what you mean about the image of Thailand and Bali, particularly among Australians. On one hand you could go to either of those places and easily avoid the most notorious party neighborhoods, but it’s probably easier to head somewhere else since both of those places are so crowded that time of year anyway. I do have a few suggestions, which I’ll describe briefly and then if you want more details about any that appeal to you I can do that in a follow up comment.

    Vietnam might fit the bill for what you are looking for. The most popular itineraries are to start in Hanoi and end up in Ho Chi Minh City, or the other way around. There is a nice train connecting them that is scenic in many places, and the best must-stop place in between them is Hoi An. You also don’t want to miss Halong Bay, which is just outside Hanoi. Vietnam mostly attracts cultural travelers rather than party people. The food is excellent (France used to run the place) and there is plenty of culture all around, in addition to some nice beaches in Nha Trang and Da Nang (next to Hoi An).

    One reason that Vietnam isn’t as popular as it could be is that travelers often feel a bit hounded when they are there. For some reason, those in the travel business in Vietnam (working at travel agencies where you book tours and such) make tourists feel like they are being hustled. They are rarely 100% honest with what they tell you or about the prices they are charging. Still, it’s an amazing country and it’s also incredibly cheap, even if you end up paying a bit more than you were supposed to. I highly recommend it, and it won’t be a problem if you realize before you get there that you can’t take everything at face value in the way that you usually can in Thailand or Bali. Quality of hotels for the money is also very good.

    Two other suggestions would be India or Sri Lanka. Except for a few beaches in Goa, neither of those attract the party crowd, and both are excellent for scenery and culture. India is cheaper as long as you minimize time in Mumbai and other big cities, but that is good advice for many reasons. Sri Lanka is a bit better organized, and on your budget it is good value and easily affordable. There are good beaches along the south coast of Sri Lanka, but India is probably better for beaches.

    The last suggestion would be to start in Bangkok, which is an amazing city even if you avoid the Khosan Road party area, and then head south along the coast and into Malaysia and finally Singapore if you feel like it. There are many nice beaches and islands in Thailand that aren’t filled with party folks, and some really interesting places in Malaysia as well. George Town on Penang is really nice with excellent food, and Kuala Lumpur is my favorite city in Asia for few reasons. The town of Malacca is really nice, and Singapore is amazing, if a bit expensive.

    Let me know if you want more info on any of those. -Roger

HowardRoark says:

From India…

For a week long honeymoon in mid-December. had a long list of options but found these pocket-friendly:
Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Kerala (India), Mauritius are options. Which one would be the best? Can you suggest?


    Roger Wade says:

    Howard Roark,

    I’m a fan of your architecture. I’ve not been to Bhutan and I believe you have to go there on an organized tour.

    The Maldives is mostly known for water villa resorts, which start at around US$400 per night. I’m not that impressed by the hotels and resorts on the main islands closer to the airport, so I don’t think it’s great value unless you want to stay at one of the water villa resorts.

    Mauritius would be an interesting option if you wanted to mainly stay in one place, which I think is typical on a honeymoon. Sri Lanka is fascinating and really nice, though most people who visit tend to tour around seeing some beach areas and some of the hills and jungles. So I’m not sure if it’s ideal if you want to just stay in one place. Kerala has some really nice resorts that are within easy reach of the backwater boat tours and other attractions.

    So I’m not sure how helpful I’m being with this. If you primarily want to stay in one nice resort for a week, I think Sri Lanka, Kerala, and Mauritius could be great as long as you find a resort you like. But if you want to see 2 or 3 different places in that week, Sri Lanka is your best option on your list.

    You might even consider Phuket, as the 5-star hotels there start at under US$100 per night (and go WAY up from there). There are so many resorts and hotels on Phuket that you tend to get very good value. I hope this helps and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Bonnie Okoth says:

am looking to visit a beach destination in December where the weather is hot .
/am from Africa Kenya to be precise so i require degress of 25 plus .

Where wouldyou recommend am travelling with 2 boys aged 8 and 11

    Roger Wade says:


    In December if you want it that hot you’ll need to go either to Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, or the Caribbean. The Caribbean seems too far from you, and Australia will be crowded and expensive in its better beach areas such as Sydney and Brisbane.

    So you could go to South America, with Rio de Janeiro being the easiest place to reach. The beaches there are incredible, although they’ll be packed with locals in December, and nicer hotels aren’t exactly cheap. Still, it’s one to consider.

    The cheaper option would be Southeast Asia or even India. You could go to Goa, which is hot and dry in December. There are very good beaches there and some of the beach towns are geared towards families rather than the party crowd Goa is more known for. And Goa is very inexpensive once you get there.

    In SE Asia you have many choices, but probably the best choice for a family would be Phuket, Thailand. It’s more expensive than Goa, but the infrastructure there is much better. Patong Beach is the biggest town on the island and the main tourist hub, but for a family I’d recommend Karon Beach or Kata Beach, both of which are just a bit south of Patong, and both lovely.

    Flights to any of these places might be expensive, but once you get there they are quite reasonable. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sandy says:

Hey Roger,
I read all the comments posted here,it’s really nice to get so much info all at a time. You have done a great job man!!! Really appreciated.
Roger,I will travel in 2018 Dec with my wife for our honeymoon.
So I want to know something from you what will be best place where we will get hill,beach and at the same time not that much expensive.Looking for your expert advise.

I have heard about Canary Islands,Azores from your post.I have also some choices in my list like Seychelles,Greece,Italy(Amalfi and Venice),Turkey,Newzeland,Prague,Vienna,Lisbon,Budapest.Could you also provide some idea about Carribean beaches and Switzerland?
P.S . I am from India(Kolkata)




    If you are looking for beach weather in December then most of your list won’t work, and several of them are only on rivers. Starting from Kolkata you have many good choices that are much closer to you than anywhere in Europe or the Canary Islands, or the Caribbean for that matter. In fact, I’m a bit confused by your list because there are so many different types of places on it, many that aren’t warm or on beaches.

    Really my first bit of advice is that the best place to get a really nice hotel that is on a beach or a hill and has the other nearby and also has great weather in December is Phuket, Thailand. You could go almost anywhere in southeast Asia in December and get good weather and low prices. But Phuket has over 1,000 hotels and hundreds of those are wonderful fairly luxurious hotels or villa complexes that could be perfect for a romantic honeymoon stay.

    You could get something similar in the Caribbean, but it would cost more and it would take you an entire day to fly there and an entire day to fly home, plus very expensive airfare. You have 17 months left to plan and I’m happy to help more if you narrow down your questions a bit more. -Roger

lilian says:

thank you for all the information which you have published.
i am planning my 2018 trip. i like olive and winery plantation. i would want to have hands on experience for both. i understand that Sicily, Sardinia and Tuscany have these . however Sicily And Sardinia have beautiful beaches especially the emerald sea. which will be the best month to explore all the of these places. Sicily or Sardinia ? i am from Malaysia.



    I know Italy is the world’s top wine producer and they obviously make a lot of olive oil as well. I’ve seen on many travel shows how it’s fairly easy to visit the olive oil places, and of course most wineries have places where you can see the process and taste it. The thing is though, that even Sicily is quite chilly in December so they might close down for the season. You definitely won’t get sunbathing weather in December at all. I would say you are best off in May, June, September, and October to get good weather and not have to deal with the insane crowds in July or August. Tuscany is the easiest to reach of the 3, but because of that its beach towns are most likely to be crowded in those warm months. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sandy says:

Hey Roger,
Thanks for the info!!
But my would be loves hill area and I like beach specially in honeymoon,so I am looking for a place which has both cold mountain along with beach.
Please let me know your opinion.


Sandy says:

Hey Roger,
What about Philippines in early December 2018? If we want to go Coron,PPs and Boracay (betwwen 8-10 days time span),will it be possible to cover all these places? And what will(other places) you suggest in Phillipines?




    Unfortunately, it can be a bit complicated and time consuming to reach any of these Philippines resort areas. I don’t think I’d recommend doing more than 2 of them in a 8 to 10 day trip. The nice thing is that they are very secluded-feeling once you get there because they are so out of the way. Partly for that reason, I think staying for 4 or 5 days each is very nice.

    Early December is the end of the rainy season in those areas. The storms tend to be short by that time, but still you will probably get a few quick downpours a week. I’m not an expert on getting around in the Philippines, though I do know that it’s rarely fast or easy. If you want a place to relax then Boracay Island might be the best. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. -Roger

Kent says:

Hi Roger-

I’m a solo 30 year old male traveler and was thinking of Sri Lanka for 14 days in December. Any thoughts on Sri Lanka at that time for a solo traveler or other exciting destinations for that time frame and period. I did a bunch of the remaining SEA countries and am open to ideas. South Africa is another destination of interest I have.

Thanks for the help!




    I think Sri Lanka would be wonderful for 2 weeks in December. The rainy season typically ends early in December, but even when it’s still going it tends to be quick downpours, as you are no doubt familiar with if you’ve been all over southeast Asia. Still at this point there are very few hostels with dorm beds and not even many cheap budget hotels, but at the age of 30 you are probably happier with normal hotels anyway. Value is quite good in Sri Lanka as long as you can spend at least US$30 or so per night, and hopefully a bit more. Food is also quite cheap in general, although there are still surprisingly few tourist-oriented restaurants in many towns so it feels a bit undiscovered. Just don’t spend much time in Colombo and preferably focus on the mountain areas, and I think you’ll love it.

    South Africa is one of the very few places listed on this site that I’ve yet to visit. I hear great things, and that it’s very good value these days. But I can’t say anything more than that until I get there. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sam says:

Hi Roger,
we are 2 couples in our 60 wishing to travel for 15 days starting first week in December to go to Vietnam and Malaysia! Pls help us shape our itenary. Our staring point is Toronto. We would also appreciate your advise on booking excursions. Is it advisable to pre book or book on arrival?



    If you are referring to days trips and that sort of thing, it will be much cheaper if you book once you get there. In Vietnam in particular it’s amazing how cheap tours can be if you book them through your hotel. I once did a 6-hour bus tour to Mỹ Sơn, which is near Hoi An, and I think I paid about US$6. It even included a boat ride and a basic lunch. That same day tour online would probably cost US$30 because the booking company takes a share and there is very little competition.

    In Vietnam every hotel will have a “tours desk” that will happily book a tour or visit to any local sight imaginable. There are also dozens of independent travel agencies around booking these same tours, but some of them are better than others. I prefer to book tours through my hotel, even if it costs a bit more, because it helps them and they have a strong incentive for you to be happy with the tour. If a hotel would consistently book guests on tours that the guests felt were rip-offs, that would be in the reviews and they would lose future business. More expensive hotels tend to charge more for the same tours, but things in Vietnam are so cheap that it’s not worth worrying about. And you might get a better pick-up at the nicer hotels as well.

    As for Malaysia, you could book online and it might cost a bit more, but more things go by a fixed price in Malaysia so it might not be much different. Personally I’d probably book tours through my hotel once I got there, just as in Vietnam. But there is a BIG difference between the countries in that Malaysia is a much richer country and there are very few scams to worry about. Vietnam is still fairly poor and they were communist for so long that people got used to trying to scam people a bit as the only way of getting ahead. So the good news is that Vietnam is a gorgeous country with excellent food and very low prices on almost everything. But the bad news is that you have to be more careful in Vietnam because people will try to overcharge you if they can, even though it still might seem cheap to you. That’s one reason I like to book with hotels, because they put the reputation of the hotel on the line when they book something for you, and they can’t afford to get a string of bad reviews by charging an extra US$5 on a cut-rate tour. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

karina says:

I am planning trip with college friends in the end of year.You have shared a very useful resource in detail here. now we can make our plan in budget.

gayle says:

Hi Looking for holiday with my 14 yr old son, love idea of india or cambodia or vietnam or even thailand (again0 yet i have a terror of rats and can’t bear rats on the beach or hotel rooms, help advise??



    That is an interesting request. I’ve spent about 18 total months in those countries you mention and I’ve yet to see a single rat. If your fear of rats is just that, you could go to any of them. But if you have a more general fear of things that are untidy then I’d definitely avoid India. It’s a fascinating country, but there are piles of garbage all over the place.

    Thailand is quite a tidy place, as you know, and Vietnam and Cambodia are similar. Even though they aren’t rich countries, it’s interesting that shopkeepers scrub the whole place each morning as they open for business.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Tapas says:

Sir, I am from Kolkata. My wife and myself along with my 2 children one is 5 years another is 9 years are planning to go where we can really enjoy. Definitely less expensive. Near to India or other countries no problem. I don’t understand what to do.



    The best places in December with good weather and that are inexpensive and also fairly close to India are Sri Lanka and Thailand, and they are both mentioned in the article above. Sri Lanka is obviously closer and you have many nice and scenic areas in the hills as well as the beach areas along the southern coast. But Sri Lanka has many similarities to India, as you may know.

    Thailand is far more different and it’s easier to get around. The tourist areas are quite modern and well organized, and enough people speak English that it’s easy to do whatever you like. Again there you have choices of cooler areas in the north such as Chiang Mai, and of course Bangkok, as well as all of the islands. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

Kaye says:

Hi Roger, i live in Africa and i’m getting married December of 2018. I have gone through all your options and i still cant seem to make up my mind. please can you suggest somewhere with nice beaches but still has fun outdoor and nightlife activities for a fair budget. Thank you so much



    I think the best place for what you want is Thailand. You can choose from Phuket or Ko Samui or one of many other islands, and they all have nice beaches and good nightlife at a very reasonable price. There are other places in Asia that have warm December weather, but Thailand’s tourist infrastructure is better than the others so it’s just much easier to get around and do what you want. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Kaye says:

Thank you so much. I have suggested Thailand to my fiancé. Please what are your thoughts on Costa Rica and Uruguay



    Costa Rica is kind of the Thailand of Latin America in that they have great tourist infrastructure and it’s the easiest place to get around. They also have a lot to offer with the beaches on both coasts and many natural sights and activities, plus of course the Arenal volcano, which is a really nice area. San Jose is best as a place to just pass through on your way somewhere else.

    Uruguay is an interesting place. It seems to be a less modern and less developed version of next-door Argentina. Buenos Aires is a larger and more interesting city than Montevideo. There is a town there called Colonia, which is worth a couple days if you like old and charming cities. But most people who go to Uruguay either go to one of the posh beach resort towns (mainly Punta del Este), or they go to the tourist cattle ranches, which are surprisingly popular. If you haven’t been to Argentina yet you might find that it has more and different options, such as the Mendoza wine region and the mountain resort town of Bariloche.

    As always, I’m happy to help more if you have other questions. -Roger

cindy gilbert says:

Reading through your wonderful comments- looking for Xmas for 6 people that have travelled extensively. Caribbean now is “out” and still fear zika since my kids are in their 30s- or do you think zika is a scare of the past? Uruguay has been on our radar and so i thought it interesting that you had a recent comment. Galapagos is filled. Maldives? Do you think Cuba is still an option after Irma and with current US relations? Thanks



    I haven’t heard much about Zika in quite some time, but I just checked the current CDC map and evidently it’s still out there. I also remember hearing that it’s really only pregnant or potentially pregnant women that are at much risk, so perhaps that is what you are implying with the kids in their 30s. I’m no expert on Zika and I’ve visited many places on the map in recent years without much worry.

    It’s interesting that Uruguay is clear on that map. If Zika is a big fear then it might be a good choice. Montevideo isn’t very interesting, but they do have small towns such as Colonia as well as beach resorts and also those tourist ranches that are very popular.

    The Maldives could be great if you can afford it. December is the most expensive month there, at least the second half of December. There are about 100 private-island resorts there, and most of them have water villas that start at around US$400 per night and go WAY up from there. But island rooms are cheaper. I wouldn’t recommend going to Male or any of the other populated islands that have several smaller hotels. It’s just not the same experience that you get from the private-island resorts. I can help much more with this if you decide to go to the Maldives.

    I’m hearing very mixed things about Cuba visits. The main downside for Americans is that you still have to go as part of a package deal, and those packages are all incredibly expensive for what you get. It sounds like the Cuban government is charging very high taxes and fees on companies selling tours to Americans, so they are really only popular among people who are especially curious about visiting Cuba. In other words, they are poor value unless it’s at the top of your list already. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

JOSEPH says:

I had promised a colourful vacation to my wife in December . I’m from India . I have been to Malaysia , Singapore , Hongkong , China , Dubai & Thailand . My wife isn’t keen to go to Asia . She prefer Europe . Our tentative dates are in such a way that we will celebrate the Christmas at one of the destinations . We have a budget set for 5 nights . Will you be able to guide us the best place to be for Christmas and yes an enjoyable experience . I had options of Malta , Spain ( Prague – Hungary ) . Though I spoke to our tour agent , they recommend the standard tour packages . I love night life and beach . I checked the flights to Costa Rica from India & they are exorbitantly priced .



    That is a shame about flights from India to Costa Rica, but not surprising. Most of the flights to Costa Rica leave from Texas and Florida, so just getting to one of those places is already expensive.

    You might be interested in my recent list of the best Europe destinations in December, which has many more options than on the article above. Prague and Budapest are quite chilly that time of year and the days are short, but they do have good nightlife.

    I think Spain is probably your best bet, and you can probably get there on a reasonably priced flight with a change in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The winter weather is decent and the big cities are always packed with locals rather than so many tourists. Barcelona is probably more fun than Madrid, though both are big cities with a lot to see and notoriously good nightlife. If you get a cheap enough flight I don’t think you need to do a package. It’s pretty easy to get around Spain’s big cities just on English, as long as you do a bit of research. In 5 days you could spend 3 days in Barcelona and then 2 days in Madrid, or just 5 days in the Barcelona area. It’s a big city with plenty to see and some good day trips. You could also go to Valencia, which is also really fun and a short train ride away.

    Malta would have decent weather as well, but I think the nightlife there is pretty dead during the colder months because they don’t get many visitors. They don’t have proper beaches as well, as the coastline is mostly these huge rocks. If you really want a warm beach in December your best bet is the Canary Islands, and even then it can be slightly chilly in December. But the nightlife in Malta is pretty dull, since so many of the visitors are retired Europeans.

    Have you thought about Cape Town, South Africa? It looks to be a similar distance from India, but I don’t know if there are cheap flights. You’d get great beaches there and nightlife as well, because December is summer there. Hopefully that gives you some ideas. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Cathy says:

I plan to go abroad Dec 2 for a few months from Vancouver Canada or perhaps LA Calif. I need to do this on the cheap. I have no preference as to where to go. Multiple places?? a couple?? It will be myself and a friend. Cheap and safe..I have done traveling..India, Egypt, Morocco,Cuba, DR…I was thinking Peru or Thailand? Thoughts..



    If you are looking for a place to go abroad for a few months starting in early December, you are right on the money with Thailand as the best starting location. The weather is really nice that time of year, and it’s quite easy to keep things extremely cheap if you need to. Many of us in the travel writing community have spent months or years traveling around southeast Asia, and I’ve probably spent close to two years there myself. Bangkok is the obvious place to start and it’s an amazing city. After that you can either go north to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and then over to Laos, or you can head south to one or more of the islands. Cambodia has a lot to offer, and especially in Siem Reap, and Vietnam can be entertaining for all three months of your first visa there.

    Prices go up a bit when you go south into Malaysia, but it’s worth it if you’ve got the money. You might even consider Myanmar as well, which I’ve yet to visit, but I keep hearing great things about. It’s honestly the perfect time of year there. By April it’s insanely hot (the hottest month of the year), but December through February is lovely. It’s all quite safe as well, as long as you keep your wits about you. I’m happy to help with more information if you need it.

    Peru could also be good, although probably not for more than a month or so. And it really helps if you speak Spanish, as opposed to southeast Asia where English is all you’ll ever need. Peru is fairly cheap, but your money goes further in southeast Asia, and especially in Vietnam and in Chiang Mai. -Roger

Cathy says:

Thank you so much Roger. This is a huge help. Thailand then….Going forward. Assuming I start in Thailand then to ?? What makes sense? i was thinking Peru then? I checked airfare from Lima to Cape Town…Huge money $1600.00. If you were doing a once in a lifetime trip around the world what would you ‘must see’? As I mentioned I’ve been to India, Egypt and Jerusalem but my friend has not. I’m not adverse to revisiting but there might be more sensible options. I need to consider ‘safer’ countries as well. I’m one of those people that sold my house, quit my job and am going to travel. Mid life crisis. LOL. How do you spend 2 years abroad? Do you need special visas for being out of the country for so long. As a Canadian we are restricted to 6 months to retain our health care. Problem!



    My two years in southeast Asia was over a few trips, although I did have my own apartment in Bangkok for 3 months and in Chiang Mai for another 3 months. As an American I didn’t have a national health restriction and I didn’t even have travel insurance. I don’t recommend it for everybody, but healthcare in those areas is extremely cheap and of pretty good quality. I went to a hospital once in Chiang Mai and I saw an English-speaking doctor for about US$7, and spent another US$25 or so on a prescription. My longest total trip was 3 years and 7 months (only a few years ago), and I went in and out of Southeast Asia a few times in that period.

    If you do want to go to Thailand then Bangkok is the obvious starting point and it’s a wonderful city. You also want to visit Ayutthaya, which you can do on a day trip but it’s better to stay a few days. Chiang Mai is the highlight of the north, partly because it’s insanely cheap and the weather is a bit cooler than Bangkok. Luang Prabang is another town not to miss and it’s fun for at least a few days. Don’t bother spending much time in Vientiane though.

    The biggest single highlight in the region is the Angkor Wat temples near Siem Reap in Cambodia. It’s one of the most impressive tourist sights in the entire world, and Siem Reap is a fun and mellow town that you can linger in for a while. Vietnam is really lovely and cheap as well. The food there is excellent, as it’s a fusion of French and traditional Asian. You can go from Ho Chi Minh City in the south on the train to Hoi An near Da Nang, and then up to Hanoi to see Halong Bay. I wouldn’t start in Vietnam because it can be a bit trickier than the others. In the rest of the region it’s easy to book tours and buses and such, but in Vietnam the travel agencies are a bit harder to trust, so you have to be more careful. Things there are very cheap though, so even if you pay more for a reputable agency, it’ll still be cheap.

    Those countries are all very safe, and especially that time of year, you’ll be surrounded by dozens of other backpackers everywhere you go, including many solo ladies or girls in pairs. There is very little petty crime there, although it’s always wise to keep track of your belongings. It’ll be easy once you get there, and Bangkok is the perfect place to start. You can book a place near the famous “backpacker ghetto” of Khao San Road, which is quite affordable and really fun, as well as close to the top sights.

    If you are going to that region I suggest you visit a site called travelfish.org, which is by far the best website on SE Asia and it’s run by a friend of mine who lives in Bali. They have busy forums where you can ask questions and quickly get them answered by experts on every imaginable topic there. I’m happy to help more as you are planning, so let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

JOSEPH says:

Dear Roger , finally we have decided on 6 nights in Spain . 3 Nights Madrid & 3 Nights Barcelona . Our 25th of December & 26th will be at Barcelona . Can you suggest the best options to celebrate Christmas in Barcelona & must experience places

From Madrid to Barcelona , we thought of taking a flight . Which is better , a coach or rail or flight ?



    I’m sure you’ll have a great time. I don’t have any good suggestions for where to celebrate Christmas, but I’m sure you’ll have no problems finding something by just walking around or checking online. The top draw in Barcelona is the architecture, and especially the 20th Century buildings by Gaudi. I recommend the hop-on, hop-off bus tour because it allows you to see almost all of the famous buildings from the street in just a few hours. Park Guell is worth a visit, but of course the main attraction is the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Check opening times and reserve a ticket in advance if you can.

    The fastest high-speed trains between those cities only take 2.5 hours, although most departures are closer to 3 hours. Definitely take the train and also buy the ticket as far in advance as possible for the lowest fare. Not only is it FAR quicker than flying (and of course the coach), but it’s far more comfortable and more enjoyable. This is a link to the official Spanish rail site. The scenery isn’t all that special, but it’s still interesting. Have a fantastic trip. -Roger

Magda says:

I had promised my family a once in a life time trip in Puerto Rico, where my oldest would have celerated her birthday, her daughters’, Christmas and New Year’s. Unfortunately, the hurricane left a lot of damage and I need to reschedule.

I’m looking for somewhere beautiful with warm weather, tropical, and lots to see. I’m considering allowing someone to book a mystery vacation but if you could guide me and help me save I woudl be ever so grateful.

Places we have been Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Acapulco, Cancun, Cabo San Lucus, Yucatan, Columbia, Panama, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, Utah, North Carolina, Utah.

It will be a family of 6 (parents, grandpa and 28, 20 and 15 year olds all spontaneous and adventurous.) Any advice would be appreciated.



    I’m also in grief over what happened in Puerto Rico, partly because I’m such a big fan of the island for winter vacations. I think they will be ready for business again in 2018, but I certainly wouldn’t plan a trip there yet.

    It looks like you’ve been to most of the more popular options for winter holidays already, and since you listed them I assume you want to go somewhere new. The one that is missing, which I think could be perfect for you, is the Guanacaste area in northern Costa Rica. The weather will be perfect and you should be able to get a reasonably priced flight into nearby Liberia Airport. There are a variety of smaller towns along those beaches, and Tamarindo might be the most famous. They offer a mix of traditional hotels and resorts in smaller towns along with newer 4-star and 5-star hotels on large properties that tend to be away from the towns. The weather will obviously be similar to Panama, as long as you were on the west coast. Costa Rica is the adventure capital of Latin America and one-third of the country is national parks, so there is plenty to see and do. There isn’t much history there, but you can’t have everything.

    If you haven’t been to the San Blas Islands in Panama that is another possibility, although it isn’t as easy to reach.

    And you mention that you’ve been to Cancun and Yucatan, but just in case you haven’t been to Playa del Carmen or Cozumel, those could also be worth a look. They are both much more real tourist towns as opposed to Cancun, which is primarily a long strip of high-rise hotels and time-share buildings on a beach. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Bharath says:

Hi Roger, thanks so much for giving such amazing guidance.

I am from Chennai, India. Me and my wife are planning to spend about 8 days in SE asia around christmas time. Based on your inputs we are looking at either Vietnam or beaches of thailand. We are on a strict budget constraint so which one of these two will be a better option as far as budget goes ? And if it is thailand beaches, where do you suggest we go to avoid over crowding and for budget deals during christmas ? Thanks in advance 🙂



    Vietnam is generally cheaper than Thailand, so if that is your primary factor, Vietnam could be the best choice. The beaches in Nha Trang are quite nice and the town is pretty easy for English-speaking tourists. But the other thing about Vietnam is that visitors have to be much more careful, especially when booking tours and that sort of thing. The travel agencies in Vietnam (even those in hotels, but mostly the independent ones) are famous for over promising and under delivering. That said, it’s a lovely country and you can have a wonderful time there on a modest budget. It’s just that you have to be more careful, compared to Thailand where the travel industry is a bit more honest about what you get and how much you’ll pay.

    Another consideration is that Thailand is generally easier to get to with far more flights that are often cheaper, and Thailand also has FAR more beach options because of its long southern coastline and especially the islands. The posh beach areas on Phuket are typically the most expensive beach hotels in Thailand, but there are other more remote beaches in Phuket with lower prices so it’s worth a look. Aside from Phuket you should also look at Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Phi Phi. You might also look at the town of Pattaya, which is the closest beach resort to the Bangkok Airport. Parts of town have a lot of single foreign men in certain bars at night, but most of the town is actually quite family friendly and very good value. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Isabel says:

Hello Roger, your page is amazing and I’m enjoying reading all these tips.
I’m planning four upcoming vacations that I would like to get helped with. I’m an international student living in New York so I’ll be leaving from there ( but I don’t mind going to philly or D.C. for cheaper flights).
The first one is this coming thanksgiving from Nov 21 to Nov 27. I would like to go with my boyfriend to a warm place with beach but also rich culture. (I have been to Cancun,Florida,los angeles).
The second trip will be the second week of December from the 13th to the 19th. Also warm place with adventure and tourism. Im going with my best friend. I was thinking one of the islands of the Caribbean or Latin America ( since I can travel freely to most of them without the process of getting a visa) but I’m not sure which ones where not affected by Irma.
The third one is in January 9th,2018 to January 20th. I’m going solo to visit a friend in Malaysia and then we want to go to China, but we don’t know how to do it, or where to go.
The last one is a 10 day trip for spring break 2018 most likely to be from March 9th to March 18. I’m thinking Europe but I don’t want to stay only in one country. I have so many options that I need someone to shorten the list in a way that it will work out. I want to go to Amsterdam, Rome,Venice,London,Barcelona,Zurich,Madeira,Dublin, and Madrid. (Amsterdam & Barcelona are a must).
The 2nd option for the same time frame will be Greece and Mallorca/Canary Islands.

I know is a lot of information but I really need the help. I love traveling and enriching my culture with others’ but I’m also a student so I don’t have a big budget. Any cheap/affordable recommendations?



    Let’s get started. For the November trip you are going to have a lot of competition for those flights and hotels because those are prime Thanksgiving flight dates. I would normally recommend Puerto Rico, but they won’t be ready for visitors until next year from what I hear. Just a few days ago I published a new article on which Caribbean destinations have no hurricane damage. There are a lot of great choices, including all of the busiest ones, that were untouched by the storms. You might also consider Cartagena, which is probably the cheapest option once you get there. It’s got a wonderful walled historic town area, and it’s a short bus or taxi ride to the modern area with beach hotels and such. The sand there isn’t great, but the value is very good. I wouldn’t go outside of Cartagena at the moment.

    You’ve been to Cancun, but have you been to Playa del Carmen? Personally I much prefer it because PdC is a lovely tourist town with hundreds of little hotels and restaurants and bars, unlike Cancun, which is mainly a long string of high-rise beach hotels that are so spread out that you are nearly trapped in your own hotel. It’s about an hour south of Cancun airport by taxi or shuttle. That would be another of your cheaper options, partly because flights into Cancun are pretty cheap. It will be the tail-end of the rainy season in all of these places, but that usually just means a 30-minute rain storm a few afternoons each week.

    For your December trip I’d recommend Costa Rica, which is the adventure travel capital of Latin America. You could fly into San Jose and then head to one of the cheaper beach areas such as Jaco. There is a lot to do in Costa Rica and things can be done on a backpacker budget once you get there.

    As for Malaysia, I’m a big fan, and with your friend there it should be easy. Interestingly, I was just in China myself recently and a few days ago I published a long article on my advice for whether to go yourself to China or go on a group tour. I also discuss the most popular and best places to visit when you are there in the bottom part of the article. One tricky thing for many of us is that you have to get a China travel visa and some of us can only get that visa issued in our home country, at least according to their rules. I literally spent years traveling around Asia but I was never able to visit China because they required that I get a visa issued in the US and I had to show my flights booked from the US to China and then from China back to the US. If I could have gotten a visa issued at a Chinese embassy in Bangkok or Singapore, I would have done it years ago.

    As for your Europe trip, I highly recommend spending 3 nights in any city you visit. If you change cities every day or every other day you’ll end up spending most of your holiday on trains or in airports rather than seeing the places you flew all that way to see. So if Amsterdam and Barcelona are musts, I would add exactly one other city if you’ve only got 9 days. Unfortunately it’s not on your list, but the best and easiest one to add between them is Paris. There is a train from Amsterdam to Paris in a bit over 3 hours, and another high-speed train to Barcelona from Paris in 6 hours 27 minutes with no changes. Paris is easily one of the most impressive European cities for tourists, but if you’ve been there before and don’t want to go again you can obviously choose something else.

    Two of the easier other choices would be London or Madrid. From Amsterdam you can take a train to Brussels and then change for the Eurostar train to London, or you can fly. From London to Barcelona you’d want to fly for sure. If you chose Madrid you can go to Amsterdam and then fly to Barcelona and then take a train from Barcelona to Madrid in only 2.5 hours.

    The 2nd option is a bit early in the year. The Greek Islands are cold and mostly deserted until mid April or so, and the good weather really starts in May or June. This is true in Mallorca as well. The Canary Islands are much farther south so they have acceptable beach weather almost all year, although you might get some cooler days in March as well. Even still I wouldn’t really recommend them for a younger person. In my opinion, the Canary Islands are pretty boring because the majority of visitors that time of year will be retired people from northern Europe who just want to sit in the sun. The nightlife tends to be cheesy and/or weak if you can find it at all. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sean says:

My girlfriend and I want to plan a trip anywhere from December 24th ish to January 6th ish mainly for my bday and new years to get away from south Florida! Last year we went to Colorado which was awesome but I’m not sure we want another cold vacation though it’s not out of the question! Saw your blog and Bali looks awesome but very expensive flights! Been to Costa Rica which was pretty cool and always kinda wanted to see machu pichu too. Even maybe somewhere in Europe or the Mediterranean would be great but have to keep the budget down too as we don’t have a ton of money to blow! Any insight or recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!



    This is a tricky one. Pretty much every destination in the Tropics has its peak rates of the year during the weeks you have in mind. That said, there are still some fairly cheap destinations in the Caribbean, even at peak rates. However, since you live in South Florida and understandably don’t want to go someplace even hotter during the only semi cool time of the year, it sounds like you are ruling out most of the Tropics.

    Bali is wonderful, or at least parts of it are, but they now have a volcano issue and those flights are very long and never cheap. Machu Picchu is incredible, but it’s a place you visit for half a day or so, and they actually have their rainy season at the end of the year, so it’s actually not one of the better times to go. Actually, you might consider a trip to Argentina, which is warm that time of year, though rarely scorching. Buenos Aires is a wonderful city that is pretty good value now, and you can also visit the Mendoza wine region and Iguazu Falls and Bariloche, which are all even a bit cheaper than Buenos Aires.

    As for Europe, it’s the low season there at the end of the year and you might be able to find a reasonable flight. Have a look at my list of best Europe destinations in December for weather and comments about each of the better places. If money is tight then Europe can be challenging because getting from place to place can add quite a bit to the daily total. I think two weeks in Spain and Portugal could be very nice, with reasonable weather and relatively low prices. Let me know what you think and I can try to help you more. -Roger

Vidzy says:

Hi Roger!! Firts of all i must congratulate you on a splendid work and help you are offering to many travellers and information seekers here. your replies are very deatiled and with loads of information and that is why i have decided to quickly ask yoo to help me with a big dilem i am facing.

I a from India, Me and and wife plan to go for a quick 4-5 days holiday with an infant who is just 6 mpnths old. so we cannot take long flights, we cannot go to places which are very crowded and hustling and bustling. We want a relaxed holiday where we can take time out and enjoy in true sense. Cannot go to a very cold plave aginst with an infant wont be right. We have been to Thailand( phi phi and kho samui) dubai, bali, singapore, sri lanka already.

would love to be at a nice clean blue green beach relaxing. Hope you can help me.

Thanks in Advacne.



    I’m happy to hear that this information is helpful. My first thought is to wonder if you’ve been to Goa yet? I’ve spent 4 total months in India to about 15 different places, and I know all about the insane crowds and whatnot that you would prefer to avoid. In my experience, Goa is totally different, and that’s where I’ve spent by far the most time. I remember spending time on Calungute Beach and I was surrounded by mostly domestic Indian visitors including many families. There are other beach towns and areas that are even more mellow in the south. The beaches there are quite nice as well, which is something I didn’t find as much of in Kerala, Putacherry, or even Puri. At least it would be the fastest and most affordable destination, and it should be very nice in December.

    Aside from that, this is a bit tricky because you obviously want to avoid longer flights for a short trip and especially with an infant. And some of the closer options are not close to a major airport, so they are still hard to reach in half a day or so. I think if you want to go farther than Goa, it’s probably best to look for other options in Thailand. As you know from previous visits, Thailand really has tourism figured out and it feels safe and well organized there. Cambodia and Vietnam also have beaches, but none that I’d recommend for a short trip. It’s the same with the Philippines, and the flights start getting longer. Phuket is the largest Thai island by far and it’s got over a dozen different beach areas and towns to choose from. Patong Beach is the main beach town and I wouldn’t recommend it for a family, but Kata and Karon beaches are just south of that, and they are nicely family oriented. Phuket also has a large airport, so getting there quickly is pretty easy compared to other beaches and islands in the area. Phuket’s beaches are also very nice. I wish I had more suggestions for you. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Vidzy says:

Hi Roger!

Thanks for the quick and as always detailed reply. Goa is like my second holiday home. We travel to goa alomost every year and have been to all the known, lesser known and unknown places there:P

Haveb been to kerela, Pondicherry, etc. we have coevred India a lot as we travel a lot and like exploring the world. We wanted to step out of India for this holiday. I was thinking of Maldives or Malaysia. 4-5 hour flight should be manageable but extending that more would be stretching it a bit i guess. So heer i am still confused and lost. Thaailand is an option again as there are several beaches which are serence and unexplored but i would not want to go to Phuket as its very crowded and touristy. Can you suggest a better island in Thailand which is quite, blue green water and less crowded.




    Based on all of the places you’ve been, I figured you knew all about Goa, but I thought I’d mention it in case. I love it there.

    The Maldives is amazing for relaxing beach holidays and it’s within your range. The tricky thing for most people is that it’s quite expensive for a shorter trip. Of course the Maldives is famous for its water villa resorts, and those water villas start at around US$350 per night. Nearly all of those resorts also have island villas and rooms and those can start at as low as US$100 per night, but you also have to pay for a speedboat or sea-plane transfer from Male Airport to your resort. That can be as low as US$100 per adult for the closer speedboat islands, and up to US$600 per adult for the more remote sea-plane islands. On a shorter stay, that obviously adds to the price. Speaking of that, I run another site all about overwater bungalows and I have links from an article on this site about the cheapest overwater villas in the world. Have a look at that list as it will show you the more affordable options in the Maldives, as well as even cheaper options in Malaysia and elsewhere.

    As for Malaysia, I love it there too, but it has very few nice beaches in the main part of the country (not including Borneo). But now that you mention it, they do have some nice beaches in Penang, which is the best tourist area anyway. If you search for hotels in Penang, make sure that they are on or very near a nice beach. Most of the island does not have sandy beaches, but some parts do.

    Regarding Thailand, I’m not familiar with any islands that are beautiful and not touristy. Phuket has beaches all over the island and many of them are isolated so the only guests are those staying at the resort in front of them. If you search other travel sites, including travelfish.org, which I think is the best site for southeast Asia and it’s run by a friend of mine, you can find more information about more obscure Thai islands. One challenge could be that you might have to take two or three total flights and then a ferry ride to reach them.

    Overall, if you can afford the Maldives, it’s the nicest place for a beach holiday in Asia. But I wouldn’t really recommend the hotels on Male or Hulhumale, as they are a huge step down from the private islands. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

paul says:

dear roger,
I am from india .
which is the best place to visit in december. will turkey be a good option? 1) is it safe 2) is it extreme winter around that time that we wont be able to see ant sights? Or can u suggest some other countries in december for family



    I actually lived in a small Mediterranean town in Turkey for over a year, and unfortunately it’s not a good place to go in December. It’s much too cold to enjoy the beaches, and it’s often rainy and windy as well. It appears to be safe for foreigners at this point, but I still wouldn’t recommend it in December.

    As for alternatives, you might have a look at my recent article with my recommendations for the best places to go in Asia in December. It’s got many more choices than the article above, with weather information for all of them. Closer to India, I think Sri Lanka is very nice in December, although it’s somewhat similar to India in many ways and you may want something more exotic. In that case I think Thailand and Malaysia are the best choices for family holidays.

    Thailand has very nice beaches on the mainland and even nicer ones on its many islands. Phuket and Ko Samui are the most popular and easiest to reach because they have their own airports. Phuket has many different beach areas and towns, and Kata Beach and Karon Beach are two of the better family areas.

    On Malaysia the best beach area is the island of Penang, which is just off the coast and connected to the mainland by bridges (and ferries). If those don’t sound good let me know and I will try to help more. -Roger

Grand says:

Hi Roger do you have any advice on Medellin for December, i’m Thinking i would like to take a last minute get away to some place in Latin America that has a good night life scene, is reasonably priced and offers activités to do in the day time and has a semi decent infrastructure so getting around isn’t too onerous.

Many thanks in advance!



    Unfortunately I’ve only been to Cartagena in Colombia, although I know of some travel bloggers who live in Medellin and love it there. The mild weather year round is one reason people love it. I don’t speak much Spanish, which is a problem in much of Latin America, but evidently there is a pretty big scene of various expats and English speakers, so Spanish isn’t so critical. In other words, I like the sound of your idea and I imagine it’ll be great, but I haven’t been there yet so I am really not qualified to give real advice. Best of luck with whatever you choose. -Roger

Grand says:

Thanks Roger! That’s good to know on the Spanish front, as I do not speak a word of it, Mind you i’ve never really faced too many problems going to a place where English isn’t used.

Jessica says:

Hello Roger!

My family and I are planning our first trip to Europe for the last week of December (2018) and the first week of January (2019), I know this is a long way off but I am a planner and to me that is half the fun! I know to most people that time of year in Europe is not ideal, but we LOVE cold weather, snow, rain, etc. and I am drawn to the lower prices and smaller crowds. So far I am considering Rome for 6 nights, Venice for 2 and Munich for 6 nights. I want to take day trips from Rome to see Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast and from Munich to see Rothenburg and Nuremburg. Does this seem like a good itinerary? Since I love the cold weather are there any other itineraries you think would be ideal for that time of year? Any advice you have would be very much appreciated.



    I too am a planner, which is how I got involved in this, and so I totally understand your motivation. I think your plan sounds quite good. The weather in the places you are planning is actually fairly mild, and none of them are too far north. For some of us it’s easy to forget how far north parts of Europe are, and in those areas it’s not so much the cold but the fact that the sun rises at 10am and sets at 3pm that time of the year.

    Venice can get pretty cold and they also have those famous Acqua Alta floods in winter, so read up on that before you go. But Rome and Munich should be easy to visit in December. One suggestion I will make is to consider visiting Rome for 3 or 4 nights and then base yourself down on Sorrento for the remaining 2 or 3 nights. Rome is one of those cities that is crowded and chaotic even in winter, to the point that just crossing the street can be frustrating, so many people get tired of that after they’ve seen the main sights. And Sorrento, on the other hand, is a lovely small city that is close to Amalfi, Pompeii, Naples, and the Isle of Capri, so it’s an ideal base to visit all of those. Sorrento is also cheaper than Rome, and a surprising number of locals speak English there, so it’s easy and pleasant. That time of year I’m not even sure if the tourist buses are running to Amalfi, although the local ones will be.

    Your Munich plan sounds good. It can be fun to actually spend a full night in a town like Rothenburg ob der Tauber because it’s filled with day-trippers in the day and you almost have it to yourself at night. But it’s small enough that one night there would be enough. Nuremburg is quite a large city, and you might even stay there a night or two as well. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of anyone saying they enjoy the cold and the rain, but if you do you’ll love it there. Fortunately, nowhere in the popular parts of Europe do they get extreme winters, and there is a good chance you won’t even see any snow in those cities. Most people are looking for the warmest places, which can be found in Portugal and Spain, but since that isn’t you I think your plan is good. Christmas is a big deal in some European cities such as Rome, but not a huge deal in others. Most businesses will be closed that day in nearly all countries, but of course hotels and many restaurants will be open. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Helen says:

Hi Roger,

Congratulations on your excellent blog.

I am from South Africa and our family are planning to travel to Thailand in December for 30 days. What ittinary could you suggest. Our Start off would be Bangkok (2 days then take overnight train to Chiang Mai stay about 3 days not sure then fly to Phuket but dont want to spent time their. What Islands can you recommend? Is it worth it to perhaps consider to work in a trip to Cambodia or Vietnam or even Malaysia.

Your soonest reply would be appreciated.



    Thank you for the kind words. If you’ve got 30 days in Thailand I would recommend spending more time in Bangkok and probably in Chiang Mai as well. Bangkok is huge and in December the weather is actually quite nice, so two days seems way too rushed. As for which islands to consider it sort of depends on why you don’t want to go to Phuket. Phuket is the largest and busiest island and it’s got just about everything that the rest of the islands has. I can understand not wanting to spend time in Patong Beach, which is the shopping and nightlife capital, but there are many other wonderful beaches and towns on Phuket that are quite different from that.

    Ko Samui is another popular island with most of the same thing. Ko Phi Phi and Ko Phangan are other smaller popular choices. Again, it really depends on what you are looking for and what you are hoping to avoid.

    That said, I think going to Siem Reap in Cambodia would also be a great idea. And Vietnam is also really wonderful, especially that time of year. Hanoi is quite chilly in December and Saigon is still very warm. It’s worth visiting both of those along with Halong Bay near Hanoi and Hoi An in the center of the country on your way between them. You could easily spend 10 days in Vietnam or more.

    Malaysia is a favorite of mine, although it’s not really known for beaches. Again, it really depends on what you are looking for. Kuala Lumpur is my favorite city in Asia because it’s got such a great mix of things and it’s also pretty affordable, but not everyone is looking for a big modern city. I’m happy to help with more recommendations if you let me know more about your goals. -Roger

Brittany says:

Hey! Roger, would you have any recommendations on cheaper, warmer (50+ degrees F) places to travel at the end of December- beginning of January? I was thinking somewhere in Africa, south America or central america. We are more interested in hiking type adventures with mountains and beautiful views! Thanks!



    Actually, all of my best suggestions for those things are in the article above. One challenge you’ll have is that all popular tropical destinations have their peak weeks at the end of December because so many people in cold areas have that time off. So flights to Central or South America are going to be fairly expensive, although buying soon can help. For hiking and views I think Costa Rica could be a good choice, or Nicaragua. You could also go to Bariloche in Argentina, though it’s probably not worth going all that way unless you were also going to spend some time in Buenos Aires and such.

    In Africa the beginning of the Kilimanjaro hiking season is early January, so that could work as well, but it requires a lot of preparation and at least 6 or 7 days. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Kathy says:

Hi Roger I was hoping to travel to either Bali or Thailand over Christmas into New years… our dates are a little bit flexible. I am having a hard time finding good deals on airlines. When is the best time to book and which are the airlines you recommend. If Asia is to expensive for airfare any other suggestions .We want to go to some place warm and have activities, We have been to Mexico and Hawaii already



    When it comes to flights over the Christmas holidays, you should book as early as possible. The airlines know they can fill every seat at a high price so they don’t have an incentive to lower fares like they do for flights in January or February. Air Asia now flies from the US to Asia and at good fares. Aside from them it’s just the major airlines as well as some Chinese airlines that do those routes.

    If those flights are too expensive you might think about going somewhere else in Mexico or to Costa Rica. The area around Cancun including Playa del Carmen and Tulum and Cozumel has a LOT going on. And if you’ve been there you could instead go to the Puerto Vallarta area, which is very different and also great. For activities though it’s hard to beat Costa Rica. I think they invented zip-lining and the country is about one-third national parks with all kinds of fun activities. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Aaron says:

Hi, I am a college student looking for a cheap get away to another country with a beautiful beach and awesome night life that wont break the bank and for sometime in December. Any recommendations?



    My recommendations depend on your starting location so for now I’ll just assume you are starting somewhere in the USA. If you are looking for a really nice beach AND really good night life your best choices are the Cancun area, Puerto Vallarta, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. If you are in the eastern US or Canada it’s probably faster and cheaper to go to Cancun and if you are in the west Puerto Vallarta is better. San Juan will be more expensive because there just aren’t many cheap hotels in the good parts of the city. For the Cancun area I would recommend Playa del Carmen (about an hour south of Cancun Airport) because there are fairly cheap hotels near the town center, which is packed with bars and restaurants. In Cancun itself the best nightlife is in the heart of the hotel zone, and all of the hotels there are pretty expensive. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sergiy says:

Hi Roger,
Appreciate your detailed and helpful input on all travel destinations.
I’m planning to go in the first two weeks of December to Hawaii from Canada. Family of 4 (kids 3 and 9). Can’t figure out which island of 4 to choose. Looking for the best not crowded post-card looking beach, prefer to stay in small resort/condo. Would like to drive around island to see the culture. Don’t want to stay in big hotel in Honolulu.
Any input on weather or islands is greatly appreciated.



    This is a really interesting question. If you want to avoid crowds then you have already figured out that it’s best to avoid Honolulu and I would avoid Oahu completely. The Big Island is very interesting because of the volcano and some of the other scenery, but the most beautiful islands are Maui and Kauai. I haven’t made it to Kauai yet, but everyone I know has been there and they swear it’s the most photogenic, which looks right based on the photos I’ve seen. Maui is also really gorgeous and all islands other than Oahu are uncrowded even in high season. I drove all over Maui in a rental car and loved it and I don’t think there is as much to see on Kauai. So either of those will be great choices and the weather should be almost perfect in December with warm (but not scorching) temperatures and almost no rain. Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Bharath says:

Hi Roger,
Appreciate you on your excellent and informative blog.

I am from India and I would be celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary in 2nd week of december 2018. We are family of four (2 adults and 2 kids aged 3 and 7) planning for a 5-7 days trip. Can you please suggest some good places where I can visit and also my kids feel involved too.




    If you’ve got 5 to 7 days and are starting in India I don’t think you want to fly halfway around the world, so it’s probably best to go somewhere between Dubai and Bali. Dubai has cheap flights from most places and it’s very family oriented with large play parks inside shopping malls and that sort of thing. You could get an apartment there in one of the many apartment-hotels for a reasonable price, and the December weather should be pretty good as well.

    Another option is Thailand, and Phuket has the most family-friendly beach areas. You could get a family hotel room at one of the many beach resorts that has a Kids Club in addition to swimming pools and the beach itself. Those are my top suggestions for a family trip that is also suitable for an anniversary. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Dipanshu says:

Hi…I want to travel in December(after 15th) for a month somewhere where it will be cheap to travel around the country. I am interested in beaches and scenic beauty and also places with a history like Machu Pichu and Greece. Can you recommend a good place?



    I’ll be happy to try to help, but I’d really need to know your starting point because there are cheap places in different corners of the world, and it’s not worth flying halfway around the world to try to save US$20 per day. In mid December through January for beaches you should consider Thailand and perhaps also Vietnam. I’ll give you more information once I know where you are starting from. -Roger

Merin Raphel says:

We(2adults) are planning a trip by mid december(after15th). Can you suggest me some good places? My starting point is Cochin International Airport,Kerala.

Meric says:

Hi Roger,

I am travelling from Nigeria looking to take a break this december with my brother. I am looking for a cheap destination, rich in activities and shopping (apparal). Any suggestions please?



    For a cheap destination in December that has great clothes shopping opportunities I can only think of two really good options. The closer of the two is Dubai. I’m not sure if you’ve been there before, but it has some of the best shopping in the world with every store imaginable and very good prices because duties and taxes are low. In spite of its reputation, Dubai can actually be visited quite cheaply if that is important. It’s famous for expensive hotels, but it’s got hundreds of more affordable hotels that can be pretty nice.

    The farther, and cheaper, option is Bangkok. A flight would cost more and you might end up having to change planes in Dubai on your way, but once you get there you can find nice hotels starting around US$25 per night, although paying more for a better place is probably worth it. The whole central area of Bangkok around what is called Siam Square is surrounded by about 15 or 20 large shopping malls, many of which focus on clothing. It’s mostly chain stores and prices are good, although it’s not like they are much different from Europe except taxes are a bit lower. You can get locally made clothes at local markets for much lower prices than the chain stores in the malls. Also, Bangkok is a really fun city with plenty to see and do. For what it’s worth, alcohol is much cheaper in Bangkok than in Dubai, and much easier to get as well. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ruchi says:

Hi Roger,

This is a great blog! Stumbled upon it 2 hours ago and found it very informative. (I’ve spent 2 hours reading everything:)).
My husband and I travel every year around the last 2 weeks of December. We’re based in Bangalore, India. We did Cambodia & Vietnam last year and really liked it there.
This year we’ve really been wanting to go to Turkey. We’re ok to handle 8-10 degree weather. However, still debating if it’s a good time to go considering rains, availability of attractions etc. We’re very interested in culture, history, food and people. It would be great to know if you think December might be a good time to do Turkey?



    Thank you so much for the kind words and I’m always happy to hear that people find this information useful. As far as Turkey in December is concerned, I wouldn’t recommend it. I actually lived in a small town near Antalya on the Mediterranean for a bit over a year and I was surprised by the fact that almost everything closed down around 1-November and didn’t start opening again until March or April. Actually, I think Istanbul would still be enjoyable in December and so would Bodrum or any of the other larger cities including Antalya. But anywhere on the coast will be a ghost town and I’m pretty sure that Cappadocia would also be mostly shut for the winter. Ephesus probably stays open, but similar to Cappadocia, the attractions are all outdoors and they can get pretty fierce rainstorms in winter.

    So long story short, if you want to visit Istanbul and perhaps another city, I think December could be okay. But for almost anywhere else in Turkey I just don’t think it’s worth it. Fortunately there are plenty of other places to choose from and hopefully you can find time for Turkey another time of the year. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Diana says:

I read the questions and responses.

Do you still recommend New Zealand for December?
Have your recommendations changed since 2014?
Do you have blog?
Where can I find more of your articles?
I’m planning on a two week trip in December 2019 from Miami, FL.
Thank you



    Yes, and interestingly enough, I just added that New Zealand thing to this article yesterday (5-August) so that is all fresh advice. I’ve added and changed quite a few entries on these lists and I update them each year, so everything is current. This IS my blog actually. So if you go to the homepage you’ll see links to many articles that contain links to many more articles and I’ve written almost all of them.

    I lived in Miami myself a few years ago (in Midtown) and I’m still a big fan. New Zealand is almost the other side of the world so it wouldn’t be fast or cheap to get there, but it’s really lovely and it can be done at a reasonable price once you get there, especially if you focus on nature and the camping and RV scene. I’m happy to help if you have other questions. -Roger

Karen says:

Diana, NZ has perfect traveling weather in December, however bear in mind that it is the end of our academic year early/mid December and school goes back in February. This is a peak time of travel for families. But definitely a great time to visit 🙂


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