19 Cheap and warm places to go over 2021 Christmas & New Years weeks

KaronBeachSpending the Christmas and New Year's holiday weeks with family and friends is the longstanding tradition in most of the Western world, but those based in the colder northern climates are looking for alternatives. After a couple decades of being bundled up, many start to wonder if there is another way to spend the holidays.

Those with the resources have been heading to Hawaii for Christmas for a long time, but there are actually dozens of countries and islands with similar tropical climates around the world, and most of them are far cheaper, at least once you get there. Below is a list of nearly every major tourist destination that combines warm weather and low prices during the weeks around Christmas and New Year's.

Updated for 2021

Myth: Hotels are cheaper in countries that don't observe Christmas

PhuketXmasTreeWhen I first started researching travel prices around the world, I assumed that hotels around Christmas time would be cheaper in countries that don't observe Christmas themselves. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be true at all. Here's the thing, hotels in the tropical beach areas of the world are all priced according to demand, and local customs have nothing to do with it.

A huge majority of the people who are well off enough to fly internationally are those living in countries that have a Christmas holiday, and that's no secret to hotel owners. In other words, hotels in Thailand, Indonesia, Egypt, and India all raise prices for stays during those key holiday weeks because they know those are the most popular weeks of the year for their businesses. The good news though, is that those countries still offer great bargains compared to, say, Hawaii, which goes off the charts during Christmas week.

COVID-19 situation

As of the September, 2021 edit of this article, the COVID-19 situation is still pretty bad through most of the world. Many travel destinations on the list below are closed to those from outside of the regions, but quite a few are now getting ready to accept visitors. Needless to say, you'll want to check the most current information for any destination before you book.

When to book a sunny Christmas or New Years holiday trip:

As soon as possible

There is all kinds of research showing the cheapest time to book flights and even research showing that hotel prices often drop a month or two out, but the key exception to both of those is around big holidays like Christmas. Suppliers do adjust prices as the months come and go, except for when they know they'll have no trouble filling up even at the last minute. The best December destinations in Asia contains many great beach choices that are cheaper than most of the rest of the world.

When to book your flights:


The research shows that flights for key holiday periods start off at normal levels and then they just keep going up as seats are sold and the date approaches. There are no last-minute deals on flights just before or after Christmas, at least to and from sunshine destinations.

When to book your hotels:

Bargains are possible at the last minute, but it's risky

PhuketGoToBeachHotels in tropical resort areas know what the typical demand is for rooms around the holidays, and most of them will charge as much as they can so they can fill every room. If they charged too little they could be sold out many months in advance, which doesn't really help them, so they tend to start with rates high enough that they only sell out a few weeks early at most.

The best and most popular beach resort hotels will usually only have a few rooms left by early December, and they will price those high enough that most people will look elsewhere. But some other hotels can be too optimistic in pricing so they have to cut rates in December just to fill up. In other words, you shouldn't really count on an appealing rate at a specific hotel where you are going, but there's a decent chance you could still get a decent rate if you are flexible enough to accept something nearby.

Package deals:

Also buy early

Again, the airfare portion of a holiday trip is almost certain to get more expensive as the year goes on, so a hotel+flight package will generally just keep going up in price as well.

Particularly to places like the Caribbean, Mexico, and Thailand with huge numbers of package visitors, you'll almost certainly get the best rates in addition to the widest choices the earlier you book.

Cheap and warm destinations for Christmas and New Year holidays

Obviously “cheap” is a relative term, but these are the cheapest holiday resort areas around the world that also have warm and sunny weather in late December and early January.

Hotel rates listed are current as of September, 2020. Rates listed are including all taxes.

1 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

  • December average high: 86°F/30°C
  • December average low: 64°F/18°C

On Mexico's Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta remains as one of the country's tourism jewels. Not only has it avoided the safety problems that a few other resort areas have struggled with in recent years, but it's also regarded as the most interesting and authentic of Mexico's resort areas.

The weather during Christmas time is pretty much perfect for anyone wanting to escape the cold, and the large international airport also has good deals on flights from many North American cities as well. Hotels for well under US$100 per night per couple are easy to find, although if you want a well-located chain hotel you'll be paying at least a bit more.

While it's not as historic or “authentic,” it might also be worth looking into Los Cabos at the southern tip of Baja California. Things tend to be a bit more expensive there, but it's a shorter flight for most people and sometimes a cheaper flight as well.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$159 per night for two people

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

2 Cancún/Cozumel/Riviera Maya, Mexico

  • December average high: 84°F/29°C
  • December average low: 69°F/21°C

In case you aren't aware of all of these, Cancún is the purpose-built resort city on the Yucatán Peninsula facing the Caribbean, and the area just to its south is known as the Riviera Maya, which includes the nearby island of Cozumel. In other words, they are all basically the same travel market, with nearly 1,000 hotels in total, and all served by the huge Cancún Airport with cheap flights from all over.

The weather in late December is predictably perfect with barely a chance of a quick thunderstorm, much less anything worse. With so many hundreds of hotels competing for business, holiday room rates for well under US$100 per night are easy to find. Package deals to Cancún are very popular, and probably the best deal for those who book early. As you can see by the room rates below, there is a huge difference between 3-star and 4-star properties in this area. A 3-star can be just a normal hotel room in the city, while the 4-stars are all wonderful resorts with pools, usually on the beach. In other words, you will generally get what you pay for, so a hotel that charges twice is much is almost always MUCH nicer.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$45 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$189 per night for two people

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

3 Punta Cana/Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

  • December average high: 83°F/28°C
  • December average low: 72°F/22°C

The Dominican Republic has a reputation for its large all-inclusive hotels at great prices, and its two most popular resort areas are Punta Cana (on the eastern tip) and Puerto Plata (on the northern shore). Each has about 200 hotels to choose from, including dozens of all-inclusive resorts designed to keep you there for your entire stay.

The weather and resort prices are similar in both places in late December, so either one would be a fine choice for someone looking for a cheap and warm place to spend a week. You'll find that flight+hotel package prices are especially appealing to the DR, and those who book early will usually get the best deals.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$97 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$169 per night for two people

>>>Check current Puerto Plata resort and package deals
>>>Punta Cana prices, weather, and travel tips

4 Montego Bay/Ocho Rios/Negril, Jamaica

  • December average high: 86°F/30°C
  • December average low: 70°F/21°C

Similar to the greater Cancun area mentioned above, Jamaica has 3 busy resort towns that are all served by the same large airport so they are somewhat interchangeable. Montego Bay has the airport so it's the easiest to reach, but it has fewer affordable 4-star hotels so Ocho Rios and Negril might be better options if you are interested in that category.

All three towns have a different vibe, so it's really only the weather and most prices that are similar. Along with the Cancun area and the Dominican Republic, these Jamaican resorts are also known for all-inclusive resorts and appealing package deals. Even during the peak holiday months, it's possible to lock in an appealing deal if you book early enough.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$68 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$174 per night for two people

>>>Check current Montego Bay resort and package deals
>>>Montego Bay prices, weather, and travel tips

5 San Juan, Puerto Rico

  • December average high: 83°F/28°C
  • December average low: 72°F/22°C

While San Juan isn't among the cheapest places on this list for Christmas, it's still very good value and it's a great place for a longer stay during this period. The wide and sandy beaches just next to the historic center are some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and since it's part of the US, things like shopping and sightseeing are much easier here than in most of the cheaper islands.

Especially if you are going to stay for more than a week, it pays to look into an apartment rental instead of a hotel. There is an abundance of nice apartments in the tourist area that are rented out most of the year. If you are staying for a month, you can get an amazing deal compared to a hotel. San Juan was famously hit hard by storms in 2017, but as of autumn 2019 the city is back to normal again and visitors can help the economy recover.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$109 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$265 per night for two people

>>>Check current San Juan resort and package deals
>>>San Juan prices, weather, and travel tips

6 Ambergris Caye/Caye Caulker, Belize

  • December average high: 81°F/27°C
  • December average low: 68°F/20°C

Those looking for more of a low-key holiday with no huge chain hotels in sight might prefer the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, both just off the coast of Belize City. These are both long, thin islands where golf carts serve as taxis and there is little or no pavement in sight. The diving and snorkeling here are some of the best in the world, even if these islands are short on long sandy beaches.

Belize is (more or less) an English-speaking country, and these islands both have a bit of a Rastafarian feel in places, so it's an interesting mix of culture and convenience. Nearly all 4-star hotels here start over US$200 per night for the holiday weeks, but there are 3-star bargains nearby in addition to holiday villas for rent for those with higher budgets.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$189 per night for two people

>>>Check current San Pedro hotel and package deals
>>>San Pedro prices, weather, and travel tips

7 Roatán Island, Honduras

  • December average high: 84°F/29°C
  • December average low: 75°F/24°C

Similar in most ways to the islands of Belize mentioned just above, Roatán Island is actually just to their south, so it also sits off the world's second largest barrier reef. This means there is excellent diving and snorkeling, plus more sandy beaches than you'd get in the Belize islands.

Honduras is a Spanish-speaking country, though especially with the recent influx of cruise-ship crowds here, it's very easy to get by in English only. There are only about 60 hotels on the island at this point, and holiday rates are still surprisingly reasonable considering what is on offer. Still, booking early is probably wise.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$229 per night for two people

>>>Check current Roatan Island hotel and package deals
>>>Roatan prices, weather, and travel tips

8 Tamarindo/Guanacaste, Costa Rica

  • December average high: 90°F/32°C
  • December average low: 70°F/21°C

Costa Rica has a wide variety of resort towns along both its Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and all of them will be warm and sunny in late December. There are also national parks and volcanoes (not always sunny) in the interior, but if your main goal is to relax and be a tourist, the best area is around Tamarindo in the Guanacaste province. There's even a newer international airport nearby in the main city of Liberia, so finding cheap direct flights is fairly easy.

Most of this northwestern area is new and quite luxurious, so 4-star resorts and rental properties aren't much cheaper than in Hawaii, but there are still some really good 3-star bargains. Nosara is another small town in the area that doesn't feel quite so mass-market compared to Tamarindo.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$118 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$439 per night for two people

>>>Check current Tamarindo hotel and package deals
>>>Guanacaste prices, weather, and travel tips

9 Panama City, Panama

  • December average high: 90°F/32°C
  • December average low: 70°F/21°C

Panama has some very nice beach resort areas with reasonable prices during Christmas, but it also has this large and mostly modern city at its heart, which appeals to a different type of traveler. You might even consider spending some of your stay at a beach and another part of your stay in the city, as both are very good value this time of year and any other.

It helps if you know at least a bit of Spanish, but even those who don't can find plenty to do here to keep them busy. The city has a few large shopping malls in the tourist area, so it could be a good place to do some Christmas shopping or just hanging around. The restaurant scene here is notoriously good as well.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$35 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$58 per night for two people

>>>Check current Panama City hotel and package deals
>>>Panama City prices, weather, and travel tips

10 Cartagena, Colombia

  • December average high: 86°F/30°C
  • December average low: 76°F/24°C

The entire country of Colombia has been rediscovered by the tourism world in recent years, but the historic beach city of Cartagena has been popular for much longer. Along the country's Caribbean coast (about the same latitude as northern Costa Rica, by the way), Cartagena is an interesting mix of beach hotels and a gorgeous walled colonial city with plenty to see.

Not only is Cartagena popular with international tourists in the winter months, but domestic Colombian tourists taking their holidays as well. So you won't be avoiding the crowds here, but at least it's one of the more affordable sunshine destinations in the region. The 4-star hotels along the beach just west of the historic center are some of the best Christmas season bargains going. Speaking at least a bit of Spanish is helpful.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$58 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$129 per night for two people

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

11 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

  • December average high: 71°F/22°C
  • December average low: 61°F/16°C

Tenerife is the most English-language-friendly of Spain's Canary Islands, which are just west of Morocco (and about the same latitude as central Florida). As you can see above, it's not nearly as hot as most others on this list during December, but it's still damn nice so it's very popular among Europeans looking for something warmer.

Partly because it's not really a great beach season, hotels in Tenerife are still quite cheap during the Christmas holiday period. Most everything else is quite affordable as well, at least compared to where you live now. Especially if you are looking for a place with reasonable airfares from elsewhere in Europe, this could be a good choice. The area around Los Cristianos and Playa de la Americas is the easiest for English speakers, and it has the most consistent warm weather as well.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$65 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$104 per night for two people

>>>Check current Tenerife hotel and package deals
>>>Tenerife prices, weather, and travel tips

12 Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

  • December average high: 74°F/23°C
  • December average low: 59°F/15°C

At the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, Sharm el-Sheikh is more or less the Cancun or the Mallorca of the region, although not quite as warm in December. This is a purpose-built resort area that has been popular with Europeans and others for some time now. While it's remote and has generally been safe from the turmoil nearby, most of its fans are choosing to go elsewhere at the moment.

We all hope that one day soon, travelers can head to Egypt without checking all the security warnings every few days. Until then, this one isn't for everybody, although those who do visit are greeted with some amazing hotel rates, including for the popular Christmas holiday period.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$21 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$28 per night for two people

>>>Check current Sharm el-Sheikh hotel and package deals
>>>Sharm el-Sheikh prices, weather, and travel tips

13 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  • December average high: 79°F/26°C
  • December average low: 61°F/16°C

One of the most unusual destinations anywhere, Dubai is a huge and booming city with a few nice beaches and an extremely busy airport. The period in late December is one of the nicer times of the year, so it can get pretty crowded during the holidays. The main activity here is shopping at enormous malls filled with all ranges of goods at reasonable prices.

It's worth noting, however, that the nicer and better located hotels in Dubai will cost at least two or three times the minimums mentioned below. Those on lower budgets can get by pretty well here, but that's not to be confused with the luxury market and beach hotels that rival top room rates anywhere on earth.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$65 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$84 per night for two people

>>>Check current Dubai hotel and package deals
>>>Dubai prices, weather, and travel tips

14 Goa, India

  • December average high: 91°F/33°C
  • December average low: 69°F/21°C

Goa has been a famous hippie hangout for Europeans and some others for decades now, but it's also popular with families this time of the year, including many from elsewhere in India. Goa is actually a small state in southern India with more than a dozen different low-key beach towns, each catering to its own groups of fans.

In other words, it pays to do some research before choosing a beach hotel here because most of them won't be suited to you. Room rates are quite reasonable even during this busiest time of year, although it's important to note that the cheapest hotels in Goa (and all over India) tend to be disappointing and rarely worth the savings. Still, the 4-star hotels in Goa are mostly quite good, and excellent value at Christmas time.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$58 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$117 per night for two people

>>>Check current hotel and package deals for Goa
>>>Goa prices, weather, and travel tips

15 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

  • December average high: 88°F/31°C
  • December average low: 74°F/23°C

Perhaps not as well known as most of the others on this list, Penang Island and its main city of Georgetown are certainly worth a look for some people. The area is quite popular with Asian visitors and adventurous Westerners as an alternative to Phuket and other Thai islands.

The cheaper hotels in the area are those in the historic center of Georgetown, while the beachfront resorts are going to cost quite a bit more. Avoid the cheapest hotels here and pay close attention because most of the cheapest rooms have no windows at all. Still, there is great value here, particularly in the food scene. Penang is known as the culinary capital of Malaysia, with an abundance of cheap and cheerful food courts in addition to some notable fine dining.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$35 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$63 per night for two people

>>>Check current hotel and package deals in Penang

16 Phuket, Thailand

  • December average high: 88°F/31°C
  • December average low: 75°F/24°C

Phuket is Asia's most popular beach destination, featuring well over 1,000 hotels and resorts. It's actually an island with about 12 different beach areas that are quite different from one another, so this is another destination where hotel research is critical. Patong Beach is by far the biggest and most crowded of the beach areas, to the degree that many people absolutely loathe it.

Karon and Kata are nearby beach areas that are at least a little more serene, and there are several other enclaves of upmarket luxury hotels and resorts. This has been a very popular Christmas destination for northern Europeans for decades, and yet it's still quite affordable even during its peak season. Hotels on or near the beach are going to cost quite a bit more than the prices listed below, but those who don't mind walking a bit can get great value even at Christmas here.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$24 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$49 per night for two people

>>>Check for the best Phuket resort deals
>>>Phuket prices, weather, and travel tips

17 Hoi An/Da Nang, Vietnam

  • December average high: 77°F/25°C
  • December average low: 67°F/19°C

Da Nang is a bit of a wildcard on this list because it's not really suited to mass-market visitors, at least those from the West. This beach city along Vietnam's central coast is a short drive from the ultra-charming Hoi An, and both are quite popular for different reasons, especially for cheap hotels.

Hoi An has been a favorite among visitors to Vietnam for decades, while Da Nang is more of a newcomer after it's built a string of large beachfront hotels meant for foreign guests. Vietnamese food has a large cult following around the world, and both of these towns have an abundance of great and affordable restaurants serving several varieties. This is one to think about if it feels like you've been everywhere else.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$12 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$33 per night for two people

>>>Check current hotel and package deals in Hoi An
>>>Hoi An prices, weather, and travel tips

18 Bali, Indonesia

  • December average high: 86°F/30°C
  • December average low: 76°F/26°C

Unlike the others on this list, Bali is (slightly) in the Southern Hemisphere, and December is actually one of the rainy months so Christmas visitors can expect at least a few downpours per week. But the rain usually doesn't last long so it's still very popular here on the Christmas holidays, particularly with Australians. The cheapest hotels here are of low standards and often without A/C, which you'll really need in December.

The most crowded and popular area is the famous surf beach along Kuta, Legian, and Seminyak on the west coast, but there are many lower-key beach areas in addition to Ubud a bit up in the central hills. Well-heeled visitors might also consider the tourist zone of Nusa Dua in the south, which is filled with large chain hotels that are often loaded with honeymoon couples.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$17 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$29 per night for two people

>>>Check current Bali hotel and resort deals
>>>Bali prices, weather, and travel tips

19 Boracay Island, Philippines

  • December average high: 82°F/28°C
  • December average low: 75°F/24°C

December marks the tail end of the rainy season in Boracay Island, but those tropical storms rarely last long so the place is very popular over the Christmas holidays anyway. This gorgeous strip of sand is lined with hotels, as well as a sand pathway along the beach, making it possible to spend days at a time in bare feet.

There are no super-cheap hotels on Boracay Island, but that's mainly because every hotel is within 100 meters or less of the sandy beach. There are many choices of international cuisine here, including many chain restaurants. The most obvious choices are the great number of affordable all-you-can-eat buffets that set up every evening right on the beach. There's also plenty of live music, as you'd expect in the Philippines.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$33 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people

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

There will be quite a bit of overlap with this list, but you might also be interested in:

216 Responses to “19 Cheap and warm places to go over 2021 Christmas & New Years weeks”

Blake Young says:

Please email me some suggested places in Mexico for Christmas

    Roger Wade says:


    I won’t email suggestions to you but I will list a few here. If you closer to the Pacific coast then Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos are the two best choices by far. Puerto Vallarta is a real historic town with great hotels nearby, and Los Cabos is more of a purpose-built resort area.

    If you are closer to the Caribbean coast then the greater Cancun area is the best choice. The main hotel zone in Cancun is a strip of large hotels and time shares with a few chain restaurants and nightclubs clustered around the point. If you prefer staying in a town where you have access to many different restaurants, bars, and shops, then head for Playa del Carmen, which is about an hour south of the Cancun airport by car or shuttle. The beaches aren’t quite as nice, but it’s a much more interesting and diverse place to stay. -Roger

Angelina says:

Hey Roger, have you been to any of these places during xmas/new years season? I’m researching myself on where to go during that time. I’m going solo so looking for the best spot. I would say Asia so my mind is set on somewhere there. But there are so many choices. What do you recommend?

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ve spent quite a few Christmases in Asia in the last 10 years, and many friends and family members have spent them in the Caribbean and other places closer to the Americas. As mentioned in the article, all of the places on this list get a pretty strong influx of visitors who are on a Christmas break, even if Christmas isn’t celebrated much there. I’ve done most of those stays as a single person as well, so I’ll take that into account.

    As long as you don’t care much about actual Christmas music and celebrations and all that, I can highly recommend Bali as a great place for a solo Christmas adventure. Thailand is also really good if you don’t mind being in a minority of single women, as it mostly attracts couples, families, and single men. There are single women in Thailand as well, but it’s more of a party atmosphere.

    Obviously I’m not sure what you are into, but one great thing about Bali is that it attracts great numbers of more “spiritual” visitors, partly in the wake of the Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon. The town of Ubud, where I actually spent Christmas about 4 years ago, is loaded with yoga studios and a lot of that sort of thing, in addition to plenty of affordable guesthouses and restaurants and whatnot. You might spend some of your time in Ubud, and other days on or near one of the beach areas. I can give you more info on that if you like. You’ll get some downpours in December, but they are over in 30 minutes or less most of the time.

    Along the same lines, you might enjoy India. I have Goa on the list because it’s the most popular beach area for Western tourists, but there are many other good options as well, including Kerala just to the south. You could also visit some of the cities or other tourist areas, as the weather in December will be quite nice. India is another place where solo male travelers don’t vastly outnumber solo females.

    Many of the others in Asia on the list are more geared for families or couples. Let me know if any of this sounds good at all, and I’m happy to add more details if you like. -Roger

Lesa says:

Most of the places on the list are unsafe. Really?

Debbie says:

Hi…I am wanting to go with my 3 daughters…ages 9..13 and 23..all adventurous souls…I was thinking about Bali…watched are your thoughts?

Kindest regards


    Roger Wade says:


    I love many things about Bali and have spent a lot of time there. But I’m no longer a fan of the main cluster of tourist towns stretching from Kuta to Legian to Seminyak. Unless you are an Australian surfer looking to get drunk most of the time, that whole area is just annoying, in spite of the nice beaches. I’d recommend Sanur as a mellower beach area, or better yet head to Lovina in the north. It’s cheaper and more beautiful than the crowded beaches in the south, but there is still plenty to do. And you’ll want to spend some time in or near Ubud, which is the arts and crafts capital of the island, in the foothills just a bit north of Kuta.

    If you have more specific questions I’ll be happy to try to answer. I used to adore almost all of Bali, but parts of it are just too crowded and overdeveloped to recommend at this point. -Roger

Oliver says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the ideas. One concern of ours is Zika. We love warm weather winter vacations, usually travel for New Years, did Mexico last year and BVI the prior year. You have listed several areas that are seemingly Zika-free, but the travel distance to those is quite immense (we are in Chicago – quite a hike, and not cheap, to the Canary Islands or SE Asia). Any good ideas for warm, Zika-free destinations that aren’t super expensive or difficult to travel to?


    Roger Wade says:


    I’m looking at the Zika map of the Americas as of now, and the only countries that are still Zika-free are Uruguay and Chile. Both of those are very nice destinations that will obviously be in their summer season at Christmas. You could visit Santiago and Valparaiso, which are close together and quite different. Or you could visit Montevideo and Colonia del Sacramento, or one of the beach resorts, or one of the cattle ranches. Avoiding any possibility of Zika really does limit choices in the warm parts of the Americas in the coming months, unfortunately. Good luck. -Roger

John U says:

I am interested in visiting Dominican republic but I am not sure which town. This is my wife 30th birthday surprise so I am trying to visit in January, Can you give me an idea of a great scene for a birthday celebration, good restaurants and clubs.

    Roger Wade says:


    The Dominican Republic is an unusual destination since the vast majority of its hotel rooms are at large, mostly all-inclusive hotels in beach areas such as Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Both of those areas have small towns with independent restaurants and clubs and bars, but most visitors never leave their own resort. Or you could go to Santo Domingo, which is the large capital city. It has some nice areas, and good nightlife, although very few people there speak English. I hope this helps. -Roger

TUSHAR says:

Hi Roger,
We are 2 adults and a boy of 12. want to go on 10 days holidays starting from last week of dec till 1st week of jan . we love be beaches and shopping . Kindly suggest location each in Europe ,Africa, South America or any other suitable place. Budget is USD 500 – 600 Per day all inclusive. We live in Lagos .Nigeria .

    Roger Wade says:


    The only destination in “Europe” with fairly warm weather in late December is the Canary Islands. Tenerife is the largest and most popular island.

    You’d know more about Africa than I will, but the one beach resort area in northern Africa to consider that time of year is Sharm el Sheikh on the Red Sea. It’s very affordable, but there was one incident at the airport there a couple years back and many Europeans are no longer considering going there.

    In South America the most popular and famous area is obviously Rio de Janeiro. It won’t be cheap that time of year, but it is a gorgeous city with plenty to do. Other beach resort options are Punta del Este in Uruguay and Mar del Plata in Argentina. Those are both very nice, and with less petty crime, although they might be slightly challenging unless you speak at least some Spanish. I hope this helps. -Roger

      TUSHAR says:

      Hi Roger,

      Thanks for the suggestion as this has been really very very helpful to decide on my vacation otherwise i was in a fix what to do since don’t really want disappoint my family . After much thought i have selected 2 locations SHARM EL-SHEIKH Egypt or Cape Town or Durban in South Africa, now need your advice on the following.

      1) what was that incident happened at Sharm el sheikh and when ?and if you had visited the place yourself? which location will be the best to stay.

      2) Which location or locality or hotel i shall go for in cape town / Durban .

      3) What is your thought on KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa ? and which particular hotel or town ?

      eagerly awaiting for your advice to complete my itinerary



        Roger Wade says:


        The incident at Sharm el Sheikh was a bit over a year ago when a chartered flight bound for Russia blew up en route, and it was suspected that a bomb was smuggled aboard by airport staff. That was evidently targeted at Russia. I’ve yet to make it there or to Durban yet either, but if the incident troubles you then Durban is a better choice. I’ve heard great things from friends that have been there. Sorry I couldn’t help more on these. -Roger

          TUSHAR says:

          Hi Roger,
          No problems . thanks for your response. will take it forward from here.
          must say, you have been of great help.

James says:

Hi Roger, love what you’re doing on this site!

I’m a 28 year old writer from London looking to head somewhere where I can create over Christmas, but also where there is good night life.

It would help if there is good amount of English spoken so that I can interact with people and get around without getting too lost or distracted logistically.

I’m a bit of a newbie to travelling internationally so would want somewhere safe and possibly reachable by coach to save on money. I’m thinking of renting using Airbnb. Any advice would be great!


    Roger Wade says:

    Thank you. I’m actually here in London myself for the last 6 months, although I’m heading back to the US soon. Do you mean somewhere you can reach by coach from London? That obviously limits your choices. And as you probably know, almost anywhere beyond Paris will be cheaper to reach by plane than by coach.

    Since you don’t mention that you want a warm destination, I’ll assume you are thinking about a city in Europe. If you want good nightlife, safe, and a place where you can get by well only in English, my first thought is Berlin. It’s a fantastic city and you could get a rental at a very good price. Amsterdam could also work, although rentals are more expensive there.

    If you want to go lower down the budget range you could head to Prague or even Krakow. Prague has great nightlife and there are many English speakers there. If you had something else in mind, let me know and I’ll come up with different suggestions. -Roger

urie says:

This has been super helpful, thank you for sharing this. My boyfriend and I want to take a trip out of the country day after christmas during winter break. We don’t want anything fancy but somewhere warm would be nice. Do you have any recommendations?

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to help but I’ll need some more information. Where are you starting from? And are you looking for a beach? Or should there also be nightlife and/or cultural sights? If you are in the United States you might consider Belize or Puerto Rico, but I can give more choices with the other answers. -Roger

Phyllis says:

What do you think about taken holiday at Cabarete Dominic republic

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ve not been to Cabarete, but some friends of mine have been. It seems to be more of a kite surfing place with older hotels compared to the new modern ones in the Punta Cana area. Sorry I can’t be of more help. -Roger

Kay says:

Hi Roger,

I ran across this site by chance and I’m so glad I did. After 32 years, I finally got a passport. I know! What took me so long? Anyway, now I’m indecisive on where to go. I know I want a good mix of delicious foods and possible access to a thriving social scene (not necessarily clubs, but the opportunity to mingle). I know I don’t want my first overseas trip to be in any Asian countries or Mexico – those are on my list, but aren’t top choices for a first trip. I’m open to anywhere in the world!

Any suggestions for a young-ish, solo, African American woman from Seattle?

I really enjoyed this post and I hope you can guide me a little.


    Roger Wade says:


    Congratulations on the passport, and I’m glad you found this site too.

    Since you’ve ruled out Asia and Mexico for now, and you’ve asked this question below an article discussing late December destinations, that does limit things a bit. Assuming this is for a December or January trip, I wouldn’t recommend Europe as the days are short and the weather is chilly enough that it’s just not a good first impression.

    I’ll throw out a few suggestions that could work with a short explanation for each, and I’ll be happy to provide more details if any of them jump out at you. You don’t provide enough details about climate or cost or cities or beaches and so forth for me to confidently narrow it to a few, but I’m happy to give it a try anyway.

    In the Caribbean you have many options but I’d recommend San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s a bit ironic because you wouldn’t even need that passport to get there. Still, it’s fantastic with great food, a great social atmosphere (without big clubs), and friendly locals. Speaking Spanish helps, but you can easily get by in English. The beaches there are excellent as well.

    Cartagena, Colombia is another interesting possibility. The historic walled city is loaded with great (and cheap!) restaurants, bars, and cafes. There is a decent beach a short bus or taxi ride away, and there are plenty of historic sights as well. Spanish is even more dominant, but English still works (I speak only a tiny bit of Spanish and I’ve visited all these places with little stress, by the way). There are some nearby places to visit on day trips as well.

    Rio de Janeiro might have the most beautiful location of any city on earth, and it’s really fun as well. It’s very popular around Christmas, partly as it’s their summer, but the USD is strong enough there that you could still pull off a pretty good trip without spending a fortune. Petty crime is a real problem there so it’s critical that you stay in one of the better areas and also heed the warnings. All of that said, it’s worth it and plenty safe if you are careful.

    Buenos Aires is another wonderful city, which doesn’t have a gorgeous location, but it’s very well organized, really fun, and extremely safe. The food there is wonderful as well, especially for those who enjoy beef and probably less so for vegans and such. Spanish is quite dominant, and there are very few African locals or even tourists compared to the places listed above, but being from Seattle I’d imagine you are used to that. You could also do side trips to Bariloche and/or Mendoza.

    South Africa is obviously a long way away, and I’ve yet to make it there myself, but people rave about Cape Town and the other main tourist cities, and it’s quite affordable once you get there as well.

    Again, these are my best suggestions once we’ve eliminated Asia, Mexico, and Europe, and knowing we want a destination with culture and social opportunities. Let me know what you think and I’ll be happy to provide more information. -Roger

Chad says:

I’ve been reading your posts and have found them very helpful. Heres my scenario
My friend (girl), and I are looking for somewhere warm and beachy to visit leaving the day after Christmas and returning after new year. We’ve both been to Playa to an upscale all inclusive (the Royal) and had a great time! Lots to do in downtown at night and great beaches during the day. Looking for something similar but in a different area. Doesn’t have to be all inclusive by anty means . We are flying out of New Orleans, La. where would you suggest? We are both early 40’s .
Thank you!

    Roger Wade says:


    If you are looking for something similar to Playa del Carmen, but different with its own charms, I highly recommend San Juan, Puerto Rico. The beaches in the city are even nicer than those in the Cancun area, and the nightlife is fantastic, especially for people out of their 20s. The Old San Juan area is gorgeous and really fun, while the beach areas such as Condado just east of there are loaded with really good hotels and restaurants. There are pretty much no all-inclusives in Puerto Rico, but food and drinks there are in all price ranges. In other words, if you want a local meal for US$4 and a cold beer for US$1.50, they are easy to find, even in the touristy areas.

    You might also consider an Airbnb or other apartment rental. There are many thousands of Americans who own apartments there are rent them out most of the year, so you can usually get a better place for the same or less than a hotel. There is a rain forest near there and many other things to do as well. I honestly think it’s exactly what you are looking for. If you’ve been there already or it doesn’t sound right, let me know and I’ll try again. But really I can’t think of any other place in that whole region that has everything you are looking for like San Juan does. -Roger

Swathi says:

Hi Roger

I have come across this site and I must really appreciate you taking so much time to address people’s queries
I and my husband are interested in going to Phuket for new year after going through your suggestions
We are from India and a newly married couple planning to stay for 3-4 days
Can you suggest some good places within Thailand that we should not miss going to or any specific activities

Thanks in advance

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help, although I’m not sure it will be a great answer. Phuket in particular is dominated by visitors who are simply looking for a warm-weather beach area to relax in. Patong Beach is the largest beach town by far, and it has a fancy shopping mall plus hundreds of other little shops and restaurants and bars. Nightlife is also a big attraction there, including “adult oriented” nightlife, if you know what I mean. Couples are usually happier in any of the other beach areas, such as Karon or Kata Beaches just a bit to the south of Patong. They are close enough that you can easily get to Patong during the day for shopping, but they are still quiet and family oriented in the evenings.

    Many people spend time on the beach or in spas. There are a few golf courses as well. But there are very few cultural offerings to speak of. The largest city on the island is Phuket Town, and there is nothing much to see there either. In other words, Phuket is fairly generic when it comes to things to see and do. It’s a wonderful place to relax and sit on a beach or do some shopping, but not much else.

    If you are more interested in temples or boat trips or cultural sights, you might be happier on the smaller islands of Ko Samui or Ko Phi Phi or Ko Phang An. Or if you want to see the temples and cultural sights you’ll want to go to Bangkok and/or Ayutthaya, which is near Bangkok.

    Hopefully this answer helps a bit. If you have more questions please ask and I’ll try to help more. -Roger

Tom says:

Hi Roger, thank you for sharing your insights.

Ok so as a single male in his 40s I’m looking for a sunny week’s vacation end of Dec – early January somewhere new – looking at your list I’ve been to cancun/cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, and I want to stay close to the Americas (vs far east, Australia etc).

I love beaches, surfing, scuba, tennis, exploring natural sites, I’m a foodie, love mixing with the local culture, cigars, wine and maybe even some poker/casino action. Wouldn’t mind being in an environment where it’s easy to mingle with nice ladies ie away from families with 10 kids.

Any recommendations that fit the bill? Hotels? Cruises?

Thank you again,

    Roger Wade says:


    I did a crazy amount of solo-male travel in my 40s (I’m now 52) so I think I know what you mean. My best recommendation for what you want is San Juan, Puerto Rico. Unlike almost anywhere else in the Caribbean, there are excellent beaches AND a fabulous and historic city in the same place. Seriously, Old San Juan is gorgeous and really fun, and it’s quite easy to meet people there since it’s a real city rather than a “couples resort” sort of place. I went there for the first time just last year and I was extremely impressed.

    The San Juan area has loads of tours and activities and even a rain forest nearby. You can cheaply rent a car and drive to other parts of the island if you like for some alternative scenery. I’d recommend staying in the Condado area, which is a tourist district on the beach just next to Old San Juan. Hotels there aren’t exactly cheap so you might consider an apartment rental instead. There are hundreds or thousands of apartments in that area that are only occupied by owners for short durations each year, so the rental market is very competitive. There are plenty of restaurants and bars in all price ranges, and real supermarkets and other conveniences because it’s the US. Speaking Spanish helps, but fortunately San Juan is filled with younger people who grew up in the US (mostly New York and Florida) and speak English fluently. There are also a few more “edgy” nightlife areas where it’s like a street party every night, and meeting people is extremely easy.

    If you would prefer something a bit more exotic and a bit cheaper where your Spanish skills are more important you could consider Cartagena, Colombia instead. It is similar in many ways, but it would be more challenging to meet people if you only know restaurant Spanish. If you can afford San Juan, and I think you can, I’d go there for sure. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Oh, a cruise could also be fun but it’s much harder to meet other single people unless it’s a Singles Cruise. I got one of those single cabins on a Norwegian ship in the Caribbean last year as well. I had an excellent time, but most of the other single passengers were older ladies. So you’d have fun, though it would take a lot of luck to find some party friends, if you know what I mean. -Roger

Crystal Smith says:

Hello Roger, Single lady here looking for someplace warm but in the states. I don’t have my passport yet. Any last minute suggestions? Love the water and the mountains so not picky at all.
Thanks for any ideas.
*Merry Christmas*

    Roger Wade says:


    This could be a bit tricky because there are no really great late-December destinations in the US that won’t be expensive and/or crowded. One that might not be too obvious, which I do highly recommend, is San Juan, Puerto Rico. You don’t need a passport to get there from a US airport, as it’s part of the US. My favorite neighborhood is Condado, which is just east of the lovely Old San Juan historic district.

    If you can afford to go to Hawaii then that one is hard to beat. Mingling with other people is easiest on Oahu, but there are other options as well.

    The warmest part of the continental US is obviously south Florida, namely Key West. That will be VERY expensive and crowded in late December. Miami and the Naples/Ft. Meyers areas usually have nice weather then, and the Ft. Meyers area is more affordable.

    You might also consider New Orleans. I actually spent a Christmas Eve there about 12 years ago and it was a lot of fun, and almost everything is open. You could also try St. Augustine, Florida or Savannah, Georgia, both of which have reasonably nice weather. Let me know if any of these sound interesting and I can provide more details if you need them. -Roger

Aj says:

Looking for a destination to go for 4 nights from east coast after Christmas till new year. Been to San Juan. Something other than DR, Cancun. Something different. Good food necessary. Some activities.
Any suggestions? Thank you

    Roger Wade says:


    If you are looking for a new stop in the Caribbean and really good food is a priority, then look no further than the islands that are part of France or run by France. Everyone seems to agree that most of the best dining in the Caribbean can be found on these islands. So I’m specifically referring to Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Martin (which is the northern half of the island with the Dutch Sint Maarten in its south). And there is St. Barts, if your budget can take it. Of all of those I’d say Sint Martin offers the most. Have a great trip. -Roger

Tami Campos says:

Hello! We are considering traveling as a family (32 y/o wife, 40 y/o husband & 2 boys 6/9) for Christmas. We live in Oregon (USA) and don’t have too many must haves other than someplace warm and someplace with plenty to do. We are considering staying for up to 2 weeks. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


    I lived in Portland for a few years myself recently, and unfortunately there are no inexpensive winter places that are close. You could obviously go to Hawaii, but around Christmas you are looking at a minimum of US$200 per night for the most basic place. You might consider Baja California, although I believe it’s only the southern tip around Los Cabos that is considered totally safe these days.

    If you are willing to fly to the Caribbean coast of Mexico or the Caribbean you have many great options. You could go to Playa del Carmen, which is about 50 miles south of the Cancun Airport. Unlike Cancun itself, which is mostly just a series of resort hotels, Playa del Carmen is a real town with hundreds of restaurants and activities and shops and whatnot.

    Another place that I recommend highly for a longer visit like this is the San Juan, Puerto Rico area. It’s a really nice town with a gorgeous historic center. One of its nicest features is that there are thousands of apartments and condos owned by part-time residents, and you can often get those at very good rates for weekly rentals so it’s good value. There are large supermarkets with all the conveniences, so having your own kitchen can save you a lot of money compared to eating out every meal. The beaches right in the tourist center are excellent, which is rare for a Caribbean city. And there are other areas outside of San Juan that are even more affordable.

    You could do an even cheaper vacation in Asia in a place such as Phuket, and that includes the flights, but with kids that age I really wouldn’t recommend it because the flights are so long.

    There are a few other Caribbean spots that could also work, but for a family trip where you want the most attraction and activity possibilities, I really like Playa del Carmen and Puerto Rico. -Roger

Amanda says:

Hi Roger,

I’m in the UK and I’m looking for a nice hot holiday next December (around 22.12.17 for 7 or 10 days). There will be my husband, our 2 children (ages 3 & 4 at the time of the holiday) and myself. I would prefer all inclusive. Do you have any suggestions for a family friendly holiday at this time of Year?

    Roger Wade says:


    The article above is meant to give you as many ideas as possible for what you have in mind. The only missing thing is the all-inclusive part, as that tends to be rare in most of the Tropics. The places that are famous for all-inclusive resorts in the Tropics are Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, as well as Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and the area around Cancun. I’d think that Cancun would have the most affordable flights from the UK, although Punta Cana might have plenty as well. Jamaica is my third favorite of those three.

    You might also consider Thailand. Phuket is the most popular and easiest to reach destination there. You don’t get many all-inclusive resorts, but that’s partly because food, drinks, and activities are all quite cheap there. Another favorite of mine is Boracay Island. It is more complicated to get there, but partly for that reason it feels like paradise when you do. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Emmie says:

I’ve never been an adventuresome traveler, so most of my travel has been limited and stateside. After marrying my best friend later in life last year (kids grown…) we want to start doing more traveling on our limited pre-retirement budget. We want to go in May, and have eight days to play with. Neither of us has ever been to the Tropics, and we’re curious. Where would you suggest would be the best for us – as fifty-somethings who are a bit past the serious partying phase – who like a beach and a good book, good accommodations and restaurants, and a nice warm, safe location.

    Roger Wade says:


    Part of this depends on how far you are willing to travel. For 8 days, starting in the United States, I’d suggest the Caribbean or Central America because Asia would require a full day in each direction and serious jetlag.

    One place that I often recommend is San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotels there can be a bit expensive, but there are many short-term apartments on Airbnb and elsewhere that are quite reasonable for what you get. The historic Old San Juan is gorgeous and filled with great restaurants and a few worthwhile sights. The beaches along the city are among the best in the Caribbean, and it’s all quite safe (for the Caribbean) since it’s technically the United States. Knowing some Spanish helps, but you can easily get by in English. My favorite neighborhood is Condado, which is right next to the Colonial town so you have easy access to both. There are some party areas nearby, but it’s mostly an older crowd and some families.

    Another place that I like and recommend for you would be Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. It’s a bit cheaper than Puerto Rico and the beaches aren’t quite as nice, but it’s a really nice tourist town with plenty to do. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

      emmie says:

      Thanks. After some investigating picked an all inclusive just north of Playa del Carmen. Glad to have you confirm what a few other more seasoned travelers were telling us as well.

Lori says:

Hi roger, my boyfriend and I are looking to take a trip for two weeks from dec 27-Jan 12, and was wondering if you could tell me about the safety of Colombia. I have heard that it is getting better recently, and I have been to peru, equador, Bolivia, chile, and Argentina, al I would like a warmer adventure. I speak a little Spanish, but my boyfriend doesn’t speak any and has never left the United States (we are in Colorado). We both love to hike and are looking for a low budget adventure with hiking, good food, and some relaxing beach time as well. I know you mentioned Cartagena which is on my list, any other places in Colombia you recommend, or recommend staying away from? Also, is bus the best way to get from city to city in Colombia, and is it easy to navigate with minimal Spanish? We are deciding between Colombia, Belize, and Costa Rica right now, and I’m mostly wondering about safety of each (I’m guessing Costa Rica is the most safe but I would like something less overrun with tourists), and ways to get involved locally volunteering if you know about that! Sorry this is all over the place, I’m hoping you can give me a bit of advice on any or all of it! Thanks is in advance, I look forward to hearing back!

    Roger Wade says:


    At this point Colombia is as safe as any other country in South America (and MUCH safer than Venezuela) as far as the primary tourist cities. The drug wars mostly based in Medellin have been over for many years now, and now expats are starting to move there in addition to Bogota. So I wouldn’t hesitate to go to any of those cities or even other cities with more than a few hotels.

    Since there are no trains, your long-haul transport options are obvious buses, rental cars, and flights. The buses in that region tend to be slow, so you might compare prices of flights.

    You are right that Belize is the easiest for non-Spanish speakers and Costa Rica is a bit easier than Colombia, but I wouldn’t let that stop you. I speak almost no Spanish and I’ve been to all of these countries and many that are more challenging, and it’s never too difficult. Colombia now has quite a few non-Spanish tourists going to all of these places, so all important signs are also in English, and pretty much all tourist hotels and restaurants have English speakers. The only thing to be careful about is that the cheaper and smaller a hotel is in a place like Colombia, the less likely that there will be an English speaker on staff at any given moment. If you are paying at least US$50 per night and if the hotel has a website that is at least translated into English, you should be okay. If you speak some Spanish you should be okay pretty much anywhere.

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

Ursula says:

This is an interesting blog! I am looking for a sunny beach with activities (sailing, jet skiing, snorkling, things like that, or close by tours)for 3 older teens and enough variety in restaurants to make it interesting. We are sort of tired of Mexico (we live in CA) and Costa Rica seems like it might feel like a Mexico repeat? I hate windy areas. We’re hard to please because we want something that doesn’t feel overcrowded/Waikiki or too remote! Any ideas? We all have passports and would prefer an int’l destination.

    Roger Wade says:


    Hmmmm…first off, Costa Rica is quite different from Mexico, at least as long as you avoid the northern Pacific coast in Costa Rica, which has become a bit generic (although very nice). If you went to the beaches in the center and south on the Pacific, or any of the beach areas on the Caribbean, it would be quite different. Also, Costa Rica is known for being something like one-third national parks. There is a wide variety of natural sights, not to mention the Arenal Volcano and hot springs around there. So you might think more about Costa Rica.

    It’s obviously not close to California, but I think Puerto Rico could be a winner for you. The beaches right in San Juan are fantastic, and the city is very historic and interesting. There is plenty to do on the beaches and elsewhere on the island. There is even a rain forest there that you can take a tour through. My favorite area is Condado, which is close to Old San Juan. You can rent apartments there easily at reasonable prices, even though it’s a fairly upscale area. It’s a bit like Waikiki, but definitely much less crowded and more laid back.

    Belize is another one to consider. The main tourist islands are Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. They feel a bit like Jamaica in that English is the main language and you’ll hear some Reggae, but they are also fairly small islands and people don’t hassle you there like they do in Jamaica. The beaches aren’t great, as most of the coasts are mangroves, but it’s still very nice and there are some patches of sand here and there. The snorkeling is excellent since the second largest coral reef system in the world is just off shore.

    If you don’t mind a longer flight, you could consider Thailand, which is even cheaper once you get there. Phuket is the easiest and largest island destination there, but there are others I could mention if you are interested. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Ursula says:

      Thank you! That was REALLY nice of you to take the time for such a personal reply. I had briefly looked into Phuket and it seemed a little overwhelming to research but I have plenty of time (not traveling until Christmas). Puerto Rico sounds good, too. Again – greatly appreciated!! I may post additional questions once the real planning begins!

Cheryl says:

Hi Roger, I am researching for 2017 Christmas to New Years family holiday (5 adults & 3 boys 5, 4 & 2.5 yrs) I live in Ontario Canada and my kids & grandkids live in Netherlands & Sweden. We are hoping to find a house near a beach where we can all meet and thinking of the Canary Islands. Any advice and suggestions greatly appreciated. – Cheryl

    Roger Wade says:


    The Canary Islands could be a great choice for what you have in mind. The December weather is mostly sunny and fairly warm, but it’s not in the Tropics so it’s not warm enough for sunbathing every day. I spent a month last year on Tenerife, which is the largest and most popular of the Canaries. The best weather and most English-speaking restaurants are in the southwest of the island around the town of Los Cristianos and north along that coast. There aren’t many houses there, but there are loads of apartment buildings on and near the beach. That area is very popular with Dutch and Swedes as well.

    If you wanted something with real sunbathing weather in December you might think about San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s more expensive than the Canary Islands, but it’s very good value and it’s very nice. You could rent a condo or even a small house for a week or so, very near the wonderful beach in the Condado area just next to historic Old San Juan. Your flights would obviously be cheaper, which could help make up for the more expensive flights for the Europeans. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Carla says:

Hi Roger,
Just discovered your blog, very interesting!
I am from Belgium and thinking to leave Dec 26 till Jan 6 with all of my family (7 adults and 5 kids under 12 + 1 newborn).
We were thinking about Cape Verde, what are your thoughts about this place? Or South Africa? Is it safe there you think? Also Canary Islands could be an option. As there will be a lot of kids, we need to keep them entertained as well…
Thank you so much for your help and have a great day!



    I’m glad you found this website as well. I’ve actually yet to make it to Cape Verde or South Africa, although South Africa will be in the next year or so. As for Cape Verde, I just researched it an included it on my recent article discussing the cheapest all-inclusive resort destinations in or near Europe. Since it’s actually in the Tropics, the December weather there is warmer than the Canary Islands, so you could actually spend your days on the beach. In the Canary Islands, December is just a bit cool. That doesn’t stop armies of Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, and Finns from sitting in the sun anyway, as it’s usually sunny and warm enough on the beach in some places.

    I spent a month on Tenerife last year so that’s the only Canary Island that I know well. Aside from pools and such, there didn’t seem to be many activities for kids. There were definitely some families there, but it was mostly older couples. Some of the larger hotels have Kids’ Clubs and that sort of thing, but otherwise it doesn’t seem too kid friendly.

    I’ve researched South Africa quite a bit and know many people who have gone. Everyone insists that it’s very safe, especially in Cape Town. Evidently it’s main just a few of the rougher neighborhoods in and near Johannesburg that tourists should avoid. I’ve heard that Cape Town is good for families as well, since it’s a full city on the beach and it’ll be gorgeous in December. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Mark says:

Hi Roger,
Thank you so very much for all the help you provide through your blog, which I’ve only recently discovered. I am trying to do research on a holiday trip (last week of Dec through early Jan) to decent weather places in western Europe (i.e. no snow)and I’ve narrowed it down to Spain and maybe Portugal. Do you have any additional suggestions or insights? I am aware of the Canary Islands but am hoping to be able to see more history and cultural sites.
Thanks again for all your invaluable assistance!



    I’m happy to hear that this information is useful. I get questions kind of like this from time to time, so I started a new series a few months ago, which highlights which European destinations have good weather and good reasons to go each month of the year. The first one was best Europe destinations in February, it the December list will be quite similar when I publish it in a few months. The temperature ranges will be similar, and the reasons for going will be too.

    Unfortunately, the only place in “Europe” with close to sunbathing weather in winter is the Canary Islands. Spain and Portugal are obviously warmer than most of the rest of Europe, but not warm enough to spend time on the beach. With that in mind, you might prefer to just bundle up a bit and head to the best cities such as London and Paris. Hotel prices will be lower and crowds will be smaller, so putting up with a bit of cold can be worthwhile. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Veronica F says:

I am a single mother traveling with a 9 year old. I stumbled onto your blog and have tried to read all entries. I am looking for somewhere she and I can go out of the country to celebrate the New Year. Last year we were in the Bahamas which was really cool. But I want to go somewhere warm. We will live in a cold state in the winter. Thanks for reading this and hopefully you have some suggestions.




    Actually, the whole article above is full of my best suggestions for what you have in mind. I could be more specific if I knew more about what you were looking for, like a beach or city or both or nature or somewhere remote? A personal favorite of mine is San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is obviously still in the US, but it feels quite exotic to most Americans. -Roger

Johnny says:

Roger. We have been to Thailand, Puerto Villarta, and a few others on this list. We are gay and I am wondering if Malaysia and Goa are gay friendly destinations.



    I wish I could do better answering this question. I’ve spent a long time in both Malaysia and Goa and my best guess would be that you’d be fine as long as you didn’t get into a lot of public affection, but that’s pretty much true of straight travelers as well. Unlike Thailand, which seems to tolerate anything, Malaysia is a more conservative (mostly) Muslim country where most Malay women wear headscarves, although the Chinese and Indian women usually do not. So if a straight couple were to be making out on, say, a train, some of the locals might think that it’s inappropriate and insensitive. And if a gay couple were to do it, it might be even a bit worse, but I don’t think it would be a big problem. I’d imagine that you can find better info on this somewhere else.

    Goa is mostly a Catholic state and it’s generally very tolerant with the alcohol and drug scenes being notorious, but again, outward displays of affection might not be welcome at certain beaches and markets and such where locals dominate. But there are other beaches such as Anjuna and Vagator where it’s pretty much all tourists, and I’d guess that you’d feel very welcome there. Best of luck and I hope you find better info somewhere on this. -Roger

Amber says:

Hi Roger,
This blog is great! I’m opting out of Christmas this year and an looking for a warm place to take my two kids who will be 1 and 3 years old. I’m looking for somewhere warm and safe away from the crowds, but still with things to do with toddlers, like easy nature hikes, beaches, zoos, parks, family-friendly dining, etc. I would consider an area with larger resorts that has kids clubs, but I’m afraid that would be overcrowded. I’m open to international travel, but somewhere not too difficult to get to, as I would be flying with them by myself. We live in Utah.



    Thank you. Yours is a bit of a tricky situation because Christmas week is the busiest week at nearly every destination that has good weather and is easy to reach from the US or Europe. One option would be Costa Rica. There are little towns up and down both coasts, and some are packed with hotels while others are mostly local residences. The area in the north on the Pacific side is where you’ll find most of the upscale developments, although there are many other options as well. Costa Rica is famously one-third national parks, so nature hikes and that sort of thing are in abundance. And it’s pretty good for families as well in that it’s a popular destination for people bringing children.

    Another option that I like a lot is the area around Cancun. If you are up for an all-inclusive resort you’ll find about a hundred of them in that area stretching south to Playa del Carmen and over to the island of Cozumel. Those resorts will be full that time of year, but the big resorts there are HUGE and built to be comfortable when they are full. Flights to Cancun are plentiful and fairly cheap as well. That whole area is one to consider, and there is plenty to do in terms of hikes and nature and such as well.

    The first thing that came to mind is actually Puerto Rico, which I’m a big fan of. The San Juan area is always fairly crowded because it’s a large city, but the beaches in San Juan are excellent and it won’t feel too crowded because there are far more apartments than there are hotels. In fact, you can get a good deal on one of those apartments compared to a similar hotel. You could even choose one of the less popular areas in Puerto Rico such as Rincon. Rental cars there are fairly cheap, and it’s all very organized (compared to most other Caribbean islands) because it’s part of the US.

    Lastly, if you can afford Hawaii, you can’t do any better than that. As you may know, all of the islands aside from Oahu are never very crowded, and the resorts and towns there are nicely spaced out. It’ll be expensive, especially that week, but you’d love it. Hopefully this helps at least a bit. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Charmaine says:

Rodger.Just enquiring whether Bali would be a good vacation for a family of 5.This includes 3 adult children- early twenties and parents.Fun activities? Shopping? Travel time Dec 2017 for i days.Am from South Africa.Charmaine



    The first two times I visited Bali I did it in December. That is one of the wet months, but the storms are almost always very short (and intense) and often they happen at night. I wouldn’t hesitate to go to Bali again in December, although you do have to be aware that you might get caught in a quick rain storm, and that rain makes the already-frustrating traffic even worse.

    There is plenty to do in Bali all year round. As for shopping, depending on where you stay, you might be surrounded by dozens of chain fashion retailers (all the famous brands) or you might be near locally-owned shops selling Balinese clothing and souvenirs and such. But Bali doesn’t really have any large malls and huge stores if that is what you are after. The local stuff is quite cheap and usually well made, by the way.

    I used to adore Bali but after my one-month visit last year I feel that most of the popular areas are too crowded and overdeveloped. I mean, it’s really fun for Australian surfers and party people, but I no longer recommend the main Kuta-Legian-Seminyak area for other types of visitors. That said, the big resorts down in Nusa Dua are very nice, if a bit expensive. And there are other areas in Bali that aren’t so overdeveloped. It just depends on what you are looking for and I’m happy to help if you comment again.

    Other options to consider would be Boracay Island, which might be perfect for you, or even Phuket or one of the other Thai islands. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Vince says:

Hi Roger. I wanted to get a head start on birthday vacation planning..December 31st. I was wondering where’s a good place to go for a group of young adults that’s also affordable. All inclusive would be nice but not necessary. US and abroad is fine too. Thanks!



    For a group of young adults who want to visit a fun place that is also affordable, my top suggestion would be Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. Unlike Cancun, which is mainly a long strip of big hotels and timeshare buildings, Playa del Carmen is an actual lively town with hundreds of bars and restaurants and everything else. Cancun is better for big nightclubs and fancy restaurants, and the beaches are a bit better as well. But Playa del Carmen is far more interesting and fun, in my opinion.

    Fortunately there are also dozens of all inclusive resorts in that general area as well. Personally, I’d rather stay at a normal hotel in or near the town center area and then just buy food and drinks wherever I wanted because things are pretty cheap there anyway. But if you wanted to stay at an all-inclusive you could do that and still go into town in the evenings or whenever you liked. Flights into Cancun are pretty cheap from most places as well, and a taxi or shuttle down to Playa del Carmen is cheap for a group. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Erin says:

Single mother of 1 girl (19), 3 boys (16, 15, 13). Want to treat them to a vacation over Christmas break after rough divorce. I notice you recommend Puerto Rico quite a bit. Would you recommend it for teens? How long would you recommend staying? Also, any tips on airlines, hotels etc would be greatly appreciated. We are pretty adventurous so we are willing to stay in not so touristy areas. Any other places you would recommend? I am a teacher so budget is important.



    I do recommend Puerto Rico often and I think it will fit well for you too. Compared to the other modestly priced Caribbean islands such as the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, I think Puerto Rico is much nicer for just about everything except for all-inclusive resorts. San Juan is a fun and very interesting town, and the Old San Juan district is as gorgeous as it is historic. Better still, San Juan has excellent sandy beaches right in and near the city center, which is surprisingly rare in the Caribbean, especially in a city.

    Another reason I think San Juan, Puerto Rico might be good for you is that it has a huge supply of rental apartments in the better tourist areas near the beach. Some other islands are nothing but hotels, but San Juan has some hotels and far more apartment and condo buildings. You should be able to airbnb an apartment large enough for the 4 of you for less than the price of the two hotel rooms you’d otherwise need. And of course you’ll have a kitchen so you can cook some of your own meals and save more money and hassle as well. They have full size supermarkets there with products you’ll recognize, and the USD is the currency, of course.

    I think the kids will love it because the beaches are really good and there are also various water sports available at reasonable prices. There is an interesting rain forest just about 15 miles outside of San Juan, and that makes for an interesting day trip. My favorite area is called Condado, and it’s adjacent to Old San Juan, but you can probably find something cheaper if you stay in Isla Verde, which is closer to the airport. If you book an apartment a few blocks off the beach it’ll be cheaper than one closer to the beach, of course. American Airlines has many flights going there every day, but I’d just pick the cheapest one from wherever you are starting from. Again, one of the reasons why an apartment rental would be a good budget option for you is that it will be your main expense, and if you spend time on the beach or touring around Old San Juan, those things are free. If you stay in a hotel you often have to buy expensive meals 3 times a day because there are no other good options nearby. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nicole A says:

Hello Robert,

I live in Texas but my BF lives in Amsterdam. We want to spend this Christmas + New Years together. What would be a good middle-ground destination. I am the main problem and don’t want to pay too much for a flight. We love nature and enjoy exploring more than partying. We love to eat so food must be relatively cheap and somewhere with water or land sports would be perfect as we like to do more than lounge on the beach.

Thanks in advance!


    Nicole A,

    I’m actually living in Texas myself at the moment (in Kerrville). If you want something between Texas and Amsterdam that is warm in late December, you definitely want to head to the Caribbean. Fortunately you’ll have quite a few good choices. Have a look at this article we have on the Caribbean destinations from cheapest to most expensive. A handful of those islands are still Dutch territories, and several more are so popular with the Dutch that they have nonstop KLM flights from Amsterdam.

    If you do a text search on that page for the word “Dutch” on that page you’ll find 8 of the 32 destinations are popular enough with Nederlanders that KLM has nonstop flights. Since they are closer to the US, you should both get reasonable airfares to any of them. I wouldn’t recommend the Dominican Republic for you unless you wanted to meet at an all-inclusive resort. And in Jamaica I’d only consider Negril, as the other two main places are also better more for large resorts. I’d probably shoot for St. Maarten or one of the smaller islands such as Curacao, which might be the best one for you. Even in the more expensive Caribbean islands such as St. Maarten, you can usually finder cheaper hotels a few blocks from the beach that are great value.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Maggie says:

Hey Roger,
I am graduating college and our family wants to celebrate. Problem is, my sister is in medical school so she can only travel in December but is also married and her first anniversary is Dec.17th and she won’t miss the first Christmas with in-laws. That being said, I would like to leave from South Carolina the afternoon of Christmas day and return on New Year’s Day or Jan. 2nd. I have been researching prices for quite some time now and travel does not seem to be budget friendly (5 of us). Is this too wishful of thinking?
We want somewhere warm and somewhat local- we love renting houses as opposed to hotels but are willing to do a hotel.
VERY open minded in terms of location- we have done Mexico and Bahamas multiple times but are looking into Chile, Spanish islands, Costa Rica, Cabo, etc. ANY advice would be so appreciated!



    As mentioned in the article, the week you want to go is literally the peak (highest price) week of the year in nearly all Tropical destinations. And it’s no secret either because so many people have nearly two full weeks off that time of year. I think the keys are to lock in your airfare as early as possible, and then focus on the cheaper places in general because they are all at peak price that week.

    Chile would be a long flight for just a week, and I think the flights would be very expensive as well. The only Spanish islands that aren’t cold in late December are the Canaries, with Tenerife being the largest of those. But honestly I wouldn’t recommend it because it would also be an expensive flight (transfer through Madrid or Barcelona) and it’s kind of boring there. Also, it’s just barely warm enough to walk on the beach, and sometimes not warm enough to sit on the sand in December. You really want something in the Tropics or south of the equator.

    Costa Rica and Cabo will both be packed at peak prices. There are so many places you can go in Costa Rica that finding something that was reasonable is possible, but it probably wouldn’t be in a location that you liked much.

    At times I feel like a broken record on here, but once again I’m going to push for San Juan, Puerto Rico. It will be peak season there as well, but one nice thing is that there are hundreds or even thousands of buildings that are only occupied part time by their owners and rented out the rest of the year. Hotels in Puerto Rico can be a bit expensive, but the rental market is more reasonable. My favorite neighborhood is Condado, which is right next to the gorgeous Old San Juan historic area. The beaches in San Juan are also some of the best in the Caribbean.

    Another thing I like about it for you is that there are far more apartments and condos than hotel rooms in that area, so it’s more of a “locals” place. And there are full-size supermarkets selling everything you need at decent prices where you pay in USDs. I’d think that you could get a rental condo that fits all of your for much less than 2 hotel rooms. But again, there are no cheap places during that week. The only place that is also nice and is at least a step down from San Juan on the price scale is Cartagena, Colombia, but I don’t think they have too many rental apartments or condos there. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Rick says:

Hi Roger,
We are a family of 6. Ages 19, 21, 24, 25,57 and 58. Currently 4 live in NY, one in Tampa and the other in Los Angeles We love the warm weather and are an active bunch.Looking to travel either the week or two before Christmas. We’ve done all the Caribbean Cruises (loved it) and looking to switch things up this time around. Our budget is around 15K. What might you suggest. Thanks



    Since you say you’ve done the Caribbean cruises, I assume you are pretty familiar with the various Caribbean islands and have dismissed them. As you might have seen already, my choice for a longer stay in a Caribbean beach area that also has great access to culture is the Condado neighborhood in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s a wonderful city on a great beach and the rental market there is quite good.

    And while we are discussing the obvious, you didn’t mention Hawaii. I don’t have it on the list above because you couldn’t really call Hawaii “cheap,” but it should easily fit into your budget. You could rent a large condo on Maui or Kauai that would fit everyone, and you’d have excellent December weather and close access to plenty of great activities. Especially if you went two weeks before Christmas, you could get a pretty good deal.

    Another suggestion would be Costa Rica or Belize. Costa Rica is obviously much larger and has many more options than Belize, but either could work well. Belize also has the world’s second largest coral reef right off its coast, so it’s a short boat ride from Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, which are the most popular tourist islands. You could get a house rental on one of those. But really you’d have many more activity options in Costa Rica. The area around Guanacaste in the north is where you’ll find most of the modern resorts and tourist-oriented house rentals, but there are areas all along the Pacific coast that could work, or even along the Caribbean coast.

    Those would be my first suggestions. I hope this helps as a starter. I’m happy to answer more questions or try again if you add information. -Roger

Diane says:

I live in AZ and my friend lives in NY. We would like to plan a trip together starting Jan1. Would like a warm place to visit. Thinking of a cruise or an island. Any great resorts you can share? Don’t want to go to a party type place.



    If you are up for a cruise I think you should try one. You really do get amazing value out of them and they allow you to experience several islands or destinations in a short time. They will be relatively expensive in the first week of January, but that would also be true of any sunny island you might visit instead. Personally, I’m mostly an “independent” traveler and I assumed I would be bored on a cruise, but I did one from Miami on Norwegian in 2015 and I absolutely loved it. We stopped at St. Thomas, Tortola, and Nassau, Bahamas, which is one of the classic Western Caribbean itineraries. I was actually happy to spend only 10 hours or so on each island because honestly they would be boring for a whole week.

    You could go on a Mexico cruise out of Los Angeles or a Caribbean cruise out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale. In either case one of you is going to have to take a cross-country flight. I think either option would be fantastic for you.

    If you were thinking more of an all-inclusive resort then Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is the best place and excellent value. If you were thinking more of a warm city with great food and culture and beaches then San Juan, Puerto Rico is my pick. Puerto Vallarta is also great if you prefer the Pacific coast. I hope this helps. -Roger

Laura says:

Hi Roger, Childhood friend and I are planning a reunion trip over Christmas. Looking for somewhere that flights aren’t too expensive (she’s traveling from Houston, I’m from NYC). But also offers combo of beach and other things to do. You’re right, San Juan would be perfect but I’ve already been there twice! Any other suggestions? Thanks



    Personally, my other favorite inexpensive place in the Caribbean aside from San Juan is Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a reasonably large town filled with hundreds of restaurants, bars, and small hotels. The beaches aren’t quite as nice as those on the Cancun Hotel Zone, and you might consider Cancun as well if you like the idea of a 10-mile-long strip of hotels and timeshare buildings on a gorgeous strip of sand. Personally I like being in a town with endless choices and plenty of activities. There are really good sights there too, including the nearby Tulum ruins and the more remote Chichen Itza.

    Farther away and even a bit cheaper is Cartagena, Colombia. Like San Juan, it also has a lovely walled colonial town and a strip of beach hotels nearby. The beach there isn’t as sandy as some like it, but at least it’s big and the weather will be great. JetBlue flies into Cartagena, and almost all airlines fly into Cancun.

    Most of the other Caribbean islands would require more expensive flights and cost more once you get there. Christmas is going to be peak season in the whole region, so finding a cheaper place can really help. Let me know if I can help more. -Roger

Krisann says:

We love Mexico but the recent government travel warnings are making us wonder about Christmas. We need to stay west and love the Cabo area and it’s luxurious hotel condos with large kitchens yet wonderful restaurant as close by. And live the large sandy beaches. Any alernatives not in Mexico?



    I’ve yet to make it to Cabo, although I’ve seen so many travel shows from there that I feel that I have. I’ve been to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cancun though. San Juan, Puerto Rico has some luxurious pockets, but I think the vast majority of the developments there are older than those in Los Cabos. So if you are looking for a modern and posh resort area then you might be happier on Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas. But honestly I love San Juan and the beach areas are all very nice. The historic Old San Juan area is amazing, and certainly far more interesting than anything in Cabo.

    If you prefer to stay on the west coast you might consider the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica. It is very safe and has similar large chain beach resorts and plenty of things to see and do. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Shridhar says:

Hi, im an Indian, this is a first international travel for me. I would like to celebrate new year in New place. I would like to be in a place like high party and chilled place. Budget $500.



    With a budget of US$500 for an international trip, you can’t go very far from India. If you want a high party and chill place then Goa fits that bill, but you did mention leaving the country.

    The next closest place that is cheap and has parties and chill vibes would be one of Thailand’s islands. Phuket is the easiest to reach because it’s large and has its own international airport. If you want to “party” then head to the Patong Beach area. Or you could go to one of the smaller islands such as Ko Phi Phi or Ko Samui, but you’ll have to change planes in Bangkok first. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sandy Wheeler says:

Our children and Grands are not coming home for the holidays this year. I would love to travel somewhere warm, in Late December, early January. We love the arts, history and beach. Are more mature late 50’s and would like any suggestions.



    I’ll assume you are starting from the United States. My top suggestion for something like you describe is San Juan, Puerto Rico. If you haven’t been yet, the historic Old San Juan area is gorgeous and very interesting. The district right next to that is called Condado and it has a few hotels and many short-term apartment rentals along an excellent beach. It’s not quite as posh as some other places, but it’s very safe and fun with plenty of activities possible and even a rain forest you can visit not far away. The Old San Juan area is packed with nice restaurants and some places with live music and such.

    Cartagena is kind of similar except it’s farther, cheaper, and the beaches near the city aren’t quite as nice, though still pretty nice. The historic walled colonial city is packed with nice hotels and great restaurants. There aren’t many other choices in the Tropics with good culture and history, at least in the Western Hemisphere. Let me know if you had something else in mind and I can try again. -Roger

Laurie Jensen says:

2 couples looking for a warm 7-11 day vacation leaving right after Christmas. Like to explore (we are in late 50s-70) . All in good physical shape. Safety in concern in some of the South and Central American countries.Any suggestions?



    Since you mention wanting to explore, I am once again going to suggest a few familiar places. If you are in the east of North America then San Juan, Puerto Rico could be ideal for you. They have great beaches right in the city, including in the Condado district, which is right next to the gorgeous Old San Juan colonial area. San Juan has great history and architecture as well as interesting culture in that Old San Juan area, along with fairly affordable condo rentals not far away. There is also a popular rain forest nearby where you can do a day trip with a little hike to a waterfall.

    My other favorite on the east side is Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. It’s a bit cheaper than San Juan, but it’s in a generally safe part of Mexico. There are some excellent ruins and other interesting sights nearby, along with pretty good beaches.

    If you are more in the west my pick is Puerto Vallarta, which also has an interesting historic town at its core. There are plenty of things to do, and so far it’s among the safest resort areas in Mexico. Hopefully you had something like that in mind. If not, let me know and I’ll try again. -Roger

Duane says:

Hi Roger. Looking for something over xmas 2018. I’ve already been to Hawaii, Cancun and most of the Caribbean islands via cruises. Your recommendations on each are spot on…all gorgeous places to visit.

What are your thoughts on Bora Bora / Moorea. I’m somewhat concerned w the rainy season though nobody can predict the weather. Heading on a cruise to Australia / New Zealand this xmas. Plan to do Rio and Carnivale in late Feb 2020. I don’t know much about Cape Town. Plan to cruise B.A. to Chile in next few years. Maybe Amazon River cruise, but I read it’s dry season so maybe not as much to see.

I’ve had a few friends visit Columbia in the past year, but all that I can think of are drug lords. Has this changed in the past 20 years?

Thank you for your thoughts.



    It’s always good to hear that my recommendations sound right to others who have been to these places.

    Bora Bora and Moorea are very popular during Christmas season, as you’d expect. The weather in those islands is almost the same all year round, although I think April is the month when they are a bit more likely to get larger rain storms. Basically, it can rain any day of the year on those Tropical islands, but usually the storms only last 30 minutes or so, and sometimes they happen overnight. I read a lot of guest reviews for Bora Bora and the Maldives and I never see someone who said that it rained all week or anything like that.

    It sounds like you’ve got a lot of big plans coming up. I spent carnival in Rio de Janeiro in 2005, partly by accident. It was fun, although hotel prices double or triple as you’d expect.

    Colombia is now considered safe, even in Bogata and Medellin, so I would go. A couple years ago I went to Cartagena, which evidently has always been safe, and I was very impressed. There are some travel bloggers who live in Medellin because it’s cheap and has great weather every day of the year. Let me know if you have any other specific questions and I’ll be happy to try to answer them. -Roger

James says:

Hi Roger,

My girlfriend and I (we’re both 20) are planning a trip in the Caribbean (but open to other warm-enough-to-swim suggestions in the americas) at the end of December after Christmas to about January 10th (about 2 weeks). We’ve been considering Puerto Rico heavily, and I see a lot of your praise of San Juan. The only issue is money. We don’t have very much, but I don’t want to spend the time scraping by in dirt-cheap hostels. This will be one of her first exotic vacations.

I’m interested in Colombia, specifically Cartagena. How does Cartagena compare to Puerto Rico? We are really looking to spend a lot of days on the beach, enjoy the local food and culture, see some nature/maybe go on some hikes. It would be nice to avoid anything over-touristy, but we of course want to stay safe. I speak fluent Spanish, but my girlfriend does not speak much at all. One of her worries is not being able to understand anyone, and whenever I mention Colombia she immediately thinks about safety as an issue.

So overall, although I mentioned PR and Colombia, im looking for any suggestions in the general area. We are looking for beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and natural beauty. Also, I’d prefer to be in an area where a cheap bus ride could take us to neighboring towns and other interesting destinations. That way we could use a main destination as sort of a home base and branch out during the two weeks of vacation. I have experience getting around by bus in Costa Rica.

Like I said, money is kinda an issue. I’d at least want to be in an area where food is cheap. As far as hotels, we don’t want/need a big hotel, but would prefer to find an airbnb wherever we end up.

I hope this is enough info to give you an idea of what we are looking for.

It’s very nice of you to do this. I’ve been looking for help like this for some time now.

Thank you,

– James



    I do recommend San Juan quite often, but it may not be right for you because it tends to be mid-priced for the Caribbean. Food and drinks there can be quite cheap if you follow the locals instead of the other tourists, but hotels and apartment rentals seem to start around US$100 per night in the desirable neighborhoods, and that is probably more than you want to spend. I also recommend Cartagena fairly often, and the cities do have many similarities, including really wonderful historic Old Town districts.

    A difference that is worth noting is that the beaches along the hotel strip in Cartagena are not fluffy, white sand like those in San Juan. They are more like fine, brown dirt, although they are very large and quite popular. In other words, they are not the prettiest beaches, if that matters a lot to you. Everything else is just about perfect though, especially since you speak Spanish. I speak almost no Spanish and Cartagena was a bit challenging for me, but you would have no problem. The Colombian drug wars have been over for close to a decade and now people seem to agree that even Bogota and Medellin are as safe as any other larger city. There are even travel bloggers who speak little or no Spanish who now live in Medellin because the weather is nice and it’s great value. Your money goes a long way in Colombia as well. I think Cartagena is probably the cheapest tourist city on the Caribbean, and most of it is nicer than you’d expect.

    The other area that I often recommend for longer stays is Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. The thing I like most about it is that it’s a real town with hundreds of restaurants and bars and such, rather than a purpose-built strip of hotels like Cancun itself. It’s also great value and flights into Cancun tend to be cheap. You’ve also got the Tulum ruins nearby, and Chichen Itza close enough to make it an extremely popular day trip. And Cozumel is a short ferry ride across the straight from Playa del Carmen.

    Playa del Carmen isn’t quite as cheap as Cartagena, but it’s better organized and English is more widely spoken. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Barbara says:

Hi Roger,
We’re a family of 5 from Boston, late 50’s and 3 (working) kids in 20’s, we only have about a week, from 12/23 til 12/31/17, and want to go someplace close enough that travel time is minimized. We’ve been to Montreal and Quebec City in past-loved the food, the french, the culture, in spite of the cold. San Juan sounds nice-warm, culture, rain forests. What about staying in areas outside of the city, where would you recommend, and where to find apartment rentals? Are there other places you’d recommend, closer than Puerto Rico, cold or warm ?



    I haven’t explored much of the rest of Puerto Rico, though I do know that there are smaller towns that some people prefer, and also the island of Vieques that is one of the most popular destinations in Puerto Rico. You can find apartment and condo rentals on airbnb.com along with homeaway.com and all the other main ones. Especially that week, Puerto Rico won’t be cheap, but it is pretty good value compared to hotel rooms.

    Finding other options during winter is tricky. The daylight hours are short the farther north you go, and most seasonal things are closed until it warms up again. Personally I’m a big fan of St. Augustine in northern Florida, and it has decent weather in late December, although too cool for the beach. The Gulf coast in southern Florida has endless options as well, and the weather is very nice down there. Something around the Fort Meyers area might be nice and not insanely expensive. New Orleans is pretty dead that time of year, but at least the weather is usually pretty nice and it’s an amazing place to visit with plenty to see and do. Those are a few possibilities and I hope they help. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

JP says:

I’m currently looking at Cartagena for 9 days in December with my daughter. We are both seasoned travelers, with all Continents under our belts except for one… Is there enough to do and see besides the beach and walled city for 9 days or should I also look into heading to Medellin. I’m not all that set on having a warm weather holiday so Portugal is now on the list.
Thank you for any advise



    I only spent 4 days in Cartagena and it was very nice for that amount of time, but I think people on longer visits would mainly be spending time on the beach and enjoying nightlife and such. There are some interesting sights, though I don’t think there are 9 days worth of them. In other words, I think it’s a great (and cheap) place to relax in the sun and enjoy the culture, but maybe not on par with, say, Italy or France for deep cultural sightseeing. That said, I’ve heard good things about Medellin and some other closer places that friends of mine have been to. Since you’ve been so many places already I’d think that your idea to explore more could be a good one.

    On the other hand, Portugal does have a lot to offer, and the winter weather is pretty decent. You could even add a little trip to Morocco if you took a bus to Tarifa in Spain, which is the closest port. I think that idea could be a winner as well. -Roger

Lee Leonard says:

looking for a place to go from Dec26th-Jan 31st with my husband as he is turning 50. I am looking for AI and not too expensive. Leaving from Toronto, Ont. (not Cuba either)



    If you are looking for an affordable and great-value all-inclusive resort, look no farther than Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Those will be peak season dates, of course, but they have dozens of large resorts there and it will be your best value overall. The beaches there are very nice as well, and the airport is modern and efficient. -Roger

Cherie says:

My 24 y/o son and I (healthy, active) 50 y/o are looking for a destination this Christmas/ New Years. We enjoy hiking,snorkeling, adventure. He is a history buff. Although we enjoy the beach we are not interested in ‘laying on the beach’ daily! We have been exploring Phuket, Greece, Dubai and Egypt. Unfortunately Egypt does not sound safe at this time.
Any suggestions would be appreciated! Also have you tried any Airbnb overseas?



    I’ve used Airbnbs in many places in Europe and Asia and it’s always been a great experience. The one slightly tricky thing you need to consider is the location of the property. Most hotels are in convenient spots for tourists, but many airbnbs are in residential neighborhoods that can be remote.

    I agree that Egypt seems too unstable right now. Your previous travels lead me to believe that you are in Europe, but I’m not sure. It helps to know your starting location.

    There are obviously many other islands in Thailand, and one of those might suit you. I think Phuket is great for relaxing and a bit of shopping, but the other islands are better for adventure. Ko Samui is one of the more popular ones, and there is also Ko Phan Gan that is smaller nearby. And Ko Phi Phi might be an even better choice.

    You could potentially combine part of your trip on an island and the other part in mainland Thailand or nearby Siem Reap in Cambodia to visit the Angkor Wat temple complex. It’s stunning. Those are a few ideas to consider. I’m happy to help with more ideas if those don’t work, if you let me know your starting point and more about what you are looking for. -Roger

Emma says:

I’m looking for a warm inexpensive destination in Europe for the beginning of December. Any ideas?

Cristina says:

is Mexico worth it?

Cokin says:

What are your thoughts on Gambia Roger.



    Sorry, but I haven’t been to Gambia. I’ve only been to a few places in Africa so I have had freelance writers to help me with the locations that I have listed on the site. I wish I had some info for you. -Roger

James says:

Hi Roger,

I sent in an email a couple weeks ago. My girlfriend and I were planning on traveling to the Caribbean. Ultimately we had decided on Puerto Rico. As you can understand with the current devastation and reconstruction going on in the country, we’ve decided to skip PR and save it for some day down the road. Also, when I sent the last email we were debating Cartagena as well, but ultimately decided against going there for now.

You were suggesting playa del carmen, and I like the sound of it, but I was wondering if you could give some more suggestions in the Caribbean. Again, we are looking for a place with vibrant culture, beautiful beaches, but also the infrastructure in place to be able to leave the beach by a local bus to nearby destinations (rainforests, ancient ruins, cool towns, anything cool). We plan on using some destination as a home base and branching out from there. We will be gone for two weeks at the end of December (28th) to early January and are also looking for a place where New Years celebrations are fun and safe. I should also say that safety as a whole is a worry and something we are definitely keeping in mind.

Also, we are attempting to do this trip on a low budget. we plan on staying in airbnbs for much of the time or low cost hostels if possible. However don’t rule out regular priced options, as I told you we were all set to go to PR.

Please get back to me with your advice. Thank you!

– James



    It is tragic about Puerto Rico, and I think it’s wise to go elsewhere for the time being. My guess is that by next summer everything will all be more or less normal there, and probably a lot sooner in the San Juan area itself. The beach neighborhoods there are mostly filled with fairly new high-rise condo buildings and hotels that are probably all still fine. But the power is still out a couple weeks later, and it’s hard to tell how soon they’ll be back to normal even in the city.

    I really think Playa del Carmen might still fit your situation best. I haven’t been to all of the Caribbean islands, and especially to many of the smaller ones. Most of the smaller ones are quite expensive and they don’t have much in the way of sightseeing. Puerto Rico would have been perfect and I can’t think of any others that have much of a mix of the things on your list, aside from the Cancun/Playa del Carmen/Cozumel area. And unfortunately, some of the ones that have a few of the things you want, such as St. Maarten and St. Thomas, were also wiped out.

    Tobago is one to research, and it’s generally outside of the storm zone, and Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao (the ABC islands) are also in that region and could be considered. Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are large enough that they have areas to explore, but I’m not a big fan of either of those for independent travel. Jamaica could be good if you don’t mind constantly being harassed by aggressive local merchants, and even that probably isn’t an issue once you get outside the main tourist areas. The DR could be good if your Spanish is adequate. Santo Domingo is a big city with a few cool neighborhoods, but English isn’t widely spoken or understood. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help on this. -Roger

James says:

Oh Roger and I forgot to mention but we are also open to the pacific side of the americas around that same Caribbean latitude.

– James



    In that case then you might consider Puerto Vallarta. It’s a very cool town with an interesting historic area in the center, and there is a lot to see and do up and down the coast and inland a bit. That area still seems to be safe for tourists, which is unfortunately not true is many other resort areas aside from the Cancun region. -Roger

Jason says:

Hey good stuff on there, thx. Young active backing adventure with culture while sipping on some beers kind of new years. Looking for good beach New Year’s celebrations. From Los Angeles, was Thinking Thailand or Singapore or South America like chili but Was hoping my plane ticket would be the most expensive and then fairly be modest backpacker. Would love to backpack around days before New Year’s seen nature and historical landmarks and then drink dance the night away with gorgeous locals.



    Thank you. If you haven’t been to southeast Asia yet then I think it’s the perfect place for what you have in mind. Fly into Bangkok for a few days and stay in the famous Khao San Road area, which is the backpacker district and a nonstop party. Then you might take a bus to a ferry or fly to one of the islands such as Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, or Ko Phi Phi (don’t go to Phuket as a solo). You can get cheaper beer in Cambodia and Vietnam, but Thailand is the better party spot by a long way. You can get a bucket of beer (4 or 5 bottles) or a bucket of local whisky and coke for around US$10 in most beach bars. The local whisky (called Sang Som) is super cheap in 7-Elevens (which are everywhere) and supermarkets.

    Singapore is very cool, but it’s insanely expensive compared to the other nearby countries, especially for alcohol. Thailand is by far the best party country for a short visit and I’m happy to help with more advice if you need it.

    Chile could be good if your Spanish is pretty strong, since English isn’t widely spoken. You could visit Santiago for a short time and then head to nearby Valparaiso. It’s more expensive than southeast Asia though, and finding a party isn’t as easy unless you know people. Thailand has thousands of backpackers from all over the world and it’s very easy to meet people. You are much more likely to party with people from elsewhere than actual “locals” but that is fun too. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Jenn says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for a great site. I am looking to travel for a couple weeks in Asia during December. I am thinking Vietnam and maybe Thailand. I am 34 and will be traveling alone. I don’t really like big cities and lots of tourists but also want to be safe-ish :). Would love some rural village and beach time, maybe less populated surf spots. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.




    I’m happy to try to help. If it’s your first time to Asia I think I would recommend Thailand over Vietnam or Cambodia or Laos. Thailand has a MUCH better tourist infrastructure and far more people speak English there, so it’s easier to get around and do what you want to do. Vietnam is beautiful, but it can be a headache, especially for a solo traveler. The travel agents there where you book tours and bus trips and such are almost all a bit sleazy so they are hard to trust. In Thailand there is a bit of that, but for the most part you can book things easily and you get what has been promised.

    The problem in Thailand will be to find places without many tourists, but also where you can get by fairly easily in English. For example, if you visited an island or beach area with only a few small guesthouses and no real hotels, you would probably find that the other tourists around are Thai people, and none of the restaurants would have English menus. It can be frustrating when you can’t speak to anybody, so I’d recommend going to more popular beaches and trying to find quiet areas there. If you go in the first half of December you won’t have big crowds anywhere, but in the second half most things are busy. Hua Hin is an example of a low-key beach town with enough English language expats living there that it is easy to do what you like. Still, I’d recommend at least a few days in Bangkok because it’s really an amazing place to see once.

    After Bangkok I’d probably recommend one of the smaller tourist islands such as Ko Phi Phi or Ko Pha Ngan. You could even go to one of the quieter beach areas on Phuket, although those smaller islands are more scenic and will have more to do. And rural villages will also be tough. I lived for 3 months near the main university in Chiang Mai. I assumed since it was a university area that English would be pretty widely spoken, but I was totally wrong. I lived in a nice apartment, but of the 10 or 15 restaurants within easy walking distance of me, not a single one had a menu I could read or an employee I could speak with. And unlike in Vietnam, the characters for the Thai language are totally unfamiliar, so everything looks like squiggles until you study it for a long time. Unfortunately it’s not easy to decipher anything without a LOT of work, but most people in tourist areas speak some English and the signs are all in English so it’s easy in those places.

    As far as safety is concerned, you might want to read on some solo female traveler blogs to confirm, but I’ve spent years in that area and it appears to be extremely safe. I hear sometimes about girls going to bars to bar and sometimes drinking so much that they pass out and assume their drinks were drugged, but assaults or overly aggressive attention from men seems to be extremely rare in other situations. In Vietnam almost 100% of local females where long pants and long sleeves when they are outside, though it seems that it’s mostly that they don’t want to get a tan (seriously). In that sense, female tourists wearing shorts and tank tops and bathing suits stand out from the crowd, even if the local men don’t behave differently towards them. In Thailand the locals wear shorts and lighter clothing, so tourists blend in better in that regard.

    I’ve spent a long time in those areas and I’m happy to help with more questions if you have them. Have a great trip. -Roger

Shanequa says:


Looking for a place to take my daughter for her 10th Birthday somewhere hot in December. something I have probably amusement parks and other activities for kids. Any suggestions?



    If you are starting in North America then the obvious choice would be Orlando. It’s not exactly “hot” in December, but it’s usually warm and pleasant. And of course they have more amusement parks and such than anywhere else in the world. If you go to the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area it will usually be even warmer, but also more expensive and there are far fewer top activities.

    I’m not aware of any full-on amusement parks in Mexico, although there may be something like that in the Cancun area. Another thing to consider would be an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica, or in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Especially in Punta Cana, they have dozens of huge resort hotels that are surprisingly affordable. Most of the larger hotels are actually groups of hotels where you can stay at one and use the beach and facilities of most of the others. In each of these they have one family oriented hotel, and many of these have huge water-slide parks and other activities, although probably no large roller coasters. If you could get a good deal on a flight and a stay at one of those all-inclusive resorts, your daughter would probably love it and it might be cheaper than Orlando (and certainly warmer). I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sherita says:

Hello Roger,
Looking for a US destination to spend New Years that will have decent weather, not overly crowed for 2 adults. We are from the Midwest, so wanting to escape the cold and spend some time relaxing but haave options for activites. We have kicked around: California, Arizona, Florida. Looking above you mention Georgia and NOLA.



    It sort of depends on what you consider to be “decent weather.” Most people wanting to escape the cold weather tend to want something that is actual warm or hot, rather than just a bit warmer than home. New Orleans averages a high of about 63F on New Year’s Day and it might rain as well. It’s a fun place to spend a holiday, but you’ll still have to bundle up a bit. And Atlanta is a long way from the coast so it actually has cold winters in general.

    If you were going in February or March I would consider Arizona, but in late December it’s usually a bit chilly there as well. Coastal southern California can have very warm days around New Years (highs in the 80s) but it might also be in the 60s or even 50s if you get unlucky.

    For my money I would recommend southern Florida. For smaller crowds I would focus on the Fort Meyers and Naples areas, probably flying into Fort Meyers. Generally speaking, those from the east coast tend to go to the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, and those from the Midwest tend to go to the Gulf Coast around Fort Meyers. It’s a pretty nice and low-key area, unlike the glitz and glamour of Miami. The beach in Naples is a very ritzy and expensive area, but overall it’s more affordable than Miami. I lived in Miami two years ago and I quite like the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood areas along the beach, so that’s another to consider. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Tay says:

Hi Roger. Looking to take a family trip around Xmas time. We are 5 adults, 2 kids(14/12), and one infant(1 year old). We are starting in western Canada, and looking for someplace hot, thats relatively easy to reach(due to the baby). Considering Cancun/PLaya de Carmen. The all inclusive seems like its relatively pain free. Or would you suggest Puerto Vallarta?
Considering renting a big house in Hawaii as well, but its a bit of a distance away. We’re going for 7-9 days. So Thailand is out as thats a long way to go.

Any other recommendations would be helpful. Thanks



    I think both of your ideas are very good ones. The greater Cancun area and the Puerto Vallarta area both should provide excellent weather and good value that time of year. In my experience, a large house in Hawaii would cost quite a bit more than a few rooms in Mexico, at least in the more desirable areas near a beach. I love Hawaii, but especially around Christmas, you would probably be looking at at least US$1,000 per night for a large enough house in an area that you’d like. It could be worth a look on airbnb though?

    My guess would be that flights to Puerto Vallarta would be cheaper than to Cancun from BC (or Alberta), and they would be shorter as well, which would be good for the young ones. But I would also guess that all-inclusive resorts would be cheaper in the Cancun/Playa del Carmen area because there are more large resorts there. I actually really like PV and PdC as towns quite a bit, so if you were close to either of those it could be a bonus for at least a little trip or two. The actual city of Cancun is useless though.

    So I guess my advice would be that either of those main choices should be ideal for what you have in mind, and that you should do at least a little shop-around to check prices on flights (and flight durations) and at resorts themselves. Most of the all-inclusives in the Cancun area are on their own huge plot of land with a private beach, while I think in PV they tend to be smaller, except for some of the newer ones in the posh area way north of town. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Taylor says:

Hey, tthanks for the speedy response. Was just speaking to my mother , and she was asking me to look into places that are not Cancun/PdC, as shes been there so many times.

Shes suggesting PV, Cabos, Sanlucas, or mabye Los Cabos..Thoughts on those places?



    As I mentioned, I’m a big fan of Puerto Vallarta. I have yet to make it to southern Baja California, but I know many people who have been there and I’ve read quite a bit about it as I plan to go there myself soon. Puerto Vallarta is more of a real historic town that had tourism grow out of it up and down the coast, a bit like Playa del Carmen. My understanding is that the Los Cabos area is more like Cancun in that it’s mostly a purpose-built resort area rather than a real town. Cabo also seems to be a bit more expensive as well, and flights rarely look like bargains.

    So I guess I can say that I highly recommend Puerto Vallarta, but you would be able to learn more about Cabo from others and maybe it would work well for you? Have a great trip with whatever you decide. -Roger

jen says:

Wow this site is great. Such great info. I have been looking for months to find a family vacation for 15 of us. 9 kids 6 adults. We would divide into 4 rooms so as you can imagine it has been tough to find things. My biggest struggle right now are flights. I have spent over 100 hours searching all inclusives, cruises and service project vacations only to find fights in the 1000-1500. Am I looking in the wrong spots? Or is this the norm for Christmas time. I’m obviously inexperienced. I’ve looked at punta canna, belize, and many others but feel overwhelmed…would a travel agent help at this point or would we be steered to their best commission? We were trying to do entire trip for under 25k but I may be up in the night. I would really appreciate any direction you could send my way. Thank you so much for your time!



    I’m happy this has been helpful. It would help to know your starting airport, but it sounds like you are somewhere in the US or Canada based on the places you mention. The main issue is that literally every tropical destination has its busiest week of the year between Christmas and New Years. So the best and cheapest flights get booked way in advance and the airlines know they don’t have to cut fares because eventually the seats will all fill up at high prices.

    A travel agent might help. They will definitely be steering you to a place that gives them commission, but nearly all properties in the popular resort areas will give a commission, so your options aren’t really too limited. In fact, it might be good just for peace of mind to get a quick quote on a package to see if it matches what you are finding on your own. Punta Cana and Belize rarely have “cheap” flights, and I’m sure fares are much higher than normal during those weeks.

    My guess for the cheapest nice place that you could book would be the Cancun area, which probably has the most and cheapest flights. There are many hundreds of hotels in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel, all served by the main Cancun airport. The hotel rates there are usually a bit higher than in Punta Cana, but flights are usually cheaper so hopefully it would come out lower in general. I can understand how stressful this will be, especially if you aren’t sure of where you are going and you keep seeing airfares and hotel rates that are far higher than normal. Unfortunately, that’s what happens for Christmas weeks as the dates approach.

    You might also check Airbnb. In many holiday destinations they have listings for very large houses that might hold all of you. Of course, those will be at their peak rates as well, but if you look around you might find like a 5-bedroom house for US$800 per night, or something like that. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions I might help with. -Roger

Anita Johansen says:

Hi am looking for warm country to spend my Christmas holidays not far from Norway. Or Africa.



    This pretty much goes without saying, but Christmas anywhere near Norway means very cold temperatures and not much daylight. You could potentially fly into Stockholm or Copenhagen, both of which will be nicely decorated for Christmas. They are also very expensive.

    As for Africa, it’s obviously an enormous continent. You could go to Morocco, which is a bit chilly in December, or you could go to South Africa where it’s summer in December. The best holiday islands near Africa are the Canaries, which are part of Spain. December in Tenerife is warm enough to spend at least some days on the beach, or every day if you are from Northern Europe. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Tim Cool says:

Great info Roger,

15th anniversary trip in December: wife is scared of Mexico, can’t swim so needs a shallow beach to swim in. Bali looks great but flights from LAX are crazy.
Looking at just B4 Xmas, home by 23rd.
Would Tulum make a good trip and feel safe enough? She also doesn’t want to get sick drinking the water. I know, lots of conditions.

Thanks in advance.



    I’ve only been to the Tulum ruins and not really the town there, but I felt very safe all through the Playa del Carmen and Cancun area. I’ve heard very few reports of any kinds of troubles in the Yucatan Peninsula area, but that may not be good enough for your wife. Still, I think the Playa del Carmen area is fantastic, and going before Christmas like that should be fairly cheap.

    There is always Los Cabos, of course, which is far closer to LAX. And Puerta Vallarta is only a bit farther and should also be very safe and nice. If you really want to go beyond Mexico then Costa Rica is probably your best bet. The Guanacaste area is the best place for beach resorts and is close to its own airport. Costa Rica is a very safe country compared to its neighbors (and also compared to the US, I believe). I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Before Christmas like that, you might even be able to get a decent deal in Hawaii. -Roger

Michael D says:

Hello Roger,

I’m a single Dad with a 12 yr old girl. We live in Michigan. I’m looking for a place to go that is cultural for us both but also enjoyable for a kid and warm. I want to leave on December 28 or 29 2017 and return on Jan 5 2018. Can you please give me a suggestion.



    If you want a warm place at the end of the year, and you are only going for a week or so, you probably want to go to the Caribbean or Central America, since South America would be quite a long flight for just a week. My top suggestion for a place with culture would be the Playa del Carmen area in Mexico, which is just a bit south of Cancun. Unlike Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a really nice tourist town with hundreds of restaurants and shops and such. There are also the impressive Tulum ruins nearby, and the much more impressive Chichen Itza ruins a few hours away (and a very popular day trip by bus).

    The beaches there are good, although not quite as nice as the Cancun beaches, and there are plenty of water sports and other common vacation activities available. There’s pretty good nightlife, but it’s really more family oriented so there are very few big nightclubs and that sort of thing. One thing I love about it is there are many very good international restaurants at appealing prices, rather than just a bunch of taco places or big chain restaurants. You should be able to get a reasonably priced flight into Cancun, and then it’s about an hour south by taxi or shuttle bus.

    Another option that is a bit farther and a bit more expensive is Ambergris Caye in Belize. It’s a long and thin island just off Belize City, and nearly everyone walks or takes golf carts around. There isn’t a ton of “culture” on the island, but there are also very few chains and it feels very authentic rather than cheesy. There are some amazing ruins in Tikal just across the border in Guatemala, but it would be a long day trip. There are also jungle lodges in Belize, not far from Tikal.

    That is a very expensive time of year to travel, as you’ve probably discovered, so I’m trying to think of places that aren’t extremely expensive. The place I would normally suggest for this is San Juan, Puerto Rico, and that still might work. Evidently the power there is back on and about half the hotels are open again. The Old San Juan part of town is very historic, gorgeous, and full of culture. There is also a rain forest not far away, and excellent beaches. If not for the hurricane damage this would be my first suggestion. And from what I’ve read, they are close to being back open for business in San Juan, although the more remote parts of the island still have no power. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

Tim Cool says:

Thanks again. Decided to stick close to home and go to Bali in April! I’ll check your site for suggestions, but we are going to stay in Ubud for 5 or so days and the rest on a beach. Any suggestions for my wife who likes shallow, clean, safe water?

Melissa says:

Hi Roger,

Just stumbled upon this, you’re a well versed traveler. Seeking your rec in travelers for 3 ( 2 kids 7&8). We live in Maine so ideally something warm and affordablle during Christmas if that’s still possible right now. It’ll be the first airplane adventure for the kids so nothing too long. Just something nice to celebrate “us”




    Room rates around Christmas are at their annual peak for every tropical holiday destination, so finding something cheap is very difficult. But the larger destinations with the better airline connections can still be quite reasonable. For a family in the United States I think your best bet is in the Playa del Carmen area, which is about an hour south of Cancun by taxi or shuttle. Unlike Cancun, which is mainly a strip of high rise hotels and timeshare buildings along a beach, Playa del Carmen is a real town with hundreds of small hotels and restaurants and shops, all with pretty reasonable prices.

    Again, it might not be cheap, but I think flights to Cancun will be some of the more affordable to the Caribbean area still, and there are so many hotels and rentals in Playa del Carmen that you should be able to find a deal that works for you. It’s a pretty family friendly place as well. There are also dozens of large resorts including many all inclusives up and down the coast along there, and you might find a deal at one of those. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Brandon says:

Thinking of Cuba for new years. Any suggestions for finding the most affordable prices? Two adults.



    I’m an American and we still can’t book leisure trips to Cuba, so I don’t know much about it. As far as I’ve seen, the best deals for Canadians and Europeans seem to be all-inclusive hotel+air packages from the larger travel agencies. Best of luck on this. -Roger

Brandon says:

I’m american too. I heard it was on limited flights from the states. I can find flights but not sure on lodging and other details. Reading above, what’s the thoughts on central america or Malaysia? We’re thinking 5 days so we don’t want to be flying for most of it.



    At the moment and for the foreseeable future, Americans can only go to Cuba for “cultural visits” and we aren’t able to book the resort hotels such as those in Varadero. That’s why no US online travel agencies lists them. You might be able to book through a Canadian online travel agency, but even then you may not.

    I’m a big fan of Malaysia, but from the US it pretty much takes a full day each way, even if you are starting on the west coast. Central America has many great options and you should be able to fly there in 5 to 8 hours, depending on your starting point and destination. But it really depends on what you want to do. Costa Rica is the most popular place and the area around Guanacaste has the best access to an airport (Liberia) and the most choices of large resorts mixed with smaller (and cheaper) local hotels. The popular islands just off Belize City are nice if you are looking for something different. Feel free to let me know more about what you have in mind and I can give you more information about where to find it. -Roger

Anita Johansen says:

HI Roger thanks again for your reply. NB: I plan to go to Luxembourg this week for a few days and come back to Norway. I have not decided where to go for Christmass. I may end up going to Kenya my naive country. I wanted to travel to a place I have never been to. How is the weather in Luxembourg now? DO you have any suggestions where I can go to this week? I need a brake from Norway. Thanking you in advance. Anita



    Luxembourg City is rainy and just above freezing this week, which is typical this time of year. It’s a nice city, but it’s also quite small and without many checklist attractions so I think 2 or 3 days there would already feel a bit long. As for alternatives, my first thought was Lisbon or southern Spain, but it looks like that area is also rainy and cooler than normal this coming week as well. Southern Italy is also cool and a bit wet this coming week. Hmmm….

    Have you thought about Morocco? It’s only a bit farther than Spain, and it looks to be pretty warm this week. You could fly into Casablanca and then take a train to Marrakech or Fez for a few days. It’s pretty easy to get around Morocco even if you only speak English, and it’s a bit easier if you know some French.

    Aside from those choices, I’d recommend just checking for cheap flights out of Oslo on Norwegian Air. As you might know, they offer low fares even on travel day as long as the plane isn’t close to being sold out already. I’m happy to help if you have any other questions. -Roger

Alan says:

Hi my new wife and I are looking to go somewhere in early January for about two weeks. Budget minded, we are on our mid thirties and not that interested in clubs or partying but a beer and some wine on a nice beach. We spent 8 days in Puerto Rico in Luquillo and loved it.



    I haven’t specifically been to Luquillo, but if you read the comments above you know I am also a big fan of Puerto Rico for many types of trips, and especially longer trips where a condo rental might be better value than hotels. In fact, you might still consider looking into the San Juan area, which is already running close to normal again, with power on in the main tourist areas. In fact, most of the larger hotels there are back open and many more are reopening in the coming weeks. I’m a big fan of the Condado neighborhood, which is next to Old San Juan so it offers not only its own dining and shopping opportunities, but it’s a short shuttle or taxi ride to Old San Juan where there are hundreds more nice places. You might find a good deal on a two-week airbnb rental because so many people are staying away. They could use the visitors as well.

    If you aren’t in the mood for that you might consider Playa del Carmen, which is another one I often recommend. It’s about an hour south of the Cancun Airport by taxi or shuttle, and it’s a large and friendly tourist town with hundreds of restaurants, bars, and shops. It’s one of the more affordable places in the Caribbean with some of the best variety of things to see and do within a short distance. I’d think two weeks would be a long time in a hotel there, but if you can find a rental it might be ideal. And flights into Cancun are always some of the cheaper ones in the Caribbean.

    Since you have two weeks I wonder if you’d be open to Asia? For shorter trips it doesn’t make sense because it takes most of a day in each direction, but for two weeks it could be great and something very new for you. Probably the best first visit to Thailand would be to fly into Bangkok and spend 3 nights there, and then fly to one of the islands for the rest of the trip. Bangkok is a really interesting city with some great sites, although it’s also a bit busy, so three nights is a very nice visit. Phuket is the largest of the islands with the most variety, but there is also Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Phi Phi, and many others. There are villa rentals on those islands, but also beachfront hotels that are surprisingly cheap and very nice. If it’s something that interests you I can give you more advice to find the best type of place.

    The only other place that comes to mind is Costa Rica, which is generally quite low key compared to the others I’ve mentioned. The Guanacaste area has the best airport access and most options for hotels and rentals. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Anita Johansen says:

Roger I had booked flight to kenya for today but can you believe it I had to cancel my flight because they cares me for extra 20 kilos 1000 dollar 50 Dollar per kilo. I refused to pay that and cancer my flight. I am still looking for a gate away. Until New year. I may fly to Grand canaria on sunday if I get cheap ticket then i can go to kenya in Jan. I am dissapointed with qatar airline. We wish you a merr christmass and happy new year.

tahnya says:

Yes, most of the places you listed are unsafe.



    If you think “most” of the places on this list are unsafe, I highly encourage you to stay at home until you can afford to visit Singapore or Scandinavia. Thank you for the helpful comment though. -Roger

Diana Barry says:

What about australia?



    I’m a big fan of Australia as well, but this list is about CHEAP and warm places. Even if you are already in Oz then it’s not cheap, and if you are coming from elsewhere it will also require an expensive flight and then high daily costs. Thanks for the comment though. -Roger

Nancy from Boston says:

Hi Roger –
I’ve been trying to spin up a trip to Cambodia for Dec 14-31, 2018 and am wondering if you’ve ever been there? I’m looking into a Meekong river cruise from Siem Reap to Saigon, but wondering if we (2 women/in 50’s) might be better off going it on our own or hiring a driver/guide. If you’ve been there…thoughts? Indonesia is also an option for us to consider vs. Cambodia, and we’d definitely want to be off the beaten path for reasons you mention above. We like arts/culture/scenery/architecture first, beach for us is nice but an afterthought – we’re hikers vs. beach sitters. With that in mind, what would be a good combo of places to hit over a 2 week trip there? Any guidance would be appreciated!



    Yes, I’ve spent a month in Cambodia, but almost all of that was in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I went from Saigon into the Vietnam Delta by bus and then hopped a boat for a ride up to Phnom Penh. My favorite part of Cambodia was Siem Reap as the town itself is really fun, interesting, and mellow. The tourist center is of course filled with fellow tourists, and at that point I was happy enough with it because I was on my own. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Angkor Wat, but it’s amazing and easily the best tourist attraction in all of Southeast Asia.

    Phnom Penh is interesting and worth a few days, but really not more than that. English is widely spoken there among people that tourists encounter, so it’s not difficult to get around on your own. Especially with questions and a plan like this, I think you could do it on your own and book as you go or hire a driver. Once you get settled and figure out whom to trust, it’s pretty easy to get great value out of things like a private driver or guide.

    I’ve heard many nice things about other places in Cambodia, and all of them will be at least a bit less touristy than those two. I’d suggest doing more research and possibly asking question on the message boards of travelfish.org, which is the biggest and best site dedicated to southeast Asia and run by a friend of mine who now lives in Bali. Speaking of Indonesia, I’ve been to Bali several times and know the island very well, but I’ve yet to explore elsewhere in Indonesia. My hunch is that Cambodia would be a bit easier than Indonesia because there are more tourists on the mainland, but I have heard that Indonesia is fairly easy and quite rewarding itself. Just don’t spend much time in Jakarta, which seems to be a huge city without much charm. Seriously, check out travelfish.org and I think you’ll get great answers on all of this. I hope that helped at least a bit. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Pauline says:

Hi Roger, looking to go abroad over Xmas/new year. Want a calm warm sea for my snorkelling, but husband does not want to fly 10hours. Looking for temperatures not too hot, about 22-24c. We don’t fancy Egypt, Can you help?
Kindest regards
Pauline ps. We are both 70 and ambulatory disabled



    Based on your UK email address I’ll assume you are starting there. In late December the only place within a reasonable flight to you with temperatures in that range is the Canary Islands. Being from the UK I assume you are familiar with those, and Tenerife in particular. Not every day in December reaches 22C, though in general it’s usually sunny and warm enough to sit on the beach or by the pool most days. Tenerife is packed with people in your age range in those months, and it’s pretty easy to get around. If you stay in the Playa de las Americas area it should be convenient and easy because almost everything is flat, which isn’t true in most of the rest of the island. I hope you aren’t sick of it there because it really does sound like your best option, and cheap flights are pretty easy to get from the UK. -Roger

Becky Guyton says:

Hi there, We are wanting to take our three children somewhere warm for Christmas. Escaping the commercial side of the Holiday and looking to make memories. We don’t have a ton of money and are interested in possibly one or some of the Caribbean islands. We would like to show them culture and nature rather than amusement parks etc. Any ideas?



    The main challenge, which is mentioned in the article, is that the Christmas weeks are the peak season for pretty much all hotels in the Tropics and especially the Caribbean. My only idea would be to start looking early for a house or condo rental in a non-touristy part of Puerto Rico or perhaps the greater Cancun area. They celebrate Christmas all over the Caribbean, but at least if you are in a small town without chain stores you would be escaping most of the commercial side of the holiday. I would check Airbnb for listings for that period and check the whole areas for the lowest priced places, and then research the specific locations they are in to make sure they are suitable.

    Most of the Caribbean islands will be very expensive for any place during those weeks, so you’ll want to look into the areas with larger populations. If you speak Spanish pretty well you might find a good bargain in the Dominican Republic, but unless you have at least one fluent Spanish speaker I wouldn’t recommend it. I hope this helps. -Roger

Shaza says:

[email protected] Roger! My fiancé and I want to elope somewhere warm on a beach in December. Was dreaming of Bali but too rainy in December. Thinking Cozumel or Antigua? Any suggestions?



    In December you could go pretty much anywhere in the Caribbean and you’d have great weather. For something like that I’d think you’d probably want to go somewhere pretty nice, and almost all of the Caribbean islands are back online after the big storms last year. Have a look at our list of Caribbean islands ranked by price and hopefully you’ll find something that sounds interesting. -Roger

Rica says:


I would like to go somewhere with my 20 yr old son for the Christmas. 3 stars are good for us, but food variety has to be a must. lol As my son would put it…..Protein (meat) is needed in every meal. Not being cheap, but I rather get the most for my money on entertainment and food, than on a hotel that I am only going to use for sleep, shower and change. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance



    Your mention of meat being a priority immediately makes me think of Argentina, which also fits your other criteria including warm weather in December. I’m also something of a carnivore and the beef in Buenos Aires and everywhere else in Argentina is not only cheap, but noticeably better than what you get pretty much anywhere else. Uruguay and Brazil also have fantastic meat and sausages and so forth, not to mention fried cheese. Those places are also great for varied entertainment. Speaking at least some Spanish is very helpful in Argentina and Uruguay, but you can get by in mostly English if you have to.

    Once you are in Buenos Aires the domestic flights there are pretty cheap so you might also consider checking out the wine country area of Mendoza or the adventure-travel hot spot of Bariloche, and/or the amazing Iguazu Falls waterfall on the border with Brazil and Paraguay. If that appeals to you then you should buy the plane tickets as soon as possible because every warm destination is popular in those last weeks in December. Due to their poor economy, Argentina is fairly cheap these days, at least once you get there.

    If that doesn’t sound good then let me know which part of the world might appeal to you more and I’ll try again. -Roger

Jeffrey says:

Nice site. I am recently single and want to take my first International trip over Christmas. I don’t care about the holiday. I just want to travel for the week.. What do you suggest? Not in to beach. I want to do something amazing! Please email me.



    I am happy to answer questions in comments on this site, but I don’t send recommendations by email. I’m guessing you are starting in the US. If you really want to do something amazing I would normally suggest starting in Bangkok because it’s the perfect first stop in southeast Asia and it’s packed with interesting things to see and do that aren’t beaches. If you’ve only got one week though it could be tough because it takes pretty much a whole day each way. The flights aren’t cheap either, but once you get there you can get by on very little.

    Another idea that isn’t a beach is Buenos Aires. It’s a really cool city with great food (especially if you like beef) and it’s fairly cheap once you get there as well, due mostly to their weak currency. If those don’t sound interesting then let me know more about what you are after and I’ll try again. -Roger

Neha says:

Hi Roger,
Could you please suggest us some nice warm places to visit in December for Honeymoon around the world.



    I’m happy to try to help, but the article above is basically the answer to your question. If you are looking for something special in a particular region or have other criteria then let me know and I can try to narrow it down a bit. -Roger

Patricia says:

Hi Roger, we live in St. John’s NL and were looking to go away for the Holidays(Christmas). We are a family of 5 with one who has a physical disability. We were looking at going to Tampa to stay with a relative and then a possible cruise. We are looking at at least a 10 day stay.My questions are: Should we book after Christmas Day? And once we get to Tampa, are the 4 day cruises more expensive at Christmas time. We are flexible on all accounts. Just would like to get away for Christmas with no obligatory gifts etc. Tks for your help. PS if there are any other options open to us regarding different locations..we are open to anything



    Generally speaking, the most popular holiday weeks of the year in places close to the equator run from the Friday before Christmas through the Sunday after New Years. Amazingly enough, starting around January 7 the visitor numbers fall way off and stay fairly low until late February, so those are really good value months with perfect weather. In other words, the more of your trip that falls outside of those weeks (December 21 to January 6 this year), the cheaper and less crowded it will be. That goes for cruises as well, so usually a cruise leaving after New Years Day will be cheaper than one the week or two before.

    Tampa will certainly be much warmer than anywhere in Canada around Christmas, but it’s not actually in the Tropics and it usually isn’t warm enough for the beach in winter. The good news is that ALL of the cruise destinations from Tampa are in the Tropics so they will be warm when you get there. It’s hard to beat staying free with a relative though. There are nicer beaches in smaller towns like Fort Meyers and Naples a bit down the coast, but I don’t think it’s worth it to pay to stay only a little south of Tampa. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Derek says:

Hi Roger,

I hope you are doing well! I live in Toronto and my girlfriend lives in Singapore. We are planning to meet during the Christmas week. Could you please suggest locations based on the below requirements.

– Least travel time for both of us
– Economical (Flights and Hotels)
– Not too cold

Appreciate the anticipated support from your end.

Warm Regards,



    This is an interesting one. Halfway between Toronto and Singapore seems to be in Europe, so somewhere there would at least give you fairly equal travel time. So it depends on what you mean by “not too cold.” You could meet in Barcelona, for example, and have a lot of fun and not have to bundle up much, but of course it’ll be way to chilly for the beach. Hotels even in southern Europe are fairly reasonable that time of year. I’d say your best options would be Paris or Barcelona if you wanted to do Europe.

    If you really want a cheap place in between you two where it’s warm enough for the beach you might consider Goa, India. You’d both fly into Mumbai and then change planes for a flight down to Goa. It’s a really fun place and very cheap as well. I can help you more if that’s what you choose. The option with probably the most direct and cheapest flights when added together is probably Dubai. You can get pretty nice hotels there for under US$100 per night if you know what you are looking for, and food is pretty cheap as well. Alcohol is very expensive though, so if you drink it’s best to both buy something at the Dubai Duty Free on your way in. I’m happy to help more if you have further questions. -Roger

kiki says:

hi roger! love your site! i’m thinking about new zealand for 2-3 weeks, solo travel to cover christmas and new years. any ideas for itinerary would be appreciated!



    That sounds amazing and thank you. I agree with the conventional wisdom that the magic of New Zealand is in the scenery (and that Auckland is relatively bland), so the key is to move around as much as possible. On my own solo trip there I spent two days (plenty) in Auckland and then rented a small campervan for 3 days on the North Island and then 4 days on the South Island. It was one of my best trips ever, even though I was by myself most of the time. I went in the shoulder season so renting my own campervan wasn’t too expensive. Around Christmas time I think it would be quite a bit more. On the other hand, not only did it allow me to drive anywhere because it was a smaller campervan, but I only paid on average about NZ$20 or so per night for hookups at the holiday parks. If you can do that for at least part of your time it would be great. If you rent a car then of course you also have to pay for hotels or cabins at the campsites and holiday parks, so it’s not necessarily cheaper.

    They also have a backpacker bus network with regular service between all the main tourist spots, and that is probably the cheapest way to do it. The scenery on both islands is quite different, but most people agree that the scenery on the South Island is better and more interesting. The South Island also has a more rural feel because almost all the towns (except for Christchurch) are quite small. Queenstown was my favorite single place and you’ll definitely want to stop there, even though it is popular and justifiably expensive. Rotorua on the North Island is definitely a highlight as well. I hope this helps and feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

Preeti says:

Hi Roger, I just stumbled upon this site and am impressed with how patiently you answer and help people:-) I hope you can advice me on my next travel plan. Thinking about Italy(Rome,Venice,Florence and if possible, Pompeii) The problem is this will be in December end and I have read mixed opinions on the weather.Being from East coast, we are not unfamiliar with cold weather. My dilemma is deciding whether it would be worth spending the money effort and 10-12 days for this in Dec/Jan time frame.As long as the cold is bearable and we are able to do the sightseeing we are fine, I am aware that most places may be closed on Christmas and New years but I thought we could do some outdoor stuff on those days? It would be me my husband a 15 year old daughter. What do you think? Go for it or not a good idea at all? Thanks so much for any advice or/and suggestions to make the best out of this trip.



    In December you might get unlucky in Venice with the high waters, but that usually only lasts for a few hours and it can be an adventure. Aside from that, Italy has pretty mild winters and it rarely rains for days at a time, so as long as you have an umbrella with you (you can buy cheap ones there if it’s raining) you should be fine. So if you are asking whether you should go to Italy or stay home, I’d say go to Italy. If you could go in September or May it would be nicer, but if this is the time you have for a trip I think Italy is one of the better choices in Europe.

    Many of Rome’s top attractions such as the Coliseum and Trevi Fountain and Ancient Rome and Spanish Steps are outdoors, so it will be good to do those things when it’s dry and hopefully reasonably warm. And if it looks like it’s going to rain for part of a day you can go to the Vatican Museum or other indoor attractions. One benefit is that crowds will be small and hotel prices will be quite low, so you should be able to afford a better hotel in a better location than if you came in the summer. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Bhavita says:

Hi Roger ! Your feedback will be super helpful for me to plan for Dec vacation this year. My husband and i have travelled quite a bit- Paris, London, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, US Virgin Islands, Cancun, Rio, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Prague, Brussels,Venice, Rome, Florence, Naples,Toronto.
I have about 2 weeks , and was thinking of doing Australia and New Zealand. What are your thoughts and please suggest any other destinations that have great weather in dec. We will travelling from New Jersey .thank you!



    It’s good to hear from a fellow travel enthusiast. Actually, I think your idea of Australia and New Zealand sounds fantastic in December, and two weeks should work well. Rio and Buenos Aires are two others that might have suggested for December, and Cape Town is another one to consider. But I really prefer Australia and New Zealand of those.

    The thing about New Zealand is that it’s one of those countries where the biggest city is just a place to go in and out of, so I don’t recommend spending more than a day or two in Auckland. If you can rent a campervan there and drive it for 2 or 3 days on the North Island and then the rest of a week on the South Island after taking the ferry across, and then returning it in Christchurch, you’d have an excellent trip. Or you could rent a car and do basically the same thing, but it’s more expensive and less fun because you’d have to stay in hotels instead of the holiday parks and campgrounds.

    A week in Australia is kind of short but still worthwhile. Everyone goes to Sydney and it’s great for 3 days or so. For the rest of the week you should probably choose either Melbourne OR the Great Barrier Reef staying in Cairns. Melbourne and Sydney are like San Francisco and Los Angeles, so they are quite different from each other and worth seeing both.

    The rest of my recommendations are in the article above. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jay says:

Hello Roger,
Thanks for the great site! My wife and I are in our early 30s and are looking to travel around Xmas/New Years. We are looking for warm climate, preferably on a beach without the risk of zika as we are wanting to start a family very soon. I guess this will be our last vacation without kids. We are also open to visiting 2 near by places within a 7-10 day time frame. Somewhere with a mix of relaxation and decent nightlife. We will be flying out of Vancouver, Canada. Looking forward to your suggestions. Thank!



    I appreciate the kind words. Hmmm…the Zika thing complicates this, as you know, since it appears that Sri Lanka is the only tropical area in Asia that isn’t in the zone as of now. Sri Lanka has some nice beaches, but not any nightlife to speak of. Curiously, it looks like Uruguay is also still Zika-free, so that’s an interesting option. You could fly into Montevideo and then pop over to Punta del Este for some beach time. Montevideo is a pretty cool city and similar to Argentina, the food is fantastic, especially if you like beef.

    Punta del Este is a very popular beach resort area for people from South America. I’m sure it’ll be busy around the holidays, but at least it appears to be outside of the Zika zone and should be pretty good value compared to, say, Hawaii. Another option to consider is a town called Colonia in Uruguay that is small and very popular with tourists. It probably wouldn’t be as crowded as the beach during the holidays.

    One other option would be Hawaii, of course, which is also Zika-free. If you want real nightlife you pretty much have to go to Honolulu, so you could spend a few days in the Waikiki area and then maybe the rest of the trip on Maui or Kauai for better relaxation. Hawaii during Christmas is at peak crowds and pricing though. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jay says:

Hey Roger,
Thanks for the great site! My wife and I(early 30’s) are trying to plan our next trip during Christmas/New Years time. Our biggest concern is staying away from areas with zika risk as we are planning to start a family very soon. This will most likely be our last trip without kids. We are looking for somewhere warm, preferably on/near a beach but that’s not a deal breaker. Somewhere with a good mix of relaxation/sightseeing and decent nightlife/entertainment. Our last trip together was to Santorini/Naxos/Mykonos/Athens and we loved it. We have also done many trips around Mexico as we are from Vancouver, Canada but the Caribbean is not an option this time due to zika. We are also open to the option of visiting 2 near by places in a 7-10 day time frame. Looking forward to hearing your suggestions. Thanks!

Brenda says:

Hello Roger,

Pretty insightful website. My family and I (2 adults, 3 kids 6,4 qnd 2) are hoping to travel this Christmas. We visited Costa Rica a couple years ago and loved it. We were looking to visit somewhere warm and calm. Not too busy. We are in Houston and we looked at Punta Cana DR, Puerto Rico but ticket prices are sky rocketing. Any ideas where we could visit that would be cheap to fly to and family friendly? TIA



    If you are looking for something really nice and less expensive than Punta Cana I’d suggest something in Playa del Carmen, which is just south of Cancun. You should be able to get pretty cheap airfare from Houston to Cancun, and Playa del Carmen is about an hour south by taxi or shuttle. Actually, that whole area from Cancun down to Tulum and across the channel to Cozumel has many great options from large all-inclusive resorts along the beach to smaller hotels in the lovely town of Playa del Carmen to rental homes. Especially for younger children I wouldn’t recommend the hotel zone in Cancun itself because it’s pretty much all just large hotels and time-share buildings with not much else around. Playa del Carmen has loads of shops and restaurants and activities that are within walking distance of everything else. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Stewart says:

GrGreat website and insightful information. We live on the west coast and trying to get away from it all this x’mas. South America we have found too far and expensive to get there.
White beaches, warm calm waters and a place to just have fun for New Year ’s Eve. We will be travelling with a 12 year old so a place that is safe and family friendly above all. We are not scared of foreign languages (I speak several) We have been to Cancun (Hyatt Zyva all inclusive) and loved it .
Since we live on the west coast, we are either thinking of going west towards the pacific or the Caribbean (anywhere with white beaches and warm waters). Always easy to access given we are late into the game (looking for flights). Too much to ask? You will tell us! Thank you in advance for your advice and help!



    It’s a shame that those flights to South America are so expensive, but I know exactly what you mean. Getting from the west coast to the Caribbean (except for Mexico) would also be fairly expensive and the flights are long. My first thought is the Puerto Vallarta area. Unlike Cancun, which is mostly a strip of high-rise hotels and time-share buildings, Puerto Vallarta is built around an interesting town. You could also consider Los Cabos, but I find that Puerto Vallarta has more options in different price ranges. There’s the Hotel Zone close to the airport, which is really nice and modern, but also many other clusters of hotels and resorts closer to the town center and also up and down the coast. They take security pretty seriously there and so far PV seems to have escaped some of the problems that other Mexican cities have had.

    Two other options that are a bit different would be Belize, which has kind of a Jamaican feel. On the main islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker you won’t find many chain hotels so it feels unique and independent. Or you could try the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica. There is an airport nearby so you don’t even have to go through San Jose. Costa Rica has the best and most options for adventure activities and that sort of thing. I hope one of these ideas sounds interesting. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Larry says:

Hi. I am wondering or need help actually trying to find a small cheap Caribbean vacation. I am traveling alone and would like to be with other solo travelers. This is for New Years.



    For a solo Caribbean vacation that is on the cheaper side I’d definitely recommend Playa del Carmen, which is about an hour south of the Cancun Airport by shuttle. I’ve done a ton of solo traveling myself and most of the Caribbean is definitely geared towards couples, and Cancun itself really is as well. Playa del Carmen, however, is a really active tourist beach town (as opposed to a strip of large hotels like Cancun) and there are loads of small hotels and bars and restaurants and shops. You can get a cheap (relatively speaking) flight into Cancun and find yourself an affordable hotel near the main street known as 5th Avenue.

    If you look for a room (or even a bunk) in a hostel there you will definitely be among at least a handful of other solo travelers. I spent 3 days there by myself and found it quite easy to mingle around town. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Chantal says:

Hello Roger, I’d like to go somewhere I haven’t been for the Christmas holidays. Can you recommended resorts in Cabo or Puerto Vallarta? Was also thinking maybe Belize?



    I can’t recommend specific resorts in those places, mostly because prices vary quite a bit depending on availability. In other words, if a resort is charging US$200 per night it might be a good deal, but if it’s almost fully booked and they are charging US$350 per night during Christmas, it’s not such a good deal. I haven’t made it to Cabo yet (although most of my friends have been there and I’ve researched it a lot). From what I’ve seen you get better value in Puerto Vallarta because Cabo has such high demand from Californians and such.

    Puerto Vallarta has quite a few different hotel areas so it’s hard to know which one you’d prefer. There are really nice chain hotels on the beach just a bit south of the airport, and there is a nice area close to the city center called the Romantic Zone. And there are some large resorts on their own north and south of the city.

    Belize is quite different in that most of the hotels are smaller and not part of large chains. The most popular places to stay are the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, which are both just off the coast of Belize City. They are really fun and have kind of a Jamaica feel, although the islands have very few natural sandy beaches so if that is high on your list you have to choose a place carefully or head to the Placencia Peninsula, which has plenty of good, sandy beaches. Hopefully this helps a bit. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to try to help you narrow it down. -Roger

JOe says:

Hi Roger,
What hotels/resorts/hostels do you recommend to stay for a solo traveller in Playa Del Carmen, fairly priced? and why would you chose one over the other? whats the best time to book if I am pretty flexible between now and mid january? Thanks so much!



    It’s hard to recommend specific hotels without knowing exact dates and your budget and so forth because room rates often depend on how many rooms are available for a given date. That said, as a solo traveler I think staying somewhere central is desirable. The main pedestrian/shopping/eating/nightlife street is 5th Avenue, and Av Constituyentes is the main intersection, that also goes directly to the pier. You’ll get better value if you look for a hotel or hostel a couple blocks more inland, like between 10th Avenue and 20th Avenue. That’s still plenty close enough to be able to walk everywhere.

    I’d book a hotel as soon as you are sure you are going. These days most hotels seem to offer lower prices early and then they raise rates as they are getting close to being sold out. Last-minute hotel sales are rare, and you’d generally only find them at less-desirable hotels. The peak weeks are Christmas and New Years, and by mid January it’s slower so you should be able to get a good deal. Best of luck and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Joe says:

Hi Roger, thanks for responding,
Can you recommend some good hotels please for solo traveler? thanks



    I use Hostelworld.com for hostels, mainly because they dominate the market and have more places than any other site. But for all-inclusive vacations you’ll want to stay in a hotel. I find that Expedia actually is the easiest site to use to find all-inclusive places and their prices are usually the same as the other booking sites. However, I’ve done all-inclusive research trips as a solo person and I find that it’s often hard to meet people since they tend to be dominated by couples and families.

    I’d go to Playa del Carmen, which is good for a solo traveler because it’s a lively town with many bars and restaurants and such, so it’s easier to meet other people there. -Roger

joe says:

Whats a good website to book from for all inclusive hotel and do you recommend hotel more or hostel more? what website do you use for hostel? thanks

francoise rui says:


do you have website or facebook? thank you for all your advise! very useful and if you ever drop by Singapore,please buzz me, you got host here! whatsapp me +6583355284



    This is actually my website and you can contact me here. I am a big fan of Singapore, but I probably won’t be there again for a couple years. Thank you. -Roger

Joe says:

can you recommend some good hostels in playa del carmen? thank you Roger.



    I haven’t stayed at either of them, but I’m pretty familiar with Playa del Carmen. If I were booking a hostel there I’d book either at Hostel 3B or The Yak. Both have great, central locations and tons of very good reviews, along with reasonable rates. Have a great trip. -Roger

Amy says:

Hi Joe
Lots of good information here. I am interested in Cartagena Columbia at Christmas time. Do you know if there is anything going on at Christmas time for visitors, or does everything close up?



    I haven’t been in Cartagena at Christmas, but December starts the busy season and the weather is pretty much perfect, so I’m sure it’s very popular and busy. I just Googled it and it looks like they have many events around Christmas because it’s a popular destination even for people within Colombia.

    Colombia is a strongly Catholic country and many of the top sights in Cartagena are cathedrals. I’d say the only thing you’d have to worry about is booking your flight and hotel early enough before fares and room rates go up too much. I’ve spent many Christmases in similar tropical places and I’ve yet to hear of one that closes up, mostly because it’s literally their busiest tourism week of the year. Best of luck with this. -Roger

nitin says:

Roger – Looking to get out of NYC after Xmas this year (Dec 2019) for about 10 days of warm/beach weather. Four travellers 2 adults and 2 kids (9 & 13). Dont want to spend a fortune (i.e. cost @ 5-7K incld. flights). Good beaches, good food, good activities (even non-water related)
Appreciate your thoughts on the below please:
– Which would you choose b/w Playa del carmen & Tulum? All-inclusives worth it in Mexico esp with the kids? Never been to Mexico before!
– Are the southern beaches in Costa Rica any different than the north? We were in Guanacaste for a week when in Costa Rica a couple of years ago. Loved CR but dont want to travel if the same!
– Is Negril vastly different from Ochos Rios? We were runaway bay which is close to ochos rios?
– Panama is absent on your list? Nothing good?
– Any other beach location that will not break the bank?



    I’ll try to help. I really like Playa del Carmen, and I haven’t been to the town of Tulum yet, but I hear good things about it and it’s supposed to be a bit more artsy and a bit of a hippie place compared to Playa del Carmen. The all-inclusives in that area are good value and it also helps that flights into Cancun are usually quite cheap. You get a little more for your money in Punta Cana for all-inclusive resorts, but in Punta Cana there’s really no town to speak of so you are pretty much staying inside your resort the whole time. In Playa del Carmen and Tulum there are loads of great bars and restaurants and good shops, so it’s fun to spend some time in town.

    I’ve been to Jaco Beach in central Costa Rica and the sand there is almost black, and it’s popular with surfers. Still, I don’t think it would feel much different from the Guanacaste area.

    In my opinion, the town of Ocho Rios is a dud, so it’s all about the north-facing resorts and probably staying inside the whole time except for maybe a trip to Dunn’s River Falls. The town of Negril is also kind of sketchy, but the area is very different. Along the northern coast of Jamaica it’s nearly all large resorts and not much else. But in Negril you have west-facing sunset beaches and along 7-Mile Road it’s a few large resorts but mostly small hotels and guesthouses and little restaurants and bars and shops in between. So if you are staying in Negril you can just walk up and down the beach and encounter cool little shops and bars and restaurants so it feels like visiting a fun part of Jamaica instead of just visiting a particular all-inclusive resort.

    As for Panama, I’m going to write about the San Blas Islands, which look like a great choice for many people, but so far I’ve only been to Panama City and I don’t really recommend it for a beach trip.

    Again, if you are looking for a great-value all-inclusive resort and you don’t care much about leaving the resort to experience the country you are in, then Punta Cana is probably your best bet. But if you want a good price AND you also want to experience the area a bit I’d choose either Playa del Carmen (or Tulum) or Negril. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Christine says:

Hi Roger,
Your blog has been very helpful! My husband and I have travelled to a few places over the years (pre-kids) and I am now looking for a place to celebrate his 50th birthday which just happens to be in December 25, 2020. We live in Atlantic Canada (NS) and have two kids who will be 13 and 18 by then.
I have been to San Juan as a cruise visit and really enjoyed it there, but I’m not sure if there’s a good mix of activities for all age levels. Pre-kids we’ve gone to Phuket and Ambergris Caye which I loved, but I think Thailand might be too far a trip from our home town. I’m very interested in Costa Rica though. What are your thoughts between Costs Rica and San Juan for kids age 13 and 18?




    I’m glad this information is useful. San Juan could be a fantastic place for this trip and I’m sure there is plenty to do for kids of 13 and 18 as long as you stay on or near the beach. That said, I think Costa Rica might be even better. Costa Rica not only has beaches and water sports, but also jungles and zip lining and plenty of other adventure activities, as well as a lovely volcano area to visit. Costa Rica specializes in active tourism like that, and the weather around Christmas should be perfect. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ella Tumba says:

Roger, pls help … we have been going for New. Year in Punta Cana for the last 5 years and we loved it. We can not go there any more since my husband and my daughter got really sick last time we were there. What other places do you recommend for family vacations during New Year for 9 nights. For 4 people :myself, my husband and 2 adults children (boy 25 and a girl 28 ).



    Sorry to hear about getting sick like that. Interestingly enough, I just published a new article on this very topic about the best Dominican Republic alternatives. In that article I discuss all of the best options for all-inclusive resort areas, including several other really wonderful places if you can spend just a bit more money. I think it will answer your question but if it doesn’t please let me know. -Roger

Tammy says:

I have 4 grown children and would like to buy a week vacation for them (and me) in lieu of buying Christmas presents. Am thinking of Belize or USVI but am open to other options as well. They are each purchasing their own flights; I’m going to rent the place. Thinking of AirBnb instead of hotels rooms for a week so we can be together. They are in their 20s so they will want some nightlife to go with beach time. They are flying from East Coast; I’m in Texas… look forward to hearing your suggestions!



    Belize could be an interesting choice for what you have in mind and it sounds like this would be a fantastic gift. There are many flights from Houston and Dallas to Belize City, and those are easy connections from the east coast as well. One thing about Belize though, the most popular islands (Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker) don’t have many sandy beaches between them as most of the coasts are rocky or mangrove forests. There are a few at certain hotels, but it’s not really a “beach” area. The Placencia Peninsula does have beaches though, although it’s more remote and takes longer to reach. They could be fun places to spend the holidays.

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of the US Virgin Islands, at least compared to many of its neighbors. I’ve been to St. Thomas twice and it seems fairly dysfunctional to me, and not very tidy. I’ve heard that St. Croix is nicer and St. John is quite nice, although I think the nightlife in those places consists of just a few beach shacks and expensive tourist bars.

    For what you have in mind and the age groups I’d suggest Playa del Carmen or Tulum, which are both just a short shuttle ride south of Cancun Airport. They are fast and easy to reach from Texas and the east coast and they have a combination of nice beaches and great nightlife choices and interesting local sights just to name a few things. They are also a bit cheaper than the two you mentioned. Playa del Carmen is a small and busy tourist town, and Tulum is smaller and a bit more artsy. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Liza says:

Wow Roger you sure know a ton. I’d love your recommendation on best choices to travel to from Oregon. I have two kids 10 and 12 yrs, not into museums just want to chillax and enjoy nature, do some small hikes, etc. We are looking for affordable, safe, and not to spend the entire day on the flight. Never gone with kids outside the US and honestly don’t know who to book through when it comes to international travel. Any recommendations would be very very greatly appreciated.



    Thanks. I’ve spent many years on the road and I enjoy trying to help people find the best places for them. I even have lived in Portland, Oregon for about 4 years not that long ago.

    From Oregon I’d say your best choices with kids are the Puerto Vallarta area or Costa Rica. Hawaii would be great, but it’s hard to keep it affordable, especially during the holiday weeks.

    There are obviously other options in Mexico and Central America, but if this is your first time doing this I think it’s better to go to the places with the best infrastructure and are known to be safest. Puerto Vallarta is an interesting place because it’s got a historic town at its heart, but there are also all kinds of hotels and resorts and rentals up and down the coast for 30 or more miles in each direction. You could check out Expedia for your preferred dates and it will show you a huge list of options in all price ranges. Hotels that are under, say, US$50 per night are not going to be very nice or have an inconvenient location. But starting closer to US$100 per night you can get something pretty nice around there with a pool and a good location.

    The best area for families in Costa Rica is the Guanacaste area, which has a large airport nearby in Liberia. That area is a collection of old fishing villages that now have various hotels and resorts of all types. You pretty much get what you pay for, but the cheaper places can still be pretty nice and the beaches are really good. They should be described above with more information.

    As for where to book I’d definitely book online. I prefer Expedia because the site is the easiest to use with great photos and the information is all in obvious places. Their prices are usually almost exactly the same as priceline. You might even try Airbnb, which should have pretty good options in both of those areas, but you have to be careful about the listed price versus the final price (after taxes and fees) because there is usually a big difference. I think it’s best to book flights separately and usually through the airline’s own website because it’s easier to change things if you need to. Alaska might have the best fares, but I’d check on Kayak.com and go with whatever airline has the cheapest flights that work well for your tribe. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Sav says:

Hi Roger,
You do provide lots of advice! Can you help here please with this season’s suggestions over Christmas and the New Year? We live in the UK and hope to travel somewhere warm and safe. My wife and I are in our early 50’s and the boy and girl in the early 20’s. Will appreciate a response and thanks in advance.



    Well, the list above is really meant to answer that question, but I can include our list of the best destinations in Asia in December, which will give you even more options. Pretty much all of those options are warm and safe, and you should still be able to get a reasonable flight if you book soon.

    You are probably familiar enough with the Canary Islands, and those are probably the cheapest “warm and safe” places to reach, although they may not be as warm as you are hoping. Beyond that you would have to go to India or Thailand, or to the Caribbean. There are some great deals in the Dominican Republic and Mexico as long as you can get flights that are affordable enough. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

Sav says:

Thanks Roger. Splendid. I’ll sure give one of those places a try. Much appreciated.

Yihyi says:

Dear Roger,
Came across your article and responses and would like to pick your brain if possible. I am looking for more ideas for warm family beach holidays (with swimming pool) from London. We are mixed race couple that started less adventurous travelling now with a just turn 2.
Just back from Phuket, Malaysia and Singapore in September and hoping to find something closer like 5-7 hours flight for under a week holiday. We have been to Tenerife earlier this year with Sicily, Majorca and other Canary Island on our lists.
Am thinking Turkey but we have been to Marmaris before we have a plus one but feel a bit weird when we venture around by ourselves may be because we are mixed race couple.
Any suggestion will be most helpful.
Thanks in advance.



    I’ll try to help. This is an interesting query because I’ve not thought much about it. I lived for over a year in a small Turkish town near Marmaris, and now that you mention it I didn’t see many non-European visitors at all. There were a few and I never heard about any outright racism, but I’d imagine with such small numbers that it could still feel uncomfortable.

    Of the places on the list, Sharm el-Sheikh and Dubai should both be closer to the flight times you mention, and I’d think that both would feel welcoming. I’ve yet to make it to Sharm and many people are still avoiding Egypt at this point, but it’s now been years since there have been any problems that have made the news. Dubai is totally filled with people from all over the world, and it does have family beaches along with swimming pools at most hotels. I’m not sure if you’ve been there before, of course. Dubai isn’t a classic beach destination because it feels much more like a big city that happens to have a few nice, sandy beaches, but it is something to consider and you can usually get apartments there for good prices. Since it’s a Muslim country, it’s a very family-friendly place.

    The challenge, as you certainly know, is that in December there are almost no good warm-weather destinations near Europe so you usually have to go all the way to at least India, or to the Caribbean. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are rare exceptions in that closer area. One more to consider is Cape Verde. I haven’t been there myself, but it’s about 6 hours flight from London and has fairly warm Decembers. It’s #17 on this list of cheapest all-inclusive destinations from Europe. There is more information there that might be interesting even if you don’t want to stay at an all inclusive. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Yihyi says:

Thanks for the info.

I have been to Dubai but not Cape Verde or Sharm el-Sheikh. Willl have a look at them.

Thanks a lot.

Jolie says:

Hi Roger

I’m planning to travel with my 3 children age ranging from 6, 7, & 23 the week of Christmas. We all have our passports. This will be there first time traveling. I want an international travel (warm weather) that’s not going to require a long plane ride and the resort ought to be kids friendly.

Any suggestions please?



    The list above should provide some interesting places to consider and it’s already my best recommendations for warm and cheap places to go over Christmas. But I’ll be happy to give you some customized advice if you let me know your starting point. I’m assuming you are starting in the US since you didn’t mention a country, but flight times to most places are quite different if you are starting in, say, Seattle compared to, say, Philadelphia. -Roger

Jolie says:

Yes, were starting from Pittsburgh PA. It’s their first time on the plane and I don’t want it to be too long for them, you know.



    Based on what you’ve said I’d focus on the area around Cancun. Cancun itself is mostly a long stretch of beach hotels and timeshare properties, but south of that you’ve got Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and across the water you’ve got Cozumel. All of those are interesting towns filled with activities and shopping and restaurants and bars and such. There are many resorts and hotels all around Playa del Carmen that are family oriented, and you can spend most of your time at the resort, and also take a shuttle ride into the town center for a bit more culture. That would be my top pick based on what you’ve said, and the airfares into Cancun are usually reasonable. Playa del Carmen is about an hour south of Cancun airport by road. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Kim Hastings says:

Hi Roger, Veery impressed with your knowledge and insight about travel. I wrote a book, titled “The Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken.” It’s U.S. based and is travel, but also history, geography, trivia, etc. Just wanted to send you a shout-out one writer to another. You know your stuff!

Felicia R says:

Considering the devastation that has occurred recently to Puerto Rico, is it equipped for tourism now? I hear there are still areas where there is no power or infrastructure. Please advise.



    The hurricanes were in 2017 and things were really bad for a couple months, but the San Juan area was mostly back to normal a few months later. I was there in late 2018 and it seemed like everything was fine. In fact, I’m flying into San Juan tomorrow to start a cruise the following day. My understanding is that there are still some rural areas that are not back to normal, and definitely at least some hotels that were damaged and never reopened. But as far as I know the island is very welcoming of tourists and that helps them in many ways.

    The easiest way to check on the outer areas is to check hotel availability there. So if you search for hotels in, say, El Rincon, you’ll see how many of them are open and ready for visitors. To be even more sure it’s wise to check recent reviews to make sure that recent guests say that things are good. I hope this helps. -Roger

NB says:


I’m thinking of going to Panama next month. Have you been? Where do you recommend people eat, hang out, etc? I’m a woman in my late 20s.



    I’ve only been to Panama City so far and I was very impressed. It’s much larger and more modern than other Central American capital cities, although the historic district is disappointing compared to most others. You might stop in to Panama City for a couple days and the city center area with all of the hotels seems very safe, but I’d probably focus on the beaches. I’ve heard and read great things about the San Blas Islands and that is where I plan on going on my next Panama visit. Sorry I wasn’t of more help, but I’m happy to answer other questions if you have any. -Roger

Sri says:

Roger, This is an awesome place I accidentally stumbled up on, thanks for helping fellow folks with your great knowledge of the travel destinations. I am recently heart broken 47 years old male from the midwest of the US that is wanting to get away solo on christmas day to a warmer climate that doesn’t take 2-3 days to travel to. Looks like San Juan may be a great place but just wondering if there are other exotic places you may suggest. Appreciate your attention and time in helping me! Thank you!



    I’m happy to help and I understand the heart break thing. My favorite two places for solo travel in the Caribbean are San Juan and the Playa del Carmen area. In fact, I think Playa del Carmen would be even better because the tourist district is so much more compact and right near the beach. The town of Tulum is another one to consider, as it’s really up and coming and it’s a bit more artsy. Playa del Carmen is really fun and there are loads of little bars and restaurants and so forth that will be easy to meet other tourists (and locals) if you choose, or just hang out and watch the crowds if you choose. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger


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