26 Cheap destinations in 2022 with great weather in December

The month of December is the perfect time to escape the cold weather at home for most of us, and fortunately there are dozens of great choices in the Tropics that have affordable accommodations and excellent weather. It’s important to note that the first three weeks of December are generally MUCH cheaper at any of these places than the last two weeks of the month. Since hundreds of millions of people from all over the world have at least a week or two off around the Christmas and New Years holidays, the resorts in the warm climates are full and typically have their busiest period of the year.

We have a separate list of cheap and warm places to spend Christmas and New Years and there are similarities with the list below, but the prices are more in line with what you might expect to pay. On the other hand, if you can do a trip early in the month of December, you’ll get basically the same weather and the hotels (and flights) will be half the price. The important thing is to book early if you are going over the big holidays.

This article was updated in August, 2022.

Important December 2022 holidays

  • December 1 and 2 – National Day Holiday in United Arab Emirates (major public holiday)
  • December 6 – St. Nicholas’ Eve and Day (major public holiday in many European countries)
  • December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception (public holiday in many Catholic countries)
  • December 10 – Constitution Day in Thailand (major public holiday with celebrations on 12-Dec)
  • December 24, 25 – Christmas Eve and Day (major public holiday)
  • December 26 – St. Stephen’s Day and Boxing Day (major public holidays in many countries)
  • December 31 – New Year’s Eve (major public holiday, celebrations)

The Americas

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

The Caribbean

The Caribbean generally has excellent weather in December, although sometimes the rainy season keeps going through the first week or so. Cancun is the most popular destination in the area and it has perfect weather starting in December.

If you are mainly looking for a place to relax on the beach and take a couple boat trips or water sports, you might consider just booking at an all-inclusive resort. There are hundreds of them in the Caribbean and they have to compete for guests by offering prices that can seem suspiciously low, but most of them actually deliver what they promise for those low rates.


Cancun, Mexico

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

Cancun is far more popular than any Caribbean island because it is easier to reach and there is excellent infrastructure for visitors. It has a perfect Caribbean climate, although there might be a downpour or two early in December, although those tend to last 15 minutes or less and can be refreshing.

When planning a trip to Cancun it’s important to choose the best area for your style. Cancun itself is mainly a long L-shaped strip of resort hotels and timeshares along a beach, with very few other restaurants or shops between them. If you want to stay in your resort the whole time, Cancun itself is a good choice. But about an hour south of Cancun by shuttle you can be in Playa del Carmen, which is an actual fun tourist town filled with shops, bars, and restaurants. If you want to sample different things on your trip, Playa del Carmen is a better choice. The island of Cozumel is just across the water from Playa del Carmen and it’s kind of a hybrid of the other two. And Tulum is a bit south of those and it’s a smaller and more artsy town that is gaining in popularity in recent years. All of these choices are served by the Cancun airport and are easy to reach from there.

>>>New: Guide to choosing where to stay in the Cancun area

  • 3-star hotels from: US$67 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$139 per night for two people

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


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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

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

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

The Dominican Republic is also on the list of countries that no longer have COVID or vaccination restrictions as of July 2022, so you should be able to book without concern. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to keep you eye on the news in case things get worse again, but everything in Punta Cana is outdoors so it’s a pretty safe place to be regardless.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$48 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$91 per night for two people

>>Check current Punta Cana resort and package deals


Montego Bay, Jamaica

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

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

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

Jamaica also finds itself on the list of countries that have dropped COVID restrictions and hopefully things stay that way. Like the other tropical islands, guests here spend all of their time outdoors or in their private hotel rooms, and tend not to congregate in great numbers even outdoors.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$83 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$209 per night for two people

>>Check current Montego Bay resort and package deals


Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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

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

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

It’s worth noting that while the hotel prices listed below are real, those are not typical of larger chain hotels on the beach. If you want to stay in, say, a Marriott on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, you are going to be paying much closer to US$200 per night for two people.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$35 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$64 per night for two people

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


Los Cabos, Mexico

  • December avg high: 80°F/27°C
  • December avg low: 58°F/15°C
  • December avg precip: 0.6″/1.4cm

While Puerto Vallarta is a classic and traditional Mexican beach resort area, Los Cabos is much newer and very different. One important thing to note is that the evening temperatures in Cabo in December are cool enough that you’ll need to bring a light jacket or sweater, so if you want a real tropical destination you’ll want to go elsewhere. The weather is dry and very pleasant though, so Cabo has become a very popular and trendy winter destination for celebrities and other rich folks in the last decade or so.

Los Cabos is the name for the whole area, but it’s really two towns that are also quite different. Cabo San Lucas is in the west and it’s built around the large and somewhat glamorous marina. This is also where you’ll find the famous Land’s End arch that is in every photo of Cabo. About 30 minutes away by car to the east is San José del Cabo, which has a newer and more modern town center and is close to the airport. There are also really nice beach resorts stretching along the coast between the two towns, so if you don’t want to go bar hopping or do much shopping, you might be better booking at one of the stand-alone resorts in between.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$55 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$163 per night for two people

>>>Check current Cabo resort and package deals


Guanacaste, Costa Rica

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$65 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$179 per night for two people

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


Mexico City, Mexico

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

Surprising to some people, December can actually be a bit cool in Mexico City, especially at night. Its elevation keeps it mild all year, but at least the rainy season is totally over by December, so it’s an ideal month for a cheap cultural holiday, perhaps combined with a trip to one of Mexico’s many beach resorts. You can get cheap flights between Mexico City and Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, for example. This could be a good place to do some Christmas shopping because they have huge shopping centers with appealing prices, while in the beach resorts it tends to be cheap souvenirs and bathing attire.

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$61 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$72 per night for two people

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


Cartagena, Colombia

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$71 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$119 per night for two people

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


Lima, Peru

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

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

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

It’s worth noting that Peru quietly had one of the most serious COVID situations in the world, so if cases somehow start to spike again as December approaches, it might be better to wait another year to visit Peru.

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

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


Santiago, Chile

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$65 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$978 per night for two people

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


Buenos Aires, Argentina

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

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

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

Some good news for foreign visitors in 2022 is that the value of the Argentine currency has dropped dramatically once again. There has also been quite high domestic inflation, but things here are still ridiculous cheap if you are coming from the US or Canada this year. Look into the exchange rate situation before you go because visitors can typically get a far better exchange rate if they bring new US dollars into the country than if they just put things on their credit cards.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$33 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$52 per night for two people

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


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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

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

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

The Brazilian currency dropped in 2019 and it has stayed low in the last few years, so the country is cheaper these days than it has been in around a decade.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$55 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$67 per night for two people

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


Europe

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

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

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

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

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

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

It’s also worth mentioning that Tenerife is only one of the Canary Islands and there are sometimes even better deals on the others including Gran Canary, Lanzarote, and La Palma. They are usually all shown together when searching ‘Canary Islands’ for hotels, but in Europe they are usually listed separately so you have to check each of them out on your own.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$58 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people

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


Africa

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

Cairo, Egypt

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$36 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$52 per night for two people

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


Cape Town, South Africa

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$58 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$83 per night for two people

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


Asia

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

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

Boracay Island, Philippines

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$72 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$119 per night for two people

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

Bangkok, Thailand

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

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

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

Thailand is one of the easier countries to enter as of 2022, even for unvaccinated visitors. The tourist infrastructure here is better than the neighboring countries so it’s always a good choice.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$38 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$48 per night for two people

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


Phuket, Thailand

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$45 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$62 per night for two people

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


Chiang Mai, Thailand

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

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

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

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

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


Goa, India

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$38 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$72 per night for two people

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


Luang Prabang, Laos

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$54 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$61 per night for two people

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


Siem Reap, Cambodia

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$36 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$54 per night for two people

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


Hanoi, Vietnam

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

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

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

As of 2022, Vietnam is one of the more complicated countries to enter due to the lingering pandemic. The country is always more complicated even in normal times, and as long as you plan on spending at least a week here, it’s definitely worth it because of the great Decemeber weather, the crazy low prices, and some of Asia’s best food.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$29 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$65 per night for two people

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


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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


Middle East

December is cool and even a bit rainy in most of the Middle East. An exception is Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which both have perfect sunny weather.

Dubai, UAE

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$55 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$79 per night for two people

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


Oceania

Auckland, New Zealand

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

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

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

New Zealand was one of the strictest countries for visitors for most of the first two years of the pandemic, and they continue to take it seriously. It’s important to read up on the current rules and make sure you can qualify before you buy plane tickets.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$65 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$81 per night for two people

>>>Auckland prices and travel tips

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All Comments

  1. Aaron says:

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

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Aaron,

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

  2. Kathy says:

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

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Kathy,

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

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

  3. Brittany says:

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

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Brittany,

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

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

  4. Helen says:

    Hi Roger,

    Congratulations on your excellent blog.

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

    Your soonest reply would be appreciated.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Helen,

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

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

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

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

  5. Jessica says:

    Hello Roger!

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

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Jessica,

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

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

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

  6. Grand says:

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

  7. Grand says:

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

    Many thanks in advance!

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Grand,

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

  8. paul says:

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

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Paul,

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

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

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

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

  9. Vidzy says:

    Hi Roger!

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

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

    Thanks!

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Vidzy,

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

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

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

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

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

  10. Vidzy says:

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

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

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

    Thanks in Advacne.

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Vidzy,

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

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