25 Cheap destinations for 2024 with great weather in January

January of 2024 looks like it will be booming for the travel industry after a few really bad years, so booking early is almost certainly going to save you money. The good news is there are many great destinations with warm weather all around the world, so you’ll have more choices than you probably dreamed of. The list below shows all of the best vacation choices in different areas and all of them have warm weather and most are on beaches.

It’s worth noting that the first week in January is one of the busiest weeks of the year for travel due to the holidays celebrated around the world, so it will be much more expensive than the rest of the month. In other words, if you can start your trip on January 9 or later, you’ll save a lot of money.

If you are mostly interested in beaches, scuba diving, and other water sports you should start with our list of the cheapest Caribbean islands to see which ones are in your price range.

Go later in January if possible

Pretty much everywhere on earth that has warm weather in January has its peak season for hotel rates from Christmas through the first week in January. If you are joining that crowd you have a lot of great options, though very few of them will come cheap. The good news is that by the second week of January, hotel rates and airfares have come down again to “high season” rates rather than “peak season” rates. If you can wait, it will save you quite a bit.

By the way, we have a separate list of cheap beaches to spend Christmas and New Year’s around the world if that’s what you are mainly after.

This article was updated as of September, 2023.

New video showing most of the places mentioned below

I’ve started a Youtube channel and one of my first videos is based on this article. Please give it a watch as it shows most of the places listed with hotel prices and much more.

Important global holidays in 2024

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day (public holiday in most of the world)
  • January 6 – Epiphany (minor holiday in many Christian countries)
  • January 15 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day in USA (most banks and offices closed)
  • January 26 – Republic Day in India (major national public holiday)

The Americas

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

The Caribbean

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

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

Where to find the cheapest all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean

The best deals in the Caribbean are at all-inclusive resorts, and that is even more true if you are someone who likes to have at least a few alcoholic beverages each day along with some great meals. Here’s a video explaining exactly where to find the best resorts that are also very cheap.

Cancun, Mexico

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

There’s at least a small chance that it will rain a bit during January in Cancun, but keep in mind that the showers tend to be over in 30 to 60 minutes and that they often take place overnight. Aside from that, it’s pretty much perfect in this huge resort area this time of year, and value is still good. Room rates are highest in the first week of the month, so you’ll save by arriving after that.

It’s worth noting that “Cancun” is a huge area with plenty to offer. The actual hotel zone in Cancun is mostly high-rise hotels overlooking beaches, while if you go about an hour south you’ll arrive in Playa del Carmen, which is a lovely and tourist-friendly town with smaller hotels and excellent choices for dining, nightlife, and shopping. Just a short ferry ride from Playa you’ll be in Cozumel, which is a small island that is also worth considering.

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$51 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$87 per night for two people
  • All-inclusive hotels from: US$219 per night for two people

>>>Check current Cancun resort and package deals

Montego Bay, Jamaica

  • January avg high: 84°F/29°C
  • January avg low: 72°F/22°C
  • January avg precip: 1.9″/4.8cm

While all of the Caribbean will be expensive and nearly sold out for the first week of January (so book as early as possible if that’s when you want to go), Montego Bay still remains reasonably priced for the rest of the high season that goes into April. The weather this time of year is pretty much perfect, and there are plenty of water sports and other activities to keep you entertained during the day if you aren’t more interested in just relaxing.

Montego Bay is also home to one of the Caribbean’s largest and busiest airports so flights here are usually direct and often cheap compared to some of the smaller islands. You won’t find the super-low all-inclusive prices here that you can find in the Dominican Republic (see below), but still there are some all-inclusive options that are good value and high quality. Interestingly enough, two of our 11 Best luxurious all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean are on Jamaica, and one is in Montego Bay itself, with overwater bungalows!

By the way, if you’d prefer to stay along a wonderful beach lined with small hotels, restaurants, and bars, then head to nearby Negril instead of Montego Bay or Ocho Rios.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$87 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$104 per night for two people
  • All-inclusive hotels from: US$277 per night for two people

>>>Check current Montego Bay resort and package deals


Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • January avg high: 82°F/28°C
  • January avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • January avg precip: 0.7″/1.8cm

The far eastern edge of the Dominican Republic is where you’ll find the collection of beach towns that are referred to as Punta Cana. Unlike most Caribbean islands, the Dominican Republic has many huge beach hotels that have up to 1,000 rooms or more. This grand scale may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it allows these resorts to offer the best rates in the Caribbean for all-inclusive resorts and large full-service resorts in general.

The first week in January will be booked early but after that it’s normal room rates, which are great bargains compared to the rest of the Caribbean. The all-inclusive resorts here start at a bit over US$200 per night for two people, including room, meals, and unlimited drinks. The better places obviously charge more, but there are plenty of good resorts that receive solid reviews near the lower end of the scale. Punta Cana is honestly the best place in the Caribbean for all-inclusive resorts because there are around 80 to choose from. In fact, Punta Cana also ranks at the top of the list of the best family destinations in the Caribbean.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$52 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$91 per night for two people
  • All-inclusive hotels from: US$242 per night for two people

>>>Check current Punta Cana resort and package deals

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

  • January avg high: 84°F/29°C
  • January avg low: 62°F/17°C
  • January avg precip: 1.3″/3.3cm

While those Caribbean destinations are ideal for those in the eastern half of the US and Canada, they aren’t easy for those in the west to reach at all. The good news is that Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful option that is even better in some ways. The January days are warm and dry and the evenings are cooler than you get in the Caribbean.

Puerto Vallarta is also notable because it’s an actual historic city with an interesting traditional center, rather than just a purpose-built row of beach hotels like in Cancun. If you are in California you might also consider Los Cabos, although Puerto Vallarta is more interesting and usually cheaper as well.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$42 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$153 per night for two people

>>>Check current Puerto Vallarta resort and package deals

Mexico City, Mexico

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

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

Mexico City can make for a great trip all by itself, with fascinating sights, great shopping, and excellent nightlife, but it’s also close to ruins and many other interesting sights that can make for good day trips. Flights from almost anywhere will be fairly cheap this time of year, at least compared to Europe or most of the Caribbean. And in case you aren’t familiar with Mexico City as a tourist city, it’s FAR nicer and safer than you probably imagine, and far more interesting as well. English isn’t widely spoken outside of hotels and tour companies, so if you don’t speak Spanish it’s wise to at least pack a menu translation app.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$63 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$84 per night for two people

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

Ambergris Caye, Belize

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$131 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$329 per night for two people

>>>Ambergris Caye prices
>>>Check current San Pedro/Ambergris hotel and package deals

Guanacaste, Costa Rica

  • January avg high: 92°F/33°C
  • January avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • January avg precip: 0.1″/0.3cm

Costa Rica is the adventure tourism capital of Latin America, and if you want to zip-line and go rafting or surfing you are probably better off going somewhere near San Jose, which is the capital. But if you want a modern resort on a lovely beach with perfect warm weather in January you should head to the Guanacaste area and fly into nearby Liberia Airport. This area is a collection of former fishing villages that now have a variety of traditional beach hotels and modern chain resorts in all price ranges.

January is part of the high season so the resort hotels aren’t cheap, but at least there are a few good all-inclusive resorts that are good value. You can see by the price quotes below that 3-star hotels are MUCH cheaper in this area, so that is something to take into account. The cheaper hotels will have much more of a local feel, while the 4-star beach resort hotels are mostly chains and offer a high level of luxury for the price.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$71 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$311 (all inclusive) per night for two people

>>>Guanacaste prices
>>>Check current Tamarindo hotel and package deals

Cartagena, Colombia

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$71 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$109 per night for two people

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

Lima, Peru

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$49 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$86 per night for two people

>>>Lima prices
>>>Check current Lima hotel and package deals

Santiago, Chile

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$61 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$105 per night for two people

>>>Santiago prices
>>>Check current Santiago hotel and package deals

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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

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

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

It’s important to mention the currency situation in Argentina because it’s unlike almost anywhere else on earth. Long story short, if you bring in crisp, new US dollars or Euros you can exchange them on the “blue rate” and get about twice as many Argentine pesos as you would if you used the ATMs when you arrive. In other words, research Argentina blue rate or blue dollar and this place is literally half the price it otherwise would be, and it’s already fairly cheap.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$61 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$68 per night for two people

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

Bariloche, Argentina

  • January avg high: 71°F/22°C
  • January avg low: 44°F/7°C
  • January avg precip: 1.0″/2.5cm

Obviously January is the height of summer in South America, so most cities are going to be very warm and also crowded. Bariloche is a mountain resort town in southern Argentina where you can expect it to be mild and crowded, so it can be a nice break from the hot coastal cities.

This place used to be a German settlement, so it still has an abundance of small chocolate shops and some architecture to carry on that theme. These days this is a busy winter resort and a busy summer resort, with a wide variety of water activities available. Even in high season, prices here should be at least a bit below those in Buenos Aires, so it will feel like a bargain for most foreign visitors.

You might also consider including Mendoza on your trip, which is the main wine region of Argentina, and also good value.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$83 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$119 per night for two people

>>>Bariloche prices
>>>Check current Bariloche hotel and package deals

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$71 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$94 per night for two people

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


Needless to say, there are no destinations in the main part of Europe that could qualify as having great weather in January, but there is still one place worth mentioning…

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

  • January avg high: 69°F/21°C
  • January avg low: 59°F/15°C
  • January avg precip: 1.3″/3.3cm

It might be a stretch to call January in Tenerife as having “great” weather, but it’s still pretty damn good even if it’s too chilly to go swimming. Tenerife, in case you aren’t aware, is the largest Canary Island that also has the best infrastructure for English-speaking travelers, and its temperate location just off the coast of Africa gives it mild and pleasant weather all year round.

This island has many hundreds of hotels and holiday rentals, and it’s very popular with the British as well as others from northern European countries. January is part of the high season in Tenerife for hotel prices, but it’s still inexpensive by European or global standards. The area in the southwest corner of the island is where you’ll find most hotels and beach resorts that cater to an English-speaking crowd.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$74 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$93 per night for two people

>>>Tenerife prices
>>>Check current Tenerife hotel deals


Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

  • January average high: 71°F/22°C
  • January average low: 55°F/13°C
  • January avg precip: 0.0″/0.0cm

Budget-minded Europeans should be aware of Sharm el-Sheikh, which is on the southern Red Sea coast in Egypt. This is a proper beach resort with a wide range of affordable hotels alongside posh places that are popular with conventions and conference crowds.

While the weather in January is going to be too cold to enjoy a swim in the ocean, it’s obviously far warmer than you’ll find anywhere in Europe or even Turkey this time of year. As of a few years ago Sharm was unbelievably cheap because some people were worried about unrest, but those days are over and things are back to normal. It’s still cheap by almost any standard, but not insanely cheap like it was in 2021.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$34 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$54 per night for two people

>>>Sharm el-Sheikh prices
>>>Check current Sharm el-Sheikh hotel and package deals

Cape Town, South Africa

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$52 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$98 per night for two people

>>>Cape Town prices
>>>Check current Cape Town hotel and package deals


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

>>>18 Best Asia destinations in January

Goa, India

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$43 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$72 per night for two people

>>>Goa prices
>>>Check prices on India hotels and resorts

Bangkok, Thailand

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$33 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$54 per night for two people

>>>Bangkok prices
>>>Check Bangkok and Thailand hotel prices

Siem Reap, Cambodia

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$28 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$37 per night for two people

>>>Siem Reap prices
>>>Check Siem Reap and Cambodia hotel deals

Phuket, Thailand

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

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

January has excellent weather and is incredibly popular in Phuket for Europeans in particular. If you are flying all that way to sit on a beach then you are probably going to want to spend a bit more on a proper beach hotel rather than trying to save money by commuting to the beach from Phuket Town each morning. Book early for the best prices since they usually just keep rising as the dates approach. Another nice thing is Phuket has its own huge international airport so you can fly in from the Middle East instead of having to change planes in Bangkok.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$36 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$57 per night for two people

>>>Phuket prices
>>>Check for the best Phuket resort deals

Boracay Island, Philippines

  • January average high: 82°F/28°C
  • January average low: 73°F/24°C
  • January avg precip: 3.7″/0.3cm

January is nearly perfect in Boracay, so it’s also part of the high season for hotels. Increasing numbers of visitors are discovering what all the fuss is about here, as Boracay Island combines affordable prices, excellent beaches, and a throw-back atmosphere that is far more pleasant than most other busy beaches in Southeast Asia.

As a long and thin island just off of a larger island, nearly every hotel on Boracay is within a very short walk of the beach. For that reason there are virtually no super-cheap places but value is fantastic for mid-range and up visitors. Food and drinks are very reasonably priced here, as are things like massages and diving trips. Boracay Island was closed to visitors for 6 months in 2018 and now the infrastructure and environment are in better shape than they’ve been in in years.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$57 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$84 per night for two people

>>>Boracay prices
>>>Check Boracay resort deals

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$52 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$71 per night for two people

>>>Ho Chi Minh City prices
>>>Check current Ho Chi Minh City hotel deals

Chiang Mai, Thailand

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$24 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$39 per night for two people

>>>Chiang Mai prices
>>>Check Chiang Mai and Thailand tour prices

Luang Prabang, Laos

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

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

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

  • 3-star hotels from: US$37 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$55 per night for two people

>>>Luang Prabang prices
>>>Check Luang Prabang hotel and resort deals

Middle East

January is cool and even a bit rainy in most of the Middle East. An exception is Dubai (below) and Abu Dhabi, which both have perfect sunny weather. However, Abu Dhabi doesn’t make this list because it’s not really cheap enough for the cut.

Dubai, UAE

  • January avg high: 75°F/24°C
  • January avg low: 58°F/14°C
  • January avg precip: 0.6″/1.5cm

January is peak season in Dubai not because it’s so warm but because Europe is so cold this month. As you can see by the temperatures above, you are going to want to pack a light jacket or sweater for the evenings, even if you can leave the umbrella at home. You should be able to get in a bit of beach time this month, although most people sit at hotel pools between meals and visits to the many shopping malls.

Even though Dubai is busy in January, it’s still a good bargain because there are so many hotels and apartment rentals here. The huge airport is also very busy this time of year, though airfares are quite reasonable from Europe and other nearby areas where people are looking for a winter break.

  • 3-star hotels from: US$53 per night for two people
  • 4-star hotels from: US$72 per night for two people

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All Comments

  1. Trudy says:

    Hi Roger
    I’m located in Las Vegas and am looking for a warm weather trip in January with a flight less than 6 hours. I prefer something not in Mexico. I will be gone 5 days ideally, so I don’t want to spend most of the trip in the air.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I totally agree that for a 5-day trip you don’t want to take really long flights because it can eat up too much of your actual vacation time. The challenge is, and I suspect you may know this already, that Mexico is really the only warm-weather place you can reach in under 6 hours from Las Vegas. I just checked Guanacaste, Costa Rica; Belize City, and Panama City, and all of them are 7 to 10 hours each way from McCarran. The only place that is close is Honolulu, which takes 6.5 hours going and only 5.5 hours coming back on nonstop flights.

      Keeping within the 6 hours each way your top choices, as you probably know, are Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, both of which are lovely and safe. Sorry there aren’t more options for you. -Roger

  2. Khushboo says:

    Hi roger ,
    You are doing a great job ! If you could help me too!! I would be traveling from India and planning a trip with 3 couples and a few friends, in late January for 10-12 days !! How, if we do both Costa Rica and Puerto Rico ??

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I’m happy to try to help. Costa Rica and Puerto Rico are two of my favorite places in the Caribbean and they are very different in many ways. Visiting both of them for 5 or 6 days should be great. Most likely you’d have to change planes in Texas going between them, and you might have to change in Florida as well. I’m not sure what else you are needing help with, so feel free to ask specific questions if you have them. -Roger

  3. Debbie Wickenhauser says:

    Hi Roger,
    Great website, I was wondering if you had spent any time in Penang, Malaysia. My husband and I are looking for somewhere different to venture to for my 50th birthday. We enjoy the all inclusive resorts in Jamaica, Mexico etc. but were wanting to try something totally “unexpected” for us for this next trip. Any ideas?


    1. Roger Wade says:


      Yes, I’ve spent time on Penang and I like it quite a bit. The main town is George Town and it’s a fun place with excellent food. Many people who go to Penang prefer to stay at a beach hotel and some of those have pretty nice beaches. Most of Penang is pretty modern except for the colonial center of George Town, so you get a bit of both there. I’m not sure if they have all-inclusive resorts there, and even if they did you probably wouldn’t want to stay at one. The food is already quite cheap in normal restaurants and it’s considered the best food area in Malaysia, so you’ll want to try different things at different places.

      The alcohol in Malaysia is a bit expensive though, although in stores it’s pretty cheap so you can always have a drink or two in your room to save a bit of money. You might also consider spending 2 or 3 days in Kuala Lumpur, which is actually my favorite city in Asia and I’ve been there many times. It’s a really interesting mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures and it’s quite affordable for what you get. Hotels can be great bargains. I’m not sure if this helps but I’m happy to answer other questions if you have them. -Roger

  4. Ella says:

    Hey, you are indeed doing an incredible job! I wondered if you had any advice for me and my boyfriend. We are travelling to someplace warm in december-january and plannng to stay there for about turer weeks. We are both very active and enjoy sports like tennis, golf, hiking, surfing, yoga and swimming. We are also interested in tasting new food and experiencing new cultures. But most of all it needs to be warm and dry (we are travelling from the rainiest city of Norway). We are not too worried about airfares as everything is pretty expensive, coming from Norway…

    Looking forward to your answer!
    Best wishes, Magnus & Ella

    1. Roger Wade says:

      Magnus and Ella,

      As you may know, the only warm part of “Europe” that time of the year is the Canary Islands, and it’s not all that warm in those months. I would go to Thailand if you haven’t been there yet. You could first fly into Bangkok and spend at least 3 days or so there enjoying the amazing city and culture and so forth, and then fly down to one of the islands for the balance of your time. That is the perfect time of year there with warm and dry weather that isn’t so hot. Phuket is the largest and most popular island, but it’s probably better for families or groups of single people. For a couple you might instead want to go to one of the other islands such as Kho Phi Phi or Kho Samui or Kho Phan gnan. You’ll be able to find a good mix of water sports and land activities plus affordable spa treatments and really good restaurants. I hope this is the sort of thing you are looking for. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thailand really does stand out in that area for those kinds of holidays. If you wanted to go elsewhere you could try Costa Rica. -Roger

  5. Dianne says:

    Any recommendations for Late February that may offer fishing as an option?

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I’m not a fishing expert, but I do remember that resorts in the Dominican Republic (specifically Punta Cana) offer daily fishing expeditions. And I just now see online that the DR is one of the best Caribbean islands for deep sea and game fishing. The February weather there should be perfect as well. I think most places in the Caribbean offer some kind of fishing, as long as you are staying in a larger place or in a smaller town with outfitters there. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. -Roger

  6. Mayank Agarwal says:

    Hey Roger,

    I want to start by saying that you’re doing a fantastic job here, replying to personalised information requests with such interest. So good to see that.

    I’m from India. Me and my buddy are looking for a mini vacation, about a week long, mid-Jan. After much ado, we settled on beaches (for a couple days). My initial choice was Boracay, but we just heard that it’s flooded, and the conditions arent likely to improve. Any thoughts? Also, we’re tired of Goa 😛 So, that is out. Please suggest something. We’re running on a total budget of about INR 75k.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Thank you. I’ve read about the Boracay flooding and I’d be surprised if it was still an issue a month from now. But I also understand why a first-time visitor would not want to book a trip there until they knew it was back to normal.

      I’d recommend Thailand as your best affordable option within a reasonable flying distance from India. Phuket, as you may know, is the largest island and it has its own busy international airport so it’s the easiest beach area to fly into. Patong Beach is the largest beach town by far and it’s very crowded, which some people enjoy and others don’t. Patong Beach is also the home of most of Phuket’s “adult nightlife” as well as most of its shopping. My favorite beaches are Karon and Kata, which are both just a bit south of Patong Beach and far less crowded but still fun.

      The other option would be to fly into Bangkok and maybe spend 2 or 3 days there before flying on to one of the smaller islands. Bangkok is really fun and I can give you more advice for that if you need it. The most popular smaller islands are Ko Samui, Ko Pha Gnan and Ko Phi Phi. Especially in January, each of those places (including Phuket) has a real party atmosphere, but there are also some reasonably secluded beaches as well.

      Other nearby countries also have some decent beaches, but Thailand has the most choices and it also has by far the best tourist infrastructure in the area. In other words, the hotels are generally in good condition, it’s easy to get around speaking only English, and the locals you deal with are generally quite honest. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  7. Chris says:

    Thank you for the detailed reply Roger. We are concerned about the earthquake damage in Mexico City and surrounding areas. Do you think this would significantly affect our trip? I would love to see the Monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico. We went to Panama in 2016 and I’m thinking Colombia may be similar except with more safety concerns. We will check out Antigua, Guatemala and we’re also looking into Lisbon, Portugal. We’re having a very hard time deciding where to go for this holiday!

    1. Roger Wade says:


      My understanding is that the earthquake in Mexico City had very localized effects and that 99% of the central area is still just fine. But you might want to check elsewhere before you book. I really do like Mexico City a lot, although it’s yet another one where speaking at least some Spanish really helps.

      Lisbon would be a great choice, and Portugal in general is the most affordable country in western Europe. It’s way too cold for sunbathing, but it’s pretty mild compared to the rest of Europe. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  8. Chris says:

    Hi Roger, thanks for all of the info here. My spouse and I want to go somewhere warm with some beach time, nature trips especially birds and some history I.e. Colonial towns or ancient ruins. We have 2 weeks starting January 20th and are having a hard time deciding between Mexico and Colombia. We’s like to stick to $5000 budget for the two of us and will be flying out of Toronto, Ontario. We are also concerned about personal safety. What recommendations do you have? Thanks so much.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      Those are both great choices, but on the personal safety front, you’ll want to do some research. Last June the US State Department issued a travel warning for Colombia, although it’s primarily recommending avoiding independent travel on certain highways. Cartegena is a wonderful city with a historic walled city at its core, but it’s too small to spend two weeks there and one of the potentially dangerous highways is one leading north along the coast from there. Long story short, I still think Cartagena itself is safe, but I’m not sure I’d do a longer trip in Colombia at the moment.

      Mexico, of course, also has its problems and a US State Department travel warning of its own. However, most of Mexico isn’t under a general warning, including Mexico City being declared safe. The Cancun area says there have been more murders lately, but travelers aren’t targeted and I’m sure many large US cities are far worse. Personally, I’d have no problem going to the Cancun area or Mexico City at the moment, partly because you’ll be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other tourists all the time.

      Another one to consider is actually Puerto Rico. While it’s true that rural parts of the island are still struggling and without power in some cases, the San Juan area seems to be mostly open for business, and by late January things should be even better. The colonial Old San Juan area is the nicest and most interesting colonial town in the region, and the beaches right in San Juan are some of the best “urban” beaches in the Caribbean. I could understand anyone who wants to wait longer to consider Puerto Rico, but I would look into it and you might even get a good deal. You could rent a car and visit the nearby rain-forest and some other towns where things are up and running, and help the island out a bit in the process.

      Panama City has a small colonial town near its center, but it’s not very interesting. Antigua, Guatemala is a lovely place and that area is generally safe with quite a bit to see and do. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  9. Jennifer says:

    hi Roger,

    i’m planning a trip 1/28-2/6/18 or 2/11-2/20/18 to somewhere warm. i do love the beach but spending all day in the sand isn’t ideal, so something that has some culture would be good. i was hoping to not fly more than 20hrs to a destination. i wanted Thailand but it’s about 42hours to get there… blech. budget is about 3k with hotel. what do you think? solo traveler

    i forgot to mention, coming from the Pacific NW

    1. Roger Wade says:


      I just checked flights on your first dates from Portland to Bangkok and I saw flight durations of around 22 hours for US$843 return, changing in Seattle and Taipei. If you could start in Seattle it would obviously be a bit faster. If you are starting in a much smaller airport such as Eugene or Spokane you might be right about those ridiculous flying times. But if you could start at PDX or SEA I think you might still find something that works. And if you did I think Thailand would be ideal for what you have in mind. It’s a great destination for a solo traveler because there are so many other solo folks in Bangkok and on the islands.

      If that doesn’t work I think Costa Rica could be a good option. It’s got plenty of beaches and also loads of adventure like zip lines and jungle tours and whatnot. It doesn’t have much “culture” on display though, as nearly everyone there is there for the beaches and adventures and volcanos and what have you.

      One option that might work that also has some culture is the Playa del Carmen area, which is just south of Cancun. Playa del Carmen is a lovely tourist town with hundreds of small hotels and bars and restaurants and such, but there are also the Tulum ruins nearby and the Chichen Itza (much larger) ruins close enough to be a very popular day trip.

      Another option would be Argentina. You could fly into Buenos Aires and spend a few days there and then perhaps fly to the Mendoza wine region or see the amazing Iguazu Falls or head to the mountain town of Bariloche. You wouldn’t get much beach time on that trip, but at least it would be warm and a lot of great culture and sights. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to help. -Roger

  10. mona coffield says:

    Hi Roger,
    Thank you for your earlier response. After considering your words, I have decided that Cold is fine, we will take 8 days (must be Jan.13-20), and we can spend more money. We do not mind a full day or travel to and from the destination. I would really like somewhere with historical sites and natural beauty. I have been considering Ireland, but from what I read, the weather/hours of sunlight during that time would not allow us a great deal of time to be outdoors. I am considering Iceland and Ecuador(i have contacts there). I think that what I am really looking for is an experience that might be unique to the location—be it a breathtaking hike, traveling by donkeys, or whatever. I wonder if you just shake your head when you receive questions like this–someone asking for the world in 7 days at a reasonable price. All of your advice is deeply appreciated.

    1. Roger Wade says:


      That is funny and appreciated, but I’m used to people looking for something great, cheap, and quick. This does expand your options quite a bit. Still, I really wouldn’t recommend Iceland in mid January because, as you mentioned, it’s quite cold and you get very little daylight to work with. Iceland might be the most beautiful landscape in the world (or close to it), so it would be a shame to visit when the sun is only partially up from 10am to 3pm.

      Ireland is actually somewhat similar in that it’s a very beautiful, lush, and green island that is way north of the equator. Again, the main joy of visiting Ireland is to rent a car and drive through the small villages and castles, or do something similar by train. The January weather there is pretty harsh, and the days are short as well. It’s just not a good time for a first visit there.

      Ecuador is one of the South American countries that I’ve yet to visit myself, so I won’t be of much help. At least the weather would be fairly good and they get about 12 hours of sunlight every day of the year. If your local connections there make it sound appealing then I think it could be a great choice. It’s not one of the first South American countries that most people visit, so that could be a feather in your cap as well.

      If you are willing to fly to Europe, then you have many very good choices. Spain and Italy are far enough south that the weather in January is actually nice enough to enjoy the outdoors most days. Have a look at my article about the best Europe destinations in January, and hopefully you can find one or more places that sound interesting. I’m happy to help more if you have more questions. -Roger