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Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, Australia

Best places to travel in December 2022

From festive celebrations to sun-kissed beaches, December can be an excellent month to travel to a wide range of destinations, depending on what you want from your trip. Below are ten destinations that shine for their own reasons during December.

You could head to Japan, where the chill in the air can be tempered with a soak in a steaming onsen. Thailand’s beaches and clear, calm waters are all the more enticing during winter. Or, under a blanket of snow, Canada offers cheery Christmas markets, cosy log cabins and dog-sledding through ice-bejewelled forest.

Festivals and events around the world in December

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1. Germany

December sees Germany in full festive mode as Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets) set up shop in even the smallest town squares, and snow often falls. It’s cold, yes, but manageably so, and as long as you plan your visit well in advance, you’ll likely still have your first choice of places to stay and visit during this busy period. The Christkindlmarkts in Germany are some of the finest in Europe, with seasonal food and drink for sale, along with many handmade gifts and handicrafts. The German countryside is also often a spectacle in December: you might be treated to the sight of Bavarian castles and valleys draped in snow.

Christmas market, Munich
Christmas market, Munich

2. Dubai

Dubai offers a chance to escape the harsh temperatures of a Northern Hemisphere winter. Sunlight and warm weather make it an ideal time to lounge around hotel pools or sunbathe, although the seawater can sometimes still be a little too cold for swimming. It’s also a time when the emirate erupts with a host of festivals catering to many different interests, including the World Rugby Sevens Series and the Dubai International Film Festival. On and around the annual anniversary of the UAE’s independence, known as National Day, there are fireworks and often visual art shows.

Dubai beach
Dubai beach

3. Canada

With the warm glow of twinkling lights against snowy rooftops, Christmas markets fragrant with mulled wine and ice rinks playing seasonal tunes, there are few places that feel as festive as Canada’s cities during December — just make sure to wrap up warmly, as temperatures don’t rise much over freezing. Over in the Canadian Rockies, snow is thickening under foot, opening up opportunities for wintry activities like snowshoeing, snowmobiling and dog-sledding. You can also fly over the dazzling-white peaks on a helicopter tour. After taking in the frigid mountain air, warm up in a log cabin over a fondue dinner.

Whistler Village
Whistler Village

4. The USA

December is a good time to visit most parts of the USA, and where you go depends on the type of winter break you’re looking for. You’ll find warm temperatures and beaches ripe for sunbathing in regions like Hawaii, California, Florida and the Deep South. Or, for crisp winter days steeped in a festive atmosphere, spend time in its northern cities. At the beginning of the month, you’ll encounter few other visitors in the country’s national parks (though some are difficult to access due to snow) and around city attractions, plus hotels and restaurants often offer good value for money.

  • Don't miss: New York
  • Flight time: Between 7 (New York) & 20 hours (Honolulu)
  • Time difference: UTC -5 to UTC -10
  • December Temperature (Day): 10 to 35°C, depending on region
  • December rainfall: 0 to 291mm, varies by region
St. Petersburg, Florida
St. Petersburg, Florida

5. India

December is one of the most popular months to visit India. Temperatures drop, creating more comfortable conditions for exploring, though early mornings and evenings can be chilly. It’s a good time to take in the sights of Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra without the summer heat, although be prepared for some fog in the mornings, which tends to clear to crisp blue skies. We also recommend staying in the south of the country, where it’s sunny and warm, although you’ll need to plan in advance as many people flock here for a festive break.

Taj Mahal, Agra
Taj Mahal, Agra

6. South Africa

In many parts of South Africa, December is one of the busiest months as the festive season ramps up. We recommend visiting earlier in the month, when there are far fewer visitors. The Cape region is warm, sunny and dry at this time of year, making it a good time for a break in Cape Town and the Winelands or a road trip along the Garden Route. If you’re planning a safari, the Kruger is hot and experiences rain at this time of year, but it’s an excellent time for birdwatching as migrant species arrive. You’ll also see lots of newborn mammals, along with the predators they attract.

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

7. Thailand

With good weather wherever you are, December is one of the best months to visit Thailand. Unfortunately this is a well-known fact, and you won’t be the only one heading to its shores. We recommend visiting toward the start of the month to avoid the busy festive period. It’s a great time for diving and snorkelling along the southwest coast, where you’ll find the water clear and calm, with fewer visitors than the west coast. Koh Samui can see rainfall at this time of year, but everywhere else is warm and dry without being too hot.

Longtail boats, Thailand
Longtail boats, Thailand

8. New Zealand

It’s the start of summer in New Zealand, and the warmer temperatures lure more visitors to the country’s beaches and walking tracks. That said, it’s still a quieter time than later in the season, as long as you visit before the festive period. It’s still possible to experience rainy days, particularly on the South Island, but it’s one of the driest months in the North Island. It’s a good time to take advantage of the many outdoor activities the country offers, from hiking and cycling to fiord cruises and whale-watching trips. We recommend planning your travels well ahead to ensure you get the best accommodation options.

Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park

9. Vietnam

Though there’s still the chance of rain in central Vietnam, the rest of the country is dry in December. This does mean there are more visitors at this time, especially in the south. In the northern areas, temperatures can get cool in the evenings, but the southern coastal areas are balmy and bright — ideal weather for beach relaxation. Plan to book early, especially if you’re visiting popular destinations like Phu Quoc, Mui Ne and Phen Thiet or want to travel near the end of the month — Christmas and New Year are busy times in Vietnam.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Phu Quoc, Vietnam

10. Costa Rica

Marking the arrival of the dry season, December is an ever-popular time to visit Costa Rica, thanks both to the pleasant weather and the festive period. There are places you can still go to get away from the throngs, though. Head to Tortuguero National Park, on the Caribbean coast, to see sea turtles, or venture to the remote Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula to spot wildlife among tangled rainforest, swamps and mangroves. If you don’t mind being among other people, you could also spend time in the capital to join in with some of the Christmas festivities.

Tapir, Corcovado National Park
Tapir, Corcovado National Park
Last Updated: 01/09/2021 06:59:23