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Travel Ideas in January

Best places to travel in January 2022 & 2023

As Christmas slopes into the distance, journeying to find some sun is an appealing prospect for January. We recommend beach time on a Caribbean island, a secluded Cambodian archipelago or Sri Lanka’s southern shores. In Africa, the January rains break the Kalahari heat and the quenched plains spring to life. Journey to Botswana to watch new-born zebra take their first steps, as migratory birds feast on the fresh grasses.

In Baja California, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, you can watch as hundreds of whales and dolphins leap, arch and twirl in and out of the ocean. If you’re after cooler climes, temperatures in India have cooled enough to make exploring its fortress cities comfortable. Or, embrace winter in the steaming waters of a Japanese hot spring bath after exploring the snow-dusted forests of the Japanese Alps.

Festivals and events around the world in January

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1. India

After the Christmas buzz, January is a quieter time to visit India, before visitor numbers climb in February and March. You’ll need extra layers in early mornings and evenings, but after the dawn mist has cleared, you’re usually rewarded with crisp blue skies.

These cooler climes are ideal for exploring the fortified desert cities of Rajasthan, watching an atmospheric sunrise over the Taj Mahal in Agra and shopping in Jaipur’s artisanal markets without the summer heat. We also recommend the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where the beaches, backwaters and colonial hill stations are sunny and warm.

Kerala Backwaters
Kerala Backwaters

2. Australia

January is high summer in Australia, with warm and sunny days, unless you’re in the humid north which is prone to tropical showers. An alternative to seeing New Year fireworks around Sydney Harbour is to visit in late January around Australia Day. Lively festivals and sporting events take place during the day and fireworks light up the sky at night, with the Sydney Opera House standing proud in the background.

You can also experience the many other outdoor events running throughout the month as Australians make the most of the warm summer weather, including outdoor cinema screenings and theatre.

Sydney
Sydney

3. Japan

January brings cool Siberian winds and heavy snowfall to northern parts of Japan, where the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics have left a legacy of excellent ski facilities. Kyoto, Hiroshima and the southern islands stay relatively mild. Crisp air, clear blue skies and dry weather mean that the cooler weather isn’t a barrier to travel.

This is a good time to take a trip through the Japanese Alps, for snowy castle landscapes, lamp-lit shrines and cups of warm sake. When it snows, you can retreat to a rotemburo (alfresco hot-spring bath) where you can soak in the steaming waters as snowflakes fall around you.

This is also the best time to try snow crabs, a delicacy so popular that the crabs are only caught for a few months each year to maintain a sustainable population. You’ll find them available along the north coast, but some of the freshest are in Kanazawa.

Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima Castle

4. Vietnam

January is the start of central Vietnam’s summer season, when the weather in the heritage-rich towns of Hue and Hoi An is warm and dry. This is a good time to relax by some of Vietnam’s best beaches around Nha Trang, where the early morning light offers up some of Asia’s best sunrises.

Temperatures around Saigon and the Mekong Delta can reach 30°C, which is ideal for lazy river cruises along the Mekong or the Red River. In contrast, temperatures drop dramatically in the mountain towns of Sapa and Ha Giang north of the country, and the air can become quite hazy, so views in Halong Bay are not at their best.

Tet, the lunar new year, is usually celebrated at the end of the month, with traditional shows and dragon dance performances.

Ninh Van Bay near Nah Trang, Vietnam
Ninh Van Bay near Nah Trang, Vietnam

5. Sri Lanka

With sunny, dry days and calm seas, January is when southwest Sri Lanka is at its best. This is a good time to relax by the golden-sand beaches around Bentota or Tangalle and explore the fortified Dutch city of Galle. The Galle Literary Festival takes place annually around the end of the month, with writers arriving from around the world to attend.

January is also prime whale-watching season — you’ll often spot blue, sperm and Bryde’s whales as well as many dolphin species and flying fish. Looking inland, the central hill region — known as Little England due to year-round showers — is at its driest, and best explored on guided tea-plantation hikes and scenic railway journeys.

Galle
Galle

6. The Caribbean

January is one of the sunniest, driest months to visit the Caribbean. There can still be some rain, but it’s generally short bursts that give way to sunshine. To get your pick of the accommodation at this time of year, we recommend booking well in advance.

In Grenada, the annual sailing festival brings international yacht racing to the Caribbean, with a lively festival atmosphere and a range of authentic cuisine. Carnival Day is celebrated in Saint-Kitts and Nevis, with calypso competitions and vibrant parades. If you’re looking for a sunny, but slightly cooler, island, the temperatures in Antigua peak at a comfortable 27 C (81 F).

Harbour, St George's, Grenada
Harbour, St George's, Grenada

7. Cambodia

As the sun shines across most of Southeast Asia in the new year, many visitors arrive across the region and some areas can get busy. With great swathes of jungle, little-visited sleepy coastal towns and remote, unspoiled beaches, we suggest opting for often-overlooked Cambodia.

Temperatures are still comfortable enough to explore Angkor Wat, the modern buzz of Phnom Penh and the Battambang’s wide, leafy boulevards. But, as it’s also the driest and sunniest month of the year, it’s an ideal time to laze on a secluded beach on the Koh Kong Archipelago and dine in Kep’s coastal cafés.

Battambang
Battambang

8. South Africa

If you’ve got your eye on a tour of Cape Town and the Winelands, now is the time. January sees warm temperatures and clear skies across the Cape, which is ideal for alfresco wine tours and self-drive routes around the region’s ocean-cut coastline.

It’s not the ideal time to safari in the Kruger National Park, which tends to get occasional tropical rainstorms, but this does mean that the Cape region is a little quieter and you can still enjoy a safari in the drier Eastern Cape reserves.

January also marks the anniversaries of the Battle of Isandlwana and the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, so the Battlefields in KwaZulu Natal can be busy.

Franschhoek vineyards
Franschhoek vineyards

9. Mexico

While it’s technically Mexico’s winter in January, don’t let that put you off. It’s part of the dry season, and the days are still warm enough to laze on the long white beaches of the Mayan Riviera or the car-free Isla Holbox.

It’s a good time for wildlife, too, with millions of monarch butterflies starting their annual migration from central Mexico to Canada, passing by in bright, flickering clouds. This is also the best time to spot whales, as grey, humpback and blue whales migrate to Mexico’s coast. One of the best places to spot them is from Baja California Sur, a coastal peninsular that becomes a playground for outdoor activities, including horseback riding and hiking.

Humpback whale
Humpback whale

10. Botswana

January is the green season in Botswana, with long sunny days punctuated by short, sharp showers. If you don’t mind the occasional spot of rain, this is an excellent time to visit as animals give birth to their young and the scenery is bright with verdant foliage and flowers. There are also fewer visitors, making this a good-value period to travel.

You’ll see plenty of migratory birds during January — many species flock here to breed in large numbers, and you’ll see them flitting to and from their nests to feed their young. The dramatic weather creates impressive cloud formations and bright colours across the sky, creating plenty of opportunities for photographers.

Swimming lion cubs in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Swimming lion cubs in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Last Updated: 30/07/2021 14:39:52