If you are based in the colder northern climates you are probably looking for alternatives destinations for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Spending the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks with family and friends is the long-standing tradition in most of the Western world, but those based in the colder northern climates are looking for alternatives. After a couple decades of being bundled up, many people start to wonder if there are other warmer destinations for the holidays that are still affordable.
Below is a list of 13 of the best destinations that combine warm weather and low prices during the weeks around Christmas and New Year’s:
1. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
On Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta remains as one of the country’s tourism jewels. Not only has it avoided the safety problems that a few other resort areas have struggled with in recent years, but it’s also regarded as the most interesting and authentic of Mexico’s resort areas.
2. Cancún/Cozumel/Riviera Maya, Mexico
In case you aren’t aware of all of these, Cancún is the purpose-built resort city on the Yucatán Peninsula facing the Caribbean, and the area just to its south is known as the Riviera Maya, which includes the nearby island of Cozumel. In other words, they are all basically the same travel market, with nearly 1,000 hotels in total, and all served by the huge Cancún Airport with cheap flights from all over.
3. Ambergris Caye/Caye Caulker, Belize
Those looking for more of a low-key holiday with no huge chain hotels in sight might prefer the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, both just off the coast of Belize City. These are both long, thin islands where golf carts serve as taxis and there is little or no pavement in sight. The diving and snorkelling here are some of the best in the world, even if these islands are short on long sandy beaches.
4. Tamarindo/Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a wide variety of resort towns along both its Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and all of them will be warm and sunny in late December. There are also national parks and volcanos (not always sunny) in the interior, but if your main goal is to relax and be a tourist, the best area is around Tamarindo in the Guanacaste province. There’s even a newer international airport nearby in the main city of Liberia, so finding cheap direct flights is fairly easy.
5. Cartagena, Colombia
The entire country of Colombia has been rediscovered by the tourism world in recent years, but the historic beach city of Cartagena has been popular for much longer. Along the country’s Caribbean coast (about the same latitude as northern Costa Rica, by the way), Cartagena is an interesting mix of beach hotels and a walled colonial city with plenty to see.
6. Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
8. Goa, India
Goa has been a famous hippie hangout for Europeans and some others for decades now, but it’s also popular with families this time of the year, including many from elsewhere in India. Goa is actually a small state in southern India with more than a dozen different low-key beach towns, each catering to its own groups of fans.
9. Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Perhaps not as well known as most of the others on this list, Penang Island and its main city of Georgetown is certainly worth a look for some people. The area is quite popular with Asian visitors and adventurous Westerners as an alternative to Phuket and other Thailand islands.
10. Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is Asia’s most popular beach destination in Thailand, featuring well over 1,000 hotels and resorts. It’s actually an island with about 12 different beach areas that are quite different from one another, so this is another destination where hotel research is critical. Patong Beach is by far the biggest and most crowded of the beach areas, to the degree that many people absolutely loathe it.
11. Hoi An/Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang is a bit of a wildcard on this list because it’s not really suited to mass-market visitors, at least those from the West. This beach city along Vietnam’s central coast is a short drive from the ultra-charming Hoi An, and both are quite popular for different reasons, especially for cheap hotels.
12. Bali, Indonesia
Unlike the others on this list, Bali is (slightly) in the Southern Hemisphere, and December is actually one of the rainy months so Christmas visitors can expect at least a few downpours per week. But the rain usually doesn’t last long so it’s still very popular here on the Christmas holidays, particularly with Australians. The cheapest hotels here are of low standards and often without A/C, which you’ll really need in December.
13. Boracay Island, Philippines
December marks the tail end of the rainy season in Boracay Island, but those tropical storms rarely last long so the place is very popular over the Christmas holidays anyway. This gorgeous strip of sand is lined with hotels, as well as a sand pathway along the beach, making it possible to spend days at a time in bare feet.
Travel with Bamba Experience to those fantastic destinations as an independent traveller rather than being part of a large group of tourists!