Water Bungalows, Anantara Spa, Maldives

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Where to go on holiday in January

January always feels like a long month. With December's festivities well and truly over, it’s 31 days of post-Christmas, back-to-work gloom and dreary weather. But what if your New Year’s resolution was a pledge to turn January into a month to look forward to?

Travel to the sun and you’ll immediately relax. The Maldives are at their most idyllic during our winter months: with wonderfully warm, mostly dry weather and crystal clear waters for exceptional diving, swap your winter blues for the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and experience the incredible natural beauty of this paradise archipelago.

If you’re looking to experience the best of both worlds – exotic culture and incredible beaches – then head for Sri Lanka or Kerala. If wildlife is your passion then January offers you some great options. In Botswana, the January rains break the searing heat and the quenched plains spring to life. Watch the annual migration of wildebeest, gazelle and zebra as they head for fresh grazing. It’s also the whale watching season in Baja California, along Mexico’s Pacific Coast – a cruise will enable you to observe pods of whales and dolphins as they leap, arch and twirl in and out of the ocean. Or witness the array of flora and fauna of bio-diverse Costa Rica in all of its glory.

Warm weather, exciting wildlife viewing and cultural events are just a few reasons why you should treat yourself to a January getaway – here are our Destination Specialist’s recommendations of the best places to go in January and why.  

Longtail Boats in Koh Lading

Best holiday destinations in January

Myanmar

Myanmar has a year-round tropical climate but fluctuations mean that, from March to May, the country becomes incredibly hot – in excess of 40°C – particularly on the central plains. In addition, a southwest monsoon creates a heavy rainy season from May to October, rendering some roads impassable. However, January is one of the best months to visit this stunning country as it has plenty of gentle sunshine but isn’t too hot, due to the cool breeze that blows in, and comparatively little in the way of rainfall. January is a beautiful time to explore Myanmar’s pagodas and temples; gaze on the misty mountains; and retreat to beaches bathed in sunshine for a blissful antidote to January in the UK. Visit the cooler foothills, Shan State, and Inle Lake regions which gradually warm up during the day but drop again in the evenings and on into the morning. In January you’ll find the Ananda Temple Festival – a lively celebration honouring the limitless wisdom of Buddha – with a carnival atmosphere, where alms bowls are filled with crops and presented to a succession of monks and festivities extend to fairground rides and food stalls. 

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Kerala

January is an ideal time to head for the southern regions of India, such as Kerala, which offer wonderful warm weather. Kerala enjoys a tropical climate and temperatures remain very similar throughout the year, ranging from high 20s to low 30s. Travel here in January and you’ll miss the monsoon season which falls between May and October – in fact, January is the driest time of the year. Kerala is one of South India's most calm and beautiful states with unspoilt landscape, ranging from coastal idyll and verdant spice plantations linked by a series of tranquil backwaters to tea-covered hillsides and rugged mountains. A world away from the hustle and bustle, Kerala is home to exotic wildlife, vibrant traditions, temple festivals, and you’ll feel blissfully relaxed and at peace when you spend time here. Taste the exquisitely spiced cuisine; stay on an elegant traditional houseboat; explore the temples; or indulge in a rebalancing Ayurvedic treatment.

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The Maldives

With Christmas behind you and the thought of winter stretching out in front of you, where better to escape than to the warm shores of the Maldives? Owing to its equatorial location, the Maldives enjoys a beautifully warm climate all year round, although it does experience a rainy season (between May and November) which brings almost daily rainfall and high humidity. However, January falls in the middle of the dry season – rainfall is minimal, a cool ocean breeze ensures that humidity levels are low, skies are typically cloudless and bright blue, and the islands have nine hours of sunshine per day. January is, in fact, the ‘coolest’ month of the year in the Maldives but still offers warm temperatures and a daily average temperature of around 28ºC during the day – dipping slightly to 25ºC at night – while the Indian Ocean remains a delightful 28ºC. The archipelago offers beautiful scenery, pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters boasting a diverse marine life, along with luxurious accommodation and world-class spas – the perfect paradise retreat.

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Sri Lanka

January is a fantastic month to discover the south west coast of Sri Lanka. Falling outside of monsoon season – so you won't have to contend with wet weather putting a dampener on your holiday – you’ll enjoy average high temperatures of around 30°C and minimal rainfall. In the south west region of Sri Lanka you can easily combine beachside relaxation with cultural exploration and tours of the scenic hill country. Bask on golden beaches in the glorious sunshine; observe elephants in the national parks; explore floating markets, serene Buddhist temples and fascinating ancient ruins; and trek through dense forests, as you retreat to the cooler hill country to explore its verdant tea plantations. Our top city and beach hotspots along Sri Lanka’s south west coast include Galle, Colombo, Tangalle and Bentota.

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Cape Town, the Winelands and the Garden Route

Exchange dismal UK weather for South Africa’s warmer climes – a lovely winter sun spot in January. With hot and dry weather in the Cape, January is an excellent time of year for a trip to combine vibrant Cape Town and the natural beauty of the Winelands and the Garden Route. With an average high of 28°C, expect plenty of warm sunshine – it’s the perfect time for a Cape beach holiday with an average sea temperature, a pleasantly warm 20°C – ideal for swimming or maybe even learning to surf. With 12 hours of warm sunshine per day, you’ll have plenty of daylight to discover the region during your stay. Whether exploring the rolling hills and vineyards of the Winelands or taking an epic road trip along the scenic Garden Route, you’ll enjoy amazing food and wine, eclectic culture, stunning beaches and sensational landscapes – and January is one of the best months to experience those things.

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Sloth in trees in Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Bordered by both the Caribbean Sea (to the east) and the Pacific Ocean (to the west), January is one of the best times to visit Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.  Costa Rica has a tropical climate and, in January, generally enjoys bright, sunny and mostly dry weather with average temperatures around 26°C at sea level. After the peak season of Christmas and New Year, much of the crowd retreats to leave peace to explore this Central American jewel. With its rainy season ceasing in November, Costa Rica’s forests remain lush while jungle-edged beaches entice you to lounge in the warmth of the sun. A nature-lover's paradise, Costa Rica is one of the most bio-diverse places on Earth. Explore rainforests, national parks and dramatic coastlines that are home to a fantastic array of wildlife, from jaguar, sloths and howler monkeys to puma, scarlet macaws and hummingbirds.

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Dubai

January is a good month to visit Dubai. Thanks to its Persian Gulf Coast location, you’ll enjoy warm weather – with typical highs of 24ºC – and eight hours of sun each day. Dubai in January feels more comfortable than in high summer – when temperatures are pretty intense – and it is also less humid, with cooler temperatures and pleasant evenings, making it an ideal time for exploring Dubai outside of its air-conditioned buildings. Browse the al fresco Ripe Market in Zabeel Park, every Friday, for everything from jewellery and fashion to crafts and organic produce. Plan ahead and you could even take part in the Dubai Marathon, with three distance categories: a 42 kilometre marathon, a 10 kilometre road race and a four kilometre fun run making it accessible to all. Add a layer or two and make your way to the Urban Outdoor Cinema at Dubai Marina for classic family-friendly films plus food from the hotel’s restaurant and a pop-up bar. January's annual Dubai Shopping Festival means fantastic discounts in the malls and there are also firework displays every weekend throughout the month.

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Baja California

If you’re fascinated by wildlife and enjoy spectacular scenery, then Baja California could be just the ticket for your January holiday. Travel here from mid-January (through to mid-March), and you’ll witness vast numbers of grey whales migrating to San Ignacio Lagoon to calve in the balmy, shallow waters. Sea lions and whale sharks congregate near La Paz, and you might be lucky enough to see humpback whales breaching off Los Cabos. Birdlife is also abundant here and you’ll spot woodpeckers, ibis and giant kingfisher in the mangroves as well as several endemic species, including the Cape pygmy owl, Xantus’s hummingbird and Baird’s junco. Climate-wise, in January, you’ll find temperatures of 13°C, with highs of 25°C. Baja California experiences very little rainfall and its arid landscape attests to that, with expanses of pristine dune spilling down to the sea, and cactus fields and scrubby brush being commonplace. Amazing, almost otherworldly, flora thrives here, including the towering elephant cactus and bizarrely contorted Boojum trees. Besides its scenery and wildlife, Baja California also offers you the thrill of outdoor adventure activities from kayaking and horse riding to hiking and zip-lining.

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