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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.


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Where is hot in December

Thailand is hot in DecemberHot holidays in Mexico in December

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

Q.  Where is hot in December?

A. If you crave high temperatures, sunshine and warm seas, avoid the Mediterranean. It may be sunny in Cyprus (18ºC) and the Algarve (16ºC), but it won’t be bikini weather. Better mid-haul options include Egypt (24ºC), Cape Verde (27ºC) and The Gambia (31ºC). It’s also a great month to visit South East Asia and the Caribbean.

In terms of prices, December is a month of two halves. Travel in the first week or two and you can find a cheap deal. But once the schools break up, long haul destinations shoot up in price.

These are my own personal recommendations with links to companies tested and approved by our team of editors.

If you want to escape tinsel at home (or the in-laws) see our pick of the best Christmas holiday ideas. If you’re on your own, see our guide to the best solo holidays in December, and over Christmas.

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Quick links

Short haul and mid haul – Southeast AsiaIndia & Indian OceanCaribbeanMore long haul

Less than 7 hours flying time

You can find reliably warm weather within a four or five hour flight from the UK in December. Four hours will get you as far as the Canary Islands. There are plenty of regional departures to LanzaroteTenerife and Gran Canaria where you can expect temperatures around 20°C.

Nearby Madeira offers a similar climate, combining some lovely hotels and traditional quintas with rolling mountainous countryside, dramatic cliffs and fascinating walks. British Airways has direct flights from Gatwick. Or you could take a luxury private tour of the island with your own English-speaking driver-guide.

Egypt is a great bet, and prices on the ground are cheap. Explore Cairo then take a Nile cruise. You can expect seven hours of sunshine each day and temperatures of 24°C. Flying time from the UK is just 5 hours.

Morocco offers warm sunny days – though evenings can get chilly. This is a particularly nice time to explore Marrakech, not least for some cheap Christmas shopping and exotic spices to bring back home.

A great option are the Cape Verde Islands, a diverse archipelago off the west coast of Africa where you’ll find tropical beaches, lush mountains and temperatures of 27°C. Sal and Boa Vista are both a non-stop six-hour flight from the UK with a choice of all-inclusive resorts and charming hotels. There’s no time difference and no need for anti-malarials either.

The Gambia in west Africa (31ºC) is only six hours away and there’s no time difference here either. Prices are very reasonable, there are lovely wide beaches and some terrific hotels to suit most budgets, from luxury spa resorts to riverfront lodges. Check out the latest deals.

Also see our tips for the best city breaks in December and where is hot in Europe in December.

Southeast Asia in December

Southeast Asia is an excellent choice in December. For a taste of sheer luxury, extraordinary scenic beauty and spiritual warmth, Bali is hard to beat. There may be a few afternoon or overnight showers but the 31°C highs and six hours of sunshine make it worth the journey.

Vietnam (31°C) is one of the fastest-growing destinations in the region – discover ancient and modern history, rich culture, great food, miles of empty beaches and a new wave of luxury hotels. Find detailed weather info here.

Cambodia offers a near perfect climate, with temperatures of 30°C and nine hours of daily sunshine. Although it has idyllic beaches, this is not a fly-and-flop destination – you should take time to explore the capital Phnom Penh and the temples of Angkor close to Siem Reap. Choose from independent or guided tours.

Thailand is a great destination in winter but pick your spot carefully. It’s the rainy season along the east coast (including Ko Samui and Hua Hin) in December but you can expect eight hours of sunshine and 31°C in Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. If you’re looking for culture and adventure in Thailand beyond the beach, I recommend Experience Travel Group which has some great ideas including these bespoke tours for foodies.

Find more hot winter destinations recommended by our editors.

India and the Indian Ocean

India is a great place to visit in December – most visitors will be doing some touring so warm temperatures are preferable to hot. In Northern India you’ll find temperatures of 23°C and eight hours of sun, ideal for sightseeing. Try a tour of the Golden Triangle to discover Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and the Taj Mahal.

Goa and Kerala are both ideal choices for beach holidays, with temperatures hovering around 31°C and nine hours of sun. Check out this choice of affordable beachfront hotels in Goa, and the latest special offers. In Kerala, I like this Splendours of the South tour.

It’s peak season in Sri Lanka in December, so book early, with a specialist company who can advise on the regional weather variations, to enjoy this country’s heady mix of beaches, culture, scenic wonders and wildlife adventures. I recommend Experience Sri Lanka.

For dreamy tropical beaches it’s hard to beat these two Indian Ocean destinations. Head to Mauritius (29°C and eight hours of sun) for luxury beachfront resorts and plenty to explore around the island or discover your inner Robinson Crusoe at one of the island hotels in the Maldives. It’s the beginning of the rainy season in the Seychelles – it will still be warm, though.

Caribbean holidays

The hurricane season is well past and you can expect to find average highs of about 30°C and nine hours of daily sunshine across the region, with little humidity. If you go before the start of the school Christmas holidays, you’ll find prices are significantly lower. As soon as peak season arrives, it gets expensive.

Most of the direct flights take seven to eight hours with plenty of onward connections to the smaller islands.

Check out our recommendations in Barbados, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

You can combine beach and culture in Cuba which offers great value. Although things are beginning to change as relations with America start to thaw, it’s still an amazing destination. Don’t miss the capital Havana, the colonial city of Trinidad and take time to chill on the beach at Cayo Santa Maria.

If you fancy a cruise but not the thought of being on a floating village, try a tall ship cruise of the Caribbean with Star Clippers. These majestic sailing ships can navigate into the smaller ports, giving you a more authentic and exciting experience.

See our full recommendations for the best Caribbean holidays and details of the Caribbean weather in December.

More long-haul holidays in December

It’s the middle of summer in Brazil and Argentina where we recommend Dehouche, a locally-based tour company. It’s run by expat Brits, who have discovered some amazing things to do across South America.

Further north it’s also peak season in Costa Rica. Direct British Airways flights from the UK will get you to world-class beaches, jungles, forests, volcanoes and lots of exciting activities. This 12-day Costa Rica Highlights tour hits all the right spots.

Another country with perfect summer weather in December is South Africa. You can go on safari, lie on a beach, take a self-drive tour and explore beautiful Cape Town and the winelands, where temperatures are 26°C and you’ll bask in 11 hours of daily sunshine.

It’s the wet season in Kenya but that also means you can enjoy lush vegetation and a wealth of wildlife, not least the new-borns.

See a full selection of our expert tips on where to go on holiday in December. Our sister site, 101 Honeymoons, has recommendations on the best December honeymoons. Also see the hottest Canary Islands, the hottest Greek islands and the hottest, sunniest places in Europe.

Last updated: 20 September 2019

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