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    Where to go on holiday in January

    Go on holiday in January to DubaiBeach holidays in January

    * Best time of year for bargain winter sun breaks

    * Canary Islands and The Gambia offer low prices

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

    January is one of the best months to go on holiday – not just because the weather is so grim in the UK, but because there are so many cut-price deals to be found. This is the time of year when most people are paying off their Christmas credit card bills and tightening their belts. So for those with cash to spend there are great bargains on holidays in the sun. Here, I explain where to go on holiday in January. If you are travelling alone, see our guide to the best singles holidays in January.



    Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

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    Mid haulBeach holidaysToursHealthy holidaysWinter coolUSACaribbeanSki

    Mid haul sunshine

    If your priority is just to escape the grim weather at home and find a hot holiday in January, I recommend Tenerife or Madeira (now served by new direct flights with British Airways). Both are just four hours flying time from the UK.

    It’s only 7 hours to fly to the Arabian Gulf where you’ll find temperatures of around 29°C – plus great beaches, buckets of sunshine and a dazzling array of attractions. For glitzy hotels, fine dining and amazing shopping, head to Abu Dhabi where best places to stay include the five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and the great-value Park Inn. Check out the latest special offers.

    Gambia beach holiday in January

    Beach holidays in January

    I recommend The Gambia for a cheap holiday in January. This charming, friendly low-cost beach destination on the West African coast has much-improved hotels and great weather: about 31°C and 9 hours of daily sunshine. Last January I stayed at the Kombo Beach Hotel, which I can highly recommend. Check out the January holiday deals.

    Another good-value option is the Cape Verde Islands, a diverse archipelago between West Africa and South America, but easily accessible by direct flights from the UK (in less than 6 hours). With temperatures of 24°C in January, superb beaches and excellent choice of hotels, this is a real up-and-coming destination. View the latest special offers here.

    Another destination for good-value tropical beaches in January is Mexico, particularly if you’re looking for an all-inclusive option. If you like an all-singing, all-dancing resort, head to Cancun, while Puerto Vallarta has more local character.

    Bali is a great destination for winter sun, with stunning beaches and fascinating colourful local culture. Beyond Bali, the fascinating archipelago of Indonesia offers some of the world’s most beautiful marine parks, along with breathtaking temples, forest and wildlife from Orang-Utans to Komodo dragons. Try this Essential Java and Bali tour.

    Thailand is a perennial favourite and remains great value, although you should avoid the east coast beaches in January, which is rainy season. Phuket and Krabi and the surrounding islands such as Ko Phi Phi are perfect. It’s also a great time of year to tour Thailand and the temperatures and humidity are not too high. Check out Experience Travel Group which has an inspiring selection of tailor made private tours focussing on jungletemples and cuisine.

    If you’re ready to splash out on a tropical island, the Indian Ocean is a great choice in January – perhaps a luxury hotel in Mauritius, an overwater villa in the Maldives or a gorgeous beach hideaway in the Seychelles.

    For something less expensive, head to Goa in India where white-sand beaches, great food and world-class sunsets can be had at bargain prices. Expect 9 hours of daily sunshine and 28ºC temperatures. Choose between a beachfront hotel or a comfortable homestay such as Fort Tiracol or Panjim Inn. Check out the latest special offers.

    South Africa holidays in January

    Touring holidays in January

    January is an excellent month to explore Southeast Asia. Immerse yourself in the history, culture and culinary joys of Malaysia or Vietnam. Or explore the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia.

    Experienced travellers should consider going the extra mile for a bespoke tour of Burma, one of my favourite countries and a beguiling country packed with hidden gems.

    India offers almost endless possibilities. In the North, where temperatures are a very comfortable 25°C, I would opt for a private tour with TransIndus, taking in Delhi, Jaipur and the Taj Mahal in Agra. Or you could track tigers on a wildlife safari with Audley Travel.

    You’ll find plenty of wildlife in Africa. Head to Kenya to see the Big Five on safari, or get up close and personal with the wildlife on a walking safari. One of the most exciting destinations in Africa right now is Ethiopia – take a look at these small escorted group tours. Or head to the sunny Western Cape of South Africa for a two-week self drive holiday visiting Cape Town, the Winelands and the Garden Route.

    It’s the dry season in Costa Rica, a thrilling and safe country with Caribbean and Pacific beaches, volcanoes, cloud forests, jungle and wildlife reserves. Check out this 12-day Essential Highlights self-drive tour which starts at less than £1,200 per person including flights.

    It’s middle of the summer in South America where Brazil and Argentina are two of the world’s most exciting and diverse nations. We recommend Dehouche, a locally-based tour company run by expat Brits. They know all the best places to stay and can put together an itinerary to fit your personal needs.

    Or head to Colombia for an exciting combination of beach, mountains, jungle and rainforest. This 10-night Signature Colombia private tour includes the Gold Museum in Bogotá, the lively colonial port of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast, Medellín, the underground Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá, coffee plantations, a butterfly farm, remote Andean villages and the exotic Rosario islands.

    Both Australia and New Zealand are expensive over New Year – air fares shoot up in price – but once the holiday period is over, and crowds thin out, the summer down under is a great time to experience these wonderful destinations. Most popular options are fly-drive holidays, though you can also opt for a luxury rail holiday in Australia, or a motorhome rental in New Zealand.

    For sensational wildlife encounters, you could take a small-ship cruise through the pristine waters of the Galapagos Islands. Or discover natural wonders – volcanoes, deserts, lakes, fjords and glaciers – in Chile, where you can also encounter the mythical statues on Easter Island.

    Massage-by-the-oceanBeach or poolSunset in the Lotus position

    Healthy holidays

    Many people in January want to shrug off the excesses of the Christmas period and take a healthy break. If so, we can recommend some excellent specialist companies. We love in:spa‘s health and fitness retreats in Marrakech, or you could take a ski fitness break in the Italian Dolomites.

    Head to the Caribbean where The Bodyholiday, LeSPORT is looking amazing after its $20 million refurbishment. It offers an all-inclusive beach holiday with a programme of healthy activities and rejuvenating treatments included in the price.

    Dresden

    Cool winter holidays

    Holidays in January are not just about sun seeking. You could go north to discover natural wonders and wilderness. One of the most exciting winter trips is to see the Northern Lights. This winter is providing more spectacular displays than in recent years. Find a great selection of Northern Lights trips here.

    Every year in Sweden the Ice Hotel is rebuilt from huge slabs of ice. It’s a special place to stay and includes one night wrapped in reindeer skins on an ice bed (an amazing experience!). You can fortify yourself with vodka shots at the ice bar.

    Check out this selection of winter breaks in the snow which include cross-country skiing in Austria and snowshoeing in Switzerland. Or take a New Year foodie break in a gastro centre such as Bologna, Turin or Salamanca.

    The city of St Petersburg in Russia is never more beautiful than when snow is piled high on the pavements and there is skating on frozen rivers. A romantic gem.

    January holidays in America

    This is a good time of year to grab some Florida sunshine. Start in Miami, drive down the Keys in style or grab a cheap deal in Orlando. If you want combine theme parks and beaches, I recommend Fort Lauderdale which is just an hour’s drive from Miami and less than three hours from Orlando.

    January is a smart time of year to visit New York as hotel rates are low and the shops are full of sales bargains. You may also see a crisp dusting of snow. Stay at a stylish boutique hotel.

    For a burst of winter sunshine, head to the desert and take in the bright lights of Las Vegas.

    You can also combine New York with Las Vegas or skiing in Aspen.

    Caribbean beach holiday in JanuaryThe Caribbean is one of the best holiday destinations in January

    Caribbean luxury holidays in January

    The Caribbean is one of the best holiday destinations in January, particularly if you love beaches: the weather is sublime and after the peak season of Christmas and New Year, prices dip a little. I particularly recommend Barbados if you like glitzy restaurants and social buzz. If you want a pure beach experience, check out Anguilla.

    The Cayman Islands, Tobago and Jamaica all offer interesting things to do, as well as stunning beaches. The Cayman Islands are particularly good for diving. Jamaica has an abundance of cultural and natural sights, while Tobago has a lovely small-town laid back atmosphere.

    St Lucia is one of the most scenic – and friendly – islands of the Caribbean, with lush countryside, volcanic peaks and charming fishing villages. Best hotels include Windjammer Landing and the couples-only Rendezvous.

    If you’d like something low-key, try Essence of the Caribbean which has a collection of charming B&Bs, guest houses and small hotels.

    Cuba is great value and offers a unique combination of world-class beaches and a fascinating culture and history. It’s a perfect multi-centre destination – you should stay for a few days in the capital, Havana, combined with the sleepy colonial city of Trinidad and the stunning beaches of Cayo Ensenachos.

    Couples in search of pampering should look at Sandals Royal Plantation in Jamaica (see their latest special offers). Or how about setting sail on a tall ship cruise of the Caribbean with Star Clippers. You’ll get your winter sun in January, and you’ll visit a selection of islands on an intimate vessel that can enter small harbours off bounds to larger cruise ships.

    If you’re looking for a discount cruise around the Caribbean, check out these latest deals. Or see our full selection of the best Caribbean holidays in 2017-2018.

    Ski holidays

    No article about holidays in January would be complete with a mention of skiing. For a great-value break on the slopes, choose a chalet holiday with Ski Total – and check here for January deals. You can also save up to 20% on budget accommodation in France with Pierre & Vacances.

    For a family ski trip, I can personally recommend Esprit Ski for their exceptional childcare (I’ve travelled with them several times with my own kids), while Peak Retreats is an award-winning operator that specialises in budget ski holidays in top French resorts.

    Luxury skiing can be found in Verbier at The Lodge, Verbier, while experienced teenagers (aged 14 – 17) will love the PB Ski Academy.

    See more winter sun holidays in 2018. Not sure about the weather? Find out where is hot in January.

    You can also visit our sister sites for honeymoons in January.

    Last updated: 14 August 2017

    Try our holiday quiz

    If you’re still stuck for ideas, why not try our fun holiday quiz. Answer 10 easy questions to find out what kind of holidaymaker you are, and get personalised travel recommendations. Try the quiz now.

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