Where to go in January

  • This is the best season to visit Southeast Asia - the region is dry and warm but not too hot.

  • This is the key month in Antarctica for seeing a range of attractions - it's warmer with longer days, and penguin chicks and seal pups are out on the ice. But book early - January expedition cruises fill up fast.

  • Costa Rica is dry and mostly sunny, so this is a great time for wildlife and activity holidays. But of course - you're still in the rainforest - so do still pack your waterproof!

  • Galapagos enjoys calmer seas and warmer weather - making this the best time to visit, despite the greater chance of rain. You'll also miss the busy holiday season - these islands are popular with families!

  • This is peak time in Patagonia, with summer warmth, long days and access to the whole region. This does also mean that it's busier, and that prices will rise; again, be sure to book well in advance.

  • Head to Sweden, Finland or Norway for snow and skating, the Northern Lights and meeting the Sami.

  • Europe's mountains (including the Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada) also have plenty of snow for winter activities - with the option of heading back down to the milder coastal areas.

  • Kerala in southern India is a great destination for some winter sun. The Himalayas, Delhi and the Golden Triangle regions are best avoided though - they're freezing! However, this is one of the best times for tiger watching.

  • This is the best time to visit southwestern Sri Lanka. But avoid travelling to the northeast, where the monsoon has started.

  • Insider tip!

    If you're desperate for some winter sun, parts of Andalucia can top 20 degrees in January and rainfall is rare. This is actually a much more pleasant time to take a walking or cycling holiday than midsummer - when 40C heat makes any activity unfeasible. And if you head up into the mountains, you'll find plenty of the white stuff to keep you busy. Plus, you can forget about images of the crowded Costas - you'll have many of the gorgeous landscapes to yourself!

    Romania's mountains are also an unusual but great destination for a snowy winter activity holiday - as is Japan.

Where NOT to go in January

  • Brazil. The Pantanal is flooded and largely inaccessible, the north is unbearably hot and it's the Brazilian holiday season - so the beaches and hotels will be packed with local tourists.

  • Don't hike the Inca Trail unless you want to be wet, muddy and miserable.

  • Greece is surprisingly cold and wet - and sea conditions put a stop to whale watching trips. Northern Spain and Portugal also have a distinctly British climate at this time - cold, grey and drizzly.

  • Some facilities in rural Scotland, such as hotels and restaurants, may close through winter - the exception being ski facilities.

  • Temperatures in Northern China can plunge to -40C, so if you're keen to head east in winter, you're best visiting the south, including Hong Kong.

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