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Giraffes near Nairobi
timothynelson 2016-12-7

Cure Your Cabin Fever With These January Vacation Ideas

Every January, we make grand plans to make the most of the year ahead. Instead of spending money on a gym membership or self-help fad you’ll forget about by February, resolve to broaden your horizons by exploring a new corner of the globe.

With plenty of affordable destinations ranging from beach getaways to once-in-a-lifetime ski trips, there’s no excuse for cabin fever this January.

Exotic sights of Africa and the Middle East

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai

The stifling heat of the summer months dissipates by January in Dubai. In fact, you’ll probably want to pack a light jacket. It’s the perfect weather for exploring all the wonders of this unique oasis.

Perfect for: Enjoying a wide range of activities in one of the world’s most extravagant cities
Average January Weather: 58-75 degrees, 5 days of rainfall

What to do:
• Take in views of the city from the observation deck on the 124th floor of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa
• Stroll through the Dubai Mall to check out the aquarium, ice rink, indoor theme park and 1,200 shops and restaurants that make it the world’s biggest shopping center
• Swim at Marina Beach, known for its warm water even during Dubai’s cooler months
• Speed your way through sand dunes by car or ATV on a tour of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
• Enjoy a simulated version of winter at Ski Dubai, an indoor ski and snowboard facility

Nairobi, Kenya

Giraffes in Nairobi National Park
Visitors to Nairobi never have to venture too far from the bustling metropolis to connect with the flora and fauna that make Kenya such a special place. Throw in exotic food, world-class coffee and ample nightlife options, and you’ve got the makings of an excellent January excursion.

Perfect for: Exploring Africa’s natural splendor from the comforts of a cosmopolitan city
Average January weather: 55-79 degrees, 6 days of rainfall

What to do:
• Spot rare rhinoceroses and giraffes at Nairobi National Park, a wildlife refuge outside of the city
• Investigate the caves, waterfalls and lush canopy of the Karura Forest
• Get your caffeine fix from a coffee brewed with beans from Kenya’s highland plateaus
• Hike up the Ngong hills for sweeping views of the Great Rift Valley
• Learn about the life of Out of Africa author Karen Blixen at her former home-turned-museum

Taking Advantage of Asia’s Drier Winters

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap's Angkor Wat

Seeing the majestic Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument, belongs on every world traveler’s bucket list. Visitors can also check out lively local markets and other attractions that prove Siem Reap is much more than just the site of an ancient temple.

Perfect for: Budding archaeologists and cultural anthropologists
Average January weather: 69-89 degrees, 2 days of rainfall

What to do:
• Peruse the artifacts of the Khmer people at the Angkor National Museum before heading to the area’s historic sites
• Visit Angkor Wat, touted as one of the great wonders of the world
• Tour one of the floating villages around Siem Reap by boat
• Learn about the intricate silk production process at Angkor Silk Farm
• Shop for locally made souvenirs and Cambodian street food the vendor stalls of the Psah Chas market

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Golden Buddhas in Colombo

Colombo’s sizable harbor and prime location have made the city a destination for commerce and international trade since antiquity. It’s still the financial heart of the country, but it’s also Sri Lanka’s cultural and sporting capital.

Perfect for: Enjoying sun, sea and culture in one of Southeast Asia’s most underrated cities
Average weather: 72-88 degrees, 5 days of rainfall

What to do:
• Watch some of the world’s best cricket at R. Premadasa Stadium
• Fly a kite at Galle Face Green, an expansive public park overlooking the Indian Ocean
• Go for a stroll and dine on fresh seafood at Mount Lavinia Beach
• Attend an opera or symphony at the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaska Theater
• Meditate at Seema Malaka, a peaceful Buddhist temple on the shores of Beira Lake

Mumbai, India

Bandra Worli Sea Link in Mumbai

The biggest city in a country of more than a billion people, Mumbai is a whirlwind of activity. With rainy days all but non-existent and cooler evening temperatures the norm, January is the perfect time to go.

Perfect for: Getting an overview of classical and modern India
Average January Weather: 62-88 degrees, little to no chance of rainfall

What to do:
• Visit Elephant Island, home to temples and stone carvings that date back to the 5th century
• See Shree Siddhivinayak, a grand building dedicated to the Hindu God of Good Fortune
• Tour a Bollywood studio for a behind-the-scenes look at India’s greatest cultural export
• Wander around Kala Ghoda Art Precinct, home to galleries, museums and the site of India’s first-ever film screening
• Go for a drive down the Bandra-Worli Sea Link for a breathtaking view of the city

Skiing and Winter Sightseeing in Europe

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt Village with Matterhorn

Located where Switzerland and Italy meet in the shadow of the iconic Matterhorn, Zermatt is a world-famous winter destination. High altitudes in the Alps means ski season can stretch into the summer, but January offers superb snow conditions. Even if you’d rather stay off the slopes, the region still has plenty of things to see and do.

Perfect for: World-class winter sports set against one of Europe’s most stunning backdrops
Average January weather: 18-33 degrees, 8 days of snowfall

What to do:
• Ski Zermatt’s challenging slopes, which feature the highest-elevation lift-accessible runs on the continent
• Immerse yourself in the area’s rich mountaineering tradition at the Matterhorn Museum
• Ski or snowboard across the border from Switzerland to Italy via the Testa Grigia lift
• Ride the Gornergrat Bahn train, Europe’s highest-altitude railway, from Zermatt up to the Gornergrat summit

Prague, Czech Republic

Charles Bridge in Prague

With styles ranging from medieval to Art Nouveau, Prague is one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Europe. January travelers will want to bundle up, but long winter nights bring out the character of this deeply gothic city. It’s the perfect time to tour the city by day and warm up with a hearty meal and Czech beer once the sun sets.

Perfect for: Bohemians and fans of Bohemian history alike
Average January Weather: 25-35 degrees, 7 days of precipitation

What to do:
• Walk across the 14th century Charles Bridge towards Old Town, a medieval square featuring gothic architecture and the 600-year-old Astronomical clock
• Tour Prague Castle—the world’s largest of its kind—which has served as the residence of Bohemian kings, Holy Roman emperors and Czech presidents since the 9th century
• Climb up the Petrin Hill tower for a bird’s-eye view of Prague’s skyline
• Pore over the exhibits of the National Museum, spanning subjects like natural history, visual art, music, and theater
• Snap some photos of the Dancing House, an off-kilter building that defies the expectations of traditional architecture

Escaping Winter in Central America and the Caribbean

León, Nicaragua

Volcano in Leon Nicaragua

With beautiful beaches and one-of-a-kind adventure attractions, a visit to León will not disappoint. In fact, Nicaragua’s underrated status as a vacation spot means you won’t have to break the bank to have an unforgettable trip.

Perfect for: Extreme sports enthusiasts and history buffs
Average January weather: 66-83 degrees, 1 day of rainfall

What to do:
• Slide down the black sand of Cerro Negro, the world’s only active volcano to offer sandboarding
• Catch a wave at Playa Las Penitas, one of Nicaragua’s many great surf breaks
• Learn about the nation’s struggle for independence at the Museo de la Revolucion
• Explore the ruins of León Viejo, where Conquistadors settled back in 1524
• Climb to the top of the Basilica Cathedral de la Asuncion for an impressive view of León

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Beach in Punta Cana

January may be the “coldest” month in this Dominican beach town, but you won’t notice when you’re laying on the sand in eighty degree weather.

Perfect for: Sampling the best activities of the quintessential Caribbean experience
Average January Weather: 70-84 degrees, 7 days of rainfall

What to do:
• Go for a long walk in the white sand of Macao beach
• Dive into the vibrant blue waters at Hoyo Azul
• Hike through jungle trails and snorkel the crystal-clear lagoon at the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park & Reserve
• Swim with dolphins at one of the area’s dolphin parks and preserves
• Escape the mainland crowds out on Isla Catalina

U.S. Virgin Islands

Scuba Diving in the Virgin Islands

Composed of St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas, this American territory is an oasis of splendid beaches, scuba diving, and everything else that comes along with island life. The fact that you can also pay for everything in U.S. Dollars doesn’t hurt.

Perfect for: Experiencing a beach vacation that’s worlds away without passing through customs
Average January Weather: 72-85 degrees, 13 days of rainfall

What to do:
• Dip your toes into the clear blue waters of Trunk Bay or Honeymoon Beach
• Observe tropical fish through a diving mask at the Buck Island Reef National Monument
• Kayak at night through the bioluminescent Salt River Bay, where the plankton and comb jellyfish give the water a dreamlike glow
• Examine 1,000-year-old petroglyphs, an old sugar cane mill, and plenty of untouched natural beauty along the Reef Bay hiking trail

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