Where to Travel in January

Thailand

Winter blues? What better way to escape the cold than spend the first weeks of the year on an unspoilt island, overlooking the beach from a thatched bungalow. Yes, we're talking about a Thailand that doesn't feature full moon parties and drunk teenagers - you just have to know where to go. Heard about the islands of Ko Surin or Ko Kood? If not, go now, before everyone else finds out about them.

Kitzbühel, Austria

This picturesque town is a ski destination suited to all levels. Those who'd rather avoid the slopes entirely can happily potter around the little shops, get stuck in at charming alpine restaurants and join the buzzy but not too flash après-ski scene.

Patagonia, Argentina and Chile

Patagonia's spectacular scenery is one of those once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. Whether you visit the mammoth Perito Moreno glacier, travel to Ushuaia aka "the end of the world" or spend the day whale watching, it's a trip that'll stick with you forever. It also makes a fantastic

alternative honeymoon destination

.

Bansko, Bulgaria

If you're after an off-the-beaten track alternative to Austria, look no further than Bansko in Bulgaria, a dream combination of high peaks and low prices. While the town itself is still undergoing an aesthetic transformation, the slopes have become the destination du jour for skiers looking for fresh snow and a lively, up-for-anything vibe.

Nicaragua

Not as crowded as its neighbouring Central American countries, immerse yourself in the azure tranquility of the Caribbean Sea on the east coast, or the crashing waves of the Pacific on the west. Be sure to leave room in your luggage for world-famous coffee and chocolate products.

Oaxaca City, Mexico

Head to this magical Mexican city to watch artisans craft fantastical creatures out of a single piece of wood, as well as the ancient craft of mezcal distillation being brought bang up to date for contemporary cocktails - with plenty of opportunity to sample the agave-derived spirit.

Dubai, UAE

January can be a very gloomy month, but it doesn't have to be. Get a much-needed vitamin D boost and cheer yourself up with some shopping on a quick weekend trip to Dubai. The emerging art scene and its accompanying café culture is also worth checking out, or you can easily hop over to Abu Dhabi to visit the newly opened Louvre - while you're there make sure to check out our selection of restaurants.

Los Angeles, US

After December, a health kick might be just what you need, so head to LA for green juice, gluten-free food and long hikes. While Malibu Beach might be the postcard of this sprawling city, don't miss out on neighbouring Santa Monica for a fitness culture all of its own. Back in tinsel town, hit up Downtown LA and Koreatown, where you'll find a young creative community and 24-hour K-Town vibe.

Tromsø, Norway

If you're after an adrenaline rush, Tromsø is the one. Fill the short daylight hours with husky safaris, ice kick-sledding and fishing. If you're lucky, come night time you'll curl up under the Northern Lights and if not, thousands (and we mean thousands) of stars.

Philippines

Looking to get your hands on a diving licence? With an underwater world that counts more Nemo-like fish species than viewers of the namesake film, it's hard to choose which reef surrounding the Philippines' more than 7000 islands to choose from. If you're more Tarzan than Ariel, this tropical getaway also comes with world-class jungle waterfalls.

Vietnam

While you're spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor activities on Vietnam's mainland, nothing beats the southern island's beaches in January. Visit Phu Quoc or Con Dao for secluded sands largely untouched by tourists, or spend days riding a motorbike through vast national parks and sleepy fishing villages.

Sayulita, Mexico

For a unique take on a Mexican winter holiday, head to Sayulita, the country's retreat for international creative types and surf stars alike. Set on the Pacific coast, it's the ideal place to get your fill of sunshine, mojitos and surf lessons while straying away from the all-inclusive resorts of Puerto Vallarta and into the arms of your new artsy best friends.

Gabon, Central Africa

On the west coast of Central Africa, Gabon is a country of vast, wildlife-filled parkland framed by sandy beaches on one side and thick rainforests on the other. Just over 10 per cent of the country is dedicated to protected parkland - Loango National Park is the most popular, known as "Africa's last Eden" for its patches of dense forests interspersed with lagoons and white-sand beaches. Visit Libreville, one of Gabon's colourful cities, with vibrant street markets, modern restaurants and buzzy bars, and take a boat to spend the day on nearby Pointe Denis, a sandy peninsula perfect for sunbathing and water sports. Go in January for some winter sun, and to catch a glimpse of sea turtles - they nest between November and January.

What's happening in the world in January?

1 January: New Year's Day

26 January: Australia Day