The top seven places to visit this new year 2020!
* Fiesta, Siesta, Tequila *
Filled with virgin forests, pristine coastlines and an undying passion for fiestas, a holiday in Mexico is sure to be an unforgettable one. This exotic paradise is home to some of the world’s best beaches while boasting a vibrant and internationally acclaimed nightlife, all wrapped in the country’s sublime natural beauty. There are endless amazing places to visit in Mexico, and there’s really no bad time to travel here. Since this is such a large country, the climate varies depending on where you are, and which time of year you plan to visit. Hurricane season runs from June to November and some cities can be cold during the winter months. But, for the most part, Mexico is a great place to visit in January if you’re looking for warm beach weather, which is good news if you’re from the northern hemisphere.
With many early new year great deals on offer, most travellers are definitely spoiled for choice when visiting the country of Piñatas. There’s a Mexican travel experience suitable for everyone including last minute deals. And as flights and hotels around the region become increasingly competitive, Mexico should be a real contender for your next cheap yet fun-filled holiday.
Mexico is highly rated by discerning tourists and travellers as among their top choice of favourite countries to visit. January in Mexico means great weather, whale watching season, a close proximity to North America and extremely low travel costs. This is a place where you can dine in one of the world’s best cuisines, visit a natural wonder of the world, swim in pristine clear waters and explore Spanish colonial towns, all without breaking the bank.
Indeed, Mexico’s strength lies in its diversity. It has everything a tourist yearns for – virgin beaches, loud and lively music scenes and, of course, Mexican food. But if there’s one thing Mexico is known for, it’s the celebrations. Mexican traditions have become increasingly popular even in regions well outside of Mexico. It has even gone so far as to inspire the creation of popular films and other media. These traditions reflect the rich history of Mexico and the fun personality of its people so well that it’s easy to fall in love with each and every one of them. Values such as family and friendship are deeply entrenched in the country’s culture. So if you are thinking of making Mexico your next travel destination but don’t know which places suit you, then look no further than Playa del Carmen.
Locally known as Playa, Playa del Carmen is fast becoming the trendiest place in the Yucatán Peninsula; with lively bars, chic cafés, timeshares, and all inclusive resorts popping up from all over the city. Playa del Carmen offers a slightly more relaxed vibe, making it great for nature lovers and non-stop shoppers. Playa’s evergrowing large expat community has been a significant driving force on the local flavor. This international influence is one of the things that make this town so unique from the rest of Mexico. Nowhere else can you find such a wide variety of flavors within a few feet from each other. The most popular spot in Playa is Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue), a walking street lined with trendy clubs, international restaurants and cheap souvenir stands.
For those who love the water, head over to Tulum, an area featuring some of the best beaches found in Mexico. With sugar sand beaches and turquoise water, Tulum certainly has a lot going for itself. It is also home to one of the most picturesque ruins in Mexico. The ruins are situated on a tall cliff, along the coast of the Caribbean Sea and is by far the only archaeological site in the country that was built directly overlooking the ocean.
There are also numerous breathtaking denotes, excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities, beautiful nature reserves, fun water parks, great street art and so much more just a few feet away. Downtown Tulum is the perfect place to escape the overly crowded tourist locations in Mexico while enjoying a relaxing time with locals. Overall, Tulum offers the perfect combination of relaxation, fun and adventure.
If its cities and towns that you’re after in January, places like Mexico City and San Cristobal de las Casas will be quite chilly. But, you can enjoy all of the things to do in Oaxaca City, including a visit to the impressive Monte Alban ruins, or check out the colourful towns of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, both of which have comfortable temperatures. On top of the fantastic beaches and pretty towns, the food in Mexico is arguably one of the best in the world. In fact, it’s listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Try the various regional dishes, the street food and of course, the drinks. Going on a food tour is one of the best things to do in Mexico.
* Mecca of the Midwest *
January in Chicago is a great time to experience the city. It’s a slow season for tourism which means you won’t have to wait in long lines or stand in crowds. Chicago offers a vast variety of things for everyone. It’s no surprise that the city is one of the finest tourist destinations in the entire United States. With miles of beautiful beaches and museums that rank among the world’s best, the urban vibe is topped with the friendliest city-dwellers any tourist can encounter. With so much to see and do, it can be tough for visitors to decide which Chicago attractions are really worth experiencing. Whether you’re an out-of-towner or a tried-and-true Chicagoan planning a stay cation, Chicago will never run out surprises. And if you’re feeling decadent, cap off your day of sightseeing with a meal at any of the best restaurants found in town. Ready to dive in to the windy city? Here are the top Chicago attractions you simply shouldn’t miss.
The Millennium Park is undoubtedly Chicago’s crown jewel. Known for hosting major concerts and festivals, this is one of the most popular Chicago attractions which is all about the city’s weekend vibe. You’ll find interesting sculptures and contemporary installations spread across the vast 25-acre park while taking an evening stroll. The Millennium Park is definitely one of the best places to visit in Chicago for all kinds of tourists. One of the most popular landmarks of the park in The Bean – a shiny giant bean-shaped sculpture located smack at the centre of the park. According to the Chicago Traveller, The Bean sculpture is made up of 168 highly polished stainless steel plates that gives somewhat the appearance of liquid mercury. Up close however, the highly reflective surface of the sculpture captures the beautiful nearby skyline of Chicago.
Now, when talking about the most exquisite places to see in the city, the Art Institute has got to be on top of the list of any tourist visiting the windy city. It houses a collection of more than 300,000 pieces of artwork. Even if you’re not an art connoisseur, the gorgeous Greek sculptures, Japanese prints, and stained glass installations are enough to make you an fan in no time. Visitors can also dine at the Art Institute’s restaurant, Terzo Piano that offers spectacular views of the Millennium Park.
When it comes to urban sightseeing, taking a stroll along the Riverwalk is an absolute must. Tourists can enjoy the city lights next to the Chicago river while choosing your next dinner menu from the wide array of bars, pubs and restaurants the line the streets. The Riverwalk has some of the best restaurants in the city with other amazing nearby places easily accessible via water taxi.
Of course, you’re never done with Chicago until you visit its commercial district famously known as the Magnificent Mile. Find the best selection of fashion stores and topnotch boutiques at this vibrant location. And if you’re in town long enough, why not be a part of the Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival that is held every summer. Also, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is another top draw event not to be missed as you dedicate an entire day indulging in the atmosphere of the complete Chicago cosmopolitan experience.
If you fancy concerts, the Jay Pitzker Pavillion is where many musical events are held with the occasional movies at the park. Every full moon during summertime, they have the Chicago Full Moon Festival, where there are fire performances and candle lighting accompanied by contemporary music.
If you want to experience the fun side of Chicago, The Crown Fountain is definitely the landmark you should visit. It’s a fountain mounted on a huge tile wall that openly invites passers-by to splash around in the shallow reflecting pool and get soaked by the stream of water that comes from giant illuminated faces that are projected on the wall.
Completed in July of 2004, the Crown Fountain was designed by artist Jaume Plensa with Krueck and Sexton Architects. The installation is essentially an interactive work of public art incorporating video, water features and architectural design to create a lasting snapshot of Chicago’s diverse population. Standing on opposite ends of a huge reflecting pool are two large towers that stand 50 feet high and which are completely covered in LED lights behind glass bricks. Every few minutes the LEDs rotate a video image of one of 1,000 different Chicago residents across the tower faces. Each resident smiles for a short period of time, then puckers their lips, as a pipe embedded within the screen that’s 12 feet from the ground sends out a large stream of water, giving the illusion that the huge faces are spitting. As a transition between faces, the tower goes black and a cascading waterfall comes raining down the sides.
* The End of the World *
January in Argentina equates to longer days and a perfect blissful summer weather. It is a time when locals skip out of town and head to the nearest beach resorts. It’s also a peak season for tourism specially in the southern part of Patagonia which is famous for its glaciers, wildlife and national parks, so do expect ticket prices to be a little bit on the expensive side during this time.
Argentina normally welcomes the warmest temperatures of the year during January. A time when visitors flock from all over the world. Except for a small tropical area in northern Argentina, including the world famous Iguazu Falls, the country lies within the temperate zone with dry weather in Patagonia, and warmer, humid air across most of the midlands of the country.
Since summer months in Argentina offer the best climate to cater to a string of various tourist adventures, expect to see peak crowds this time of the year. That makes January an expensive time to travel and brings more challenges in terms of hotel reservations being potentially overbooked and overpriced from time to time.
Travellers this month will, however, enjoy longer daytime hours, especially in Patagonia’s far south with about 15 hours worth of daylight. January is a great time to head to the various attractions while the weather is in your favour. A major draw of the region is the mountain town of El Chalten. It’s the perfect rally point for hikers with a number of trail heads just outside of town, with many routes offering a wonderful panoramic view of the world famous peaks like the Fitz Roy, Poincenot and Torre.
Closer to the town of El Calafate, you’ll be able to avail a day-trip to Perito Moreno in Los Glaciares National Park where you can see the famous glaciers from a number of different vantage points via the network of wooden walkways strategically positioned in front of Perito Moreno. With a short boat tour, you’ll even get up close and personal with its massive ice wall and even witness “calving,” the sight of ice breaking off the facade and comes crashing into the tranquil waters below, if you’re lucky enough.
The Argentine Lake District in northern Patagonia also offers excellent hiking tours and kayaking activities along the charming towns like Bariloche. Warmer weather seekers should consider heading north to visit a string of beaches along the coast in Mar del Plata including Punta Mogotes and Playa Grande.
Also, do watch out for local events in January like the Festival Nacional del Folklore – Argentina’s largest and best-known folk festival held during the last week of January in the town of Cosquín, near the city of Córdoba.
There’s also a Carnival in Gualeguaychú held each January and February. It’s a time when the entire town of Gualeguaychu becomes the single largest site of the longest-awaited carnival in the country, famous for its dancers, costumes, and floats, even rivalling that of Brazil’s Rio carnival. This celebration takes place over nine Saturdays between the two first months of the year, so you’ll have plenty of chances to take part in this unforgettable event.
And regardless of your plans for visiting Argentina, a trip to the world famous Iguazu Falls has to be on top of your list. Spanning 2.7 kilometres wide with 275 waterfalls at its disposal, Iguazu Falls is revered by many as one of the world’s most riveting natural wonder you’ll ever witness. It has continuously drawn travellers from all over to witness and experience its legendary angelic cascades in person. Originating from the Guarani name for “big water” Iguazu Falls plays a significant part in the political and geographical structure of the whole of South America. Situated right at the border dividing the Argentina province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Parana, Iguazu Falls is surrounded by the South American rain forests and the noise of the wildlife that call the cascades home.
And to top off your grand tour of this epic country, visit Ushuaia. Located on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago on the southernmost tip of South America, Ushuaia sits on a steep hill among the Martial Mountains and the neighbouring Beagle Channel. At the heart of where the Andes meet the shores of the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia is a bustling and busy port that’s also famously called as the end of the world. As the gateway to Antarctica, many Antarctica-bound vessels come to the port to stay for a while. The town has since become both a missionary and naval base for the navy while attracting visitors from all around for its outdoor activities and its rising status as an upcoming travel gem.
* Opulent Odyssey *
Greece is one of those destinations that captures your imagination and makes you want to return over and over again. Famous for its ancient sites, such as the Acropolis in Athens, and its amazing archipelagos, there’s still so much more to discover. If you’re planning an unforgettable sightseeing holiday, the best sites in Greece will certainly not disappoint.With cocktails in hand, enjoy awe-inspiring historical tours and the local vibe in Athens. Wander around popular islands without the hordes of tourists is one of the perks of going there in January. Greece is excellent to visit in the taper/off-season and while it’s a bit chilly, nothing beats the feeling of exploring without the crowds.
Athens is a very comfortable temperature, around 10 °C (50 °F) in January, and the city doesn’t see much rain during this month either. Walking around Athens is a great way to experience the city, and during January you won’t feel the heat and be able to enjoy genuine encounters with the locals that you meet along the way.
The Acropolis, with the impressive Parthenon, is obviously the top site in all of Greece. For those who simply must visit an island when travelling to Greece, a good bet in January is Santorini or Crete. Both of which still have the after-vibe going on in the winter months. However, in Santorini, rather than staying in the popular Oia town, Fira would probably be a better choice. The island isn’t dead during January even though many restaurants and bars outside of Fira shut down during the winter months.
In January you can enjoy all of the usual top draws in Santorini, except for swimming and the beach. Expect sunny days of up to 15 °C (59°F) and enjoy sightseeing without the tourists mob hassle. Hike the caldera path which runs between Fira and Oia, as you sample wines. Stroll around the volcano and see the ancient Akrotiri village which is now in ruins. Continue your hike to Thera, the ancient capital and enjoy a peaceful dinner with a magnificent sunset view.
On the island of Crete, stay in either Heraklion, Chania, or Rethymnon. Enjoy wine tastings, beach picnics, cafe hopping, and a tour of the ruins of Knossos. Try also ski mountaineering or simply wander around the nearby towns. Hotel prices in January are significantly lower in Greece and you can enjoy having a more relaxed experience.
* All Play, Party All Day *
January is one of the best time to visit Miami. While the rest of the USA is still half frozen, Miami’s climate stays near-perfect with some chilly cold fronts every now and then but most days are still just right for beach goers or an outdoor happy hour. And with the Miami Music Week just around the corner in March of 2020, expect no shortage of things to do and awesome sights to enjoy along the boulevards of palm trees and Cuban music wrapped in festive lights. The city really takes advantage of its annual boom in population, and every year brings something new.
Miami is synonymous to beaches. The Miami Beach area is perfect for soaking up some rays on its fine warm sands . The beach itself is technically outside of the Miami municipality as it is located on an island. Aside from the beaches, the area is also known for its Art Deco district and the odd but beautiful buildings that are found within.
The Jungle Island is also one of the most popular attractions in the city of Miami. Formerly known as Parrot Jungle, it is located on Watson Island where Winston Churchill actually visiting it way back in 1946. The Jungle is only minutes away from South Beach and Downtown Miami. Through interactive experiences, the Jungle Island captivates park visitors with a sense of adventure and discovery. Catch one of their daily exciting shows.
Miami is also considered a Mecca for street art. With a hint of 1930’s nostalgia, the beautifully restored buildings within the Art Deco District have a lot to offer during a typical day at the Miami beach area. Looking out, you’ll see a lot of the pastel painted buildings that are a great place to stop by for lunch or a nice evening meal. With its neon signs and canopy covered dining areas, the Art Deco District truly comes to its own specially after dark.
And no Miami experience is complete without a quick dip at its Cuban heritage. Well recognised for its cultural flavor, Little Havana offers a great deal of entertainment from open air social areas to its many restaurants and specialty food shops. With non stop lively Latin music drifting through the air and street art depicting important Cuban figures you will feel completely immersed in the distinctive cultural atmosphere. Calle Ocho is known as the heart of Little Havana. It’s where most of the activities are set but the district has slowly spread into the surrounding streets and avenues.
Thrill seekers that want to experience the Miami coastline should look no further than booking for the Miami Speedboat Adventure, the only speedboat sightseeing tour that takes you offshore for an adrenaline pumping ride. Hop onboard, and get ready for some serious speed rush as you feel the wind whipping your face as you zoom through the surf. Along the way, marvel at the sight of Star Island and Fisher Island as you enjoy views of yachts and mansions. Find your way to the Bayside Marketplace in downtown Miami to avail of the speedboat adventure. Settle in to your seat as your captain cruises the boat past the cruise ship channel Flagler Monument Island and the US Coast Guard Station. Choose to slow down for a closer look at the Millionaire’s Row of mansions on Star Island as well as the Venetian Islands as your captain gives you some trivia and info on whose famous person lives where and what the ostentatious homes are worth. Then cruise out to Fisher Island and South Point Park, the location of the highest per capita income anywhere in the country. Then switch to top speed while travelling through the Government Cut, as you head out to the Atlantic Ocean.
After a thrilling seaside adventure, take a day trip from Miami to Key West, the southernmost city in the United States, without even renting or driving a car. Day tours allow you to pass over 42 bridges, including Seven Mile Bridge, and 34 islands as you travel the Overseas Highway. Travellers are then dropped off at 908 Caroline Street right in front of the Flagler Museum where travellers are given 6 hours to freely roam the streets of Key West and enjoy an afternoon of free time. Explore the laid-back town on your own or book an optional tour and get out on the water.
If your taste is more on the wild side, check out Miami’s Florida Everglades. You can avoid the crowds that flock to the Florida Everglades by joining a small-group wildlife tour which is limited to only six people. Hop on board an airboat and begin to glide through the Florida Everglades’ region. Prepare to spot alligators, birds, and snakes as you sail through the tall River of Grass as your guide provides interesting and informative commentaries about the wildlife spotting experience. Plus, choose between two tour lengths, so you can find what works best with your schedule.The tour then concludes at the original departure point.Some tours even offer complimentary tickets for children 3 years, considered lap children. Do however, advise your preferred time to the tour group way in advance.
* Ancient Allure *
Sri Lanka experiences a rather warm, tropical climate and is very much an all-year-round destination. Generally, the best time to visit is from December to March when it’s mostly dry. For such a small country, Sri Lanka has an extremely varied climate. The island is a year-round hot spot thanks to its close proximity to the equator. But if you get your timing right, you’ll be rewarded with a perfect beach weather and slight cool breezes.
Home to four major religions, Sri Lanka features many religious festivals that are mostly the top draws for tourists following the lunar calendar. For this reason the dates vary from year to year. The country can also grind to a screeching halt during these festive times.
The glory of medieval Sri Lanka can be felt everywhere you go but is best appreciated at Polonnaruwa, an ancient and compact city which features 12th-century stone sculptures and the Gal Vihara, comprising of three enormous Buddha sculptures; one reclining, one standing and the third seated. The statues are located in a cluster along a dirt road where they are revered as being among the most sacred monuments in all of Sri Lanka.
Anyone visiting Sri Lanka must never leave without paying homage to its top draw – Sigiriya. Located atop a rock plateau overlooking lush jungles, Sigiriya is the mysterious remains of the 5th-century fortress of King Kasyapa. These ruins of are the most unique of the ancient sites simply because of its unique location. Be sure to brave the spiral staircase to see the awesome 1500-year old painted frescoes located beneath an overhang about 90m up the rock. This archaeological site, unparalleled in South Asia, is a place of pilgrimage for Sri Lankans and has been declared a World Heritage Site.
Fancy a challenging hike tour? Then the hill city of Kandy is just the place for you. Considered to be the last bastion of the Sinhala Kings, Kandy is a charming place that offers a living record of its amazing history and is set around a majestic man-made lake in scenic hill country. It is also the site of Sri Lanka’s greatest annual spectacle, the Esala Perahera Festival, also known as the Kandy Festival where thousands of people from all parts of the country along with huge elephants are paraded in the courtyards of the temple. Kandy’s star attraction is the ornate Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) which houses a sacred relic in a well-guarded casket.
Landing in Sri Lanka takes you to its capital, Colombo – a modern city filled with good hotels, restaurants, al fresco cafes, shopping and every form of transport imaginable. Just off the north end of Galle Road is the Fort, once a colonial stronghold but is now home to many government residences and offices. To the south is Galle Face Green, a seaside promenade where informal cricket games are played out among city folk.
After you get tired of the city, head over to Sri Lanka’s cool hill countryside which offers a welcome antidote to the heat of the coast. Situated among tranquil tea plantations and with an elevation of about 1990 metres, Nuwara Eliya is one of the highest and most attractive towns in the hillside region. Built by English tea growers, it remained their favourite hill station during colonial times. Nuwara Eliya boasts the best golf course in Sri Lanka and is home to the impressive Hakgala Botanical Gardens.
Anuradhapura is also one of Sri Lanka’s most fascinating destinations brimming with ancient ruins and mysterious areas. Founded in the 3rd century BC, it was at one point considered the heart of Sri Lankan civilisation. The city is deeply tucked in dense jungles and was inaccessible for hundreds of years. Marvel at the sight of the three main dagobas, which were among the largest structures ever built in the ancient world. Another highlight that cannot be missed is the scared Sri Maha Bodhi, one of the world’s most revered trees. It is said that this tree grew from a cutting that was taken from the original bodhi tree, under which Buddha attained enlightenment in India. Yet the city isn’t all sombre worshipping – frequent ceremonies and celebrations inject the streets with life and vibrancy.
Venture further to the lush forests of Adam’s Peak, or Sri Pada as it is locally called. Considered as one of the most sacred places in the country, for many centuries it has been a pilgrimage site for people from all range of different faiths, including Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. Visitors usually start their journey in the middle of the night when the path to the top is lit up by strings of lights. The magical effect of this lighting technique is certainly enjoyed by hikers as they climb the path. The purpose of this incredibly early start is to ensure that your arrival at the summit coincides with the sunrise. There are few sights more beautiful than watching the sun emerge across the horizon, lighting up the country in a warm golden glow.
* Tranquil Treat *
Costa Rica is one of the most visited countries in Central America. American tourists have been flocking to its shores for almost a decade, and is now a hot spot for retirees and expats thanks to its cheap living, great weather, pristine beaches and friendly locals. Costa Rica is one of the best places to relax, detox, or be active after a crazy holiday season. This Central American country is known for being “The place” to practice yoga and go surfing.
The Pacific coast and central valley of Costa Rica are mostly dry during January, while the Caribbean coast is wet during this time. It’s best to focus to the west and central part of the region. January is the high season, which means that prices are at a high, but you’re basically guaranteed great weather. So book early to avail better prices, and try to book your trip after the first week of January. For those who want a more active experience, try surfing along the north pacific between Guanacaste and Nicoya. Tamarindo and Playa Grande are famous spots for surfers of all levels.
If it’s wildlife you seek, January is whale watching season in the country, while turtles and dolphins can be spotted pretty much all-year round. There are numerous things to see and do in Costa Rica, and because of the great weather and rich wildlife, January is definitely one of the best times to visit.
Located on the Caribbean coast near Panama, Puerto Viejo is popular place with young people and backpackers because of its beaches and party scene. The town is vibrant and you’ll find special events being held every night. It’s perhaps the most popular destination on the Caribbean coast. For those who are looking for some peace and quiet, there are many tranquil beach hotels scattered all over the region. Check out the jaguar rescue center nearby that rehabilitates all kinds of local wildlife and releases them back to the wild.
A tiny town situated right next to a stunning national park, Cahuita is about an hour north of Puerto Viejo. Cahuita is also a place to relax and rejuvenate. There’s one bar in town that gets lively and is sometimes half full, but for the most part, after a day of hiking, wildlife spotting or surfing, most visitors prefer to just sit around and enjoy the quiet atmosphere. The region is also known for its Afro-Caribbean influences, which is very visible in the food and local culture as you dig in to some dessert crepes or grilled chicken.