As Christmas slopes into the distance, journeying to find some sun is an appealing prospect for January. I would recommend beach time on a Caribbean island, a secluded Cambodian archipelago or Sri Lanka’s southern shores. In Africa, the January rains break the Kalahari heat and the quenched plains spring to life. Journey to Botswana to watch newborn zebra take their first steps as migratory birds feast on the fresh grasses.
In Baja California, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, you can watch as hundreds of whales and dolphins leap, arch and twirl in and out of the ocean. If you’re after cooler climes, temperatures in India have cooled enough to make exploring its fortress cities comfortable. Or, embrace winter in the steaming waters of a Japanese hot-spring bath after exploring the snow-dusted forests of the Japanese Alps.
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After the Christmas buzz, January is a quieter time to visit India, before visitor numbers climb in February and March. You’ll need extra layers in early mornings and evenings, but after the dawn mist has cleared, you’re usually rewarded with crisp blue skies.
These cooler climes are ideal for exploring the fortified desert cities of Rajasthan, watching an atmospheric sunrise over the Taj Mahal in Agra and shopping in Jaipur’s artisanal markets without the summer heat. We also recommend the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where the beaches, backwaters and colonial hill stations are sunny and warm.
Don't miss: The best of Rajasthan: why to stay in an Indian fort
Flight time: 8½ hours (New Delhi)
Time difference: UTC +5:30
January Temperature (Day): -6 to 32°C, depending on the region
January rainfall: 0 to 75mm, varies by region
January is high summer in Australia, with warm and sunny days, unless you’re in the humid north, prone to tropical showers. An alternative to seeing New Year fireworks around Sydney Harbour is to visit in late January around Australia Day. Lively festivals and sporting events occur during the day, and fireworks light up the sky at night, with the Sydney Opera House standing proud in the background.
You can also experience the many other outdoor events running throughout the month as Australians make the most of the warm summer weather, including outdoor cinema screenings and theatre.
Don't miss: Live (it up) like a local: why stay in a luxury Australian private home?
Flight time: 20 hours (Perth) or 24 hours (Sydney)
Time difference: UTC +7 to UTC +11
January Temperature (Day): 19 to 33°C, depending on the region
January rainfall: 4 to 200mm, varies by region
January brings cool Siberian winds and heavy snowfall to northern parts of Japan, where the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics have left a legacy of excellent ski facilities. Kyoto, Hiroshima and the southern islands stay relatively mild. Crisp air, clear blue skies and dry weather mean that the cooler weather isn’t a barrier to travel.
This is a good time to take a trip through the Japanese Alps for snowy castle landscapes, lamp-lit shrines and cups of warm sake. Then, when it snows, you can retreat to a rotemburo (alfresco hot-spring bath), where you can soak in the steaming waters as snowflakes fall around you.
This is also the best time to try snow crabs, a delicacy so popular that the crabs are only caught for a few months each year to maintain a sustainable population. You’ll find them available along the north coast, but some of the freshest are in Kanazawa.
Don't miss: Stay in a ryokan.
Flight time: 11½ hours (Tokyo)
Time difference: UTC +9
January Temperature (Day): -5 to 32°C, depending on the region
January rainfall: 53 to 433mm, varies by region
January is the start of central Vietnam’s summer season when the weather in the heritage-rich towns of Hue and Hoi An is warm and dry. This is a good time to relax by some of Vietnam’s best beaches around Nha Trang, where the early morning light offers up some of Asia’s best sunrises.
Temperatures around Saigon and the Mekong Delta can reach 30°C, ideal for lazy river cruises along the Mekong or the Red River. In contrast, temperatures drop dramatically in the mountain towns of Sapa and Ha Giang north of the country, and the air can become quite hazy, so views in Halong Bay are not at their best.
Tet, the lunar new year, is usually celebrated at the end of the month, with traditional shows and dragon dance performances.
Don't miss: Bassac
Flight time: 13½ hours (Hanoi, via Paris)
Time difference: UTC +7
January Temperature (Day): 18 to 34°C, depending on the region
January rainfall: 4 to 464mm, varies by region
5. Sri Lanka - Visited
With sunny, dry days and calm seas, January is when southwest Sri Lanka is best. This is a good time to relax by the golden-sand beaches around Bentota or Tangalle and explore the fortified Dutch city of Galle. The Galle Literary Festival takes place annually around the end of the month, with writers arriving worldwide to attend.
January is also prime whale-watching season — you’ll often spot blue, sperm and Bryde’s whales, as well as many dolphin species and flying fish. Looking inland, the central hill region — known as Little England due to year-round showers — is at its driest and best explored on guided tea-plantation hikes and scenic railway journeys.
Don't miss: Horton Plains Walk
Flight time: 11½ hours (Colombo)
Time difference: UTC +5:30
January Temperature (Day): 25 to 33°C, depending on the region
January rainfall: 24 to 173mm, varies by region
6. The Caribbean - Visited
January is one of the sunniest, driest months to visit the Caribbean. There can still be some rain, but it’s generally short bursts that give way to sunshine. To get your pick of the accommodation at this time of year, we recommend booking well in advance.
In Grenada, the annual sailing festival brings international yacht racing to the Caribbean, with a lively festival atmosphere and a range of authentic cuisine. Carnival Day is celebrated in Saint-Kitts and Nevis, with calypso competitions and vibrant parades; if you’re looking for a sunny but slightly cooler island, the temperatures in Antigua peak at a comfortable 27 C (81 F).
Don't miss the Boutique hotels of the Caribbean.
January Temperature (Day): 0 to 40°C, depending on the region
January rainfall: 0 to 600mm, varies by region