Local travel Small Planet Travel are often asked to find holidays for people at entirely the wrong time of year. What do they mean by that ? Dubai in August – far too hot, Ibiza in November to get a tan – unlikely to happen or Iceland in June to see the Northern Lights – you guessed it – it won’t happen ! So here is their guide to the best time to travel to some amazing destinations.
January – With Christmas but a distant dream and plenty cold weather still to come peoples thoughts turn to sunshine. We recommend beach time in Thailand, think about areas such as Phuket, Koh Samui or Krabi. There are some amazing beaches in these locations and that is combined with great service and affordable prices. South Africa is also a great destination at this time of the year and with no time difference jet lag is not a problem. Cape Town and the surrounding areas are perfect at this time of year, enjoy the sights of the city or venture out onto the Garden Route and see just what the country has to offer. Mexico is another great choice at this time of the year and should you visit its Pacific Coast then be prepared to be amazed at the sight of hundreds of whales and dolphins – it’s the start of whale watch season.
February – It may be freezing in the northern hemisphere but it’s the height of summer in New Zealand and Australia. The summer holidays are over and you get the place to yourselves. I can’t think of anywhere better to be. Rent a camper van and find your own private space. The beaches are amazing and there are campgrounds with incredible views close to town and some spectacular places to eat. For the more energetic the walking trails are open so you can enjoy the pure air and be wowed by the views. Or how about Hong Kong to celebrate the Chinese New Year ? 15 days of festivities kick off in February and Hong Kong can be easily combined with the beauty of Cambodia.
March – Springtime is upon us in Japan, the milder temperatures combined with the early plum blossom show makes it a great value time to travel ahead of the peak blossom season. Japan has always been a popular destination for organised tours but it is easy to put together a more bespoke tour and travel by bullet train so you can sample the modernity of the big cities and the ancient culture staying in traditional inns in Hakone. Or how about the colours of India for Holi festival and join in with the locals as they celebrate.
April – This is the perfect time to travel to South America. From bird watching in the Galapagos or visiting the Iguaco Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil, South America has much to offer the traveller looking for something a little bit different. The climate in Morocco is perfect for hiking in the Atlas Mountains and exploring the souks of Marrakesh before the heat becomes oppressive. This is also a great time to experience the luxury of Dubai, lazing around the hotel pool and experiencing remarkable service.
May – The sun will be out in Bali and you’ll be there before the crowds hit their peak. Enjoy the spectacular beaches or head inland to the mountains and enjoy the culture and art of Ubud. This is also a great time to consider a cruise in western Canada. Enjoy a few days in Vancouver, one of my personal favourites and then join a cruise where you can spot the migrating grey whales and there young along with minke whales and orca. Carry on the cruise to Alaska and you will experience jaw dropping scenery.
June – June marks the start of the dry season in Africa and is a good time for game viewing on safari in Botswana or the Masai Mara. It is rainy season in Costa Rica but this doesn’t mean that you won’t find plenty of dry weather, quieter national parks and better views of the famous Arenal Volcano. Central America is still relatively undiscovered by tourists and is still a “cool” place to go. There are some fantastic adventure trips available in Central America allowing you to experience the best of these countries now. City break option – how about Vegas before the roasting heat of July and August.
July – Staying with the South American theme now is a great time to visit Peru. You could put on your boots and hike Machu Picchu or take the more leisurely option and catch the train from Cuzco. Or if you are just looking for a few days away why not head to Lisbon, enjoy the sights of the Portuguese capital and then take a 20 minute drive to Cascais on the coast where you can enjoy amazing fish restaurants.
August – Europe is now everyone’s favoured destination. Schools out and holiday season is in full swing. Italy is a great destination at this time of year especially if you don’t just want to flop on a beach. Other favourites include Croatia, Greece, the Balearics and France. Europe has some amazing choices and with direct flights from many regional airports and accommodation to suit any budget there are still some great deals to be had. If you did want to head a little further afield Africa hosts one of the greatest spectacles on earth, the annual migration of millions of wildebeest from the Serengeti Plains to the grasslands of the Masai Mara. A great combination with a safari at this time of the year is Zanzibar where you can enjoy time on pristine beaches away from the crowds in Europe. Another popular choice with families is Mauritius, hotels to suit all budgets and beautiful beaches, scenery and golf courses for dad !
September – The kids are back in school so if you’re able this is still a great time to head to Europe but without the crowded beaches ! September also kicks off a change in seasons in many places. Before the wet season sets in why not take a trip to Borneo and observe the orag-utan in their sanctuary in Kota Kinabalu. September is also a great time to hike to Machu Picchu before the rains. September is perfect for city breaks as the searing heat of mid-summer has passed. One of my favourites at this time has to be New York and if you’re there at the start of the month head out to Flushing Meadows and take in the US Open Tennis. European cities are also popular at this time of the year.
October – Time to fully immerse yourself in another culture. Head to India and join millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains for Diwali, the Festival of light. This is also a great time to visit the historical sites of Jordan. The fierce summer heat has passed allowing you to explore the ancient Roman ruins and the desert of Wadi Rum in comfort. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman are also great alternatives now and aren’t that far to travel. Ideal for a short sun stop.
November – Whilst November is becoming cooler it’s still a great time for active holidays, try cycling in Vietnam. Cycle through the countryside of Hoi An or through remote rice terraces and villages of Sapa. November is also an excellent time to visit the Caribbean. There are some great deals before the prices are hiked for Christmas. It’s also late spring in the Southern hemisphere and a great time to visit Australia and enjoy all the amazing sites that the country has to offer before the summer heat and higher prices take over. Sydney is my favourite city in the world and is definitely high on my list of places to visit again soon. Or try Perth for a completely different, laid back vibe.
December – December brings celebrations of all varieties across the globe. If you’re not desperate for sunshine now is the time to visit the Christmas markets across Europe, or perhaps a Christmas shopping trip to the East coast of the USA and enjoy Christmas on steroids. Spend Christmas on a beach, how about Cuba before it becomes commercialised. Or head to Sydney to see the fireworks on the Harbour Bridge – what an experience. If you do want that Christmas/New Year getaway we highly recommend that you plan and book it now as it is still one of the busiest times of the year to get away.