There’s no better way to kick off a new year than with a January holiday. After the annual festivities, your body and mind will be in need of a much-needed break. For those looking to escape cold weather, there are many destinations where you can make sunshine and sand your companion, from the sweeping beaches of Sri Lanka to the pristine islands of the Philippines. Alternatively, Tanzania and Patagonia will keep outdoorsy types and wildlife fans occupied. Of course, skiing is a popular January pastime, with Whistler and the French Alps offering fantastic snow, lodges and activities for couples, friends and energetic families.
The best time to catch a glimpse of Mother Nature’s fascinating show - the magnificent Northern Lights - is during the winter months. At this time the nights are long and dark which is necessary for the aurora borealis to be viewed completely. It's a surreal, stunning and special experience, and definitely one to tick off your bucket list.
Showcasing spice plantations, lush landscapes, emerald rivers and exotic wildlife, the south Indian state of Kerala exudes serenity and beauty. Soak up the rich colonial heritage and architecture, relax on a houseboat on the glistening backwaters, visit the tea plantations and tune into a transformative, more laid-back pace of life.
Awesome nature takes centre stage in Chilean Patagonia. The Torres del Paine National Park is a spectacular sight with its great icefields, soaring snow-capped peaks and turquoise mountain lakes. Wildlife enthusiasts will love the Patagonian condors and guanaco, while keen trekkers and photographers will be in their element.
As a host for the Winter Olympics in 2014, it goes without saying that Whistler is home to impressive skiing and plenty of style . With two huge mountains, runs for all abilities, great après-ski and friendly people, it’s a favourite winter destination for the flashpack , couples and families looking for an activity-packed escape.
Sri Lanka offers endless magic for a January holiday. For tranquility travel to the Hill Country where tea plantations dot the misty countryside. For beach , watersports and whale watching relax on the south coast. Wildlife enthusiasts should head east for glamorous tented camps and the chance to spot leopards on safari.
Due to its long period of inaccessibility, a visit to this mysterious and beautiful land of ancient temples, secret beaches and spiritual people is like stepping back in time. From the surreal Bagan temples and peaceful Inle Lake to bustling Yangon and coastal Ngapali, get there before everybody else does.
In the enticing Philippines archipelago of 7,000 islands there are more idyllic white sand beaches than you could possibly visit. Beach and diving aficionados will be spoilt by the pristine coral reef on Boracay, Palawan and Siargao, while quaint colonial villages and local life will keep culture fanatics occupied.
Large, sprawling and super-exciting, France’s Les Trois Vallees is the world’s largest ski area and includes the famed resorts of Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel. With 180 lifts criss-crossing the snowy valleys, sophisticated chalets and sparkling après-ski, this is place to ski - and be seen - in Europe.
Southeast Asia’s only landlocked country, Laos is full of charm, calm and colonial heritage. Many gems await such as the Si Phan Don (4,000 islands), Pak Ou caves and Kuang Si Falls. In the UNESCO protected town of Luang Prabang the daily giving of alms to orange-robed monks is not to be missed.
Antarctica’s remoteness, freezing temperature, magnificent mountain ranges and ice-caps transport you into another world. Millions of seabirds skim the Southern Ocean that’s home to enormous whales, while emperor penguins and seals watch from the sidelines. See it from aboard an ice-breaking luxury vessel, learning from experts as you go.
From wildlife spotting in the Serengeti, to scaling Mount Kilmanjaro , to escaping to the sunshine on a beachside break in Zanzibar, you can do it all in Tanzania. Spend your nights sleeping among nature in a luxury lodge or tented camp, where the sounds of the jungle will lull you to sleep.