As the winter months creep into the Northern Hemisphere, the temptation to swap the chilly drizzle of the British Isles for brighter and warmer climes elsewhere is at an all-time high. Here are some of our absolute favourite spots to escape to across the globe at this time of year to get our fix of sunshine…
October – Vietnam
October sees the end of the monsoon season and the emergence of the dry season in Vietnam, so you can expect a comfortable, but not scorching, temperature around 28°C. While this ideal weather is inviting enough, another huge plus is avoiding the crowds that draw in during peak season in November and December; not to mention, this month is also prime time to witness the nesting season for turtles in the south. At this time, it is not unusual to see tiny turtle babies hatching and making their first movements across the soft white sand to the sea! Relaxing in the sun along the pristine coastline staring out across the aquamarine ocean here is just heavenly. Topping our list of preferred properties here are Amanoi and the Six Senses Con Dao, both of which are home to blissful locations and well-appointed rooms – bound to create memorable stays that will leave you longing to return as soon as you touch home turf.
November – Japan
While the temperature is by no means soaring at this time of year in Japan – predominately hovering just under 20°C – it is surprisingly balmy, and you will be guaranteed crisp blue skies along with this season’s main spectacle: the incredibly vivid autumn leaves that set the country ablaze. Colourful foliage ranges right from rich scarlets and oranges to golds and bright yellows, impressing locals and visitors alike, as they delicately surround preserved temples and make for ravishing scenic views across the country’s unspoiled countryside. We recommend staying in the well-located Palace Hotel in Tokyo or treating yourself to Aman Tokyo for a truly unforgettable stay. (For those that favour the colder weather, the Northern Japanese Alps enjoys arguably the best powder snow in the world, thanks to regular snowfall brought over by strong Siberian winds: our top choices for keen skiers are Hakuba and Niseko ski resorts).
December – Thailand
It is no secret that Thailand is phenomenal at this of year as many venture out to this pocket of paradise for Christmas and New Year celebrations with their friends and families in tow. There is no denying that this is a very popular destination, but it is for good reason: the palm-fringed bright white beaches on the Gulf of Thailand are to die for, as is the iridescent aquamarine ocean itself, which offers crystal-clear snorkelling conditions and picturesque views during the day, and dreamy reflective sunsets that cast a golden glow at night. In our opinion, the sleek Amanpuri in Phuket is the place to stay when visiting this country, or the luxurious Four Seasons Koh Samui – another of our top beach hotels – is also a great choice. Both provide perfect Zen ambiances in which to relax and rejuvenate or, on the other side of the spectrum, to enjoy a more active family holiday by making use of the wealth of watersport activities on offer at these resorts. The epic Mandarin Oriental is the crème de la crème of all the properties in Bangkok, if you choose to join the exhilarating capital’s buzz.
January – South India The Andaman Islands
After a jam-packed month of festivities at home, whisk yourself off to the idyllic South of India. The Kerala backwaters beckon at this time of year with their gentle pace of life, and there is simply nothing much better than switching-off and embracing the tranquillity aboard your houseboat, while gliding down scenic lagoons lined by beautiful palm trees. The tropical Andaman Islands set within the Indian archipelago are also wonderful at this time of year with their crystal-clear azure waters and brilliant blue cloudless sky. Underwater visibility is at its best during this month, meaning spectacular snorkelling and diving awaits; or simply relax on the seashore, basking under the warm 30°C sun. When it comes to local festivals, January is unbeatable as many events bursting with traditional customs and experiences abound this month.
February – North India, Rajasthan
February may well be yet another dreary month in the West, but it is the ultimate time to visit the heady and colourful North of India – the temperature is warm yet not overly humid (averaging at 28°C), meaning sightseeing conditions are ideal. You can stay outdoors all day, soaking up the country’s fascinating history, temples and local markets with the help of our expert guides without having to constantly seek shade. Valentines Day, of course, calls for a romantic day, and we highly recommend marking the special occasion within the dreamy backdrop of India, staying in a palace fit for royalty.
March – Sri Lanka
No list of our favourite winter escapes would be complete without Sri Lanka, and March is one of the finest times to visit this island. Secluded beaches are aplenty on the west coast as peak season is over and the monsoon rains have dwindled away, meaning you will get rich pickings whether you are after a spot of surfing or sunbathing on the shore. Let us tempt you to stay at Amanwella, for a luxurious beach retreat with a somewhat local feel. The weather conditions are gorgeous, being not only warm but also dry, which call for long days outdoors. Choose between admiring the cultural world heritage sites or keeping an eye out for wildlife in the unspoiled national parks that lie scattered around this country – or, better still, both!
So, don’t pack away your summer wardrobe just yet! Escape the winter blues this year by going on an amazing holiday in paradise. Where is your favourite destination for a winter escape? Let us know in the comments below.
James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel. Ampersand Travel create bespoke and luxurious travel experiences to Asia, the British Isles and Southern Africa.
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