This holiday season, give your family the gift of travel.
By Kara Silva
If dreaming of a white Christmas conjures images of white sandy beaches or the thought of decking the halls is replaced by hitting the deck poolside, then it might be time to consider gifting the family that holiday getaway they’ve always dreamed of. Here are 12 dreamy destinations to consider booking this winter.
What was once considered one of the most dangerous cities on Earth has experienced a rebirth. Squished between two Andean mountain ridges, the stunningly beautiful Medellin is dubbed the “City of Eternal Spring” for its idyllic year-round climate. Enjoy all that the country has to offer from sipping brews on a coffee plantation and dancing salsa in the streets to snorkeling in the mystic blue waters.
After a long day of skiing, enjoy a fondue dinner before relaxing with a glass of wine by the fireplace in your own Swiss chalet. The French village of Chamonix, at the base of Mont Blanc – the highest summit in the Alps – offers world-class holiday décor and breathtaking panoramic views, making it the perfect place for a wintry Christmas vacation.
You’ve heard of the Panama Canal and, yes, it is worthwhile to visit, but the Central American country has so much more to offer. Over Christmas break, enjoy the beginning of the dry-season with jungle trekking, beach-bumming from coast to coast and city-strolling through the Colonial architecture of Panama City.
Scribbled near the top of many intrepid travelers’ bucket list is the sprawling tree-infested temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. But don’t stop there. Hang with elephants in Sen Monorom, kayak alongside the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in Kratie and try the crab in Kep.
Land of the budget-minded backpacker, Thailand is a culturally rich, foodie Shangri-La for adventure-seeking families minding their purse strings. Maneuver spicy street food vendor stalls in bustling Bangkok, visit elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai, traverse ancient temple complexes and island-hop in Phang Nga Bay.
The wintertime may be considered Japan’s off-season, but its many attractions are seemingly meant to be experienced in a snowy setting. Imagine sipping tea and slurping (it’s polite in Japan!) ramen after skiing in Hokkaido; soaking in an onsen after the Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival; or watching the ever-popular snow monkeys relax in mountainside hot springs in Nagano.
Of the 7,641 islands comprising the Philippines, 2,000 of them are uninhabited, which beckons visitors looking to enjoy their own slice of paradise off the beaten path. Camp on a deserted island in the South China Sea, swim with whale sharks in Donsol, scuba dive Coron Island, and paddle one of the world’s longest cave rivers.
As the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone has garnered a reputation as being congested and overcrowded during its summer months, so why not visit in the winter, when the park experiences fewer crowds, beautiful whitewashed vistas, steaming geysers and abundant wildlife easier to spot amidst a stark white backdrop.
A visit to Northern Italy, specifically the Piedmont wine-growing area of Langhe-Roero – a UNESCO World Heritage site – means spending winter break in a place that transforms itself for the holiday season by offering a plethora of entertainment for kids and wine for adults.
In La Paz, Mexico, winter is the best time to witness majestic whale sharks cruising through the blue. The area is rife with marine wildlife, so visitors can enjoy snorkeling with sea lions in Isla Espíritu Santo and spotting majestic gray whales in Magdalena Bay.
Experience a swath of California’s diverse landscapes in a single road trip, but without the heavy traffic or swarms of tourists clogging the trails. During the winter, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks offer crowd-free sauntering and views of some of America’s most breathtaking natural wonders while the world is quieted by a blanket of snow.
If you’re looking for an early 2020 escape, a great time to visit Vietnam is from February to April. Imagine chartering a junk boat to cruise through the emerald waters and limestone pinnacles of Ha Long Bay; taking an epicurean adventure via scooter through Saigon’s preeminent street food scene; or hiking through one of the country’s 30 national parks.
For more winter getaways, click here.
Kara Silva – September 2019
During her decade-long career in journalism, Kara has given a voice to the voiceless, brought attention to important issues, and – most notably – mastered the art of traveling on a journalist’s salary! Writer by day, reader by night and lover of the great outdoors, Kara lives in a picturesque river town in the Chicago ’burbs with her Brazilian husband, 8-month-old daughter, obese cat and delinquent Siberian husky.
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