January is among the busiest times of the year with gatherings and parties and new resolutions to stick to. If it all gets a bit too much, why not give yourself a few days away from all the madness on a relaxing vacation? The question is, where’s the best place to take a post-holiday season break?

    Some people want to escape the cold winters and head to a quaint tropical island. Others would rather enjoy what’s left of winter and hike off to ski on snowy mountains. Whichever you prefer, here are some of the best places to go in January to help you start planning your New Year getaway.

    1

    Costalegre, Mexico

    An enthralling escape into Mexico’s hidden coast

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    Known as the Virgin Coast of Mexico, Costalegre is a 45-mile stretch of ruggedly beautiful coastline dotted with rustic beaches, placid lagoons, jungle-covered mountains, and hidden capes and bays. Travellers who love dodging well-beaten paths will enjoy the tranquil waters and mesmerising sunsets of Costalegre while lounging back on long golden-sand beaches.

    If you’re here in January, try some sport fishing and join the International Sailfish Fishing Tournament in Barra de Navidad. Be sure to check out the fascinating biodiversity of the mangrove forests close to the town of La Manzanilla. Other activities worth trying include windsurfing and kayaking in Costa Careyes, snorkelling off Punta Hermanos’ La Mora Beach, and diving in Bahia de Chamela.

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    2

    Bangkok, Thailand

    Cultural sightseeing, endless shopping, and thrilling nightlife

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    There's a wealth of majestic temples and cultural sites to visit in Bangkok, including the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and Wat Pho, otherwise known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. January sees warm, settled weather across the Thai capital so there's no better time to get out and about. Enjoy endless shopping at Chatuchak Market, one of the world’s largest markets, or go on a spree at Siam Paragon if you're looking for designer goods. Once the sun sets, head to one of Bangkok's many rooftop bars for cocktails under the stars.

    Thailand celebrates National Children’s Day on the second Saturday of January. Take advantage of free entrance to zoos, theme parks, and other sights on this day. In late January, Chinatown is bustling with activity in preparation for Chinese New Year. The whole place is lined with colourful lanterns and delectable street food. You may even catch dragon parades and dancing in the streets.

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    3

    Lake Baikal, Russia

    Be enchanted by a magical landscape of ice

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    A crystal-clear frozen lake surrounded by natural ice sculptures, mystical caves, and snowy mountains makes Russia’s Lake Baikal a wonderful, other-worldly setting for an enchanting winter holiday. In January, the world's largest lake is frozen solid, with large shards of ice forming on its surface.

    Adventurous travellers can dive under the clear ice and explore Lake Baikal’s freshwater ecosystem in sub-zero temperatures. More sane ones can take car tours to explore ice formations and grottoes spread throughout the lake. For ice skating, ice fishing, or quad bike rides, go to Listvyanka where ice is smoothed over along the shore. If you’re up for some skiing, head over to Baikalsk for excellent Siberian ski resorts.

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    4

    Palm Springs, CA, USA

    Enjoy pleasantly warm weather in a desert paradise

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    Pleasant weather and bright sunshine make January a delightful month to go on a vacation in Palm Springs, California. You can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and playing golf or tennis in comfort.

    Aside from usual touristy spots like Palm Springs Art Museum and Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway, you can also explore the Coachella Valley Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park. Palm Springs is known for stunning scenery lined with canyons and mountains. When visiting in January, check out the Palm Springs International Film Festival. They hold a gala where top filmmakers and the city’s affluent residents have socials. This month also features the first games of polo at the Empire Polo Club.

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    5

    Val d'Isere, France

    Ski on powdery snow, and have a blast at the après-ski

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    If you plan to go skiing in the French Alps, Val d’Isere has the most reliable snow cover in the region. The snow is dry and light in January, and you’re almost certain to enjoy fresh tracks on your vacation. The fastest way to the mountain is by flying to Grenoble airport, around 2- to 3-hours drive away, depending on the conditions.

    There are marked trails for children, beginners, and advanced skiers. If you’re highly experienced, dare to tackle the challenging Face de Bellevarde. Various ski races are also held in January. You can join or merely watch night ski touring races or relay-style cross-country ski races. Of course, you shouldn’t miss out on an amazing après-ski experience – have a blast on party nights filled with live music and entertainment.

    Hit the slopes

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    Geri Mileva | Contributing Writer

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