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Best Vacation Places, Pictures and Information

Tongariki sunrise, Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Chile Vacation Places

Easter Island moai on Ahu Tongariki at  sunrise, Chile. A bit far out but Rapa Nui is a superb Christmas destination!

Easter Island – also known as Rapa Nui – is in the South Pacific and a long way to go but totally unique and uncrowded. Chilean territory, Easter Island is at its best from September to April, the drier summer months. Temperatures during November and December reach highs around 25C/77F and lows of 17C/63F with more sunshine and less rain than any other month except January and October.

Vacation Places Guides November – December 2017

Americas     Europe     Africa      Asia     Australasia

November – December in the Northern Hemisphere is generally about winter sports or moving briskly between indoor cultural activities under damp and dreary skies.

Of course in the Southern Hemisphere it’s summertime so northern sun seekers need to head south. Easy, good value choices for Europeans lie in Africa – South Africa is particularly attractive, good value and easy to reach fore Europeans, or pricey Dubai for guaranteed winter sun and serious bling – while North Americans just have to nip down to Latin America for incredible, colorful cultures or to Caribbean islands that escaped Irma (check below) for magnificent beaches and sunshine.

Low cost vacation places in 2017

Currently the cheapest long-haul tourist destinations worldwide, based on typical holiday spending are:

1: Tokyo, Japan

2: Cape Town, South Africa

3: Mombasa, Kenya

4: Colombo, Sri Lanka

5: Hoi An, Vietnam

6: Bali, Indonesia

7: Tamarindo, Costa Rica

8: Orlando, Florida, USA (minor hurricane damage, soon to be fixed)

9: Penang, Malaysia

10: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (minor hurricane damage)

The Americas

US November – December

Activity pool, Riu Palace resort, Cabo san Lucas, Mexico Vacation Places

The ‘activity’ pool of the RIU Palace in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (this is not an advert and we have no connection to the resort, sadly!). Temperatures should be around 58F night – 77F day (14C-25C) in winter. Photo by Clemens Vasters.

Beaches on most of mainland USA are pretty much out of the picture in wintertime, and the best bet –  the Florida Keys  – were devastated by Hurricane Irma so they will have infrastructure problems for a while. Miami Beach also suffered some damage tho’ it will probably be fixed by November/December.
Temperatures rarely fall below 50F (10C) and usually hover around 72F (22C) with lots of sunshine, so a Christmas dip off Miami beach is chilly but definitely doable, while up the road in Fort Lauderdale dozens of decorated boats cruise around the Intracoastal Waterways during the Winterfest Boat Parade on December 14.

For beaches and decent weather expectations Mexico is an obvious choice, with two coasts offering varied experiences tho’ we would guess that the waters of the east side Maya Riviera will be marginally warmer than the Pacific coast’s Cabo, Acapulco or one of the more bohemian beaches further south.

For winter sports the homegrown Rockies have attractions other than just mind-blowing skiing these days, just get a sniff of what’s smoking in Denver, Colorado.

Canada is an easy trip and you could get a feel for la vie Française while you’re there if you head for Quebec or great English-speaking life in Vancouver and nearby Whistler ski resort.

USA Map

The Caribbean, November – December

2017 Caribbean Hurricane Irma route map, Caribbean Vacation Places

2017 Caribbean, Hurricane Irma route map, approximately. And then came Maria….

This Festival/New Year season is prime time for Caribbean vacations but Hurricane Irma has put a stop to that in some locations, especially when compounded with the Hurricane Maria follow-up. Any destinations near to the hurricane routes would best be avoided unless you have information to the contrary. And don’t necessarily believe island tourist information!

And BTW, don’t forget that months up to and including November are still hurricane season.

These destinations have sustained severe damage:

Barbuda (sister to Antigua)

St Maarten/Saint Martin

British Virgin Islands

USVI, especially hotels on St Thomas & St John

Anguilla

Florida Keys, particularly Middle Keys.

Cuba’s north coast (Havana, Varadero)

Turks and Caicos

Puerto Rico

The Bahamas southern islands

Anguilla

Guadaloupe

Dominica

Montserrat

These islands – and more –  are still beautiful and untouched by Irma:

Jamaica

Cayman Islands

Barbados

Trinidad & Tobago

Aruba

Bonaire

Curacao

Latin America November – December

Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica Vacation Places

Playa Tamarindo on Costa Rica.

Further south in Latin America the weather and colourful cultures of Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico and Costa Rica should be brilliant in November but only the last four countries will still be fine in December, along with Ecuador’s spectacular Galapagos Islands.

Latin America Map

Europe vacation places, November – December

Cesar Manrique’s house in Lanzarote, Canary Islands Vacation Places

Cesar Manrique’s house in Lanzarote, ‘Jameos del Agua’,  the Spanish Canary Islands off Morocco’s coast. Photo by Norbert Nagel.

Europe in winter frequently features dull grey skies with chilly drizzle so tourism focuses on winter sports in France, Italy, Austria and Germany or cultural visits to the classic cities of London, Paris, Rome, FlorenceBarcelona and Seville where the climate is not quite as traumatising as further north.

Favourite Europe photos

Many European cities tend to have colourful Christmas lights dispelling the gloom, firework shows on New Year’s Eve and sales for bargain hunters. London’s stunning museums are still free in spite of political demands otherwise.
Germany’s brilliant Xmas markets are extensive, frequently family-friendly and run for most of December, sometimes starting in November.

Beach holidays? Nope, not even in southerly regions of Greece, Portugal or Spain, although there is always the Spanish Canary Islands, located on a North African latitude in the Atlantic and enjoying pretty good weather all year round with warm winter temperatures around 18C (64F), lows about 15C (59F) and water temp of 18C (64F) so book a place with heated pool, preferably on an easterly island on the south-east coast (such as Lanzarote, Fuerteventura (especially if you like board sailing) or Gran Canaria (Las Palmas is the capital and has the best climate in the world according to some US climatologists) for best chance of a warm, dry holiday. The Canaries can be easily reached by via masses of cheap flights or packages from Europe but Christmas time is busy so get web searching now!

Europe Map

Africa Vacation Places, November – December

Luxor Temple seen from the Nile, Egypt Vacation Places

A view of the Luxor Temple (east bank) from the River Nile, usually a disturbingly crowded place. Photo by Olaf Tausch.

Egypt’s Luxor will offer the unusual experience of strolling incredible temples and tombs under blue skies with very few sheeple grazing around you as previous hordes are usefully discouraged by the troubles in distant Cairo and north Sinai, though there have been a couple incidents. Security levels are high so for a small risk the adventurous will see one of the world’s best group of ancient sites at low cost and low crowd levels.
Sharm el Sheikh on the other side of the Red Sea (extremely well guarded these days) will be incredible value and offer lovely weather as the local authorities try to tempt visitors back to enjoy south Sinai delights; lower down the financial totem Dahab is a fun place to hang out. The lovely Red Sea, however, will not be very warm.

Morocco will be pleasant though a bit chilly at this time and definitely not the place for swimming or serious beach use. In winter slightly more upmarket hotels/riads are a better bet for decent insulation and warmer rooms. Agadir is the most southerly tourist venue, culturally very limited (boo!) but offering massive beaches (hooray!) washed by freezing Atlantic seas (boo!).
As usual Marrakesh makes a terrific base for exploring the Sahara desert and the Atlas mountains but if you’re temperature-sensitive go a little upmarket to ensure your hotel has heating, many hostels don’t and it can get decidedly chilly!

Etosha National Park in Namibia offers self drive, secure rest camps beside waterholes and vast numbers of animals, making this one of the world’s top three wildlife experiences. Add in vast dunes at Sossusvleiseals on the Skeleton Coast and Namib Desert activities and Namibia is another bucket-list def-do.

Otherwise you could head for Tanzania’s wildlife and its beach island of Zanzibar or South Africa’s varied attractions, from lively cities, particularly Cape Town, beaches to wildlife and wine districts.

Africa Map

Asia Vacation Places, November – December

Bagan in Burma/Myanmar, with 2,500 ancient pagodas and stupas in 40sq kms. Myanmar Vacation Places

Bagan in Burma/Myanmar –  2,500 ancient pagodas, temples and stupas over 40 sq kms, and not much else. Photo by Christopher Michel from a hot-air balloon.

40 sq km (16 sq miles) of Bagan in Burma/Myanmar, embrace 2,500 ancient pagodas and stupas. Few ancient sites have such incredible 360 degree views in one of the world’s most peaceful, Buddhist sites in the world. There’s much, much more and this is the time to visit this extraordinary country. For much of the year Myanmar is way too hot for comfort!

India is also awaiting your visit but it’s massive so focus, don’t try to see everything at once! Kerala, down south is perfect at this time though the country’s primary sights are in the Golden Triangle around Rajasthan.

Nepal is chilly in winter (so book rooms with heating!) but the key thing is the Himalayan skies (i.e. mountains) are clear, the ancient artefacts bizarre and the walks stunning. It appears to have recovered from the recent ‘quakes and be mostly intact.

Developing Laos is also perfect in winter, as is Cambodia,  Vietnam (with OK beaches) and Thailand (with many great beaches).

Asia Map

Australasia Vacation Places, November – December

Sydney's Bondi beach, Australia Vacation Places

Sydney’s Bondi beach, Australia. Photo by Adam

Southern Australia is in great shape in summertime, with Sydney and Melbourne buzzing with energy and things to do. Further north on the Gold Coast early summer temperatures are heading into the 30Cs with occasional rain, albeit short and exciting tropical storms rather than north European drizzle. Note that Surfer’s Paradise becomes very loud, pricey and overcrowded during the Christmas holidays. Far north Australia is best avoided at this time due to extreme heat.

This is also positively prime time in New Zealand for incredible walks, beaches, wine tasting, and insane adrenalin activities, but try to avoid school holidays from December 20th to the end of January.

Australasia Map

Dangerous Countries as Vacation Places?

We don’t want to discourage adventurous travelling but should clarify for novice travelers which parts of the world are problematical – troubled by disease, terrorist attacks, high levels of crime or aggressive disrespect for single women.

Egypt is looking better now for robust travelers who can find reliable flights (with proper safety checks) going to Luxor and the opportunity of seeing incredible sights a) at low cost b) more importantly without the massed crowds that are normally there stuffing up the ambience.

Turkey still seems a little volatile these days but almost certainly OK for beach or Cappadocia holidays. But in winter it’s a Must-Not-Do anyway, wet and miserable, so that’s a pass.

Here are some broad generalisations on where NOT to go on vacation if you have a nervous disposition.

Avoid

Africa except for Morocco, Egypt (at the moment seems OK!), Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Madagascar, Mauritius.

Middle-East except for Israel, Jordan (if you’re nervous about flights but really want to visit wonderful Petra, fly to Israel on the world’s safest airline – El Al – and drive into Jordan), Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi.

Venezuela, Honduras, Haiti. Some drug-cartel regions of north Mexico are also off the tourist trail.

Solo women travelers should think twice before going to Pakistan, Philippines, North Korea, Indonesia, India, east China and even Thailand.

Whatever, wherever, safe travels!

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