So much to do, so many places to see, but so little time to do it all. That's where Destination Unknown comes into play. At the beginning of each month, HuffPost Canada Travel will be putting together a list that offers something for everyone — those on a budget, those looking for something unique or those simply looking to get away. Curious? Good. A sense of wanderlust is always healthy. So, without further ado, here's December's Destination Unknown roundup.
For those who can't believe it's December already, you're not alone. Gone are the days where it was prime time to check out the beaches of Goa, India or watch burning effigies light up England's skies. Those still looking for a light show will be happy to know that the holidays are fast approaching and cities around the world are taking notice. For everyone else, a new month means a new slew of hot destinations to check out in the next 31 days.
Whether travellers are looking to escape winter's chill or are looking to spend some quality, family vacation time, December is a month with plenty of opportunities to do some travelling. So trade in that ugly Christmas sweater for a suitcase and get moving to any one of these locations.
The Best Places To Go In December. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers.
Salt Springs, Canada
North Americans looking for a unique destination this Christmas need not look any further than the west coast of British Columbia. There, travellers will find Salt Spring Island, a piece of land wedged between mainland B.C. and Vancouver Island. It's popular with tourists of all sorts, particularly those who like the outdoors. Temperatures are brisk, with lows just slightly dipping beneath the freezing mark, making it a nice place for camping and hiking excursions. The lack of snow also means that 'Santa' trades in his sleigh for a float plane. Also unique to the island are Salt Spring Dollars, legal currency that travellers can print at home and spend on everyday products or on Glowtinis, a local special Christmas drink.
Travellers with bank accounts decimated by Christmas gift shopping may want to consider Porto, Portugal for a winter retreat. Tourism in December is considered off-season in Portugal's second largest city, making for attractive pricing of accommodations. Tourists can find prices that start at less than $50 a night, according to the USA Today. Getting around the city is cheap too, with use of trams and ferry rides costing around a dollar. For about five bucks, tourists can ride the city's public transportation to learn more about the place where port wine was born or catch a game of soccer at the city's sports stadium.
For those seeking a different kind of white Christmas, Fiji offers plenty of white sandy beaches that won't make you miss the snow one bit. Located near the Northern island of New Zealand, this island nation features an archipelago, or series of smaller islands, known for their resorts. There, travellers can soak up on the sun when they're not busy snorkelling, swimming or kayaking on clear, blue waters. Lovers of marine life will also want to check out Fiji for its network of coral reefs that cover over 10, 000 square-kilometres.
If there's a perfect time to visit Laos, December is it, thanks to the end of rainy season and humidity levels dropping to comfortable levels. Those seeking to learn more of South-East Asian culture will find plenty to do in the mountainous region of Luang Prabang and the Khmer temples in Champasak. Nature lovers, on the other hand, will want to jump on this opportunity to stay dry while checking out the country's plants and animals hidden in the rainforests that cover three-quarters of the country.
Fishing in the middle of December pretty much means packing the parkas for most in North America. But that's not the case in Gambia. Located in West Africa, the country features a short Atlantic coastline, dotted with beaches where temperatures hover in the 30º mark. Avid fishers can venture into the coastal waters and cast their reels there, or try their hand at creek fishing at the Denton Bridge, a popular starting point where many rural fishing trips cruise along the country's creeks.
Guatamala City, Guatemala
There's no shortage of festivities in December, but in Guatemala, travellers can add the "Burning Of The Devil" festival to their list. On the seventh day of December, locals across the country gather to burn effigies of the devil while firecrackers and music blast in the background. The festival celebrates Guatemalans riding the devil from their homes, as they believe he hides in the corners of their houses amid rubble and garbage. Those seeking more stimulation than flaming effigies can also take advantage of Guatemala's proximity to the Pacific Coast. There, they can take up surfing, canoeing or fishing while savouring the South American climate.
Tourists with the will to brave the cold will be rewarded with what Iceland has in store for them in December. Visitors can still take advantage of the country's outdoor hot springs while snowflakes swirl in the air for an experience that gives new meaning to Katy Perry's song "Hot N Cold." Those looking to take in natural Nordic beauty will want to see the waterfalls and geysers during the day and catch the Northern Lights at night. Just be sure to grab a hot cub of cocoa before you go, as temperatures can dip as low as -9ºC.
Think a travel getaway should have made the list? Feel free to share your favourite December destination is in the comment section below.