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 January's Destination Unknown roundup.
A new year and a new month means a brand new list of places that are just begging for a visit. Yes, those words tend to get repeated every 30 days or so — more so in January — but for good reason. If there ever was a time to travel, then this would be the month to do it. For one, the weather is less than stellar in January. If December's forecast was any sign of how things will shape up over the next few weeks, then expect plenty of snow and cold — particularly if you live on the East Coast. Dark days are also ahead — not in the biblical sense, of course, but with the sun still setting around 5 p.m. within the next few weeks.
Now, there are those who may say now's not the time to travel. They may say that January is the time to deal with the fallout of post-Christmas credit card bills and weeping over empty wallets. But as Joseph Adamo, vice-president of marketing at Transat, tells HuffPost Canada Travel, globetrotters can still find value in southern destinations this month.
"There's a bit of a post-holiday lull in demand in January and that picks up in February or March with Spring Break and Reading Week, so January is actually a really good month to get away if one can do so," referring to how January typically works in favour for smaller families who aren't tied down to a child's school schedule. So what kind of southern destinations are we talking about? Well, you'll have to check out to the slideshow below to find out.
The Best Places To Go In January. Slideshow text follows for mobile readers.
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New York City, United States
If budget has always stood in the way of a stay in New York City, then January has two things in store for the frugal visitor looking for a place to stay or a bite to eat. Now in its second year, New York City Hotel Week offers visitors stays at hotels that would normally cost about $500 (U.S.) a night. Instead, from Jan. 4 to 16, prices drop to the $100 to $250 range. There's also New York Restaurant Week which offers a taste of the city's culinary scene for a fraction of the price during Jan. 24 till Feb. 6.
A widely popular destination all year round, the Dominican Republic is what Adamo, VP of marketing with Transat, refers to as one of the big three countries for Canadians (Cuba and Mexico are the other two). The Caribbean country has a lot of offer those seeking escape from the cold with temperatures ranging from 20 C to 30 C and plenty of beach resorts for those looking to relax. Adamo adds that as one of the big three countries for Canadians, the Dominican has the hotel infrastructure and airports to handle the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who visit the country year round.
Mexico City, Mexico
The elevation in Mexico City keeps temperatures below tropical levels with lows dipping around 6 C. Still, better 6 C than -6 C , right? Highs hit around the low 20s to keep things warm enough for T-shirts and sandals rather than boots and parkas. The city also has lots to offer culturally, with shopping and night life remaining some of the top tourist offerings.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Are you seeking a beach but not a resort? Then the city of Rio de Janeiro may be up your alley. Rio is home to many famous beaches such as the Copacabana which stretches 4 km from end to end. Still, travellers may have to duke it out for space as January's average high of 32 C and relatively low hotel prices attracts many visitors this time of year. That being said, if you're not going to visit Rio now, you'd better do it before 2014 when the city plays host to the Summer Olympics.
Located in Northern Peru, the city of Trujillo is chock-full of Peruvian culture with pre-Inca and Moche ruins and an assortment of museums which are small but packed with artifacts like coins and pots that showcase the city's rich history. The balmy weather hovers around the low 20 C mark and makes the live salsa music at night a treat to enjoy. There's even the Trujillo Marinera Festival, a national dance contest which showcases the city's dance of choice, the Marinera.
Cape Town, South Africa
There's a lot to like and do in Cape Town during January. South Africa's capital city is in its summer season with temperatures ranging from 15 C to 27 C, on average. Travellers can take advantage of the city's warm weather by visiting any one of the city's three beach regions of False Bay, Atlantic Seaboard or West Coast. For the more adventurous, try your hand at hiking, rock climbing or exploring many of the city's caves. It's worth noting though that January is Cape Town's high season so while hotel prices are still reasonable, a true steal can be tough to find.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Saigon, now more commonly known as Ho Chi Minh City, is the former capital city of South Vietnam before it fell during the country's civil war. Nowadays it serves as a popular destination for backpackers thanks to the city's low prices for hotels and hostels. The city's usually unbearable humidity goes on something of a vacation during January making for comfortable nights — perfect for the city's vibrant night life and cheap street eats.
CORRECTION: This story originally incorrectly identified the ruins in the Peruvian city of Trujillo as Mayan. The ruins found there are in fact pre-Inca and Moche. The story has been amended to reflect this.