If you are unfortunate enough to live in a region with a bitterly cold winter climate like Murmansk, Russia, you are probably bracing yourself for several months of bundling up whenever you head outside and staying indoors as much as possible. Why not break with the routine and whisk yourself off to a place where sunny, warm weather can be yours even during the winter months? We’ve compiled a list of 10 places where your winter wonderland can consist of tropical beaches and exotic cultural life.
10. Koh Samui, Thailand
An island off the East coast of the Kra Isthmus in Thailand, the beaches and resorts truly offer paradise on earth. For most of the year, the humidity on the island is practical unbearable, but during the winter time the temperatures are warm, sunny and comfortable. The landscapes are amazing and there are plenty of tourist activities to take part in. Whether you are on your honeymoon, in search of tranquility, or going on vacation with your family, Koh Samui has something for everyone.
9. Goa, India
A former colony of Portugal, Goa’s cultural distinctness really sticks out from the rest of India in terms of food and traditions. When you aren’t relaxing on the coastal beaches, make your way inland and explore the ancient temples and spice markets. While the 5-star resort hotels are nice, staying at a luxury villa is a truly cool alternative, especially if you are looking to detox yourself.
8. St. Lucia
What sets St. Lucia apart from other Caribbean islands is its unique culture and amazing sites. There are street festivals every Friday evening where you can soak in the traditions and delicious Caribbean meals, which are a fusion of African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, East Indian, Arab, Chinese and Javanese/Indonesian cuisine. There are natural hot springs and mud baths if those kinds of things float your boat. Looking for a hike that really tests your physical limits? Then the jungle-covered mountains are calling your name!
7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Once a backwater fishing village, Dubai has exploded into one of the most impressive desert cities in the world. There are plenty of beaches to relax on, the city features the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa), and you can shop to your heart’s content at Dubai Mall, one of the largest in the world. You can also explore the sand dunes and experience a belly dancing show. The weather in the summer can reach 120 degree F (50C) or more, but during the winter months it is comfortably in the mid-70s (24C).
6. Cartageña, Colombia
A port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, the beaches aren’t the only reason to make your way out here. The Spanish Colonial architecture practically makes you feel like you’re in Europe, but with all the benefits of the South American tropics, including the food and Latin-American culture you’ve got a real winner for a getaway spot. Don’t forget while you are here to make a day trip to nearby Santa Marta. It’s guaranteed to provide you with memories that will last a life time.
5. Langkawi, Malaysia
Avoid the conventional Malaysian tourist destinations like Bali and head out to Langkawi instead. The Kilim Karst Geoforest Park holds the distinction of being Southeast Asia’s first UNESCO Geopark and is worth a couple of days of exploration. There are also lots of restaurants to impress the food-lover in you. There are also lots of activities such as jet-skiing, parasailing, and underwater snorkeling if you have an adventurous spirit.
4. Paracas, Peru
Instead of spending a vacation in the crowded capital of Lima, choose the quiet coastal village of Paracas. Check this out: it has the ocean, desert, and high cliffs! In other words, all the diverse, contrasting landscapes you need to have a one-of-a-kind adventure. Since very few people know about this part of Peru, you can avoid large crowds.
3. Marrakech, Morocco
If boring beach resorts are your thing, avoid Marrakech at all costs. This incredible Moroccan city of close to a million people has a city center surrounded by a nearly 1000-year old wall that dates back to the Berber Empire. Aside from exploring the city, you can visit some of the most impressive bazaars in the world and soak in the smells and sights. There are also plenty of gardens, museums, and cultural sites as well. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the Moroccan cuisine. The foods focuses on lamb and delicately spiced vegetable and grain dishes that are all eaten with your hands.
2. Tam Cốc-Bích Động, Vietnam
If peace and quiet are priories when seeking a vacation destination, Tam Cốc-Bích Động is perfect. Just a couple of hours south of Hanoi, you can get your fill of karst topography, breathtaking valleys, and endless rice fields. You can cycle through the peaceful villages, go on a hike up the mountains, or go row a boat. Much like most of the other destinations on this list, Tam Coc is a place that few tourists know about, which is yet another reason why you should go.
1. Blue Mountains, Australia
As winter approaches up where you live, down in Australia summer is on its way! Located a couple of hours away from Sydney, the Blue Mountains have everything that an outdoor enthusiast would dream of. The mountains are covered in forests and there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from. Naturally, you will have to check out the iconic Three Sisters, an unusual rock formation made of sandstone. For those who want to take in the sites without all the hiking, there are other exciting options such as riding the Scenic Skyway (a cable car with a glass floor) or hopping on the Katoomba Scenic Railway.