The top 5 countries to visit in December

With the cold, dark evenings and rain setting in, it’s the perfect time to escape the British winter and spend the festive season somewhere a little more exotic – and probably warmer. From the warm, tranquil shores of southern India to the joyous New Year celebrations in South Africa, here are our recommendations for the five best holiday destinations to visit in December.

Chile

This long, slender country skirts the western coastline of South America like a rough, lace hem. Due to its length, it boasts a diverse climate, meaning holidays in Chile can be taken throughout the year. December is generally the spring or summer season. In the north, the sun over the Atacama Desert is not yet too strong, while the charms of Southern Patagonia are reawakening after the region’s typically severe winter. Central cities such as Santiago are warm and dry. New Year’s Eve celebrations here are spectacular, with the firework displays in the city of Valparaiso rated as the best in South America.

Chile, Patagonia

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is rich in human history. The oldest remnants of human life were discovered here. One of the great world empires, the Kingdom of Aksum, grew from these lands. And, as the first major empire to adopt Christianity, it features a bevy of amazing ancient sights, such as the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. These ancient wonders, as well as the more modern cities like the capital Addis Ababa, are located on the temperate plateaus away from the heat and malarial swamps of the lowlands. December is a great time to take a holiday to Ethiopia, when it is dry and lush in the highlands after the rains. Don’t expect Christmas Day celebrations on the 25th though… they follow the Ethiopian calendar and it’s currently 2007.

Rock Church, Lalibela, Ethiopia

South Africa

Where better to escape the onset of the British winter than The Cape? Bask in the warm Mediterranean-like climate and delight in the majestic scenery. Enjoy the abundant wine production of the Cape region, as well as delicious cuisine, and experience the diverse culture of Cape Town itself. Travellers holidaying in South Africa over the festive season should not miss the Cape Minstrel Carnival. This New Year revelry is full of colour, music and dance, and traces its origins back to slave traditions. It continues today in celebration of freedom after the abolition of slavery on 1st December 1887.

Table Mountain, Cape Town

India

The Indian subcontinent is a large area with a wealth of exotic experiences to stimulate all the senses. The post-monsoon season is the ideal time to visit the tropical southern regions, and for this reason holidays to India are particularly popular in December. It’s a good idea to avoid the obvious beach hotspots of Goa and Mumbai at this time. Instead, head to the more tranquil areas such as Kerala in the far south, or enjoy the colonial and pre-colonial cultural highlights of Tamil Nadu in the south east.

Backwaters, Kochi, Kerala

Cambodia

Cambodia has only just emerged from a brutal past but has some fantastic sights on offer. French colonisation in the 19th century stripped the country of independence, only to be briefly regained in the 1950s before entanglement in the Vietnam War and the ensuing reign of terror under the Khmer Rouge. Nevertheless, the country did once enjoy a period of great peace and prosperity under the Khmer empire, leaving such ancient legacies as Angkor, Angkor Wat, Bayon and the Terrace of the Elephants. Cambodia holidays are best taken in December when tourists can discover both the glorious and infamous aspects of the country in its more comfortable, cooler, drier season.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Katie Parsons is the PR Manager at Cox & Kings.

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