Winter months are ideal for experiencing the beauty of distant destinations. It makes no difference if you’re after snowy landscapes or tropical beaches because there is a little bit of both. The best part is that you don’t have to strain your budget too much in order to satisfy the traveler in you.
For this reason, we present you with the best tourist places to travel in December on a budget.
Hot December Destinations on the Cheap
First, let’s see the best hot destinations to visit in winter.
1. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Winter marks the peak season in Cambodia. This is one of the most unique countries to visit in Southeast Asia but it’s also a low-key December destination. This means that your dollar stretches a lot farther in Cambodia – much more than in Thailand or Sri Lanka. Although accommodation and food rates can be on the pricier side around the Angkor Complex, Phnom Penh offers a unique possibility to explore the biggest attractions without blowing all your cash.
Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital. Despite this fact, it still offers fairly reasonable prices. You can explore the city in around 3 days while you should set aside some time to explore the surrounding temples and other attractions. Hostel rates start at around $4 while the most expensive restaurants serve $10 – $12 dishes. December in Cambodia bestows visitors with awesome weather at pleasant 87°F.
2. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Believe it or not, traveling around Southeast Asia on the cheap is possible, even in Thailand. This is why Chiang Mai tops this list. Although there is no beach in this mountainous city, it is a perfect gateway to exploring the wonders of Northern Thailand, including Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, and Lampang.
A night in a hostel will cost you around $3 while a two-star hotel room starts at $12 – ridiculously cheap! More importantly, the temperatures are around 86°F so you can expect to soak up the sun to your heart’s content.
3. Punta Gorda, Belize
Located on the eastern Caribbean coast of Central America, Belize is usually said to be a pricey tourist destination from December until April. Although there is some truth to it, you can still get a great bargain, even at this time of year.
Punta Gorda is a small fishing town in southern Belize and makes for a great base to explore the Mayan ruins and picturesque beaches Belize is famous for. Accommodation in Punta Gorda can be found starting at $60 a night in December while there are some superb dining options at hand too.
Read more: Visiting Caribbean Islands in September
4. Oaxaca City, Mexico
The period between December and April marks the dry season in Mexico. The temperatures remain pleasant throughout, ranging between 76°F and 82°F. Avoiding exorbitant destinations such as Cabo and Cancun means you can have the best Mexican vacay without breaking the bank. That’s why you should head to Oaxaca City.
Oaxaca is famous for its indigenous culture, festivals, and savory cuisine while it’s also the cultural hub of the entire region. You can treat your palate with delectable meals starting at $8 and have some rest at hotels from $19 on.
5. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona in December is neither cold nor hot which is why we left it in the middle of this list of the best tourist places to travel in December on a budget. There are a lot of sunny days (only 3 days of rain on average), fewer tourists, and spectacular architecture, this city is definitely worth the mention. Games of Thrones filming sites and Christmas Market are a no-miss.
Barcelona accommodation rates are significantly higher around the center (Gothic Quarter and La Rambla), so make sure to stay away from those areas if you want to have fun on a budget. It’s fairly easy to get around the city so you won’t have a hard time getting in the thick of all the action in the center. The same rules apply to restaurants and diners. The closer tot he center, the more expensive they get so do your homework and map those little farther off.
Read more: Top Cities in Europe in October
Cold December Destinations on the Cheap
If you’re after snow-sprinkled destinations, we’ve got you covered too.
1. Brasov, Romania
Situated in the most famous Romanian region of Transylvania, Brasov is a small town you can tour in a single day. What makes it so special is the fact that winter makes it idyllic and breath-taking but also ideal to go on tours of the nearby castles, Bran and Peleș.
Romania is generally considered a fairly affordable European destination and Brasov is no exception. A private room with a double bed starts at $30, usually with breakfast included. As far as food is concerned, you will want to stay away from the restaurants around the city’s main square. Once you start exploring, you will find delicious meals elsewhere, starting at around $11. As for the weather in December, you may want to bring warm clothes because daily temperatures rarely exceed 48°F and drop significantly during the night.
2. Warsaw, Poland
You’ll hardly find a better place to get into the holiday spirit than Warsaw. Although fairly cold this time of year (temperatures drop below the freezing point), Warsaw in December is a sight to behold.
Warsaw is generally cheap but rates may soar as Christmas approaches. That means that you should either book your stay well in advance or travel in the first two weeks of December. Hostel double rooms start at $28 while hotels offer accommodation starting at $38. Mid-range restaurants serve meals $15 although you can find great street food at $5 per portion.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the best cheap snow destination trips if you pick any day in December as long as it’s not the New Year’s Eve. Not only is it one of the most stunning European cities during winter months but it also offers plenty of choices for budget travelers. Some hostels offer premium rooms for under $50 a night and you can indulge in delicious food for $4.5 a meal.
You will want to wrap yourself in some warm clothes because Chezh winters are a bit frigid (39°F). Hefty stews and quality beer will surely warm you up so you probably won’t feel the coldness at all.
4. Yellowstone, Wyoming
As the first national park in the world and bigger than some US states, Yellowstone surely has a lot up its sleeve. Although its mesmerizing beauty puts it at the top of any itinerary, December is particularly lovely in this 2 million-hectare park. Winter in Yellowstone means fewer people around and that implies lower rates for accommodation.
Although some lodges and campground close in winter, you can still get a fair share of those that don’t. Seeing as winter is less popular with tourists, you can find lodging for $59 a night which is way cheaper than in the summer season when rates triple, to say the least.
5. Vilnius, Lithuania
Lithuania is one of those off-the-radar destinations but it has seen a rise in tourism in the past few years, ever since it joined the European Union. As its capital, Vilnius is the finest representative of the country’s long and rich history. What’s most important is that you can take in all this beauty without blowing all your budget.
According to Travel Supermarket 2018 report, Vilnius was the cheapest city break at just $114 for an entire weekend. That alone should convince you to head to this charming city. Winter is particularly appealing in Vilnius, too. Just make sure to bring some warm clothes because it may get chilly. Daily temperatures during December can easily dip well below zero.
Hopefully, you will find something that fits your budget and preferences among these fantastic December destinations. Whether you want to bask in the sun or sip a cup of hot tea, there is plenty to choose from.