15 Best Cheap Christmas Holiday Destinations
'Tis the season to hop on a flight and tell Santa where you're headed. Whether you're a traveling pair or a party of five, a festive vacation provides a fun, stress-free alternative to attending the family gathering. If you choose the right destination, a cheap Christmas holiday is easy to find and will leave extra cash for the make-up gift you'll have to bring back to mom.
Many resorts book up over the holidays but sit empty in the days before, offering better rates for guests who can arrive ahead of the rush and stay through New Years. Start your search early to score great savings, and head out before December 24th, which is one of the most expensive days to travel.
While Mexico is one of your best bets for a cheap Christmas holiday, there are plenty of other vacay-worthy spots to suit a smaller budget at this time of year. From Prague to Split to Colombia, you're sure to find a spot that's perfect for your festive trip.
Skip out on the tidings but not the joy with our list of the best cheap Christmas holiday destinations.
1. Riviera Maya, Mexico
If you're looking for one of the best warm places to spend Christmas, head to the Riviera Maya. After flying into Cancun, a 40-minute drive brings you to a quieter region of the Yucatan Peninsula. Traditional hot spots for resorts and beaches along this stretch are Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
Riviera Maya offers a slew of all-inclusive resorts to cut back on food costs, as well as access to water sports to keep busy bodies entertained. These are especially perfect for those traveling with kiddos in tow.
When you aren't playing in the sand or soaking up the sun, consider making the trek to Xcaret Park to float down their cavernous lazy river and learn about marine life. For an educational excursion, you can make a quick jaunt to Tulum to see ancient Mayan ruins first-hand.
Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do on the Mayan Riviera
2. Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
This Caribbean nation has a fascinating and diverse terrain. With sandy beaches, rainforests, and savannas, it's safe to say travelers will be amazed no matter which direction they look. For a cheap Christmas vacation, the north coast's scenic Puerto Plata has all the makings of paradise.
Puerto Plata is known for it's beautiful resorts, many of which are all-inclusive and affordable, particularly compared to other Caribbean destinations.
From the expansive beachfront of Playa Dorada to a city center that dates to the 16th century, you and your loved ones will enjoy plenty of sun, and some history, too.
For those who live for a thrill, budget some time to visit the highly rated Ocean World Adventure Park, which makes it easy to lose track of the hours with waterslides, rides, and more.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
There's no doubt about it, Prague is a beauty. This once troubled capital of the Czech Republic (communism had its grips on the pretty city for years) is a true gem worth visiting at any time of year.
Those who choose to spend their Christmas holiday here will be thrilled not only by the magical festive lights and decorations, but also with the affordable prices for things like accommodation, food, and flights. Don't feel too special, Prague is one of the best cheap places to visit in Europe year-round.
In terms of the best attractions in Prague, top your list with a visit to the charming Old Town Square, its winding cobblestone streets made even more majestic with their festive attire. You can't miss the impressive 14th-century Charles Bridge, a highlight for photographers and romantics.
If you're lucky while gazing at the Astronomical Clock or staring in awe of the myriad of colorful buildings, you might even feel some snow trickle from the Eastern European December skies.
4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Though for many travelers venturing to Southeast Asia requires a lengthy-and sometimes pricey-flight, once the wheels hit the ground, your budget rests easy.
Instead of battling the crowds in busy Bangkok, head to Chiang Mai, the country's former capital in Northern Thailand. This vibrant city is a mecca for digital nomads, which could be beneficial for new-ish travelers who require some Western touches away from home.
Expect to dive into the rich culture of this destination, founded in 1296, which offers countless temples, hiking trails, food and craft markets, Ladyboy shows, and more. Best of all, you can simply call a tuk-tuk and get anywhere you want to go.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Places to Stay in Chiang Mai
5. Bali, Indonesia
If you're seeking some much-needed stress relief after a difficult year, consider spending your time off in Bali. This Indonesian island offers yoga retreats, hikes through the jungle, tours through rice paddies, and walks through monkey and elephant sanctuaries.
As if that wasn't enough to keep you busy during the holidays, Balinese vacations offer opportunities to lounge upon their boundless beaches, snorkel, surf, sunbathe, and swim in the Indian Ocean.
Because Bali has become a must-see tourist destination for many people, there are plenty of options for lodging. You and your family can rent a house – often complete with a cleaning service and personal chef – or book your stay at one of the country's best resorts.
No matter where you choose to stay, rates tend to be budget-friendly during the Christmas holiday, especially for larger groups. Not bad for a little slice of paradise!
Accommodation: Best Beach Resorts in Bali
For jet-setters who have been to Amsterdam or Copenhagen before, you'll feel a sense of déjà vu when you first see the downtown area of this small Caribbean island.
Willemstad, Curaçao features a colorful row of pastel-painted buildings, all with shops and restaurants adorning the front. As the "C" of the ABC islands, Curaçao was lucky to be free of hurricanes in recent years and is still building tourism, so rates continue to fall on the less expensive side.
In addition to a charming mini-city area and gorgeous beaches, Curaçao also has impressive hiking trails and off-roading for adrenaline junkies.
Airfare from the East Coast airports like Miami frequently offer excellent rates to Curaçao, even over the Christmas holidays.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Curacao
7. Split, Croatia
With a similar beauty to Greece but for a fraction of the cost, Croatia is quickly piquing the interests of nomadic wanderers worldwide. Before prices become competitive with their Mediterranean-area neighbors, consider a vacation in Split, Croatia. Sitting snug on the Dalmatian Coast, the international airport makes it easy to fly direct and start your exploration of this captivating spot, all for a fraction of the price charged to get to its more expensive counterparts.
This cheap Christmas holiday destination is filled with all types of wonders to please even the pickiest of travelers. Though you'll discover pebble beaches splashed by the sparkling Adriatic Sea, you will also find touches of rich history throughout the city's charming Old Town. And the food? All we can say is, come hungry! Your taste buds are going to be in for a treat.
Feeling up for a nautical adventure? Book a boat day trip to tour the other surrounding – and equally beautiful – areas, like Hvar or Vis.
8. Las Vegas, Nevada
While many see Las Vegas as a hot spot for entertainment; shotgun weddings; and nights so exciting, their adventures must be kept secret; this is a fabulous spot for a cheap Christmas holiday. Plus, a trip to Vegas means you can basically travel from Paris to New York all in one day, if you stick to The Strip, that is.
One of the best cheap places to travel in December, here, you'll find the best holiday deals if you book your stay (and flight) before the 24th. Scour the Web for a package deal, and your savings will become optimal enough to allow you to catch a big show (Celine or Adele, anyone?).
Bringing the kids along? Great idea. Las Vegas boasts a slew of kid-friendly hotels with fun activities, luxurious amenities, and fantastic kids' clubs.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Las Vegas
9. Marrakech, Morocco
If you've ever imagined riding a camel into the sunset, here is your chance. A cheap holiday in Marrakech will introduce you to a fascinating, robust, and vibrant culture, and, perhaps, help you add another continent to your "I've been there" list.
Today, Marrakesh serves as both a religious and economic center for the country, and with a myriad of winding alleyways that pack the legendary medina, it's a hub for tourists, too.
After you purchase pottery, textiles, spices, and jewelry to give as gifts back home, it's recommended to book a few days to experience the Sahara Desert.
While it's a windy, eight-hour drive from Marrakech, there's nothing quite as wondrous as falling asleep under the African stars and waking up to climb a sand dune to watch the sunset. And don't worry, Santa is sure to find you out here!
10. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Another Southeast Asian spot that's worth noting for a cheap Christmas holiday destination is Cambodia. In recent years, it's not merely fresh-out-of-college backpackers who have flocked to this region, but curious travelers seeking to understand the culture of this land and learn of its past.
Most travelers choose to spend their time in Siem Reap, since it provides access to Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the wonders of the world. This temple is massive, at more than 160 hectares, and served first as a Hindu shrine, and later for Buddhism.
Like most areas in Asia, you can also explore night markets and ancient streets, all before tucking your tired traveling feet in for the night. And hey, if you crave the beach, add on a few nights in Koh Rong, which is only a short, well-priced flight away.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Siem Reap
11. Belize, Central America
What Belize lacks in size, it more than makes up for in beauty. Home to pristine beaches, dense jungles, and ancient Mayan ruins, this tropical paradise is a delightful place to spend any type of holiday, especially Christmas.
Belize is a popular destination for eco-travelers looking to explore the world's second largest barrier reef (behind Australia's Great Barrier Reef). Among the top attractions in this sunny spot are the Ambergris Caye & Hol Chan Marine Reserve, as well as the Lighthouse Reef Atoll and the Blue Hole. All are beloved spots for snorkeling and diving.
With so many opportunities for land and water-based fun, a trip to this tropical wonderland is unBelizeable (sorry, we had to)! And if you visit during December, you're sure to score some major deals.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Beach Resorts in Belize
Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Belize
12. Kenya, Africa
December falls during Kenya's rainy season, which means you may get wet when heading out on safari, but this also means you'll be in for some great savings during your Christmas holiday. Don't worry too much about the moisture, the rains tend to be short at this time of the year.
Visiting the Maasai Mara National Reserve is one of the best things to do in Kenya. As one of Africa's top game reserves, you won't want to miss a chance to see at least a few of the "Big Five" during your trip. The bonus of traveling during Christmas holidays comes in the form of less crowds and more savings.
Also, the holiday season marks the birth of many animals and welcomes the summer's migratory birds, allowing visitors a chance to see even more fascinating creatures than they would at other drier times of the year.
Some camps (mainly in the north) close during this period, so be sure to organize your trip well in advance. The popular Rusinga Cultural Festival is held over two days on Rusinga Island, right before Christmas.
Don't miss a chance to check out Narobi's best attractions. Kenya's capital is always buzzing with culture and history. If you only have time to do one thing, visiting Nairobi National Park is a must.
While previous generations of travelers and their families would have shied away from this South American destination, locals are eager to change the world's attitude about their country. Since the death of the infamous - and destructive - Pablo Escobar, Colombia continues to transform and unite, attracting jet-setters to its coffee plantations, rainforests, and more.
Whether you spend time engulfed in the trees and the bustling culinary and digital nomad scene in Medellin, head to the high-altitude mountains of the capital of Bogota, or lounge by the beach in Cartagena, most places in Colombia are affordable.
14. Montego Bay, Jamaica
Be honest, you've dreamed about escaping reality to spend Christmas on a soft, sandy beach, soaking up the sun's rays while sipping water from a coconut, with no annoying relatives in sight. If this is true, look no further than Jamaica!
Tourist hot spot Montego Bay offers holiday visitors a tropical paradise setting complete with water so shimmeringly turquoise, you'll have to wear shades to look at it. Jump in for a swim, kayak, paddleboard, or snorkel to cool off.
Great deals can be had around the holidays, making Montego Bay a wonderful, cheap Christmas holiday destination. Book an all-inclusive resort to save a bit of cash. The bonus: you can order seconds of dessert without thinking twice about your wallet.
While you're here, take a guided rafting tour along the Martha Brae River, visit Rose Hall Great House, and get inspired at the lovely Ahhh... Ras Natango Gallery and Garden.
Accommodation: Best Hotels in Montego Bay
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Jamaica
15. Honduras, Central America
The Christmas holidays is an optimal time to travel to Honduras, one of the cheapest places to visit in Central America, if you're looking to protect your budget. Flights and hotel rates are a breath of fresh air compared to more expensive tropical locals (we're looking at you, Maldives), yet the scenery is just as fantastic.
In addition to saving some serious coin on a trip to Honduras during the Christmas holiday, you'll garner a travel experience many others will never see. Christmas is a popular holiday in Central America, and Honduras is a huge fan of celebrating its festive traditions.
In addition to Christmas Eve fireworks, you'll likely sit down to an affordable feast of tasty delicacies no matter where you choose to eat during this time. On New Year's, you'll probably be treated to another fireworks show–the Hondurans really like lighting up the sky!
With all that money you saved, why not sign up for some diving lessons or exciting excursions to the area's best islands, or a dolphin encounter?
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Honduras