Looking to get away over the holidays? For many, holiday travel is synonymous with major price hikes on airfares and overcrowded destinations.
However, travel experts and data specialists at travel search engine KAYAK say this isn’t always the case. The site’s 2015 KAYAK Holiday Travel Hacker has a number of helpful insights and tips for those looking to travel this holiday season.
“Our data uncovered fantastic holiday deals in cities around the globe, as well as up-and-coming hot spots to ring in the New Year,” says David Solomito, North America Brand Director for KAYAK. “We paired each destination with top hotels and offered ideas on what to do once you’re there.”
If you’re looking to travel with the crowds to a more in-the-know destination, KAYAK has a number of recommendations, both domestic and abroad. Flight searches for Dubai, the top ranking New Year’s Eve destination, has increased by 70% compared to last year. Cartagena, Columbia and Barcelona, Spain follow as the most searched New Year’s Eve destinations this year.
Those looking for an escape from the crowds are also in luck: KAYAK has found the Top Holiday Escape Destinations around the world. The costs of flights to these cities from the U.S. and Canada, while not necessarily cheap, have greatly decreased compared to prices during the same time last year.
So, which city should you escape to over the holidays? Click through the list to find out.
10. Bogota, Columbia
Decrease in Airfare: 18%
While in Bogota… take the funicular railway or the cable car up Mount Monserrate, walk around the Plaza de Bolivar, explore the La Candelaria neighborhood in the old quarter of the city, support local artists and find unique souvenirs at the Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquen flea market, and admire the architecture of the Iglesia Nuestra Senora de Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes Church).
KAYAK Hacker Tip: Stroll down one of the many streets adorned with Christmas lights and feast on traditional Natilla and Buñuelos to make it extra special.
9. Cleveland, Ohio
Decrease in Airfare: 19%
While in Cleveland… check out the exhibits in the Cleveland Museum of Art, go shopping in the West Side Market, walk around the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, enjoy a performance by the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, and stroll through the Lake View Cemetery to see the Wade Memorial Chapel, the President Garfield memorial, and the Haserot Angel.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: Tour the original home from “A Christmas Story”, then hit up the museum to take home the infamous leg lamp.
8. Belize City, Belize
Decrease in Airfare: 20%
While in Belize… go snorkeling in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, take a tour of the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves, explore the ancient ruins of Xunantunich, relax on the island of Caye Caulker, and see the animals at the Belize Zoo.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: Nothing says holiday escape like swimming, snorkeling and relaxing along Belize’s 175-mile Caribbean coastline.
7. Manila, Philippines
Decrease in Airfare: 21%
While in Manila… take a walking tour of the ancient ruins within the walled city of Intramuros, visit San Agustin Church or Quiapo Church, take a guided tour of the Presidential Museum and Library, see the sights the University of Santo Tomas (the oldest university in Asia) has to offer, and learn something new at the National Museum.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: With carols starting in late October and festivities lasting until January 6, the Philippines is said to have the world’s longest Christmas season.
6. Bangkok, Thailand
Decrease in Airfare: 22%
While in Bangkok… explore the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), relax your body and mind at one of the oldest massage schools in the country, watch the sunset at the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), shop at Siam Paragon or the Central World Plaza, and enjoy the signature drinks at Sky Bar Bangkok.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: For some last-minute shopping, head to the Ratchaprasong Skywalk which connects some of the city’s most plentiful shopping options.
5. Tokyo, Japan
Decrease in Airfare: 24%
While in Tokyo… watch a historical reenactment at the Shinto shrine of Meiji Jingu, check out the latest Japanese fashion fads along Harajuku Takeshita-dori, relax in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, walk around the historic Asakusa neighborhood, and enjoy the views of the Tokyo Skytree.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: If browsing through a Tokyu Hands department store’s enormous array of goods sounds overwhelming, opt for the Ikebukkuro location and unwind in its cat café.
4. Chicago, Illinois
Decrease in Airfare: 25%
While in Chicago… take an original architecture boat tour along the Chicago River, meander through the exhibits of the Art Institute of Chicago, take photos in front of Cloud Gate (also known as ‘the Bean’) in Millennial Park, enjoy the views on the 94th floor of the John Hancock building, and buy tickets to an improve or standup comedy show at Second City.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: Don’t be a scrooge – check out the Goodman Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol, going on its 38th consecutive year.
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Decrease in Airfare: 26%
While in Rio de Janeiro… relax on one of the many beaches, hike or take a cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, take photos of the Escadaria Selarón (or Selaron Steps), walk your way through the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, and take the train up to Corcovado, one of the seven wonders of the world.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: Pre-Olympics you can enjoy a less-crowded Copacabana – unless of course you plan to join the millions who revel there on New Year’s Eve.
2. Taipei, Taiwan
Decrease in Airfare: 28%
While in Taipei… hike Elephant Mountain, enjoy the Chinese art at the National Palace Museum, visit the Lungshan Temple, watch the changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and take in the view from the observation decks of Taipei 101.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: The city’s night markets are a great place to pick up some gifts -- from the stylish to the downright bizarre.
1. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Decrease in Airfare: 29%
While in Hong Kong… shop in the Mong Kok neighborhood, visit the Big Buddha statue, explore the Hong Kong Museum of History, take photos at the Tai O Heritage Hotel, and grab a drink at the highest bar in the world at the Ozone Bar on top of the Ritz-Carlton.
KAYAK Hacker Tip: “Take the city that saw the largest drop in airfare, string its many skyscrapers with holiday lights, add mild weather -- and you have our #1 holiday escape.”