By November, there’s just no denying it - Winter IS coming. If you’re not willing to submit to box sets, slipper socks and rapidly disappearing afternoons, stay in seasonal denial for a few more precious weeks by booking a trip in November.
Winter may be taking its frosty grip on the UK, but, on the other side of the world, things are seriously hotting up. Spring is sliding into summer all over the southern hemisphere and many places on the planet are in party mode. November also represents the calm before the Christmas tourist storm, with few crowds and relatively painless prices.
In other words, November is a great time to get away. Abandon your bobbly jumper, peel yourself off the sofa and explore! Here’s our guide to the best places to in November.
Unlike us, Mexico doesn’t shove death under the carpet. Quite the opposite. For Mexicans, death is something to be revered rather than shut away. So, if you want to experience a different take on death, make a beeline for Mexico’s Day of the Dead.
Every November, the Day of the Dead celebrates death in a seriously life-affirming way. It’s a party for the departed, honouring the dead with a series of joyful rituals. Think candy skulls, candlelit vigils in cemeteries, flower petal offerings, bright paper bunting and spookily uplifting parades.
There are no two ways about it – New York knows how to host a knees up. Thanksgiving in the Big Apple is an epic affair, making it well worth the journey – and then some. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a larger-than-life carousel of wacky floats, the turkey is plentiful and the pecan pie will send you into a blissful overfed haze. Not only that, but November is great for early Christmas shopping in New York, minus the last-minute crowds.
If you have more time on your hands, take the Maple Leaf Train west from New York for the Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls and Toronto. Beginning in November every year, this event sees hundreds of light installations and firework displays all around Niagara, adding an extra thrill to the thundering falls. Americans and Canadians don’t do things by halves, so expect something big. Really big.
Thailand’s beaches may get all the media glory, but its mountains are equal in beauty and charm. The hills and rice terraces of the north are worth a trip in their own right, offering stunning views, great hikes and wonderful wildlife. In November, the dry season has set in, making it a wonderful time to explore these emerald highlands.
Moreover, magic happens all over Northern Thailand in November. Chiang Mai, Thailand’s capital of culture, hosts both the Loi Krathong and Yeng Pi Festival. These sparkly night-time events pay homage to the full moon and pack in some fairy tale touches. For Loi Krathong, thousands of floating lanterns are released into the river, while Yeng Pi features a sea of twinkling lanterns drifting through the sky. Stunning.
Spring is busting out all over the high plains and hillsides of Patagonia, making it a wonderful time to visit. All across this incredible region, in both Argentina and Chile, you’ll find wildflower carpets against a backdrop of snowy Andean peaks and glacier lakes, with llamas and vicunas grazing in the meadows. It’s mesmerising.
High season in Patagonia kicks off in December, so November is perfect if you’d prefer to dodge the crowds. Follow the famous W trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine, hike on Perito Moreno glacier, gaze up to the jagged tips of Mt. Fitzroy and feel utterly high on life. Patagonia is a special place at the best of times, but November takes it up an extra notch.
If you like walking (largely uphill), now is the perfect time to head for the Himalayas. Nepal is a destination that you can’t help but fall for, with gentle people, gorgeous scenery and bags of real character. It’s a universal traveller soft spot and November is the ideal month to set off. Grab your hiking boots, get on a plane and prepare to have your heart stolen.
Nepal is bathed in bright sunshine in November, making it by far the best month to trek. The foothills of the Himalayas are richly green, while giant snowy peaks provide an epic background. Explore the Annapurnas, trek to Everest Base Camp or stick to the milder slopes of the Kathmandu Valley. Wherever you trek, you’re in for a treat. Tihar, Nepal’s version of Diwali, also takes place in November, so you’ll find a party atmosphere in even the most remote mountain villages.
November is the beginning of the Northern Lights season in Canada’s Yukon Territory, while the holiday hoards don’t descend until December. It’s a great window of opportunity if you want to experience the wilderness without feeling wedged in between the crowds. While there’s no strict guarantee that the aurora will put on a show, if you’re going to see them anywhere – it’s here.
In November, there’s enough snow for dog-sledding across the tundra and snow-shoeing through the forest, even though the season hasn’t reached full swing. Spend your days playing in the snow and your nights hunting for the Northern Lights. For the ultimate experience, stay in Boreale Ranch, where you can spot the aurora with a glass of bubbly in the outdoor hot tub.
By November, the monsoon has finished its soggy business in Cambodia and the dry season has firmly settled in, making the weather beautifully reliable. If you’ve been dreaming of visiting the ancient ruins of Angkor, now is your moment. Cycle between these iconic sites on a sunny day, feel every bit like Indiana Jones amongst the giant tree trunks and round off the day on Siem Reap’s lively Pub Street.
Cambodia may be small, but it’s got far more up its sleeve than Angkor. If you visit Phnom Penh in November, you can catch the Bon Om Touk Water Festival, which celebrates the reversing flow of the Mekong River. It’s a unique natural phenomenon. For 72 hours non-stop in Cambodia’s capital, you’ll find thronging pop-up food stalls, fireworks, boat races and parades, giving you a brilliant glimpse of the local culture.
Do you own a flamboyant hat? If so, hop on a plane to Melbourne in November and head for the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Australians are mad about the Melbourne Cup and it’s one of the highlights of their calendar, so you can expect all kinds of music acts, races, food stalls and very silly hats. Forage out your fascinator, summon up your party spirit and make your way to the racecourse.
November is also a brilliant time to drive the Great Southern Touring Loop from Melbourne. This includes the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road and ballsy kangaroos on the golf courses of Anglesea, as well as vast vineyards and beautiful beaches at Port Fairy. The loop includes the gorgeous Grampian Mountains too, which are covered by swathes of swaying wildflowers in November. It’s a winner.
If you’re ready for an exotic assault on all five senses, take a trip to Rajasthan in November. The rains have passed, making it a perfect month to explore the colourful, culture-packed and downright chaotic cities of Rajasthan, from the Pink City of Jaipur to the Blue City of Jodhpur. See the palace in Udaipur reflected in its glassy lake, eat a lifetime quota of curry, ride a camel, dodge cows in the street and haggle in the rowdy bazaars. It’s exotic, exhausting and utterly unbeatable.
November is also the time of the world-famous Pushkar Camel Fair when thousands of farms gather their camels, cows and sheep for trading for five whole days. As well as serious business deals, you’ll find a camel beauty contest (yes really), camel racing and the brilliantly offbeat ‘longest moustache contest’. After the madness, head for the beaches of Goa to recapture your calm.