Let’s face it – February can be a bit meh. It’s cold, it’s dark and we’re all just waiting for spring to emerge. Where to go in February? Head to the greatest show on earth…to Rio and its carnival. Hedonism doesn’t even come close to this bamboozling party. Everyone goes nuts from caipirinha-swigging punters to decadently-dressed dancers, swinging their hips as if their life depends on it. And if you haven’t been to Rio yet, well you’re missing out on of the world’s greatest cities. Asia’s looking mighty fine too, from the sands and cities of Thailand to the serene waterways of Kerala. Oman is worth checking out - a low-key, but-no-less compelling alternative to its Middle Eastern counterparts. And if you’re looking to eat, sleep, rave, repeat, head on over to the Dominican Republic which revels in sun and rum during its month-long carnival.
BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN FEBRUARY
Brazil is no wallflower – it’s bold and brash and always up for a laugh. Especially when the carnival hits in February. Hedonism swirls through the streets and everyone goes mental, from all-night parties to the parades of scantily dressed dancers. And it’s not just in Rio that you can enjoy the festivities, Salvador, too, puts on a riotous carnival that’s just as enthralling. Looking to wind down and detox? Escape to the sun-drenched coast, to good-time Paraty or castaway Ihle Grande to flop in a hammock, hole up in beach huts, and surf its big breaks.
No doubt about it, Egypt is bouncing back. Prices are reasonable and Giza’s hotly-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum is reportedly due to open in 2020 with a thorough chronicling of the ancient Egyptians told through treasures excavated from the dusty tombs. And as winter takes hold in February, there will be less of a tourist brawl at its historical sites from the pyramids to sundowner cruises along the Nile - the world’s longest river – for far-reaching views of barren desert, extraordinary hand-carved monuments and gorgeous green valleys.
February sees the country of the Khmers at its loveliest with balmy days giving way to cool nights thanks to the tail-end of the northeast monsoon. There won’t be torrential downpours transforming roads into mudbaths, and the heat is not too sweat-inducing, making it an ideal time to get out and explore. The attention-grabbing temples of Angkor always turn up on Cambodia itineraries and for good reason: set your alarm stupidly early and see it in all of its splendour on a dawn trip (we promise it will be worth it). Angkor’s only part of the story, however. Phnom Penh is fast-paced and fun with whizzing motorbikes, orange-robed monks pootling around, a burgeoning foodie scene and a new breed of top hotels. And tying this all together, there’s miles of untapped countryside, a gorgeous coastline and the snaking Mekong to boot.
February is cold and let’s face it, pretty dull. But what if you could flee east, to the buzzing shores of Mexico? There’s nothing dull about that. And the thing about Mexico is that it can be anything you want it to be – especially in February when the dry season hits. You can find avant-garde art studios and restaurants at the vanguard of cool; hippie hideaways on some of the best beaches you’ll ever clap your eyes on; mist-swirled volcanoes and thick jungle harbouring endless adventures. And to top it all off, there's a foodie scene bursting with the best burritos or fajitas you’ve ever tasted. All this, plus it’s the perfect time to spot humpback whales in Cabo San Lucas and their grey cousins off San Ignacio. Convinced?
February is Thailand’s sweet spot – wedged between the crowds at Christmas and the ensuing monsoon from May. At this time of year, it's all sunshine and refreshingly pleasant temperatures. You can still catch some rays and swing in a hammock in Phuket; you can plod around Bangkok without desperately searching of air-con; and the gorgeous green surrounds of Chiang Mai have never looked better when you’re not gasping to escape the clamour and dunk your head in a waterfall… though a wild waterfall wash is always a brilliant idea. All of this, plus getting stuck into the country's fiery, finger-licking foodie scene guarantees a fabulous February getaway.