10 Unexpectedly Awesome Places to Spend Thanksgiving Abroad

Nov 15, 2017

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Even if you love your family, your family can still drive you nuts — especially after you’re sequestered together in a house for four days. This Thanksgiving, put those those hard-earned PTO days to good use by planning an actual vacation — somewhere so awesome that it justifies flying on some of the worst flying days of the year. Bonus points if you bring along the ‘rents.

1. Berlin, Germany

You’ll be far from home, but you can still revel in everything that’s great about fall, from mulled wine to cozy holiday markets. Head to Christmas Garden Berlin at the Botanical Garden, a near-literal winter wonderland with millions of lights, snug fireplaces and an ice rink. With fewer tourists bumbling around, November is a prime time to score hotel deals; be sure to look for discount flights to Berlin (SFX) on WOW Air or Norwegian Airlines.

The Gendarmenmarkt is a square in Berlin. Image by Dado Daniela / Getty Images.
The Gendarmenmarkt is a square in Berlin. Image by Dado Daniela / Getty Images.

2. Thailand

With vibrant food, jaw-dropping temples and magnificent beachesThailand never disappoints. November is one of the most glorious times of the year here; the cool, dry season brings temps in the 80s — perfect for whiling away Thanksgiving on the white-sand shores of Koh Phi Phi, halved coconut in-hand. Snag a flight to Phuket or Bangkok.

3. Marrakech, Morocco

Anticipate sensory overload in the best way possible in Marrakech. The former imperial city boasts architecture with artisanal tilework and intricate wood ceilings, resonant songs from street musicians and local mosques, and rich aromas of spice and perfume emanating from souks and food stalls. November is shoulder season, so you’ll encounter fewer sightseers while enjoying highs in the low 70s.

4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Switch continents for as little as $410 with a flight deal to Kuala Lumpur. While you’re there, check out the traditional Malay wooden houses in Kampung Baru, chow down on hawker fare at Jalan Alor and marvel at Batu Caves, a historic Hindu temple built into a limestone hill.

5. Oaxaca, Mexico

Forego the turkey in favor of moles and corn-filled antojitos — literally, “little cravings,” or street foods — in Oaxaca, a favorite destination for chefs and food-lovers thanks to its ancient culinary roots. Visitation has ground to a halt since a 8.1-magnitude earthquake jolted Southern Mexico in early September; however, Oaxaca City and many nearby areas were largely untouched. Take advantage of the balmy weather (in the 70s) and lack of crowds, all while supporting the Mexican economy as it continues to rebuild.

6. Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway’s second largest city by population, has a lot going for it: a compact downtown, a historic wharf lined with cute wooden buildings and a setting surrounded by stunning mountains and fjords. It’s always a trippy experience spending time somewhere that only gets a few hours of daylight — as Bergen does in November — but the long nights offer a prime opportunity to view the Northern Lights. Plus, direct flights on Norwegian Air are a steal.

The Northern Lights over harbor of Bergen City, Norway. Image by RelaxFoto.de / Getty Image.
The Northern Lights over harbor of Bergen City, Norway. Image by RelaxFoto.de / Getty Images.

7. Harbour Island, Bahamas

Harbour Island has been a longtime magnet for the rich and famous; Uma Thurman, Bill Gates and Elle MacPherson are all fans of the Bahamian paradise’s pink-sand beaches. With temps in the 80s, November is a perfect time to dip your toes in the turquoise waters — a cleansing, of sorts, to rid holiday stress. Hope for a JetBlue flash-sale flight to Nassau, then step aboard The Bahamas Fast Ferry, which will have you on the rosy shores within 2.5 hours.

8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In 2015, a survey conducted by San Francisco-based Switchfly, Inc. named Brazil the No. 1 international Thanksgiving destination for American travelers. That’s not surprising; after all, average November temperatures are in the high 70s/low 80s, and the water hovers around a balmy 74 degrees. Sunbathe on Ipanema’s white beach or hike up to Christ the Redeemer, which towers over the city. American Airline Premium Economy on Miami-to-Rio routes haven’t launched quite yet, but that doesn’t make the city any less worthy of a Thanksgiving jaunt.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image by Fabio Canhim / Getty Images.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image by Fabio Canhim / Getty Images.

9. Lake Louise, Canada

Instead of consuming an insane amount of calories on T-Day, burn them off skiing at Lake Louise in Banff. The Canadian Rockies ski resort has already received more than 40 inches of snow and at least four of 10 lifts will be open by the time Thanksgiving comes around. You could do as one TPG reader did — redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a flight to Calgary, drive the 90 minutes west to Lake Louise, and then redeem more Ultimate Rewards points on a room at the opulent Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

10. Tokyo, Japan

The golden-hued leaves of the gingko trees in Tokyo’s Meiji Jingo Gaien Park peak in late November and early December, making Thanksgiving weekend an ideal time to relocate your autumnal adventures to Japan. Much like Rio, American Airlines will start sell Premium Economy seats to Tokyo in the not-too-distant future.

Featured image by @Fancycrave via Twenty20

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