Best time to visit Asia

Many people avoid August as they think it's still monsoon. In the north there isn't as much rain so it actually feels like a European summer.
The best time to visit Asia isn’t easily summed up – it’s a huge continent of different regions each with their own weather patterns and microclimates. So think about whether you prefer heat, or cooler weather; think about why you’re going – local culture, historical sights, trekking – and what the optimum conditions are to enjoy that (it’s likely you’d rather not appreciate the splendour of the Taj Mahal during the monsoon, for example). Consider crowds, too.

Kerala (India) Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
22
31
6
FEB
23
32
24
MAR
24
32
37
APR
25
33
107
MAY
25
31
284
JUN
24
29
752
JUL
23
28
848
AUG
23
28
514
SEP
23
29
316
OCT
23
30
310
NOV
23
31
155
DEC
22
31
42

When to visit Asia & when not to

If you want to see blue whales in Sri Lanka, the beginning of March is the best time. But for other species, head there from October until April. January is an exceptional month in which to visit Cambodia - you can expect good weather conditions throughout the country, with blue skies, little or no rain and temperatures set at a balmy 26°C; likewise, Laos is a dream in February. During Nepal’s summer monsoon season (June, July, August, September), it doesn’t necessarily rain all day, but it does rain every day. More rain falls at night than during the day, so the mornings are often crisp and beautiful, but the season is sadly often avoided by trekkers – if you do want to trek then, avoid Nepal’s more popular circuits and head to Manang, Mustang or Dolpo, Himalayan areas that sit in rain shadows. China’s ‘Golden Week’, or National Day Vacation is held from 29th September to 10th October and everyone in the country – that’s 1.4 billion people – has this week off. Most travel to domestic cities causing logistical chaos. Avoid it, unless of course your idea of fun is getting caught in a confusion of camera straps. The rainy season in Southeast Asia runs from around May until late October, and can deter travelers. However, Borneo is a great Southeast Asian call during this time as it sits outside of the monsoon belt. The term ‘typhoon’ denotes a particular type of tropical storm that hits the northwest Pacific Ocean (pretty much all of Southeast Asia). A majority of typhoons happen between May and October, though they can strike year round. Towards the end of Southeast Asia’s dry season, starting in around March, temperatures begin to rise. By April, it can top 40°C, with high humidity – which is extremely uncomfortable and difficult to take in any sights or activities. If you want to go hiking in Kerala’s Western Ghats, the monsoon peak of July and August is not the best time to visit India. Houseboats aren’t much fun during this time either. Even though Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is in a drier region, it does still get hit by the monsoon in November and December.

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Olly Permberton from our supplier, Exodus, shares his opinion on when is the best time to visit China: “Spring is a great time to visit China because it’s off-season for local tourists and the temperature is warmer; in the wintertime Beijing can get very, very cold with temperatures dropping to -20°C. If you want to visit the Great Wall, it gets covered in snow in December, which may make it a photographer’s dream, but also makes it quite dangerous to walk on. The height of summer is best avoided because temperatures soar, and the beginning of October is ‘Golden Week’, which is when the whole of the country is on vacation. I was there during that time and visited the Forbidden Palace in Beijing and I literally could not move for people; it’s easy to forget that China is huge and a lot of the Chinese had never been to Beijing, so we were all tourists together.”

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Vietnam vacations, tailor made

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Festivals & events

Songkran

A real benefit to visiting Southeast Asia on the cusp of the monsoon season is Songkran, the New Year celebrations that happen in April. It’s a huge, week-long street party celebrating the end of the dry season and the start of the rains. Everyone has a water gun, so there’s no hiding behind anyone to escape from getting wet; they’ll soak you through while belly laughing. A 90-year-old granny in the street? Don’t trust her.
Written by Polly Humphris
Photo credits: [Page banner: dia_n] [Intro: Mamun Srizon] [Richard Goodey quote: Sergey Pesterev] [Songkran: laydown]
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