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Sweater weather: 6 cooler places in Southeast Asia to get cozy with your loved ones

Southeast Asia is known for having three seasons: hot and humid, hot and dry, and raining cats and dogs.

However, did you know that there are some places in the region that are blessed with cooler climates, thanks to their location high up above the sea level?

If you want to take a break from the usual warm temperatures, then these are the destinations you should consider:

Kundasang, Malaysia

Dairy cows grazing with Mt. Kinabalu in the background.

With stunning green surroundings and majestic mountains as a backdrop, we wouldn’t blame you if you thought this was in New Zealand, especially at the sight of the iconic dairy cows that most people associate with the Kiwi nation.

However, you can find this view closer to home in the small town of Kundasang, Sabah. Situated nearly 2,000 meters above sea level, temperatures here can drop to 13 degrees celsius at night, even in the peak months of summer.

Desa Dairy Farm is a popular stopover for visiting families, where you can feed the cows and goats, get a tour of the farm’s milk manufacturing process, and purchase freshly-made dairy products such as milk and ice cream.

For those who love the outdoors, put on your hiking shoes and try any of the trails at the base of Mount Kinabalu at Kinabalu National Park. The trails, which can take from an hour to just over two hours, vary in difficulty but are generally beginner-friendly. You can also check out the Canopy Walkway.  

After your hike, you can ease your aching muscles at the natural, mineral-rich waters of Poring Hot Spring.


Tagaytay, Philippines

A view of Taal Volcano and Taal Lake.

Located a mere two hours north of the country’s capital of Manila, Tagaytay is a favorite destination for locals to escape the concrete jungle.

Its average temperature sits comfortably between 22 to 25 degrees celsius – perfect weather for outdoor adventure activities, which it has plenty of.

At Picnic Grove, a popular recreation and picnic site, you can fly over the forest canopy on a zip-line and catch a breathtaking view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano from a cable car.

If you’ve got small kids with you, they’ll have a blast at Sky Ranch, a fun leisure park that offers activities like horseback riding and an amusement park with exciting rides. There’s also the 12-hectare Paradizoo, both a lovely garden and petting zoo.


Chiang Rai, Thailand

Chiang Rai
Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple.

Chiang Rai is often overlooked for its better-known sister city, Chiang Mai, but you’d be making a mistake to think that there’s nothing much to this underrated city. Similar to Chiang Mai, it’s located high up in the mountains, making its climate much cooler than most of Thailand.

One of the biggest attractions that draw visitors here is the unique Wat Rong Khun, its every ornate detail carved entirely in white – this is why it’s also known as the White Temple.

If you wish to keep to the color theme, check out Baan Dam Museum, or Black House, a fascinating collection of the works of renowned local artist Thawan Duchanee; as well as the stunning contemporary Buddhist murals of Rong Suea Ten, or Blue Temple.

Get some fresh air as you take a leisurely walk among the technicolor blooms at Mae Fah Luang Garden, learn more about the native hill-tribes at the Hill-tribe Museum and Population and Community Development Education Center or grab a quick snack at the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.

You can’t visit northern Thailand without sampling the special dishes you can only find within the region, so be sure to order some Khao Soi noodles and Bua Loy Kai, a dessert of sweet poached eggs and rice balls served in coconut milk.


Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

Pyin Oo Lwin
Leopard Lacewing Butterfly (Cethosia cyane) on an orchid plant at the National Kandawgyi Gardens.

Formerly a British holiday retreat, this scenic hill town is located just over 60 kilometers east of Mandalay, in the Shan Highland. The town is known for its silkworm rearing and vegetable and flower gardens.

The Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens, home to over 80 different species of plants, is a great place to cycle around.

Cool off at any of the nearby magical waterfalls, such as Pwe Kauk waterfall, Anisakan waterfall, or Dee Doke waterfalls.

For all you coffee lovers, don’t forget to try a cup of joe made from locally-grown beans, as Pyin Oo Lwin is one of the leaders in Myanmar’s rapidly-growing coffee industry. Starting from 1,000 Kyat for a cup (RM3++), it’s definitely cheaper than the cost of coffee in most cities these days.

Cipanas, Indonesia

The Secret Labyrinth at Nusantara Flower Garden.

Despite having the word “panas” (“hot” in Bahasa Indonesia) in its name, Cipanas isn’t hot at all. This quaint town boasts a comfy maximum average temperature of 25 degrees celsius all year round.

The hottest attraction here, both in temperature and popularity, are the sulphuric hot springs, which are channeled into large pools for you to splash around in.

Another main attraction is the enchanting 23-hectare Nusantara Flower Garden, a beautifully-maintained garden full of lush flowers. Don’t get lost in the Secret Labyrinth, though!

If you want to experience a bit of Venice without going all the way to Italy, visit Little Venice, a luxurious villa complex located in Puncak Pass. It features architecture inspired by Venice, including a winding canal where visitors can hop on a gondola to traverse through the waterways and enjoy the scenery.

If you’ve got kids with you, drive up north closer to Bogor, where you’ll find several theme parks such as JungleLand Adventure Theme Park and Jungle Water Adventure that are sure to keep them busy. Or if you’re keen on a swim and picnic, there’s Curug Bidadari Cikoneng (Nymph Waterfall).

Da Lat, Vietnam

Da Lat
Pongour Waterfall near Da Lat.

Da Lat, set in southern Vietnam’s central highlands, is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”, thanks to its pleasantly temperate weather. For many visitors, the highlights are the various waterfalls in the area.  

At Datanla Waterfall, you can take your pick from the variety of activities available – there’s waterfall abseiling, a spectacular cable car ride, and an exhilarating alpine coaster. If you’re not feeling very adventurous, you can don an ethnic minority costume and pose for some pictures in front of the waterfalls.

You can get up-close with the cascades at Elephant Waterfalls, but be sure to wear sturdy footwear and tread carefully, as it can get muddy and slippery the closer you get to the falls.

Pongour Waterfall is another picturesque sight, with terraced cascades that will make a fantastic addition to your Instagram feed.  

If you’re a fan of Antoni Gaudi’s eccentric architecture style, visit Crazy House, known locally as Hang Nga Guesthouse. This whimsical building was designed by local Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga, and has drawn comparisons to Gaudi’s Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia.

For a fun family activity, drift along Xuan Huong Lake on a swan pedal boat… or turn it into a race for who can reach the center of the lake and back the quickest!

You know what they say – those who travel together have more fun together! Bring your partner-in-crime or the whole gang along to one of these awesome destinations for a trip you won’t soon forget. Book your hotel and flights now on Traveloka.

A storyteller with an insatiable sense of curiosity. Travel junkie. Card-carrying member of many fandoms. Heavily dependent on caffeine. Loyal cat servant. Former journalist at the New Straits Times and Hybrid News.

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