Just because it’s monsoon season in some parts of Southeast Asia towards the end of the year doesn’t mean you should put off your plans to travel in the region.
While countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia normally experience rains from November until early next year, the rainy season has passed for most of the northern part of the region.
For fairer weather where you can fully enjoy your holiday and see the sights, check out these countries:
Thailand – Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Krabi
From November to March, the southeast coast is affected by the northeast monsoon (e.g. Koh Samui, Koh Tao), but it’s sunny skies for the northern, central, and southwestern regions in the country.
Urban explorers wouldn’t want to miss out on venturing around Bangkok – the capital city has plenty of unforgettable sights and experiences for you to savor, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Arun.
The weather’s perfect in Chiang Mai for doing outdoor activities – we’d recommend visiting Suan Buak Hat Park in the city’s old district or the Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, which is about an hour’s drive outside the city.
If you’re looking to relax on a beach, then head to Krabi – sure, Phuket’s about the same, but it’s generally more crowded and expensive compared to laidback Krabi. Go island hopping to the Phi Phi Islands or Railay Beach and take a relaxing soak in the Klong Thom Hot Springs.
Vietnam – Sapa, Hanoi, Phu Quoc
Northern Vietnam will be enjoying dry and cool weather, making it just the right time to go trekking in the mountains like Sapa’s Fansipan Mountain or nearby hillside villages and waterfalls. However, from December to February, the weather can get pretty cold, so pack accordingly.
In Hanoi, you can cycle around the peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake or sample the street food at Dong Xuan Market, the city’s largest covered market. If you’ve had enough of the city, jump on a junk boat and take a cruise around Halong Bay, where you can admire the distinctively craggy limestone cliffs jutting out from the emerald green water.
To the south, there’s the island of Phu Quoc ready to welcome you with blue skies and warm sand between your toes. Sao Beach is the island’s best, surrounding you with white sand and be sure to catch the sunset at Cua Temple, set atop Dinh Cau Rock.
Cambodia – Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville
The end of the year is a popular time to visit Cambodia as it enters its dry season, coupled with comfortable temperatures and low humidity.
Thanks to the pleasant weather, this is also the best time to visit the country’s largest tourist attraction, Angkor Wat. The temple complex is so vast, it’ll take two to three days to fully appreciate its wonders.
Besides that, Siem Reap has other eye-opening experiences up its sleeve: catch a traditional Khmer Apsara Dance or drop by a rustic floating village at Tonle Sap Lake.
In Phnom Penh, check out the Royal Palace and the city’s many temples and museums. Around dusk, walk along the riverside promenade at Sisowath Quay and watch the city’s nightlife come to life.
For sun and surf, go to Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s main seaside hub. Get some thrills by signing up for a water sport, like kayaking, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.
Philippines – Bohol, Cebu, Palawan
Drier weather means you can comfortably enjoy the Philippine’s many islands. Bohol’s Chocolate Hills are an extraordinary sight to behold: the rolling hills are a special geological formation located in the middle of the island.
Cebu, located in the country’s Central Visayas region, is a city full of stories to tell. Learn more about its history by taking a heritage walk around its historical landmarks. Enjoy a bit of greenery at Terrazas de Flores, a beautiful terraced flower garden. At night, go to Tops Lookout to get a breathtaking panoramic view of the lit-up city.
Palawan’s three main idyllic destinations, Puerto Princesa, El Nido, and Coron are also a treat to visit. Take your pick between island-hopping, scuba diving, and exploring a subterranean river.
Myanmar – Bagan, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach
The temperature’s pretty mild around this time of year, so make the most of it. Head to Bagan and wander around its fascinating temples and pagodas, like the golden Shwezigon Pagoda and the imposing Dhammayangyi Temple. Or better yet, get on a hot air balloon to get a bird’s eye view of the entire plain.
At the picturesque Inle Lake, watch the fishermen net fish in a unique fashion: while balanced on one leg! Some other sites to visit are the vibrantly-colored, yet crumbling stupas of the village of Indein, the floating village of Nampan, and the weaving workshops of In Phaw Khone.
Savor the sun’s rays at Ngapali Beach, a lovely seaside resort. Here, you can while your time away walking down the beach or cycle around town. For water activities, you can hire a boat to explore nearby islands or go snorkeling. To get a taste of how the locals live, visit the fishing village of Jate Taw.
These destinations are quite popular during the end of the year, so be sure to plan and book your trip ahead of time! Check out www.traveloka.com to get the best deals for hotels and flights.