Choose your perfect time to travel in South East Asia – a travel calendar on when to go where.

If paradise is to be found on Earth, then you will find it in South East Asia. From pristine and virgin beaches, secluded islands, gorgeous mountains, ancient temples… the list is endless. But with such limited time, and the bipolar nature of the tropic weather, we want to make sure that you visit these destinations at the right time. This article has been written to guide you in choosing where and when to travel to make the most of your Southeast Asia experience.

South East Asia - Travel Calendar
Uriel from the eOasia team traveling by bike in Flores, Indonesia.

JANUARY : Explore the vibrant Bangkok city or snorkel into Phuket’s turquoise waters.

January is an excellent month to travel to Thailand, however weather conditions in this country are good from November to May. And good weather equals many tourists, especially around Christmas and New Years as celebrated in Western countries. Therefore, if you have the opportunity, try to travel to Thailand just after this very busy time of year.

  • Bangkok 

With comfortably warm temperatures (although it can still reach up to 30°C at midday) and less rain, January is a good time of the year to visit Bangkok. With so many highlights in this city, it isn’t easy to summarize the best things to do here. Though at least you should experience the floating market tour, visit the most important temples and enjoy an exhilarating ride on a tuk tuk at night!

 

Best travel season: November to May.

Bangkok - Best time to travel : November to March
Tuk-tuk driver in Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand

  • Phuket

Hardly any rain, moderate temperatures of 26 – 29°C and a cool ocean-breeze in January make for a good time to visit Phuket. You have probably chosen this destination because of its location on the ocean to enjoy the beautiful beaches. Are you not curious about what is beneath this clear blue water? 

Find here all the best things to do in Phuket.

Best travel season: November to May.

Snorkelling off the Phi Phi islands
Snorkeling off the Phi Phi islands, Thailand

February : Visit the World Heritage of Angkor temples in Siem Reap or spend Chinese New Year in Singapore

February is the sunniest time of the year to visit Siem Reap and explore the Angkor temples complex. With temperatures gradually increasing throughout the month, although still bearable to handle the heat through a whole day of activities around Angkor Wat. Discover the World UNESCO Heritage, along with its amazing culture, history and all the beautiful nature surrounding it.

Onward traveling to Singapore means you will step into a street life adventure filled with dragons and lanterns for Chinese New Year.

  • Siem Reap

We recommend you to visit Siem Reap during its driest season, from November to March with almost no rainfalls in December & January, the coolest months of the year. Discover the world heritage Angkor temples, explore the Cambodian country-side by jeep, visit the local floating villages, there are simply a lot of things to do and see in Siem Reap province.

There are also an array of other sites, such as the Beng Mealea temple, Banteay Srei, or the sacred hills of Phnom Kulen, birthplace of the Khmer Empire. Plan your tour in Siem Reap, right here.

Aerial view of Siem Reap AFP PHOTO/ TANG CHHIN
Aerial view of Angkor Wat temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia
AFP PHOTO/ TANG CHHIN
  • Singapore

Singapore is hot and humid all year and therefore there is no real best time to visit, although it tends to cool down a little from November to February thanks to the Northeast monsoon. Celebrating Chinese New Year in this city makes you feel like you landed in another world. Chinatown celebrations in Singapore are almost as good as in China itself! With celebrations lasting 15 days, be amazed by an array of world-class performances like dragon and lion dances, clowns, acrobats and samba dancers on the 27th of February.

This article shares more information about the best destinations to celebrate Chinese New Year in South East Asia.

Best travel season: November to February, although all year round is similarly hot and humid.

Singapore_Best_Travel_Season
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

March : Have fun in the Philippines and its 7,000 islands or visit an Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai.

Keeping the weather in mind, traveling in Thailand is best from November to March. In March in the North, the cooler winter months now make way for the start of summer and temperatures will start to rise. Meanwhile, the weather will be at its best to travel to the Philippines, especially El Nido in Palawan where the rainy season is just over. Expect sunny weather (not too hot) and perfect conditions for all kind of water activities.

  • Chiang Mai

This sanctuary in the foothills of Northern Thailand is best visited in March, when the temperatures will start to rise. Best known for its elephants, we recommend you should surely get in touch with these friendly giants during an Elephant Camp Experience or be active in the surrounding forests. Discover more things to do in Chiang Mai here.

Best travel season: November to March.

Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai - Credit to eastmeetswesttravel.com
Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand – Credit to eastmeetswesttravel.com

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

  • The dry season in the Philippines is the best time to visit, but try to avoid the very peak season around Christmas time when tourist numbers and prices are highest. Some of the highlights on your list should include visiting picture-perfect Boracay Beach, the strikingly beautiful limestone islands around El Nido in Palawan, rice terraces that offer superb trekking and try a refreshing Filipino treat Halo Halo after a long day sightseeing. March will be an excellent month to visit Palawan as ocean will be calm offering great opportunities for cruising, kayaking, and clear visibility for snorkeling.

Best travel season to visit Palawan: Late February to Mid May

Palawan, Philipinnes
Kayak trip in Palawan, Philippines

April : Celebrate exhilarating New Year festival in Luang Prabang, Laos or Cruise into the mystical Halong Bay, Vietnam

Despite being the hottest month in Laos, you have to be here for the most remarkable water-fight of your life! Otherwise visit Northern Vietnam for a cooler and sunny mesmerising experience.

  • Luang Prabang

Between approximately April 13th and 15th (this varies each year), the country comes to a complete standstill for Boun Pi Mai – Laos New Year. It feels like every single inhabitant takes to the street to… soak each other with water! All in very good spirit, even the police and military might join!

Although this most special day of the year is celebrated in joyous spirit throughout the country, Luang Prabang is the most impressive to experience Lao New Year. Nowhere hosts more ancient traditions and colorful pageantry. Although a three-day festival, the celebrations always go on for at least a week.  

Best travel season: November to March, with April in its shoulder-season.

Boun Pi Mai, New Year Celebrations in Laos
Boun Pi Mai, New Year Celebrations in Laos
  • Hanoi & Halong Bay

North Vietnam has a distinct winter and summer season and April is one of the best months to visit, with clear blue skies and sunshine all the way! Perfect conditions for sightseeing in Hanoi city before you travel to the World Heritage site of Halong Bay, cruising through a mystical landscape of limestone islets.

Best travel season: October to May.

Fascination view of Halong Bay from the sky
Fascination view of Halong Bay from the sky, Vietnam

MAY : Celebrate Tet Doan Ngo festival in Ho Chi Minh City or get immersed into the charming and cultural village of Hoi An.

May is amongst the best months to visit Vietnam. The central region is close to its peak while the rain is on its way in the South and offers a welcoming relief from the steaming heat of the past few months. You’ve still got the best of all beaches without the crowds earlier in the year.

  • Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)

One of the most significant festivals in Vietnam is the Tet Doan Ngo festival, usually held in May (check the lunar calendar). On this day the farmers get rid of all pests to start growing their crops for the new season. It is a day that is spend with the family and involves eating sticky rice and fermented fruits.

Of course there are many other things to see in this booming city with its thousands of motorbikes, so start practicing your dodging skills and get out on the streets! More info about things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Best travel season: November to May.

Ho Chi Minh City - Photo Credit to silverlandhotels
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Photo Credit to silverlandhotels
  • Hoi An

With the sunshine set on maximum and blue sky all the way, Hoi An equals beach! At the same time this historic town is one of the most atmospheric in Vietnam. With traffic remarkably quiet and pollution hardly noticeable, this cultural town is a must-visit when travelling in this part of South East Asia. 

Find here plenty of things to do in Hoi An.

Best travel season: January to August.

Hoi An - Photo Credit vspiritcruises
Hoi An town, Vietnam – Photo Credit vspiritcruises

JUNE : Explore the UNESCO World Heritages of Indonesia : Borobudur in Yogyakarta or Komodo National Park in Flores. 

In Indonesia, the good weather of May follows into June as the dry season continues with only a small drop of rain during the afternoons and temperatures around 30°C. This means that visitor numbers are already rising towards the peak season of the following two months, although it is not as busy yet which makes a great time to visit.

  • Yogyakarta

Renowned as the cultural capital of Indonesia, Yogyakarta is well known for its UNESCO World Heritage, temple of Borobudur. You’ll find along the way other Buddhist and Hindu temples such as Prambanan. Surroundings of Yogyakarta offers endless options for adventurers and trekkers, among them the active volcano of the Mt Merapi.  Do not miss bringing home some of those colourful batiks Malioboro street has to offer! More information here about things to do in Yogyakarta.

Best travel season: May to September.

 

Borobudur Temple, Yogyakarta
Borobudur Temple, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  • Flores

Once a quiet place named “flowers”, this location close to Komodo National Park is now blooming. Fly to Labuan Bajo from Bali, and embark on a cruise around the Komodo islands. Witness hundreds of inhabited islands with empty white sand beaches, bay islands, and incredible fauna and flora. If you have some time, you can also fly to Ende from Labuan Bajo and check out the Kelimutu volcano and its 3 crater lakes.

Best travel season: April to September.

Trekking in Komodo National Park, Flores, Indonesia
Trekking in Komodo National Park, Flores, Indonesia

July : Meet the Orang-Outans at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre or sun-tan in Koh Samui after a full moon party.

Although Borneo can be visited all year long, July is one of the best time of the year to go there. Borneo boasts an amazing fauna and flora, among them the well visited rehabilitation centre for Orang-Outans in Sepilok, near Sandakan. Further north in Thailand, Langkawi is a the place to be if you just want to chill and relax, party, or fancy some jet-ski and other kind of water sports.

  • Borneo

July is a relatively dry month in Borneo with average temperatures of 28°C makes this a popular time for visitors. Due to European holidays, expect it to be busy and booking ahead is recommended.

This is a place for adventure enthusiasts and dive-lovers, although also people without an Olympic golden medal will enjoy a hike in the jungle and beginner dive courses are available too. Make sure you don’t miss it!

Another highlight of Borneo takes place in Sandakan where you can witness a protected reserve of Orang-Outans in their natural habitats.

Check out this extensive list of things to do in Borneo!

Best travel season: All year round with May to September bringing most tourists.  

 

Orang Goutans in Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia
Orang-Outans in Sandakan, Borneo, Malaysia
  • Koh Samui

This popular island has some incredible beaches with numerous types of accommodation. The popular full moon parties are celebrated by thousands of partying tourists on the beach. Check the lunar calendar for the date of the full moon party during this month. And remember to book ahead as the whole island will be filled with tourists in the mood for a great party. And if you still have energy left after this, try this Jetlev Flying experience or a Jet-ski Safari in the fabulous limestone bay of Koh Samui.

Best travel season: January to July.

Limestones of Koh Samui, Thailand – Photo Credit to Travels.Kiroy

August : Take part into the Malacca Carnival in Malaysia or Trek an Indonesian volcano : Bromo or Ijen.

August turns out to be a great month to enjoy the locals in celebrating their festivals. Weather conditions in (Southern) Malaysia are optimal, which makes a perfect destination for a visit! While this is the peak travel month, all over Indonesia, we would like to suggest something different : Explore the east of Java.

  • Malacca, Malaysia

In August, the Malacca Carnival lasts a whole month to present the art and culture of the place. Also the people celebrate their independence this month, with the Melaka Sea Carnival organized on the same day at Klebang Besar Beach. Boating and windsurfing competitions are organized here.

Best travel season: All year round.

Find the best things to do in Malacca.
Malacca city, Malaysia
  • East of Java

Fly to Surabaya or Banyuwangi and get a close encounter with two famous volcano trek of Bromo & Ijen. Mt Bromo is popular and easy of access, while Ijen is well known for its legendary blue flames. The east of Java offers unique landscape and culture. More info about trekking to Ijen, from Banyuwangi.

Other than this, you can also venture in the remote islands of Karimun Jawa. Java is also well connected by train and offers great sceneries all over the island.

Best season to travel in Java : from May to October

Sunrise at Mt Ijen, East Java
Sunrise at Mt Ijen, East Java, Indonesia

SEPTEMBER : Be enchanted by the Balinese culture or Surf & Trek in either Bali or Lombok.

Another perfect month to visit Indonesia is in September, when the days are drenched in sunshine with average temperatures of 30°C. The crowds of visitors due to European holidays in the previous months have disappeared and now it’s time for you to enjoy the impeccable beaches!

  • Bali

Be enchanted by the beautiful Balinese culture as you will be greeted by its friendly people, white sand beaches, sacred mountains, and mesmerising Ubud rice-fields. The Island of the God offers endless options for holidayers, from beach clubs, trekking, surfing, or even paragliding. We guarantee that like us, you’ll fall in love with Bali. Discover more than 500 things to do in Bali, right here.

Best travel season: May to September, with many tourists in July and August.

 

Sunset at Tanah Lot, Bali
Sunset at Tanah Lot Temple, Bali, Indonesia

  • Lombok

With a laid-back mood and perfect beaches with great surf, Lombok is a worthwhile place to visit, even if it is just as a stopover to the Gilis. Lombok is a haven for surfers with places such as Kuta, Ekas Bay, or Desert Point in the south of the island. The majestic volcano of Mt Rinjani is a highlight of Lombok, although a bit challenging, it is a must for trekkers. Get on a land-rover safari, a cruise, and find plenty of other things to do in Lombok.

Best travel season: May to September, with high prices and (too) many tourists in July and August.

Ekas Bay, a Surf paradise in Lombok
Ekas Bay, a Surf paradise in Lombok, Indonesia

OCTOBER : Witness the colourful heritage of Penang or why not just go chill in the Gili islands ?

A great excuse to visit Malaysia off-season (as far as that exists here) is to visit for a festival. Although this is not the best month to visit weather-wise as the monsoon is only just coming to an end, it makes for a great stop to experience the local culture.

  • Penang

The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is held from October 13th to 21st in one of the largest temples in Butterworth in Penang. Thousands of devotees dressed in white carrying incense and candles will await the “arrival” of the nine Gods in this place.

Combine this festival with a George Town Heritage tour and your culture-intake is complete!  

Best travel season: December to March.

Colourful city town of Penang, Malaysia.
Colourful city town of Penang, Malaysia.
  • Gili Islands

If we say “Gilis” there is a good chance you get a vision of paradise. And we can confirm that these three minuscule desert islands with white sand beaches and coconut palms are paradise! You’ll get the choice between Trawangan (the most touristic), Gili Air for the divers and also for the lovers, and Gili Meno, the most virgin of the three islands. Expect pure white sand and turquoise water.

Best travel season: May to September, with high prices and (too) many tourists in July and August.

Gili Trawangan - Photo by Bali Maestro
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia – Photo by Bali Maestro

NOVEMBER : Experience Deepavali in Malaysian’s capital or Explore the tropical paradise of Langkawi.

With favorable weather conditions most of the year in Malaysia and if you don’t mind – or maybe even love! – a tropical downpour, November will bring you the biggest festival of the year: Deepavali. And possibly you can combine your travels by going north to Langkawi. This trip can be done on an island-hopping boat, witnessing a bounty paradise right there in the Indian Ocean!

  • Kuala Lumpur

Although celebrated all over Malaysia, experiencing Deepavali in the capital is the best place to be for this Hindu festival of light. The dates for this celebration differ most years, it can be held in October and this year is held on November 11th 2015. Deepavali is a time for family reunion when small clay lamps filled with oil are lighted to signify the triumph of good over evil. And once you are here, enjoy this Grand City Tour to get to know the city in one day.

Best travel season: all year round.

Deepavali Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Deepavali Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Langkawi

If you don’t mind the hot and humid conditions with an average temperature of 30°C as most of the year, July is still one of the best time to visit Langkawi. The bounty island has it all with possibilities to just cool down by one of its pristine beaches, or cruise to one of its 99 islands. Langkawi has a rich fauna and flora that can also be witnessed in its authentic lush green jungle. Plan your trip to Langkawi and discover amazing things to do here.

Best travel season: November to March.

Best things to do in Langkawi
Boat tour in Langkawi, Malaysia

DECEMBER : Embark on a long-tail boat in Krabi or escape into the mystical wonders of Myanmar.

  • Krabi, Thailand

You will find glorious sunshine all day in December (actually during all months from November to March) and Krabi is sheltered by mountains that can bring freshness and even a very cool breeze at night. Krabi is a beautiful coastal area surrounded by pristine islands where we recommend you to cruise with a long-tail boat.

With so many steep and stunning mountains around you, your itinerary should definitely involve a rock-climbing course and / or a thrilling cliff jumping activity!  

Best travel season: November to May.

Rock Climbing in Krabi
Rock Climbing in Krabi, Thailand
  • Bagan, Myanmar

A magical place that you can only believe when you see it, and even then you feel like you have landed in a dream world: this is Bagan! And if you are around in December, keep an eye on the lunar calendar for the Shwezigon Pagoda Festival. The festival marks the end of Myanmar’s monsoon season on the Bagan Plains and is celebrated on the night of the full moon.  

Best travel season: November to February.

Bagan, Myanmar
Sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar
  • Mandalay, Myanmar

Not strikingly beautiful at first glance, but Mandalay has a genuine feel to it. Here you will meet locals, eat local food and travel by local transportation. For the latter one, here is the secret tip if you like to travel rough; take the slow-boat up the Irrawaddy river for 1, 2 or 3 days. Sleeping on the upper deck of this extremely slow cargo ship on a mat in the presence of a dozen of locals is something special!

Best travel season: November to February.

Mandalay - Photo Credit to blog.buckelistly
Mandalay, Myanmar – Photo Credit to blog.buckelistly

Travel South East Asia

Although the climate can sometimes influence your travels around here for a few days, it doesn’t really matter when you visit South East Asia. There is always something to do somewhere in this amazing part of the world! Read about the places where you go to, ask people who have already been and don’t let a downpour bring you down. In most of these countries a tropical shower can even be a welcoming relief and a great excuse to try the local beer on the street meeting the people of the country you are visiting.

We could go on for much longer with many tips to add to the endless list of when to go where in South East Asia. But we believe that now it creates a good starting point to visit this enchanting part of the world and experience it yourself! 

Possibly you have some more things to add here and experiences to share? We love to learn from your tips! 

Inge

 
Chiang Mai eoasia

5 thoughts on “Your Calendar to Travel all Year Long in Southeast Asia

  1. Thanks for the article. Very good input to plan and prepare vacation in the region.
    Avoid Bali in Jan, we had almost non stop rain for 5 days last year!

  2. October is perfect for Lombok & Bali – right before the rain season – less tourists, lower prices – really great. Also on Gili Islands as mentioned here.
    We went to Northern Vietnam in December and trust me, that’s not a good idea: foggy, cold, miserable. But prices as low as the temperatures. So not all bad.
    Also bad idea: Langkawi in June, expect endless rain.

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