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The BEST Places to Travel to in Asia in December & January!

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December and January are popular times of year to travel or to go on holiday. Many people, especially those in the Northern Hempishere want to get away from the cold, dark days to somewhere sunny and Asia is the perfect place to travel to in December and January.

While some areas of Asia do experience their rainy season in December and January, most of the Southern parts of Asia are experiencing hot, dry, sunny weather.

However, if you like the cold and want to see some snow in December and January, Asia can also offer this, you just need to go further North in Asia.

I reached out to my travel blogging friends to get their thoughts, opinions and experiences from travelling Asia in the Winter months and below are all the recommendations I received back to help you work out where to go on holiday in December and January.

South East Asia is a clear winner as one of the best places to visit in December and January due to the weather. A lot of countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia will have blue skies and less rainy days making them the perfect country for a Winter holiday destination.

We also have recommendations for other places in East AsiaCentral Asia, the Middle East and the Sub Continent showing that no matter what you want from a trip to Asia during the winter months, you can get it.

From Tropical Islands to hop around, Indian Cities to explore, Middle Eastern adventures and Christmas celebrations in Asian countries you may not expect, if you’re looking for where to travel in December and January, we have you covered!

Best Places to Visit in Asia in December and January!

Thailand

-Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is the perfect holiday destination in December and January as the transportation, accommodation, and activities are in full swing. 

Koh Phi Phi is world famous because of the movie The Beach with DiCaprio, and it’s truly a paradise on earth. Be ready for sunny days, crystal clear water, secluded beaches, and delicious Thai Food. There are plenty of cool things to do in Koh Phi Phi, like soaking up the sun and swimming on the stunning Long Beach, go for a day kayaking to the Viking and Monkey beaches, and of course, going a boat tour to the small islands and the famous May Bay, AKA The Beach. 

Koh Phi Phi is a group of islands, and only Phi Phi Don is inhabited and is there that you’ll stay, eat and play. The island is small, no cars are allowed there and the main mode of transportation is the traditional longtail boat. The good side is that all restaurants and bars are within walking distance from hostels and hotels. There are some luxury resorts in isolated areas of the island with private beaches and amazing facilities, but if you are travelling on a budget in Thailand or want to be in the middle of the action, choose your room near Tonsai Pier, and be ready for an overdose of sun and sea. 

Suggested by: Natalie from Love and Road.

koh phi phi boat and limestone | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is one of the best places to visit in December in Asia. Contrary to Phuket and Krabi, the island of Koh Lanta is more laidback and sees fewer tourists in general. This means that the beaches won’t be as crowded and it will be more enjoyable for a relaxing vacation in the sun in Thailand.

The rainy season ends in Koh Lanta in November, and if you come here at the beginning of December, it will still be somewhat low-season with lower prices on accommodation and tours. Christmas and New Year will see more tourists, but it still won’t be as many as in Phuket.

January is also considered high-season in Koh Lanta and offers pleasant weather with temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius. Koh Lanta has many beautiful beaches with white sand and turquoise water. Additionally, there is also a jungle where you can go hiking on a day trip, where you can see wild monkeys.

Accommodation on Koh Lanta is available in all standards, ranging from backpacker guesthouses to luxurious resorts that have everything you could possibly wish for. 

Suggested by: Alexander from Gourmand Trotter.

koh manta beach | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Phuket

The island of Phuket in Thailand is a popular place to visit during the winter months. Not only is it hot all year round but the dry season runs from December to March leaving you with warm, rain-free days. This does mean that winter is peak tourist season and you can expect it to get busier during the lead up to Christmas and New Year so keep this in mind when planning where to travel in December.

Phuket has an awful lot of things to do with almost every kind of activity available. On the island, you can go hiking, ziplining, play golf, explore the local culture or simply sit on the beach all day. There are also countless tours available to the nearby Phi Phi Islands or the famous James Bond Island.

Personally, I believe the town of Kathu is the best place to stay in Phuket. It’s centrally located between Patong and Phuket City so it’s perfect if you’re trying to avoid the busy tourist areas. Kathu has plenty of things to see and do as well as having a more authentic feel to it than nearby Patong.  However, it’s not so great if you prefer to spend your nights partying.

As with many places in Thailand, Phuket is an affordable destination making it great for every type of traveller. Prices can be higher during winter but it’s still very cheap when compared to western countries. The real highlight is Thai food and eating out can cost the same as eating in so it’s the perfect place if you travel with the local cuisine in mind.

Suggested by: Oli from Not Brits Abroad.

Phuket James Bond Island | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is one of the most wonderful islands in Thailand famous for its Full Moon parties, but recently more and more also as a yoga & mindfulness hotspot. Overall, Koh Phangan offers everything you might wish for in a tropical island destination – stunning beaches, lots of greenery, plenty of restaurants and cafés and nice people around. There’s a lot to do in Koh Phangan to keep you entertained for weeks.

Koh Phangan’s rainy season is over at the end of November and December becomes the first dry month making Koh Phangan a great December holiday destination. The temperatures are in their higher 20’s, sometimes low 30’s (Celsius) and become even a little cooler at night.

In terms of tourist numbers, January sees a lot more people coming than December and spending New Years’s Eve on Koh Phangan is also very popular, and fun, especially for people backpacking around Thailand.

Suggested by: Veronika from Travel Geekery.

Koh phangan ocean view | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Koh Samui

The dry season begins in December on Koh Samui, making the weather sunny and warm without all the rain. And the weather in Koh Samui gets even better in January making it a great holiday destination in January. The island is Thailands second-largest and there are lots of things to do in Koh Samui. Whether you want to travel with your family, go on a romantic couple retreat or stay in budget hostels on a backpacking trip, you will have a great time on Koh Samui.

There are plenty of beaches with long stretches of soft sand to choose from; some of them have souvenir shops, restaurants and lots of water activities going on while others are more secluded and quiet.

Apart from lounging on the beach, you can hike to incredible viewpoints, swim in waterfalls and admire the many stunning Buddhist temples around Koh Samui. Go inland to experience the lush landscape with the tall palm trees and a different, less-touristic side of the island. Or go on a boat trip to the archipelago northwest of Koh Samui called Ang Thong Marine National Park for snorkelling, kayaking, and amazing views of an emerald lake and impressive limestone cliffs.

In the evening, you can enjoy a Pad Thai noodle dish or a mouth-watering curry at one of the many Thai restaurants on Koh Samui or visit the night markets to sample tasty, inexpensive Thai food and cocktails while shopping for clothes and souvenirs.

Suggested by: Alex & Victoria from Northabroad.

koh samui beach | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Bangkok

Bangkok is a great place to visit all year round, but the weather is at its most pleasant during the months of December and January making it one of the popular places to visit in Asia in winter. The weather in Bangkok in December and January is drying out from the monsoon season and experiencing a slight cool down. Humidity drops and temperatures are comfortable, without being too hot or too cold. These months also experience plenty of dry and beautiful clear sunny days which are perfect for going out and exploring all that the city has to offer. 

There are many things for visitors to enjoy in Bangkok, with something for every type of traveller. Perfect December and January activities include taking a river cruise along the Chao Phraya River and visiting many stunning temples such as Wat Arun and Wat Pho. Many tour companies offer trips out of town to visit awesome places such as the ancient city of Ayutthaya or to visit a floating market. Outdoor food and shopping markets such as Chatuchak, Asiatique and Ratchada Rot Fai Train Night Market are also great places to visit when the weather is cool and dry.

Bangkok is a perfect city to visit for a few days before travelling down south to the Thai islands, or up north for jungle trekking in Chiang Mai. Note that December and January are also Thailand’s peak season for tourism, which means accommodation prices are slightly higher.

Suggested by: Caroline from CK Travels.

Bangkok Market | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Laos

Laos makes a great South East Asian winter destination due to its tropical climate and dry weather during this part of the year. While travellers can and do visit Laos during the summer months, heavy rain during this period can make some parts of the country inaccessible – Laos’ roads are not as well developed as other Asian countries, and there is not a rail network like in Thailand or Vietnam.

Add that to the fact that parts of the country experience monsoon rains, the best time to visit Laos is in the dry season!

In Southern Laos, December and January typically have blue skies and hot days, with the nights still remaining warm. In the North, the nights and mornings can be a bit cooler, with foggy mornings in the mountain, but it is generally hot and sunny by late morning and in the afternoon. The low (nearly non-existent) rainfall makes December and January a great time to explore the mountains of Northern Laos and make Laos one of the best places to visit in December in Asia.

Laos is a Buddhist country, so there isn’t much in the way of Christmas celebrations – if you’re looking for somewhere with a festive feel to spend the holidays Luang Prabang will be your best bet, as it’s the most touristy city.

Suggested by: Claire from Claire’s Footsteps.

Laos Waterfall | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Philippines

-Palawan

Palawan, Philippines is one of the best tropical destinations to visit in December and January.  Palawan has two distinct seasons each year – a dry season from December to May, and a rainy season from June up to November. By visiting in December or January, you will be almost guaranteed blue skies and sunny days.

The winter months are the best time of year to visit Palawan as you can take part in all the activities Palawan has to offer. The most popular thing to do in Palawan is to join an island hopping tour, which ranges from one-day to multi-day expeditions.

Joining a TAO Philippines expedition from El Nido to Coron last December was the highlight of my time in Palawan. Days were spent swimming in turquoise waters, snorkelling through vibrant coral reefs, chilling on secluded beaches, and fishing off the back of the boat.

If you love to celebrate Christmas, then visiting Palawan during December is perfect because the Philippines has the longest Christmas Season anywhere in the world! It starts as early as September and goes up to the first week of January. It’s so much fun to see how the locals creatively decorate the tropical fauna with Christmas lights.

If you’re looking for a tropical escape from winter or a warm place to celebrate Christmas in Asia, Palawan is the perfect place to go.

Suggested by: Lora from Explore with Lora.

Palawan beach | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-El Nido & Coron

For a tropical getaway full of adventure, there are a few spots in the Philippines that are calling your name – El Nido and Coron. If you’re looking for a longer holiday during December or January, we recommend taking a week in each area, as there is so much to do. 

Off the tip of Palawan Island sits a cluster of 45 islands, better known as El Nido, that boasts some of the most beautiful scenery and bright blue waters you’ll ever see. While exploring the islands, make sure to check out both the Secret Lagoon and Large Lagoon, as they both are magical places. Some other highlights of El Nido include Secret Beach, Snake Island and hiking up Taraw Peak. The area has tour operators that run day and overnight trips to all the best spots in El Nido and that’s the best way to see it all. 

After exploring El Nido, catch a ferry to Coron. Coron is another cluster of islands and just as beautiful, home to some of the most photographed spots in all of the Philippines. Another big draw of this area is the shipwreck diving, as Coron has multiple sites of sunken Japanese warships that divers can see up close. When you’re not diving, make sure to spend some time at Kayangan Lake, one of the clearest lakes in all of Asia. Other must-stops include Maquinit Springs and Barracuda Lake.

Suggested by: Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped.

El Nido Beach | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Sagada

Many travellers flock to the Philippines for its crystal clear waters and stunning white-sand beaches.  December and January are great months to visit the islands as the weather is dry and relatively cool. 

However, I prefer to go farther away from the coastline and up into the mountains.  The quiet mountain retreat of Sagada is one of my favourite destinations in the Philippines, and December and January are among the best months to go.

Like many tropical countries, the Philippines has just two seasons – rainy and dry.  The rainy season typically starts at the end of May and goes until October.  This isn’t the best time to visit Sagada because the weather is hot and humid with heavy rains, especially around July till August which is usually the height of typhoon season.  Any hint of rain and it becomes dangerous to enter Sumaguing Cave, a striking subterranean system that’s quick to flood during the rainy season.

Instead, visit for the coolest and driest time of the year which is from December till January.  The weather is great in December but it’s also peak season for locals, so if you can, visit in January. There are fewer tourists after the new year, making spelunking and trekking a quieter and more pleasant experience. You’ll appreciate Sagada more then.

If you do decide to visit Sagada, then I recommend making a trip to Batad as well.  Located about three hours southeast of Sagada, it’s home to the most beautiful rice terraces in the Philippines.  I often visit both on the same trip.

Suggested by: JB from Will Fly for Food.

Sagada trees hike | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Caramoan Islands

Tucked away in the Bicol region of the Philippines, are the secluded Caramoan Islands. Largely unexplored and off the beaten track, these unspoilt islands are the Philippines’ last frontier. If you’re looking for pristine beaches, powdery-white sands, stunning rock formations and marine life, then this far-flung jewel on the edge of the Camarines Sur is your ideal tropical destination.

With a balmy 30 degrees Celsius and a low chance of typhoons, January is an ideal time to visit making this island in the Philippines one of the places to visit in Asia in January.

You can spend your day’s island hopping from one serene spot to the other and it’s likely you’ll only bump into a few local fishermen, as most of the islands are uninhabited. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that the US hit TV show ‘Survivor’ uses several of the islands as filming locations.

One thing to note is that the journey to the Caramoan islands is not for the faint-hearted. From Manila, it will take six hours minimum, including a one hour flight to Legaspi, followed by a 3-hour drive to Sabang Port and then a 2-hour speed boat ride to Caramoan. However, the inaccessibility ensures the islands sandy beaches and turquoise waters remain a secret Filipino paradise.

Suggested by: Roshni from The Wanderlust Within.

Caramoan islands from above and ocean | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Indonesia

-Bali

Bali is an idyllic island escape and one of the best places to travel in Asia in December and January for sun, sand and adventure. The island has a tropical climate, beautiful landscapes with temples, rice fields and beaches. It’s also one of the best places in Asia for surfers, as there are constant waves from the Southern Ocean all year round. What’s more, the temperature of the water is a balmy 27 to 29 °C (80 to 84 °F) almost every month of the year! That means you can surf in boardshorts all year round.

If you’re not a surfer, your Bali itinerary could include sunbathing or getting a massage on the beach, sipping cocktails, tasting Balinese cuisine and renting a scooter to explore the island. Bali is also an affordable destination in Asia and a great place to go if you’re on a budget in Indonesia. 

Bali is a great destination to visit in Asia at any time of the year. It can rain in December, but the slightly higher chance of rain doesn’t stop the holiday crowd from flocking to Bali as the water is warm, showers are usually brief and a holiday atmosphere. January is a better month to travel to Bali as it doesn’t rain as much in Bali and it’s not as humid. 

Kuta Beach, Nusa Dua Beach Beach and Sanur Beach can get a little crowded as December and January as this is peak season, but there are plenty of lesser-known beaches you can escape from the crowd. Try Keramas Beach and the beaches around Amed instead.

Suggested by: Christina from Travel2Next.

bali sunset and temple | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Malaysia

-Georgetown, Penang, Langkawi Island

Visit Penang and Langkawi island on peninsular Malaysia’s western coast in January for long, sunshine-filled days and low rainfall making them a good holiday destination in Asia in January.

Start in the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town, Penang’s main city. This is quintessential Asia with crumbling Chinese shopfronts rubbing shoulders with British colonial buildings, Hindu temples and mosques and Hindu temples. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit George Town’s kongsi, or clan houses, scattered across the city’s streets and jetties. Checking out George Town’s vibrant street art scene and fill your boots with some of the best street food that you will eat in Asia. This is hawker stall heaven!

After you’ve had your fill of the history and culture of George Town take the ferry from Penang to the island of Langkawi. 

This idyllic island is tailor-made for kicking back with a cocktail on a blindingly white sand beach, under the shade of a palm tree. But if you have a head for heights take the cable car to the top of Gunung Mat Chinchangandtake a walk across the Langkawi Sky Bridge. This 125-metre-long pedestrian suspension bridge is not for the faint-hearted, but pluck up the courage to step onto it for sweeping views of Langkawi’s rainforests and islets.

I recommend allocating 5-7 days in Penang and Langkawi Island in your Malaysia itinerary perhaps combining them with a few days in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca.

Suggested by: Bridget from The Flashpacker.

Georgetown Penang Malaysia Guide famous street art | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Ipoh

Ipoh is a small underrated town located in the state of Perak in Malaysia. Often overshadowed by Penang, Ipoh is still worth visiting for its authentic old town feel, colourful street arts and cave temples.

December and January are considered to be the peak season in Ipoh, which means that you’ll have perfect weather almost every day. Since Ipoh is not as popular as other towns in Malaysia, you won’t have to deal with the crowds! 

Just a heads up, if you’re travelling to Ipoh in January, it’s better to plan your trip outside of the Chinese New Year period as traffic can be a nightmare and hotel prices will be slightly more expensive. 

If you’re wondering what to do in Ipoh, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Head out to Mural Art’s Lane to see more than a dozen street arts! You can also check out Concubine and Market Lanes which are both great for souvenir shopping and a fun photo shoot with the interactive murals.  

If you love being surrounded by nature, you’ll be pleased to know that Ipoh has an abundance of temples nestled in between the limestone formations. Perak cave temple is the most famous one but you’ll need to conquer 450 stairs before being rewarded with an incredible view of Ipoh. Other temples worth visiting are Kek Lok Tong and Sam Poh Tong. 

Finally, you can’t leave Ipoh without tasting the iconic Ipoh white coffee which is best served with sweetened condensed milk and egg tarts. Nam Heong White Coffee and Kedai Kopi Sin Yoon Loong are both known to serve the best coffee in town!

Suggested by: Stephanie from Let’s Venture Out.

ipoh mountain view | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Kuala Lumpur

No visit to Asia in December and January is complete without a stop in Kuala Lumpur. The capital of Malaysia has grown to become one of the best cities in Asia to offer a good mix of city life and cultural experience. Not to mention amazing places to visit and some of the best food. Some of the iconic landmarks include the Petronas Twin Towers, Independence Square, and the National mosque, with the highlight being a visit to the 400-million-year-old Batu Caves

With a classic equatorial climate, Kuala Lumpur is relatively humid overall, and there is always the possibility of rain at any time of the year. The weather does go through random floods and heat waves and is affected by two major monsoon seasons yearly. During this time the city experiences extensive rainfall and thunderstorms.

Arriving once the rains have passed in December, allows one to enjoy the city without having to worry too much about wet weather interfering in any activities. It is also a good time to experience many of the holiday celebrations that occur at this time of the year such as Hari Raya Puasa. There is also the possibility of the Chinese New Year falling in this period, adding to the already festive atmosphere.

Suggested by: Rai from A Rai of Light.

batu caves steps | best places to travel in December and January

Vietnam

-Cat Ba Island

One of the nicest places that you can visit in December and January is an island called Cat Ba which is located in the famous Halong Bay of Vietnam. A lot of people give it a miss because they prefer to take the more popular overnight cruises in the bay but I feel that since there are a lot of things to do in Cat Ba itself. Cat Ba island is definitely a cheaper alternative to the cruises around Halong Bay and you really don’t miss out on much since there are numerous (cheaper!) day trips that you can take along the bay.

If you love trekking then you definitely need to consider heading to Cat Ba national park. Adrenaline lovers will find rock climbing, cliff jumping, kayaking and so much more available. If you prefer a more sedate time, then just chill by one of the numerous beaches and enjoy the sound of the lapping waves against the sand.

Whenever anyone talks about visiting Vietnam, I always make sure that I suggest a few days stop on Cat Ba island. We found it immensely peaceful and relaxing. January and February is the low season in Halong Bay since it is colder but it enables you to escape the crowds and have the island all to yourself making it one of the best places to visit in Asia in December and January.

Suggested by: Penny from GlobeTrove.

Cat Ba island limestone | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc is one of the best places in Southeast Asia to go for some sun during the winter months. While Northern Vietnam remains quite cold during this time of the year, the island of Phu Quoc enjoys temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius and plenty of sunshine.

Phu Quoc is known for its beautiful beaches with white sand and colourful water. The rainy season ends in September, and the months of December and January are some of the least rainy. There’s plenty of things to do on Phu Quoc, such as renting a motorbike and driving around the various beaches. Furthermore, you can join a boat tour and go snorkelling by the reefs, or visit deserted islands that are uninhabited.

Most tourists come here via a stopover at Ho Chi Minh International Airport, but it’s possible to take direct flights from Bangkok to Phu Quoc as well as all major airports within Vietnam plus some additional destinations.

Tourists who come to Phu Quoc directly can enjoy a special visa that allows you to stay for 30 days, instead of the regular 15 days. There is plenty of accommodation in Phu Quoc to choose from for all budgets, from backpacker to luxury. I can recommend the Radisson Blu Resort, which has a great location and beautiful rooms.

Suggested by: Christine from Christine Abroad.

phu quoc beach | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Myanmar

The perfect time to visit Myanmar is December & January.  At this time of year, the monsoon rains have stopped and it’s starting to heat up but there is a nice cool breeze and it’s not as intense as it gets from March. 

This is the busiest time for tourists in Myanmar so it is probably best to book your accommodation in advance if you can or at least before you arrive in a city.  You will find though, that there are a lot fewer tourists than in other South East Asian countries, making it a great country to choose.

Myanmar is an easy country to get around though you will find the transport and roads more basic than the countries surrounding it and so it can take a long time to go a short distance. 

In my 2 weeks, I visited Yangon the old capital, Mandalay the 2nd largest city and centred around Mandalay Palace, Inle Lake and Bagan. Bagan had to be my favourite place, exploring some of the 2000 temples there and watching the sunset.  I hired an electric bike in Bagan and visited many of the temples, it’s great to go see some of the smaller ones as you can be the only tourist there. I also did the 4 day hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake which was stunning and definitely worth doing, it was another highlight of the trip.

You should definitely consider visiting Myanmar for your holiday in Asia, it’s a beautiful country, with so much to see and do.

Suggested by: Claire from I Live 4 Travel.

Bagan Temples | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Cambodia

-Siem Reap

Siem Reap, Cambodia is the perfect place to visit in Asia in December and January. Cambodia has two seasons for weather. A rainy season which goes from April to October and a dry season from October to April. 

December and January in Siem Reap are typically dry, sunny, with low humidity and relatively cooler temperatures for this country. Although the average temperature hovers around 26 degrees Celsius, (78 degrees Fahrenheit) that is about the coolest Siem Reap will get. December and January are ideal weather to comfortably explore this beautiful city and the Angkor temples during the day, although a lunch break in the shade will still be enjoyed!

While you are exploring Siem Reap, the Angkor temples are a must! Because of the ideal weather in these months, you might be worried about the bigger crowds at this UNESCO site. We recommend getting an early start when planning to explore the more popular temples like Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom to beat the crowds. Then venture off to the lesser-known temples later in the day. The Angkor temples are the largest religious monument in the entire world and they are ENORMOUS. Most tourists stay at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom and fail to adventure out. We promise you can still escape the crowds even during these busier months. 

Lastly, for more things to do in Siem Reap, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Pub Street at night! This street is filled with restaurants, markets and food vendors. Oh and let’s not fail to mention that a beer is $.25 which will be the perfect end to a day full of adventure!

Suggested by: Julie & Zach from Ruhls of the Road.

angkor wat temple | best places to travel in Asia December and January

India

-Goa

The palm-fringed beaches of Goa are the perfect destination to relax and refocus. Spend your days walking along the shoreline and swimming in the Arabian sea, before joining a sunset yoga session and tucking into a curry.

However, it’s important you time your visit right. From March right through to October, many of the large resorts in Goa close down and the majority of beach huts are dismantled due to the monsoon season. December and January really is the perfect time to visit Goa when the skies are clear, temperatures hover around 30 degrees, and there is a variety of beach huts on offer along the coastline.

December in Goa can get very busy as everyone ramps up for Christmas, Goa is a popular place to spend Christmas in Asia because the Portuguese religious influence is strong here so everywhere is sparkling with twinkling lights and in celebration mode. The downside to this is that accommodation prices rocket and you need to book early.

Come January in Goa, things have calmed down and the festive holidaymakers have left. This is the best month to visit Goa and plan your visit as you’ll find some great deals on accommodations. It’s just case of finding which beach is best for you as there is quite an eclectic mix catering to the raver, the yogi, the package sun-seeker and everything in between. Party-loving backpackers often head to Palolem, whereas if you’re visiting Goa with kids and looking for something more low-key, we suggest heading to Agonda.

Suggested by: Jenny from TraveLynn Family.

Palolem Beach Goa | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Kerala

Kerala is a beautiful state in South India bounded by the mountains of Western Ghats on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other side. The breathtaking landscape, the cultural diversity and great food make it live up to its nickname – “God’s own country”. While the hill stations of the Western Ghats are evergreen travel destinations because of their temperate climate, the rest of Kerala is infamous for its humidity. That is what makes Kerala the best holiday destination for winter.

Treks, wildlife safaris, houseboats on backwaters, pristine beaches, historic monuments – Kerala has everything to make you feel special. The aromatic spice gardens of Wayanad, the spectacular tea estates of Munnar at an altitude where you can touch the clouds and the exotic wildlife of Thekkady – these are a mountain lover’s dream. Normally the climate is moderate in these areas, but bringing light woollens is advisable, especially in Munnar because it does get cold in the evening even though it’s hot during the day.

Kerala also has many beaches that are cleaner and less crowded than that of Goa. Not to forget, the backwaters of Kerala which welcome thousands of migratory birds in December and January from all over the world. While Kerala’s natural beauty is its highlight, there are many historic monuments in Kerala which deserve your attention. The imposing Bekal fort overlooking the sea and the new Jatayu Park which is one of its kind are just a couple of my favourites. 

Suggested by: Sinjana from Backpack & Explore.

kerala tea plantations | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Rajasthan

Rajasthan is one of the most popular destinations to visit in India. Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and it is well connected with all major cities of India by air as well as Indian Railways. Once you are in Rajasthan, it is convenient to travel around Rajasthan by train and bus. 

The weather remains pleasant to slightly cold in December and January in Rajasthan. The average temperature hovers between 25 to 10-degree Celsius. The days are sunny and bright and the evenings cool down. This makes December and January the best time of the year to travel to Rajasthan.

Things to do in Rajasthan include visiting grand Forts, Palaces, Frescos Havelis, Historic Monuments and National Parks. The most popular cities to visit in Rajasthan are Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Pushkar and Ajmer.

Jaipur is Pink City, Udaipur is the White City, Jodhpur is Blue City and Jaisalmer is a Golden City. If you like offbeat places in Rajasthan then visit Bundi, Skehawati, Chittorgarh, Ranakpur, Bhangarh, and Kumbhalgarh. If you are a nature lover then visit Ranthambore Tiger reserve, Sariska Tiger Reserve, Keoladeo bird sanctuary. 

Suggested by: Sapna from My Simple Sojourn.

Jaipur Palace | best places to travel in Asia December and January

-Golden Triangle

India’s popular Golden Triangle route is ideal for travellers who want to experience a rich culture in good weather. December and January is the best time of year to visit the Golden Triangle in India because it’s the dry season and temperatures are still mild. Nighttime lows can drop to 9°C but it can reach 25°C during midday. Best of all, there are plenty of exciting things to see within this three-city trek.

The Golden Triangle tour starts in India’s chaotic but enchanting capital of Delhi. This is the easiest location to fly in and out of for visitors from around the world. While there you should arrange visits to The Red Fort of Delhi, the main residence of the Mughal Emperor in the late 1600s. Jama Masjid Mosque is also in Delhi and it’s one of the largest houses of worship in India. You should also visit the Chandni Chowk bazaar for souvenirs and to check out the spice stalls. 

The second city on this route is Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. You’ll see one of the most well-known attractions in not only India but the world. Many travellers do this journey just for the Taj Mahal. The impressive structure stands alone in beauty and was designed to be heaven on Earth – many think it achieved that goal. Before leaving Agra, you should also visit The Red Fort of Agra and the impressive citadel palace within.

Your final city in the Golden Triangle is Jaipur. It’s often the least well-known of the three destinations, but it’s teeming with beauty and history. While there you should visit and tour Jaipur’s City Palace. Continue with the Amber Fort, a great palace and fortress built into the nearby mountains. From there you can also visit the Water Palace and spend some time getting lost in Jaipur’s Old City.

Suggested by: Derek from Robe Trotting.

Jaipur Hawa Mahal | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Sri Lanka

With warm temperatures and good weather year-round, Sri Lanka is a perfect place to visit in Asia in December and January. Most people head straight to the palm-fringed beaches, but Sri Lanka is much more than that. Inland you will find Sri Lanka’s hill country that is full of history, culture and tea estates.

Kandy is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country and is considered to be the cultural capital of the country. From there it is only a short trip to some of the top things to do in Sri Lanka. Among them are the ancient Buddhist cave temples in Dambulla, the iconic Sigiriya rock and the jungles of Minneriya National Park where you can see wild elephants.

Kandy is also the start point for the scenic Kandy to Ella train that goes straight through Sri Lanka’s hill country. It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world and it is so popular that you need to book your tickets in advice.

Although you could travel straight to the small hill town of Ella there are several places on this train journey worth a stop. You can get out to Hatton to climb Adams Peak. Nanuoya is the gateway to the tea town of Nuwara Eliya and from Haputale are several nice hikes into tea country.

With so many things to see and do in Sri Lanka’s hill country, it is the perfect destination in Asia in both December and January. You can easily spend about two weeks in this region if you want yo see everything. The combination of nature, history, culture and great food will guarantee a great time. 

Suggested by: Ellis from Backpack Adventures. 

Green fields Sri Lanka | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Bhutan

Bhutan is a beautiful South East Asian country enriched with its magical landscapes, stunning mountains, pristine rivers and cultural heritage. This Carbon Negative Country is also known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon. 

Only Bhutan Airlines and Druk Air operate flights to and from Bhutan. Direct flights are available only from India, Thailand, Singapore, Bangladesh and Nepal. 

Although April-May is the peak season to travel Bhutan, perhaps December-January is the best time to enjoy the snowfall and the scenic view of Bhutan. Above all, these are the months when you find Bhutan less crowded and can travel Bhutan on a budget

Thimpu, Paro, Punakha – these are the best three places to visit in Bhutan. Start exploring Thimpu with Buddha Point. This offers a stunning view of 50 meters tall seating Buddha statue that is totally made of bronze. 

The main reason to visit Bhutan in December or January is Paro. It is the most beautiful city in Bhutan located at an elevation of 2200 meters. In a Winter morning, you will get a clear panoramic view of the wide mountain range. Don’t miss Chelela Pass, the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. There is a high chance that you will get snowfall in December-January. It will offer you a breathtaking view of the snow-capped mountains and trees. 

Your Bhutan trip will be incomplete without the most popular Tiger’s Nest Monastery trek. It is not an easy trek, but you can enjoy the enchanting beauty of nature throughout the journey. We were lucky enough to get the snowfall here when we did this trek in January.

Suggested by: Trijit Mallick from BudgetTravelBuff.

Bhutan in snow | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Nepal

-The Terai

While most of Nepal is difficult to enjoy in the winter, it’s actually the best time of year to visit the Terai which lies in the west of Nepal bordering India. The area has several claims to fame which make it a fantastic destination in and of itself.

For starters, you can visit Lumbini which known as the birthplace of Buddha. It’s a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists all over the world, and in 1997 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, several countries have built Buddhist temples in the area. The German temple is a crowd favourite with its bright beautifully painted ceiling. While you can visit Lumbini year-round, the temperature here reaches extremes of 110 F in the summer. Winter offers the perfect climate for walking around at 80 F during the day.

Another major site in the Terai is Chitwan National Park. It was declared Nepal’s first national park in 1973, and later, it was also declared a World Heritage Site. Today, it’s a popular place to spot Bengal tigers in the wild. The park is home to approximately 125 Bengal tigers. Winter is the perfect time to see them since those are the months with the least rain. With little rain, the tigers come to the river to drink every morning. Most of the guides in the park know their favourite spots making it a lot easier to spot one. The park is also home to the greater one-horned rhino and the gharial crocodile.

Suggested by: Michelle from Full Time Explorer.

Terai Nepal | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Kazakhstan

-Almaty

Almaty in Kazakhstan is a great place for visiting all year round, but as the city is home to Central Asia’s only ski resort, it makes a perfect winter destination in Asia. The resort at Shymbulak is easily reachable from the centre of Almaty (bus 6, 40 minutes). There is also the Medeu Skating Rink which is the highest open-air ice rink in the world. If you are not much of a skier, then head into the Tian Shan Mountains for some fine winter hiking, but wrap up warm!

Almaty is not just a great destination for adventure lovers as the cosmopolitan city has a wealth of attractions and entertainment. From exquisitely housed museums and theatres in the Russian style to top-end restaurants and amusement parks like Kok Tobe, there is something to suit everyone in this colourful Silk Road City. Although the weather is cold in December and January, the skies are usually blue with plenty of winter sunshine.

For even more stunning landscapes there are plenty of day trips from Almaty such as the enchanting Big Almaty Lake. A little farther afield you can spend a few days exploring Kolsai Lake or the Charyn Canyon. The newly paved roads mean travelling overland in Kazakhstan in winter is much easier now than in previous years and a modern rail network means exploring the rest of this vast country is more comfortable than ever.

Almaty also makes a great base for exploring the rest of Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is reachable by bus (4 hours) and Uzbekistan by overnight train and taxi to the border (15 hours).

Suggested by: Steve from The Trip Goes On.

snowy Almaty Church | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Oman

-Muscat

The best time of year to visit Muscat, the capital city of Oman is during the winter months as the average temperature ranges between 15-22° C as compared to the rest to the year when the temperature rises till 45° C.

Muscat has a lot of natural beauty to offer and the beautiful outdoor locations are best enjoyed during the winter months. The city has a mesmerizing coastline with some excellent clean and serene beaches. During winter, BBQ’s at these beaches is a favourite activity of the residents of Muscat. Al-Mouj marina is a lavish, luxurious marina area in the city which hosts many restaurants and other entertainment activities.

Muttrah area in Muscat offers some easy hikes of the rugged, brown mountains which reward the hikers with spectacular views of the city and the corniche area. Winter is the most popular time for these hikes in Oman as the sun isn’t as harsh as the rest of the year. Muscat has a beautiful marine life too and some excellent snorkelling and diving spots are found in the city.

One of the most visited islands in Muscat is the Dayminath Island with white sand which is very popular during the winter season. Pods of dolphins are found in the ocean surrounding the city and during the pleasant winter months, a large number of boat tours are organised to see the dolphins in natural habitats.

Suggested by: Nabiha from Verses by a Voyager.

blue ocean Oman | best places to travel in Asia December and January

UAE

There are only a few places in the world boasting true sun guarantee and the United Arab Emirates is one of them and it almost never rains. In fact, you are lucky if you see rain on your trip. Not just because it’s rare, but because the locals will be psyched. It’s the highlight of their year, and they act accordingly. It should be a cultural experience you’ll never forget.

The Emiratis know how to cater to tourists, after all, it’s how they plan to survive once the oil runs out and that’s part of the reason you’ll find the biggest mall in the world there, the tallest skyscraper and the largest ferry wheel. And those are just a few of the world records the country holds!

December or January is a particularly good time of the year to visit the UAE because temperatures are bearable. The scorching summer sun has turned itself down, and you will be able to survive outdoors. This means there are more things to do in the UAE, such as visiting the desert, sunbathing at a beach club, kayaking in the mangroves or participating in a lavish and boozy Friday brunch by the pool.

There will also be plenty of events taking place in those months, most importantly the UAE National Day, the Formula 1 season finale and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. So pack your sunscreen and bury your prejudices, it’s time to visit the Emirates! If you are looking for suggested activities, check out our picks for the 15 top things to do in Abu Dhabi.

Suggested by: Nick from The Danish Nomads.

Abu Dhabi Skyline | best places to travel in Asia December and January

China

-Shanghai

Winter may arguably be the best time of year to visit Shanghai without all the crowds. The city has adopted a lot more of the West’s Winter traditions than its fellow Chinese Cities. For example, Shanghai adores its Christmas markets with lightly spiced mulled wine, decorated trees twinkling their bells and the sweet scent of gingerbread.

January brings several seasonal celebrations: the Western New Year (on 1 January), which is a public holiday in China, and the Chinese New Year, which is important for family reunions. Because the Chinese calendar determines the date of the Lunar New Year, the holiday falls on a different date each year, sometimes in late January and sometimes in early February.

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival or Chunyun period, as it is called in China, is often referred to as the largest annual human migration when millions of people pack up for a week or two and head to the countryside to see family. That leaves big cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai feeling more like abandoned cities than metropolises. At the same time, the major tourist attractions, such as Yu Garden and the Bund, both become flooded with domestic tourists during public holidays. Indeed, there are so many visitors that soldiers have to serve as movable barriers to regulate the city’s traffic so keep this in mind if you plan to visit Shanghai in January.

Shanghai is a fascinating, cosmopolitan city rich in all aspects, yet it retains some ancient charm. It’s even truer when visiting suburban ancient towns with special events for the winter holidays. These are the ideal places to encounter everything Chinese, especially culture and customs.

You could listen to local operas and try to make your own handicrafts in person in Fengjing Ancient Town where buildings and bridges are in the style of Ming and Qing Dynasties. Located at the intersection of Nanjing Road West and Wanhangdu Road, Jing’an Temple is a must-see attraction. It has a long history and contains some amazing Buddhist relics. The Qibao Ancient Town features cricket fighting shows, delicious traditional food from the Yangtze Delta region, and plenty of folk activities.

Suggested by: Ivan from Mind The Travel.

Shanghai the bund at night | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Hong Kong

Hong Kong, or the Pearl of the Orient, is one of the biggest cities in Asia. Located right on the Tropic of Cancer, Hong Kong’s climate is characterized by humid and hot summer with mild winters. For this and many other reasons, Hong Kong is one of the best places in Asia to visit in December or January.

In general, Hong Kong is a great travel destination for anyone. Amazing infrastructures, beautiful skyscrapers, diverse cuisines, and an abundance of traditional Chinese culture, Hong Kong is one of the cities that has it all. On New Year’s Eve, Hong Kong has one of the biggest fireworks showcase celebrations of the year. Situated on the Victoria Habor, the firework display is one of the best in the world. With the Hong Kong skyline as the background, it is an unforgettable sight and the best way to start the new year.

In January, Chinese New Year approaches and preparation will begin. Probably the most important holiday in China, Chinese New Year is one of the best times to be in Hong Kong.  Celebrations, parades, and festive spirit will fill the dynamic streets. If you are here in January, don’t miss out on the Lunar New Year Lantern Displays. It is one of the coolest things I have seen in Hong Kong.

Suggested by: Sean from Living Out Lau.

hong kong skyline at night | best places to travel in Asia December and January

Japan

-Kamakura

As one of the former capitals of Japan, Kamakura is a place of historical and religious significance, with lots of beautiful temples and shrines. Many of these temples and shrines have a number of cherry trees on their grounds, including the Kotokuin Temple, where the Great Buddha (Daibutsu) is situated. This is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in the country and one of the main reasons to visit Kamakura.

Due to its many imposing religious structures and its proximity to the capital, Kamakura is one of the best day trips from Tokyo. But if you want to be really thorough, an overnight stay in Kamakura is a great option. In December and January, temperatures in Kamakura tend to be slightly higher than in Tokyo, which is great if you’re not a big fan of the cold.

Although pretty small now, Kamakura is one of the best places to see temples and shrines in the Land of the Rising Sun. Seriously, it feels like every few steps there is an interesting sight, including Hokokuji Temple with its small bamboo grove, Hasedera Temple with its magnificent views and Zeniarai Benten a small shrine where visitors can literally wash their money.

Suggested by: Laura from Travelers Universe.

Kamakura Japan Temple | best places to travel in Asia December and January

 

And there you have it! I hope you can now work out where will be the best place to travel in December and January to get good weather in Asia for your Winter and Christmas Holidays.

If you want to do more research, here are my Asia blog posts:

ALL THAILAND POSTS / ALL INDIA POSTS / ALL MALAYSIA POSTS / ALL INDONESIA POSTS 

ALL VIETNAM POSTS / ALL CHINA POSTS / ALL SRI LANKA POSTS

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