The Best Times to Visit South & Southeast Asia

You will learn when to visit South and Southeast Asia in relation to:

  • Season & Temperature
  • Rain (and snow!)
  • High Season (and high prices)
  • Festivals and Special Events
  • Great hotels for all budgets

Who are we and how do we know what we’re talking about?

Hi, there—BJ and Lauren here. We ditched our digs in the U.S. in 2013 to travel year-round, creating awesome itineraries for our tour company. We live this research every single day, and like you, we enjoy good weather, reasonable prices, and seeing cool stuff.

Need a little bit more input? Let us help you plan your trip!

Click here to see our budget-friendly Travel Consulting page.

So, How Does This Chart Work?

The charts below indicate the best time to visit an area based on temperature, precipitation, high season, and even festivals. Below that are specific hotel recommendations for every budget level.

Here’s the legend for all of our charts below. We tried to make it as intuitive as possible for you! You can click on the graphs below to enlarge it if the print is too small (we’re not judging).

best time to visit se asia

Average Precipitation Maps

Click the image above to head over to some interactive rainfall maps, including one SE-Asia specific one. These are some of the best interactive maps we’ve seen, don’t miss out.

One more thing before we leave you to explore….

How can we provide this comprehensive resource totally FREE? We’re hoping if you find a hotel to your liking, you’ll book it through the links below or these search boxes. They don’t affect your price in the slightest but they allow us to keep researching for the greater good.

We also recommend World Nomads travel insurance. To paraphrase Breaking Bad‘s Saul Goodman, “Lawyers, we’re like [travel] insurance. You hope you never need it, but man oh man, when you do… Not having it? No.” Click around in our search box to find the best rates for your trip.

Best time to visit Delhi, India

Best time to visit Delhi                        Extremely hot in May, June & July. Hotels in Delhi we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  The Oberoi New Delhi Hotel (from $200) [We stay here often. Luxury and incredible service. They allow late check-outs if you have a late flight. You can also check-out, use the pool/spa and take a shower in the pool/sauna bathroom before your long flight home]
  • Mid-range:  Shanti Home (from $90)  [Wonderful family. Very hospitable]   |  Hotel Cottage Yes Please (from $18) [Located in the middle of Paharganj across the street from one of our favorite restaurants in the area–#2 on this list]   |   Hari Piorko [right on Main Bazaar road in Paharganj yet incredibly quiet inside; great restaurant]
  • Budget:  Hotel Cottage Yes Please (from $15-30)

Tips & notes:  Visit Dilli Haat outdoor shopping complex–it’s like shopping all of India in one place.

Best time to visit Agra, India

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 2.46.47 PM                        Extremely hot in May, June & July. Hotels in Agra we can personally recommend:

Tips & notes:  There are many sites to see in and around Agra, but it is otherwise not a city which is worth spending much time.

Best time to visit Rishikesh, India

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Best time to visit Amritsar, India

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Hotels in Amritsar we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Hotel Ramada Amritsar (from $69) [It’s a 15 minute walk to the temple, but is a nice hotel]
  • Mid-range:  Hotel Ramada Amritsar (from $69)  |  Contact us for more mid-range hotels close to the temple

Tips & notes:  Harmandir Sahim (The Golden Temple) is one of the most exciting sites in India.  Also, don’t miss the Wagah border closing ceremony.

Best time to visit Varanasi, India

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 2.59.40 PM                        The Ganges becomes very high and fast in the summer–sometimes making it difficult to take boat rides or walk along the river. Hotels Varanasi we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  WelcomHeritage Jukaso Ganges (from $120) [There will be competition in the near future for luxury river-side hotels, but as of this time, this is the best hotel situated immediately on the river. It’s a nice place with great views. The higher your room, the better]
  • Mid-range:  Alka  ($15-$60)  [I have been staying here for 15 years. It is the closest hotel to the river–the patio hangs over the ghats below. Perfectly located on Meer Ghat] |  Ganpati Guest House ($17-$65) [Next to Alka Hotel–great location and nice hotel]
  • Budget:  Alka  ($15-$60)  |  Ganpati Guest House ($17-$65)

Tips & notes:  If you stay at Alka or Ganpati ask for Sunil (boatman) who is usually stationed just in front of the guesthouses on Meer Ghat.

Best time to visit Darjeeling, India

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Hotels in Darjeeling we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  The Elgin Darjeeling Hotel (from $130) [The nicest hotel in town with a good afternoon tea]  |  The Windamere Hotel (from $140) [If the walls could talk…  There is so much history at this hotel.  It seems a little tired as they have kept the original everything].
  • Mid-range:  Dekeling Hotel (from $30) [Lovely family and nice little hotel. The momos at their restaurant (street level) are cheap and delicious)
  • Budget:  Dekeling Hotel (from $18)

Tips & notes:  Visit and tour Makaibari Tea Estates and schedule a homestay with one of the families. Click here to read our first hand account of our Makaibari Estate visit. 

Best time to visit Goa, India

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.09.08 PM                        Very busy during Christmas season–hotels often raise prices. Too many hotels to list.  It depends on which beach/area you will visit. Tips & notes:  Visit the ruins of St. Augustine church.

Best time to visit Kochi, India (Kerala)

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Hotels in Kochi we can personally recommend:

Tips & notes:  The Kerala Folklore Museum is small but dense with interesting pieces of art from Kerala. It also has a shop with authentic antiques for reasonable prices.

Best time to visit Ladakh, India

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.15.10 PM                        Extremely cold from December through March.

We generally stay with friends in Ladakh so though I have been traveling there for 20 years I don’t have any hotels that I can honestly recommend.

Tips & notes:  Visit some of the less-visited monasteries like Likir and Stakna.  Before visiting Ladakh I highly recommend reading Ancient Futures by Helena Norberg-Hodge.

Best time to visit Kathmandu & Pokhara, Nepal

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.18.25 PM                        Though Kathmandu & Pokhara stay mild year-round, the mountains can get very cold and snowy during winter months.

Hotels in Kathmandu we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Hotel Tibet International (from $75 and up) [About a 5 minute walk to Boudhanath Stupa. Has a nice spa] |  Hyatt Regency (from $150) [About a 7 minute walk to Boudhanath Stupa.  |  Yak & Yeti (from $145) [Historic 5-star hotel but location isn’t as good as the other two]
  • Mid-range:  Rokpa Guest House (from $40) [Rokpa Guest House is a gorgeous property with a variety of room types. It is a 2 minute walk to the stupa and set off the road so there is no traffic–it is very quiet. It is part of the Swiss/Tibetan non-profit Rokpa.org]
  • Budget:  Rokpa Guest House (from $23) [See above]

Tips & notes:  Skip Thamel and Kathmandu Durbar Square–stay near Boudhanath instead. Hotels in Pokhara we can personally recommend:

  • Mid-range:  Hotel Asia (from $30) [Hotel Asia has a variety of rooms. It is a good, quiet location and has a nice view from the roof]
  • Budget:  Hotel Asia (from $20)  |  Global Inn (from $17) [Global Inn is set closer to active tourist area. It is owned by an extremely nice family and the rooms are a good value]

Tips & notes:  One of the most honest and reliable travel & trekking organizers is Earth Nepal.  The owner (Dharma) and his wife can set up everything for your trip to Nepal.  We have used them many times and they are wonderful—please tell that that BJ and Lauren sent you!

Best time to visit Thimphu, Bhutan

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.21.33 PM                        Many festivals in the spring and fall.

Best time to visit Southern Sri Lanka (Colombo & Kandy)

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.33.01 PM                        Cooler as you visit higher elevations.

Best time to visit Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar)

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 3.37.26 PMHotels in Rangoon/Yangon we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Sule Shangri-La, formerly Traders (from $190) [Best hotel in the city. Has an amazing view of ShweDagon Pagoda from the top floor]
  • Mid-range:  Eastern Hotel (from $45) [Has a number of different room types for different budgets. Exceptionally clean and a good breakfast]
  • Budget:  Prices have increased significantly in recent years in Yangon. There are few truly affordable options. Check guesthouses near 19th Street.

Tips & notes:  Eat mohinga for breakfast at one of the street vendors and definitely try tea leaf salad at any local restaurant. Lucky 7 teahouse is a fantastic and inexpensive place for breakfast, too, including samosa soup.

Best time to visit Bangkok, Thailand

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Hotels in Bangkok we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Shangri-La Hotel ($165) [Best located hotel in Bangkok–right on the river and adjacent to the BTS train stop. Great rooms. 1 minute from a good food center with affordable Thai food] |  Grand Centre Point Hotel at Terminal 21 (from $175) [Connected to the Asoke BTS station and Terminal 21 mall. Excellent rooms and amenities. 1 minute from Soi Cowboy]
  • Budget:  Red Planet Hotel Asoke (formerly Tune Hotel Asoke) (from $40) [Our home in Bangkok. The rooms are small, but very clean and comfortable. The best showers in Asia. Nearby good food options and only a 2 minute walk to Terminal 21]  |   Patumwan House  Close the the intersection of the 2 SkyTrain lines; large rooms, convenient location, great restaurant. (from $30)

Tips & notes:  Visit Terminal 21 Mall for an fun experience, even if you’re not shopping.  The bathrooms are so extraordinary that they have their own check-in on Four Square!  There is a good food court on the 5th floor (inexpensive and tasty thai food).

Best time to visit Chiang Mai, Thailand

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 4.08.41 PM                        Slightly cooler in higher elevations. Air quality issues in March due to burning rice fields in the surrounding countryside.

Hotels in Chiang Mai we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  U Chiang Mai (~$95)  |  Tamarind Village (~$95)
  • Mid-range:  The 3 Sis (from $45)
  • Budget:  La Mer ($19-25) [Our home in Chiang Mai. Large rooms and wonderful location across from a vegetable/fruit market, food stalls and some of the best fruit smoothies in Thailand]

Tips & notes:  Skip the nightly market, but be there on a Sunday to visit the Sunday night walking street (inside the east gate).  Definitely choose a hotel inside the gate (old city) as it will be quieter and more pedestrian friendly.

Best time to visit Siem Reap (Angkor), Cambodia

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Hotels Siem Reap we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Park Hyatt Siem Reap ($250-350) [The best hotel in Siem Reap and very close to Pub Street and all the action]
  • Mid-range:  Ta Prohm Hotel ($35-75) [Great location, near Pub Street and the market, and nice rooms]
  • Budget:  Golden Butterfly Villa ($20-50) [One of the best values in Siem Reap–a city of great hotel values]

Tips & notes:  Siem Reap has a plethora of great hotel values.  Though we’re not big party people, we like to stay relatively close to Pub Street as it has great restaurants, markets, shops, and more.  Get up extremely early every morning to beat the crowds.  My friend Kimleng is a good driver & guide.  He is an excellent photographer and will get you in the best places at the best times of day.  He can also arrange models & monks to spice up your photos.  See his website or contact him directly at [email protected]; tell him that BJ & Lauren sent you!

Best time to visit Vientiane, Laos

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Hotels Vientiane we can personally recommend:

  • Mid-range:  V Hotel ($20-35) [Great location and fantastic rooms in varying categories]
  • Budget:  V Hotel ($20-35)

Tips & notes: Should you need it, the French Clinic in Vientiane gives great medical care that is affordable (by Western standards).

Best time to visit Hanoi, Vietnam

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Hotels in Hanoi we can personally recommend:

  • Mid-range:  Hanoi Old Centre Hotel ($20-45) [This is possibly the best value hotel I’ve ever visited. Quiet, great location, super-comfortable rooms, good breakfasts, and incredibly friendly staff]
  • Budget:  Hanoi Old Centre Hotel ($20-$25) [See above]

Tips & notes:  Awesome Food Tours are fantastic and affordable.  It’s a steal at $25.  I take food tours often and it’s a great value.  I took other food tours in the city and this was the best.

Best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

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Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) we can personally recommend:

Tips & notes:  My favorite food tour ever is Back of the Bike Tours.  It is a much better value than some of the other bike tours.  Such a great way to see the city and taste some delicious food.


 

Best time to visit Kuala Lumpur & Penang, Malaysia

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Hotels in Kuala Lumpur we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Traders Hotel by Shangri-La (from $135) [Perfect location. Pay extra for views of the Petronas Towers if you can] |  Mandarin Oriental (from $210) [Good views of the Petronas Towers–though a little too close for good views. Very luxurious hotel in a good location]
  • Budget:  Sunbow Hotel Residency (from $28) (on the 10th floor of a building, in Bukit Bintang)  |   Alpha Genesis (from $35)  (in Bukit Bintang; great South Indian restaurant, open 24/7, just downstairs and on the corner. Don’t miss the Roti Canai!)

Tips & notes:  Whether you stay at Traders or not, you must have a drink at the bar on the top floor.  It faces the Petronas Towers and is a wonderful place to spend an hour or two gazing at their majesty. Hotels in Georgetown, Penang we can personally recommend:

Best time to visit Bali, Lombok & Gili Islands, Indonesia

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 4.34.16 PM                        Cooler as you go to higher elevations. Check for dates of Galungan & Kuningan. Many cremations in July & August.

Hotels in Ubud we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Komaneka at Bisma Ubud (from $185) [Our favorite luxury hotel in Ubud]
  • Mid-range:  Honeymoon Guesthouses (from $28) [Very nice rooms and good location]
  • Budget:  Teba House (from $12) [Our home in Ubud. Nice family-run guesthouse. Decent breakfasts. Good location. Can choose a/c or non-a/c rooms depending on your budget.

Tips & notes:  I’ve tried many and emphatically say that Lobong Cooking School is the best in town.  Even if you don’t like to cook, you will have a wonderful time and will learn more about the culture of Bali than just about anything else you could do.  The best downhill bike ride is through Emerald Cycling (overall best value) Hotels we can personally recommend in other parts of Bali:

  • High end:  Munduk Moding Plantation (from $145) [One of our favorite resorts in Asia. They have one of the top-rated infinity pools in the world, amazing breakfasts and a gorgeous setting overlooking a long valley and the Bali Sea. This is a must-stay hotel if it’s in your budget]
  • Mid-range:  Gaia Oasis Beach Resort (from $50) [Right on the Bali Sea. Rooms don’t have a/c but there is a nice breeze and fans. Delicious food, wonderful spa and beautifully located. Can’t say enough about this off-the-beaten-track resort]
  • Budget:  Loft Legian (from $23) [We’re not the biggest fans of the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak area, but this is a good option if you’re visiting on a budget. Rooms are small but clean. Only 4 minutes walking to the beach. It is on Jalan Melasti, which has other options you may want to look into, as well.]

Tips & notes:  If you can afford it, you really must stay at Munduk Moding Plantation.  If you stay there, take the walk to the waterfall.  They have a wonderful and affordable spa on the premises of the hotel, and their infinity pool was rated one of the best in the world by Asia Spa magazine.

Hotels we can personally recommend on the west coast of Lombok:

  • High end:  Qunci Villas (from $110) [Fantastic resort & spa. Has two good restaurants, three pools and some of the best sunsets in the world. Eat lunch at the local restaurant just to the right of the hotel as you walk out to the beach–you will be thrilled at the food and the price] |  The Oberoi Lombok (from $450) [Oberoi hotels are always the best, but you should stay 4 nights at Qunci Villas instead of 1 night at the Oberoi]
  • Mid-range:  Puri Mas Boutique Resort & Spa (from $85) [Good place with a variety of room categories. Nice pool and decent restaurant]
  • Budget:  Sunset House Lombok (from $32) [Great value on the west coast of Lombok. It’s right on a beach and has nice rooms, a pool, and a good restaurant]

Tips & notes:  Qunci Villas is one of the best value hotels in the world.  It is one of the highest rated hotels in Asia and we highly recommend you staying there.  The sunsets from the west coast of Lombok are divine. Hotels we can personally recommend on the south end of Lombok:

  • High end:  Novotel Lombok Resort & Villas (from $85) [Big resort right on the beach, which is rare in south Lombok. Full service 5-star resort] |  Sempiak Villas (from $100) [This is a little off the beaten track, but adjacent to a nice beach. Rooms are gorgeous. Great resort]
  • Mid-range:  Kuta Cove Hotel (from $35) [Good location and nice rooms. Great value]

Tips & notes:  Two of my favorite beaches in the world are Tanjung Aan and Mawun in south Lombok.  Neither has a lot of amenities, but are well worth the visit. Hotels we can personally recommend on the Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno & Gili Air)

  • High end:  The Trawangan Resort (from $145) [We love this resort. The location is quiet yet close to the action. Surf just off the beach and walk to great snorkeling. Wonderful spa and delicious fare at the restaurant] |  Mahamaya Resort (from $160) [Very quiet, small, beautiful resort on a perfect little stretch of Gili Meno]
  • Mid-range:  Vila Ombak (from $115) [Large resort good for families or couples]   |   Seri Resort on Gili Meno  [a relatively new resort with an amazing east coast view of sunrise over Mt. Rinjani]   |   Ombak Sunset  (from $70)  [On the west coast of Trawangan, famous for their picturesque swing set in the shallows]
  • Budget:  Ricel Homestay (from $24) [Our home on Gili Trawangan. Clean comfortable rooms and only a 4 minute walk to the beach]

Tips & notes: Everything at Kayu Cafe is delicious, especially the vegetarian laksa.  Don’t forget to try the Monggo chocolate, too!

Best time to visit Singapore

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 4.37.27 PM                        Potential air quality issues (smoke) in June due to slash & burn agriculture practices in Sumatra.

Hotels in Singapore we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Marina Bay Sands (from $350) [The most expensive building in the world. Amazing place to stay–and you get access to the famous Sky Deck and infinity pool. Huge mall attached and the famous SuperTrees and Gardens on the grounds. You are paying more for the amenities than for the rooms & service, but it’s worth it] |  The Fullerton Hotel (from $350) [Possibly the best located hotel in Singapore as it’s close to the best views of Marina Bay Sands. Wonderful historic building with gorgeous rooms and great service] |  Raffles (from $460) [Somewhat overrated/over-priced but still quite nice]   |   Park Royal on Pickering (from $200) [Visually stunning eco hotel, great location]
  • Mid-range:  Hotel 1929 (from $130)  |  The New Majestic Hotel (from $185) [These are sister hotels and are some of the best values in town. The New Majestic has a room with one of the top rated bathrooms in the world. Both are nicely located in Chinatown near Maxwell Road Hawker Center]
  • Budget:  Adler Hostel (from $50/bed) [Perfectly located in Chinatown. Small hostel with wonderful service and a nice breakfast. Each bed is a pod with a small locker. Sleeping in the pod contributes to some of the most restful sleep I’ve ever experienced] |  FisherBNB Hostel (from $21/bed) [Our home in Singapore. It’s pretty close to two subway (MRT) stations. The rooms are dorms with about 16 people, but they are quiet rooms and comfortable beds with two huge lockers for each person]

Tips & notes:  Be sure to visit Chinatown and Maxwell Road Hawker Center.  See the twice-nightly lightshow twice–once from Merlion Park and once from in front of Marina Bay Sands.

Click here for a whole blog dedicated to what you can do in Singapore on a layover!

Best time to visit Hong Kong

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Hotels in Hong Kong we can personally recommend:

  • High end:  Hotel Intercontinental (from $485) [If it’s in  your budget, this is the best place to stay. Best location and views of any hotel in the city|  The Peninsula Hong Kong (from $650)  [Most luxurious and well-located]
  • Mid-range:  The Sheraton (from $275) [Very well located and more affordable than the Hotel Intercontinental].
  • Budget:  New Super Guesthouse in Chungking Mansions (from $45)  [The building that is Chungking Mansions is not nearly as scary as what it is made out to be in the movie “Chungking Express” or the Wikipedia article about the building. Our guesthouse was extremely clean and nice and we explored others that were similar]

Tips & notes:  The Chi Lin Nunnery is well worth a look.

Best time to visit Manila, Philippines

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So many festivals throughout the Philippines. Check for details based on your itinerary.

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