As you’d probably expect from the contributors to this blog, we all rather like Asia.
There’s a lot to love (great food, outstanding scenery, gorgeous wildlife…let’s stop there, that’s another blog all of it’s own) but one of greatest things is that somewhere in Asia is brilliant at all times of the year.
So whether you’re booking a luxury honeymoon, a family friendly cultural tour, or a sundrenched beach holiday with friends, we know exactly where you should go, and when.
So lets kick off with January, traditionally the dreariest, drizzliest month in the UK and Europe and a time when many of us really need a holiday to look forward to.
Well, this is kind of easy because in January almost ALL of Asia is glorious. Frankly in January you can’t go far wrong just hopping on a plane to any Asian destination. However you might hit some hefty price tags as it’s going to be peak season in many destinations, so lots of locations will be very busy – especially the sunny beach ones.
So, how to decide?
It’s all about knowing where is best at the time. Well, this is where we, the world’s biggest fans of Asia, would go in January. Here we share tips to avoid the crowds, enjoy seasonal highlights or experience a special festival. Don’t tell too many people, some of these are quite off the beaten track and we don’t want all the tour buses moving in.…!
Leave us a note in the comments if you have any questions.
Check back in a couple of weeks for our ‘Where to go in Asia in February’ blog. Or get in touch if you can’t wait that long to plan your trip!
Be stunned by the scenery in Sri Lanka
It’s peak season in Sri Lanka, but January is still one of our favourite months to go. It’s the best time for dry weather in the lush hill country and so the ideal conditions for riding the scenic railway to the charming hill towns like Ella, and climbing sacred Adam’s Peak at sunrise – a very special experience that you can’t do all year round. Follow that with a few days in a villa on the beach then a day on safari with elephants and leopards and you have a perfect holiday.
Check out this Classic 2 week tour or Sri Lanka for more detail.
Get an authentic experience in Myanmar
Head to Myanmar (Burma) if you want to avoid the crowds, because even in peak season it does not attract huge number of tourists and the local people are still so wonderfully unaffected by tourism. Expect sunny blue skies without the humidity and it’s the perfect time to hit the beach too! There is an abundance of culture on offer, but it’s not all temples – there’s some amazing nature and wildlife to be enjoyed and it is so easy to observe local village life in a beautifully authentic way that is becoming increasingly rare across the world.
Take a peek at one of our fave itineraries – The Essence of Myanmar which is perfect in January.
Get off the beaten track in Cambodia
After the Christmas and New Year travellers have disappeared, Cambodia is at it’s best. You have the whole country at your disposal in January – from the jungles, to the stunning islands and of course the mighty Angkor Wat and temples around Siem Reap.
It’s a great time of year to get off the beaten track in the country too as all roads are accessible. Hard to think of a better time to go!
See the From Temples and Jungles to Paradise itinerary to get some inspiration.
Follow the great weather in Vietnam
With three different climates in this long, skinny, country, there is actually quite a short window when all line up and good weather can be found in the north, south and centre of Vietnam all at the same time. January is the beginning of this window, which lasts until April, although it is cooler in the north at this time of year. The whole country is accessible but the south is where the tropical weather is so you should definitely head to one of the stunning islands like Phu Quoc or Con Dao for your beach time.
Our Highlights and Tropical Island is the ultimate itinerary for a Vietnam holiday in January.
Live the dream in Laos
January in Laos is perfect- sunny but not humid, the crowds of Christmas have dispersed and it’s before the rice burning season gets underway (normally April). This is the place to head if you love nature and a more quiet pace of life – it is home to some of the prettiest scenery in the region and the country’s top attractions include taking incredibly scenic river journeys on small private boats, swinging in hammocks on the sleepy river islands of the south, and quietly observing the monks collect their morning alms in the UNESCO heritage town of Luang Prabang.
Our Perfect Introduction to Laos itinerary does exactly what it says on the tin!
Party in the Philippines
Known for its beaches, the Philippines offers an amazing dose of winter sun. In January, we love being in Cebu for the annual Sinulog festival. Dancing in the street, a colourful parade, choral competition, and some seriously fun parties have made it the most popular festival in the country. So book early if you want to catch it! Our Sinulog hotel pick is The Henry Cebu with its quirky art and top-notch service.
Bonus: from Cebu you can get to any number of amazing beaches, world-class diving and snorkelling, the chocolate hills and tiny tarsiers of Bohol, and catch an international flight so you can avoid Manila altogether.
Immerse yourself in India
Escape winter back home and enjoy warm, sunny days in India’s most tropical state of Kerala. Try the Classic Kerala itinerary which takes you walking in the crisp mountain air through tea plantations, relaxing on the famous backwaters and enjoying warm Indian sunsets overlooking the fishing nets at Fort Cochin.
Or if you are looking for history and culture, tour Rajasthan where cold nights clear for warm sunny days making it the perfect time for sightseeing. A real adventure could be a combination tour which takes in both parts of this magical country.
Kick back in Thailand
Thailand in January is wonderful for those who want to avoid humidity because it is the month with the lowest rainfall. Instead, it is cool and dry, and you can make the most of those amazing sunsets by the beach with a glass of wine in your hand.
Our Highlights Tour is a perfect place to start planning.
Drift in the snow in Japan
January brings deep and fluffy powder snow to Japan, an absolute dream for all ski or snowboard enthusiasts. You can also see the unique practices some animals have developed to cope with the chill, like monkeys clambering down from their forest homes to seek warmth in the hot springs. It’s also a great time to head to the Kushiro Marshlands to see the unique birdlife.
Japan celebrates the season in style with its picture-perfect snowy landscapes, steamy outdoor hot springs surrounded by snow, seasonal food and enjoy glowing winter illuminations in the towns and cities.
Luxuriate in the Maldives
You’re spoilt for choice in the Maldives in January – lots of sunshine throughout, low humidity and clear conditions for snorkelling and diving. You do see prices in the Maldives peak over Christmas and New Year and they sneak up again during school holidays, so overall January is a window that can offer some competitive prices.
Increase the adventure by hopping between islands! Check out our favourite all-inclusive island hopper itinerary.
Soak up the vibe in Singapore
If you’d like to see Singapore with fewer crowds, January is an ideal time to visit.
After the New Year revelers have gone and before the Chinese New Year festivities kick off, the city tends to take a breath. This means it’s easier to get the photo you want of the Merlion or atop the Marina Bay Sands and you might find shorter queues in the hawker centres. There can be a little more rain in January than at other times but the showers are almost always brief and provide a nice break from the equatorial heat.
Follow the sun in Malaysia
The west coast of Malaysia is home to two wildly different islands: Penang and Langkawi. We love both in January when the weather is the sunniest and driest of the year. Penang is home to the UNESCO-designated heritage city of George Town with its vibrant street art and food so good that Malaysians and Singaporeans fly up for weekends just to eat their way through town.
A short flight or ferry ride away is the rainforest-filled, beach-lined Langkawi which we’ll admit can be a tad busy in January. That’s why we like staying at one of the quieter rainforest hotels like Ambong Pool Villas and looking for dusky monkeys in the trees before heading to the beach.
Take to the water in Indonesia
Take a peek at our ‘Jewels of Raja Ampat’ tour for our very favourite way to spend NYE and the week after. Ring in the New Year in style and make it the most memorable experience in your life.
Board a luxurious yacht and discover what has been described as the ‘last paradise on Earth’.