Welcome/ Welcome back! It’s time for our tips about where to go in Asia in May, and spoiler alert, it’s a great one.
We have some new countries featuring for the first time, we have heat, we have festivals, we have incredible hiking trails – we have it all. The month of May is a perfect snapshot of the incredible variety you see across Asia.
So – where will you go?
As always, don’t hesitate to get in touch in the comments or via email if you have any questions. There are no secrets here!
Coming soon: ‘Where to go in Asia in June’ and beyond.
May brings some rain to the Maldives, but don’t let this put you off. Tropical rain storms are usually short, so take cover in the bar, spa or in your cosy luxury villa until the sun peeps out again. Then it’s straight back in the warm sea for snorkelling, diving and kayaking around the house reef.
This is usually a great time to go if you’re on a budget. Costs creep up again for school summer holidays, but May prices are lower. What are you waiting for?
If visiting Sri Lanka in May, try and go for Vesak Poya, a two-day holiday commemorating the birth and death of Buddha. You can expect paper lanterns being lit and colourful light displays everywhere, Colombo in particular is intoxicating at this time.
In general, the east coast of the island experiences the best weather in May so head over to Trincomalee and Passekudah where you can explore completely unspoilt beaches and spot whales just off the coast. You can drive or catch a quick internal flight. Our Summer Sun itinerary is a perfect starting point for planning a tour of Sri Lanka in May and the summer months.
The temperatures in May are getting very hot but the country is still dry as the monsoons don’t begin until next month. If you can handle the high heats hotels offer great deals at this time of year.
It is the best time to visit wildlife parks as animals will be coming out to visit the waterholes making for great sightings. Safari’s can be done in the morning and evening to avoid the midday temperatures. Check out some sample itineraries for more inspiration.
This is a great month for visiting. It’s not high season but the trails are drying out for hiking and the rivers are still high for rafting so an ideal time for those who wants to stay active and enjoy the nature.
May is also still considered a low season and travelling this month you will benefit from lower cost of accommodation and flight ticket prices, less traffic and fewer visitors. Get more detail here.
Neither too hot nor too cold, May is the perfect time to travel in Japan! To avoid crowds, we recommend skipping the Golden Week holiday at the start of the month when Japanese people travel within their country.
The rest of the month is great and our recommended time for visiting Japan as you will encounter less tourists and you will take advantage of the lower prices and good weather. It is a perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities such as kayaking around Miyajima Island right next to the famous Floating Torii Gate or trekking in the wonderful Japanese nature and charming countryside. More information.
Often one of the sunnier months on this island covered in rainforest, May is a great time for Borneo, especially if you’re interested in jungle trekking. Chances for spotting wild orangutans in Danum Valley and along the Kinabatangan River are also good this month. To top it off, the waters around Gaya Island are often clear making for great diving.
All in all, it’s an ideal month for an active adventure in Borneo!
If you want heat – searing, seething, tropical heat that makes you forget about the concept of scarves and shivering, head to the Philippines in May. Sunshine and scorching temperatures are the order of the day.
This makes it a great month for the cooler temperatures of the Cordillera where the rice terraces are vibrant and you can cool off in the caves of Sagada followed by blue-sky beach days in the Visayas.
Trekking through ancient rainforest, walking through an ethereal mossy forest, and digging your toes into the silky sand of white beaches: May is a beautiful month for Malaysia.
Stick to the centre and east of the peninsula this month for better weather, so think about visiting Taman Negara, the Cameron Highlands, and the Perhentians or Tioman island. Japamala is one of our favorite places to stay on Tioman. You get access to beach and jungle, the best of both worlds.
May is one of the best months of the year to travel to China. Pleasant warm and dry weather with lots of sunshine in most of the country make it the perfect timing for sightseeing and outdoor activities.
Explore the lovely Longji Rice Terraces in Guilin, enjoy a lovely cruise boat on the charming canals of Zhujiajiao or visit the Great Wall as the trees and plants turn green and the wall snakes its way through lush vegetation. If you are a hiking lover, this is a great time to visit the Everest Base Camp in Tibet.
May is one of the most beautiful months to visit Bhutan. It’s the end of the spring and the weather becomes pleasant during the day although quite chilly at night. You will witness the beauty of the gorgeous Himalayan valleys becoming alive with colourful flowers in full bloom carpeting the hills.
Good news for active travellers! May is one of the best months to trek in Bhutan as the trekking trails are in great shape due to the low quantity of rain falling. It is a perfect time to hike to the most famous monastery in the country, “The Tiger’s Nest”, while you enjoy the vibrant spring nature around you and the stunning landscapes of this unique Himalayan county.
May is the most beautiful month of the year to see the rice harvest in the north of the country, where you can quietly observe the traditional harvest taking place or even better help a local family with their work!
Van Long and Ninh Binh, which are home to stunning mountain, karst and cave scenery, only have one rice season per year and it is exceptionally beautiful to see the silhouettes of workers in conical hats against the dusky pink sunsets. It is hot at this time of year as the rains are due but the centre is the perfect place to head for beach time and further exploring as they have a delayed rainy season. It’s the perfect time of year for this tour which we promise is not just for toddlers!
If you hate being surrounded by other tourists but love the heat then Myanmar may just be the perfect destination for you this May. We are not going to play it down – it is hot, hot, hot! But the country will feel like its all yours as there are so few tourists in this month, and in a country which is not over-crowded with tourists at the best of times, it is no exaggeration to say you may feel like one of the only non-locals in town! The rains do start towards the end of the month reducing temps a little, which can be quite refreshing. But this is also the last month of the year (until post rains in October) when you can really enjoy the beach, so pack that bikini! We love the Meander through Myanmar holiday at this time of year.
Those who are looking to recover from the long British winter with a big dose of sun should look no further than Cambodia this May, where temperatures are high but the country is not too over-crowded. It is very hot so we recommend early morning sightseeing tours with afternoons relaxed by the pool in the shade.
Another great way to avoid the crowds and keep cool is to head to the remote province of Mondulkiri. The temperature is also much cooler in this mountainous region, which is famous for its elephants. Take a peek at our Off the Beaten Track itinerary which does just this.
In keeping with our hot-May theme, another country to consider is Laos! The north of Laos can actually get pretty chilly in the country’s peak season but in May temps are up to around 28 degrees so it’s perfect to explore the UNESCO heritage town of Luang Prabang, caught between two scenic rivers, without needing to pack jumpers and coats! The same goes for the rural north of the country, although rains do start to emerge towards the end of the month.
We recommend combining Luang Prabang and the north of Laos with some relaxing beach time in the centre of Vietnam, or on the Thai islands at this time of year as with all this heat you’ll want to cool off in the sea after a week or so of exploring. We love this itinerary of Vietnam and Laos but would do Laos first and also add in beach time in Hoi An at this time of year.