The climate in Asia differs considerably depending on which country you’re visiting and there are extreme variations across the continent. Southeast Asia is tropical, India and Thailand have monsoons, Japan has typhoons and Russia is blanketed in snow in winter.
When to fly to Asia
Given the climate variations across the continent, you need to check each country for the best time to visit. Tropical Southeast Asia is typically hot and sticky year-round, with plenty of rain and seasonal monsoons in different regions at different times. Stick to the dry season as much as possible.
Generally speaking, the best months to visit India and Sri Lanka are from November to March - avoid the monsoon season (May to September).
Japan is beautiful between March and May when cherry blossoms bloom. Although the weather is mostly pleasant late August and September, it is also their typhoon season. In the Philippines, it is also lovely March to May, but from June to October comes the wet monsoon season.
Russia gets bitterly cold during the long winter (November to early April) and unbearably hot in summer. The UAE is generally warm year-round, except for August, when temperatures reach the mid-high 40s.
Getting around Asia
Travelling around Asian countries can be quite an experience, ranging from efficient and comfortable to chaotic and frustrating.
While flying might be an easier and quicker option in many larger countries, the best way to get a feel for a country and its people is to travel by rail. A slightly more expensive option is to hire a car and driver, especially in Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
Asia insider information
- In China, visit Shanghai's Jade Buddha Temple, built between 1911 and 1918, with its jewel-encrusted Buddha weighing 1000kg.
- Hong Kong's Museum of History boasts an expansive collection, covering 6000 years of the territory's history and cultural heritage.
- Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market will test your bargaining skills, with more than 9000 stalls selling anything from antiques to flowers. Visit Jim Thompson House, a traditional Thai house that was the home of Thailand's most famous expat, an American adventurer and entrepreneur who went to Bangkok during World War II as a US spy.
- After a hard day's sightseeing in Kyoto, relax at “Kurama Onsen”, one of the few Japanese bath houses close to the city.
- Elephanta Island, a short boat-ride from Mumbai, is home to the famous cave temples, carved into the rock face. Dating back to 450AD, the Hindi temples feature ornate carvings, including a monumental statue of a deity.
- In Sri Lanka's hillside city of Kandy, you’ll find the sacred tooth of Buddha in Dalada Maligawa.
- Traditional souks (markets) are a highlight of any trip to the UAE. If you only have time for one, the Deira’s Gold Souk is the place to pick up exquisite jewellery.
- While visiting the Philippines capital of Manila, head to Intramuros, the 16th century walled city built by the Spaniards.
- Half-Asian and half-European, Turkey's most illustrious landmark is Istanbul's domed Haghia Sophia cathedral. Once the mother of all Byzantine churches, it was converted into a mosque and in 1935 became a preserved monument and museum.
- Russia's gargantuan metropolis, Moscow, takes time to fully explore but three things are not to be missed - visiting the Kremlin, strolling around Red Square and a night at the Bolshoi Theatre.