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12 Exciting Destinations for Summer Holidays in Asia

27 Mar, 2018 | A-> Z Guide
With milder climate, lots of sunlight and lively summer festivals, these destinations are where you want to be for your summer holidays in Asia.

Most parts of Asia in summer are hot, wet, and humid (unless you head south), making this continent the perfect destination for an ideal vacation filled with sunshine. Here are 12 of the most exciting summer holidays in Asia, with milder climate but doesn’t lack sunny days and a detailed schedule of summer festivals that you may not want to miss out on.

1. Hoi An, Vietnam 

While both north and south of Vietnam are soaking in summer, Hoi An is at its sunniest and driest in May, June, and July. This town may be the most well-preserved area of the country with a lazy river, mustard-yellow houses, Japanese bridges, Chinese temples, and quiet beaches just a few kilometers away. Hoi An makes it a must-visit destination on every Vietnam trip.

Joining many visitors to wander the center streets which are banned from motor vehicles, sipping a glass of beer at a nice bar, and enjoying Cao Lau - one of the best Vietnamese noodles, are some of the many interesting things to do in this town. Yes, the old town is kind of touristy in recent years, but it somehow still retains its dreamy atmosphere if you stay away from the peak hours. Want some other activities besides strolling the old town of Hoi An? Most of the hotels offer bikes to guests to cycle down the roads to the countryside and get into local life. An Bang beach - one of the best beaches in Vietnam is just 4 kilometers away from the center. Fishing markets are only 15 minutes away if you can get up early. Most of the roads are not busy and very safe to bike.

Once a month on the full moon, Hoi An becomes magical in its lantern festival when the locals will hang colorful lanterns to illuminate every street. Paper lanterns are sold along the Hoai River. Buy one, light it, make a wish, release it into the water, and wait for your wish to come true. A miracle that Hoi An gladly gives you.

Hoi An Lantern Festivals:  On the 14th day of the Lunar Calendar each month.

2. Con Dao, Vietnam

This beautiful island archipelago is one of the Top 10 best beaches in Vietnam. 160 miles south of Ho Chi Minh City, Con Dao is a perfect choice for a summer holiday in Asia. The cluster of 16 islands boasts natural beauty, wonderful wildlife, and a gloomy history. 

For many years, this area was a US prison that imprisoned many communists and senior Vietnam political leaders. Now, Con Dao is a pristine paradise of national parks, untouched beaches, turquoise water, and the best diving sites in the country. Con Dao Dive Center offers a PADI Open Water course at around $550 US and one day Discover Scuba Diving is at $200 US.

Summer in Con Dao is also the best time to see turtles laying eggs. July to October is the highest breeding season. Thousands of female turtles move to the beaches, dig holes, lay eggs, and cover their nest during the night before swimming back to the ocean. 

If budget is not your constraint, Six Senses Con Dao is a luxury beach resort without the crowd that you would gladly never leave.

3. Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui is one of the best kid-friendly destinations in Southeast Asia for families to enjoy the summer.

Unlike Phuket, Krabi, and Phi Phi where summer is the rainiest time of the year, the weather in Koh is just great. 

Being the second most popular Thailand vacation after Phuket, Koh Samui has its own airport, a wide variety of hotels to choose from, good food, and countless interesting attractions to delight the kids. A 2-hour boat ride from the town will take you to the Ang Thong Marine National Park which is home to 42 islands of different sizes. Here, your family can have fun together with many summer activities such as kayaking between the islands, swimming in clean, clear water, or hiking up the rocks to have great views. 

The kids would love a trip to the Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo to play with sea lions and feed a tiger cub. If they are curious about reptiles, take them to snake farms where they can witness the snakes, giant lizards, and crocodiles. Bond together in a cooking class where you learn some recipes of Koh Samui food and taste summer fruits such as rambutans, salak, java apple, and dragon fruit. 

4. Koh Phangan, Thailand

If you are a partier, don’t miss out on Koh Phangan, the Ibiza of the east. This island will rock your summer with lots of delicious Thai food and exciting activities. You can go diving to see the marine life, book a bicycle tour to travel the island, visit all of its amazing waterfalls, sample the best food in night markets, set off on a boat trip to hop from island to island, and of course, get ready to join in party meccas during the full moon every month.

The world’s most famous Full Moon parties will take place once or twice every month on the Haad Rin beach. There are several stages that will be set up right on the beach. You can hop between different performance stages for food, drink, dance, and beach performers from fire eaters, and fire dancers, to jugglers.

5. Bali, Indonesia

Around the world, Bali has been praised as a tropical paradise. From the center for traditional crafts and dance to countless bars and clubs, Bali has it all. You can try boarding at Kuta and Uluwatu Beach - two of the best destinations in Southeast Asia that suffers love to add to their list; grab a motorbike to explore the lakes, volcanoes, and hot springs in a day; follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s book to search the beauty of Bali’s cultural heart - Ubud, or seek the sun at Ku De Ta hotspot - the famous beach club which sets the trend to upscale nightlife in Bali. 

Head to Bali in June to take part in the Bali Arts Festival which is celebrated from mid-June through mid-July. During this time, towns are decorated, dances, puppetry, and live music are performed on outdoor stages, and many art exhibitions open up to the public.

6. Gili Islands, Indonesia

The beautiful Gili Islands have been a favorite for summer holiday-seeking travelers for decades. With its own reputation, this three-island archipelago has something for everyone. 

The epicenter for nightlife - Gili Trawangan, often be shortened to Gili T, is the largest and most visited of the Gili Islands. You can dive during the daytime at its gorgeous beaches and go wild at night at one of the bars along its east side. Used to be a mecca of backpackers, upscale properties have exploded recently on Gili T causing a striking shift in the type of visitors. The island starts attracting more luxury travelers come to stay.

Gili Meno is the smallest and most isolated of the three Gili islands. Despite having the best beaches with crystal clear water, it might not for young travelers looking to socialize but for people looking for relaxation and couples looking for privacy. 

Who like diving can dive off the coast of Gili Meno to see 48 haunting underwater sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor. The middle-sized island, Gili Air, is a blend of the two Gilis with facilities as the Gili T has and a quiet atmosphere as Gili M., surely is the perfect chill-out spot with a slight hippy feel.

7. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Summer is the best time to visit the Perhentian Islands when the weather allows divers and snorkelers to enjoy the excellent visibility of reefs, barracudas, turtles as well as other tropical fishes. While the smaller of the two islands, Perhentian Kecil, attracts mainly backpackers and budget travelers to the beach party scenes on Long Beach, the Perhentian Besar is the place for couples, honeymooners, and families with more upscale experiences.

8. Borneo, Malaysia

Although there is a possibility of rain at any time, summer is still the dry season in Borneo making it perfect for summer holidays for families.

With a size as large as Singapore’s, the Danum Valley Conservation Area boasts a vast zone of forests. This is also recorded as the highest concentration of wild orangutans in the world and summer is the best time to spot these primates lazing in the sun in their natural habitat. Your children might love a boat journey along the Kinabatangan River. Being the second longest river in Malaysia, it’s easy to catch a glimpse of the Sumatran rhino, sun bear, leopard, and Borneo pygmy elephant roaming over the forest, a crocodile plies through the river, and majestic kingfishers feed on the water. 

Families will be interested in Gawai Dayak Festival, a cultural celebration in Borneo which takes place on June 1 and 2, with traditional dresses, food, and drums. Young people don’t want to miss the Rainforest World Music Festival - one of the largest music festivals in the SEA - which is held annually in June. It is a great way to experience the beautiful beaches while hearing some great music.

9. Boracay, Philippines

Despite its small size, Boracay is still awarded as one of the world’s top destinations for relaxation thanks to its white sand beaches and lively nightlife. 

For those seeking revelry like those on Koh Phangan, head to Station 2 on White Beach which is the center for eating, shopping, and partying. Puka Beach is an image of what people expect on a tropical island with white sand, clear water, and low density. There are few services so it’s better to experience Puka as one of the stops during a day trip. 

Bulabog Beach on the eastern side, on the other hand, is worth spending a whole day if you are chasing an adrenaline surge. The beach is considered among the top beaches in Asia for kitesurfing. 

For something uncommon, the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy offers fantastic lessons: swim with a mermaid tail. 

10. Singapore

Singapore is famous worldwide for its clean streets, awesome airport, great food, safety, shopping centers, and its strict law for littering. All makes this country a kid-friendly destination in Southeast Asia. But it also has reputation for green spaces and being the host of many exciting summer festivals. While heading to Long Bar at Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling cocktail, the quintessential ‘Singapore drink’ that every visitor has to try, take note of these festivals to make sure you won’t miss out on any:

- Thaipusam (Feb) Not a public holiday, this spectacular festival yet attracts thousands of Hindu devotees annually to celebrate, seek blessings, fulfill vows, and offer thanks.

- Dragon Boat Festival: This age-old Chinese tradition that lives on in modern Singapore is the most joyful and awaited festival in Singapore in which boats race at the pace of drums. The festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. That means it doesn’t have a fixed date but always falls into summer. 

11. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul offers something for everyone. Whether you’re in history, culture, shopping, outdoor activities, or looking for delicious street food, you won’t be disappointed. Head to Namsan Seoul Tower to get the best view of the city, Itaewon to shop antique housewares, and the massive complex Gyeongbokgung Palace to see how the royal lived. 

If you don’t mind the humidity, June will mark the start of an impassioned summer with two big events. The first is the Seoul Drum Festival where top talents from Korea and the best drummers in the world converge on one stage. The second is the Seoul Summer Sale where visitors have chances to take advantage of discounted rates for tours, services, cosmetics, and clothing.

12. Osaka, Japan

If you’re looking for a trip to Osaka, summer is a great time to pack your luggage. It’s usually warm but not too hot, and above all, it has a ton of things to do.

If you love history, Osaka Castle is one of the main attractions constructed in the 16th century. If Japanese cuisine is your thing, head to Kuromon Ichiba market to enjoy Otoro and Chutoro.If you love flowers, thousands of gorgeous hydrangea in various colors will be displayed at the Hydrangea Festival from mid-June to mid-July, and lanterns will be adorned on both sides of the Dotonbori River every night throughout July and August.

Summer fireworks are held in many places in Osaka. You can check out Tenjin Fireworks from July 24 to 25 along Sakuranomiya Park, PL Fireworks on 1st August at Sindo Tondabayashi, and Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival which attracted a million visitors each year in August along Yodogawu-Ku.

Besides Japanese traditional festivals such as Tenjin Matsuri ( 24 and 25 July) - one of the largest in Japan, Kishiwada Danjiri (Mid Sep) - one of the most thrilling festivals, and Sumiyoshi (July 30th- Aug 1st), there is Summer Sonic in August.

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