South-East Asia (S.E.A) constantly attracts people of all places that want to enjoy the tropical-sunny weather! Being so close to the equator, the countries of this part of the world do not experience any of the four seasons. Instead, the weather perpetually switches between rain and sun – (mostly) all throughout the year, making it a haven for holiday goers outside the region!
For many others, and especially for the locals in the S.E.A region itself, the opposite is usually what’s desired! The end of the year provides a good opportunity for that: December typically brings with it the monsoon season and relatively low temperatures. High expectancies of rain will be talked about and layered clothing will not look out of place. Well, you don’t have to look outside the region for a cooler change of environment 😎 A slightly unorthodoxed approach to seeking cooler places, as opposed to beaches and the Sun, this one’s for the hipsters that are just trying to stay cool.
[P.S If you’re looking for a true winter holiday in Asia that won’t cause a dent in your wallets, check it out here!]
1. Kundasang, Malaysia
Kundasang is a great scenic location away from mainland Malaysia, in the Borneo Islands. Located within the capital state of Sabah in Kota Kinabalu, a trip to the town can prove difficult and by today’s standards, pretty inaccessible. Which is a true testament to what it really is all about: a seemingly an untouched piece of beauty!
Credit: Zhan Hui Teh on Flickr
Temperatures go as low as 13 degrees in this town, with plenty of sunlight to blaze the outlines of mountains in the background. Warm showers are paramount to keep your toes still wriggling, and a popular thing to do in these parts is to partake in a bath at the Poring Hot Spring! Soak in natural sulphur found in the water: an ingredient well-known for its therapeutic properties.
Credit: mermaidlisa on Instagram
Also, have yourself a taste of Malaysia’s finest milk sourced directly from its very own farm!
Credit: @noradadilla on Instagram
Another great option is to take a morning walk through Mesilau Park, accessible through Kundasang itself, the 40-minute guided tour is sure to inspire you with an experience like no other!
Credit: Pakej Percutian Murah & Bajet Sabah on Facebook
2. Genting Highlands, Malaysia
Slated to officially open in late 2017, 20th Century Fox World Malaysia seemingly appears to be a work in progress for the last 4 years. The excitement has been building as its nearly approaching completion😍 A theme park to rival the Greats in Disneyland and Universal Studios, the new attraction is expected to be a major player in boosting Malaysia’s tourism economy.
Credit:Disney and more on Facebook
Marketed as a family holiday destination, Genting has fun for the whole family ranging from spa packages for mum and a professional golf experience for dad 👪 Temperatures are at a constant 21 degrees, putting you in sweater-weather mode for the whole entirety: a hot cup of Milo, and you’re set!
Credit: Resorts World Genting on Facebook
Fun fact: The Guinness World Record for having the largest hotel in the world belongs to Genting’s very own First World Hotel!
Credit: Resorts World Genting on Facebook
3. Bukit Tinggi, Malaysia
Imagine a trip to France AND Japan, just 48 kilometers (40 mins drive) outside of Kuala Lumpur! Located within the Bentong district of the state of Pahang, the town of Bukit Tinggi boasts a resort remodelled after a real French Village that coincidentally, is also its namesake: The Colmar. The Colmar Tropicale is a classic architectural beauty, paying homage to the style of buildings in France, built in the earlier eras.
Credit: @sashsinaga on Instagram
Located some 2,600 feet above sea level, the aptly named Bukit Tinggi (which directly translates into “High Hill” in English) truly has come to define its name. As such, temperatures here can drop to be as low as 22 degrees!
The town of Bukit Tinggi also offers an authentic experience at a Japanese Tea House! The zen Japanese Village is a must for holiday goers staying in or near the resort. Facing a dilemma deciding between Paris and Kyoto? Bukit Tinggi can be both 😊
Credit: @jeenes on Instagram
[P.S Find other chilly places in Malaysia that allows you to get away from the heat here!]
4. Sapa, Vietnam
Sapa is in the North-Western part of Vietnam, along the border of China. Picturesque views of the mountains against the backdrop of perfectly cut padi fields will greet you. A major draw to the town is in the diversity of its population! Home to 8 different minority ethnic groups, the inclusive society has a separate identity from the rest of Vietnam, unique to its very core.
Credit: Anocha Klamcharoen on Facebook
The cool can quickly turn into cold, as Sapa’s tourism billboard proudly proclaims “four seasons in one day” as the tail end of autumn experienced in mornings, spring just after sunrise, summer in afternoons and winter at night. Sapa has even experienced actual snowfall in the past, so layered clothing and other means of keeping warm must not be neglected!
Credit: Nathan O’Nions on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: Trekking is the thing to do in Sapa for an all-immersive authentic experience. But take note, it may not include home stays!
5. Da Lat, Vietnam
Once a retreat for French officers during the French-Colonial period, it has since then been touted as one of the most beautiful places in South-East Asia 😍 Buildings in the French architectural style are still standing today, invoking a homely vibe to the whole town over the years.
Credit: Tiendq on Flickr
The weather in Da Lat is described as “eternal Spring,” staying cool all year round. Mimicking the temperatures often felt in Europe, its no wonder that the French chose to spend their time there whenever they can! The ideal temperatures have also welcomed high yields from exotic vegetables with avocados, strawberries and even artichokes as local produce. You can purchase these in local markets throughout Da Lat 😋
Not only famed for its crops, but the city has also been nicknamed “The City Of Flowers” and with good reason too!
Credit: Anh Dũng Nguyễn on Flickr
6. Chiang Rai, Thailand
Chiang Rai remains a characteristically sleepy town in the North of Thailand. The tourism sector has been growing slowly but has seen a quicker, steadier rise in recent years with night bazaars popping up and even Jazz festivals too!
Credit: Jeff Faes on Facebook
Popular with Thai City folks that want to get away from it all, Chiang Rai provides solace and respite from a fast-paced way of living. Temperatures can drop to as low as 20 degrees in the coldest months of November and December, a perfect time to have a dip in one of the many hot springs! You know you deserve this 😉
Credit: Alessandro Caproni on Flickr
7. Lorentz National Park, Indonesia
The single largest protected area in South-East Asia and the subject of a World Heritage Site conservation effort by UNESCO, Lorentz National Park is definitely held in high regard by some of the most powerful organisations. A truly undeveloped part of the world, it is the only one of its kind in the Asia-Pacific with an ecosystem to consist of marine areas, mangroves, rain forests, alpine tundras and equatorial glaciers. Hence, its no wonder the biodiversity is recognised as one of the largest in the world.
Credit: ihsanworld on Instagram
Only skilled climbers should be allowed to climb to the peak of Puncak Jaya, where you will indeed find snow ❄️ Other holiday goers are permitted to enter with specific documentations granted by the Indonesian Government, so a guided tour secured through an agency is in order.
Credit: indonesiatextbook on Instagram
What you will find in the park is nature in its purest form, untouched by mankind. The tour will also extend an opportunity to meet with indigenous people of tribes that have existed for centuries in the National Park!
Credit: @gratiano_widi on Instagram
[P.S Check out other cool escapades in Indonesia you have to visit here!]
8. Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar
A colourful city marked in history by the British Colonial period, Pyin Oo Lwin belongs to the division of Mandalay, Central Myanmar. Seemingly one of the only places to be described as uncharacteristically Myanmar, its clear to see that the layout draws a lot of influence from British architecture set in the mid 1900s. Described as one of the only places in Myanmar to have seen the least amount of pagodas, it has since acted on the deviating infrastructure that had been left behind and developed into a place for tourism!
Credit: Paul Arps on Flickr
The climate is a pleasant change from the usual tropical, warm Myanmar! Located some 1070 metres above sea level, it could reach points as low as 10 degrees during the seasonal period of December but is characteristically cool all throughout the year. A top contender for harsh summer escapes in S.E.A 😎
Credit: SahngOh Jung on Flickr
A signature of the town is to provide transportation services on a real-life Victorian style carriage 🐴 Just to witness it in the flesh, the way the horses and its master synchronise every movement is the most natural thing!
Credit: Paul Arps on Flickr
[P.S Searching for the most magical winter wonderland holiday? Check out other places in the world to visit this season!]
These cooler parts of S.E.A brings with it not only the comfort of a colder climate, but also an almost out of region experience! Belonging to an exclusive minority of a specific country and a unique cultural lifestyle, certain things are truly a marvel to the rest of the world: one of a kind seasonal festivals, harvest, architecture and its population.