Whether you’re looking for snowy mountains or warm beaches, Asia is filled with winter destinations for all travel moods.
Winter Ice Lights Festival In Harbin, China.
While most of the world dips into negative temperatures and thick powders of snow, Asia is a wonderful place to consider planning a winter holiday at because there’s a destination on the continent for every mood. Want to hit the slopes or trek to mountain peaks? There’s always the Himalayan mountain range. Looking for a sunny escape in December? Surfing, diving, and treks through rainforests await. Perhaps it’s a slow few days in a picturesque snow-capped town sounds appealing? Believe it or not, it does snow in Asia too! Here are some of Asia’s most beautiful winter destinations that everyone should consider traveling to.
10/10 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
The Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar is cold no doubt, but it’s also incredibly worth braving the freezing temperatures for. While the frigid weather dips to -40 degrees Celsius and Ulaanbaatar is sparse on tourists, the frost-covered Siberian borderland has cheap accommodation and is just as easily accessible. Winter is also the season of dog sledding as well as snow leopard spotting in Mongolia where one of only 6500 snow leopards left in the wild come down from the mountains in search of prey.
9/10 Weligama, Sri Lanka
Located on the south coast of the island country of Sri Lanka is the small town and surf hub of Weligama. Winter marks a sweet spot in the weather cycle of Weligama when humid monsoons are just over and the dry months of scorching summer are still to come. Neither too hot nor too cold, the weather of Weligama in the winter is pleasant for jungle safaris, diving and surfing in the ocean, relaxing on the golden beaches, and catching breathtaking sunsets from rooftop bars and cafes.
8/10 Harbin, China
Harbin is often dubbed the Ice City of China perhaps because, at the end of November, the city turns into an icy wonderland that hosts the annual Harbin International Ice & Snow Festival. At its peak, visitors may find entire city-sized buildings carved entirely out of ice! Besides the ice and snow festival, Harbin is also host to plenty of winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, dog-sledding, ice sailing, and snow biking as well as natural hot springs to bathe in.
7/10 Phu Quoc, Vietnam
Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island has previously been placed on National’s Geographic top three winter destinations in the world for several reasons. The dry and cool weather after November is ideal for lazing on sunny white beaches surrounded by turquoise waters, even at the height of “winter” in the country. In the unlikely case that the beaches of Phu Quoc get boring, the heart-shaped island is also home to Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve which happens to be a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
6/10 Lhasa, Tibet
The capital of Tibet, Lhasa, quite literally means the place of the gods in the Tibetan language. Home to the Potala Palace, which has also served as the winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the seventh century, Lhasa is the center of Buddhism in Tibet. During the months of winter, tourists are replaced by Buddhist pilgrims traveling to the many temples and monasteries of Lhasa, and those traveling to the city might consider staying for the Losar Festival — the most important event in the Tibetan calendar.
5/10 Ladakh, India
Thanks to temperatures that go well into the negatives, Ladakh sees little to no tourism in the winter. But those who can brave the freezing cold of the northernmost part of India will experience Ladakh unlike anyone else. Because very few tourists travel to Ladakh in the winter, it’s the ideal time to find cheap homestays and locals free and willing to introduce travelers to the many winter celebrations that take place in the region. When not hiking across the mountains and frozen lakes of Ladakh, visits can take part in new year celebrations and the many annual festivals that take place inside monasteries.
4/10 Jeju Island, South Korea
Even though Jeju Island is beautiful at any time of the year but those hoping to climb Hallasan Mountain might want to consider visiting the island in winter. With knee-deep snow and snow flowers in full bloom, Hallasan Mountain is arguably at its best in the winter. Jeju’s famous Camellia Hill, too though pretty in spring, looks breathtaking as the camellia flowers bloom in winter. There’s also the Ecoland Theme Park, which turns into a snow-covered winter wonderland, and Jeju’s Hahyo Village which opens up for mandarin picking in the winter.
3/10 Siargao Island, Philippines
Voted as the best island in the world by Condé Nast readers in 2019, Siargao Island is also known as the surf capital of the Philippines. While winter marks the rainy season in Siargao, it’s one of the best times to visit the island for two reasons: it’s the off-peak season for tourists, and the blue waves of the Pacific Ocean are perfect for surfing. With plenty of national parks, protected dive spots, hidden surf locations, and not a whole lot of fellow tourists to share them with, the white beaches and clear waters of the teardrop-shaped Siargao Island are stunning places to spend winter at.
2/10 Bali, Indonesia
For those who don’t care much for building snowmen and layering up in winter coats, Bali offers a warm and tropical escape from cold temperatures. While winter does mark the onset of the rainy season in Bali, water showers don’t last longer than a couple of hours. Water sports still go on in full swing, lush forests are open for hiking, and February marks the beginning of spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations. The best part? With the lack of tourists over winter, the prices of luxury wellness resorts that Bali is famous for tend to drop significantly.
1/10 Hokkaido, Japan
The region of Hokkaido is as cold in the winter as Japan gets, but it’s also the best time to visit the stunning destination. The cities of Sapporo and Otaru host spectacular light and snow festivals, the villages of Rusutsu and Niseko are home to the best ski spots in the entire country, and there are plenty of onsens to soak away in. More importantly, Hokkaido experiences certain natural changes in winter that are extraordinary sights to see: ice crystals falling from the sky look like diamond dust, trees are covered in thick white frost, steam rises from the sea and covers the water in a misty sea fog known as Kearashi, and winters paint the clouds of Hokkaido in colors of the rainbow.