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Asia in summer can get hot, and many places are consumed by the wettest months of the year. Instead of fighting the crowds in Bangkok or Beijing, experience some of Asia’s off-the-beaten-track destinations in order to soak up as many sunny days as possible. From Indonesia to Japan, here are the best summer destinations in Asia.
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One of the most popular vacation destinations in Asia, Bali evokes images of an exotic island paradise. Summer is a great time to visit, as you can enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Kuta and explore ancient monuments and immerse yourself in its rich cultural history. Relax on the shores of Balangan or watch the surfers at Canggu, then climb Mount Batur for a gorgeous sunrise. Get a dose of culture by visiting the famous Uluwatu temple and the famous kecak dance at sunset.
Summer is a great time to visit the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, where you can enjoy crystalline blue waters that are teeming with aquatic life. They are Malaysia’s crown jewel of islands and are beloved for its fantastic scuba diving, beautiful beaches and laid-back island vibes. Go island hopping, visit the designated marine park to see a display of underwater marine life, then go snorkeling to spot orange and black striped “Nemo” fish, sea turtles and harmless reef sharks.
You could travel to Okinawa in Japan for the food alone, but the city’s subtropical ambiance is what will lure you in during summer. You’ll find colorful flowers and lush landscaping that bloom throughout the year, while its white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters are hard to resist. Spend your time island hopping around the more than 160 islands, go hiking and birdwatching in the Ufugi Nature Museum or go on a scuba diving adventure at Miyako Island. If you like history, visit the Shuri Castle that dates back to the 14th century.
You’ll find plenty of sunny days on Koh Samui, as this Thai island is a relaxing island retreat in summer compared to the more rainy parts of the country. Koh Samui is considered one of the best islands for families and first-timers in Thailand, where accommodation can range from small bungalows to exclusive villas. The island boasts pristine beaches alongside local seafood joints and Michelin-starred restaurants, while yoga enthusiasts flock to this area with its abundance of yoga retreats and luxury spas.
Hoi An is the most atmospheric city in Vietnam and is a great destination for summer travels. Between the 1400s and 1800s, the city served as Vietnam’s main port and now boasts a World Heritage Site status with hundreds of buildings designated historic landmarks. Explore the Ancient Town on foot to marvel at the centuries-old temples and beautiful architecture adorned with colorful lanterns, walk across the famous Japanese Bridge and get items made at the hundreds of tailor shops selling clothing, bags and custom-made services.
A beautiful hillside gem in Sri Lanka, Kandy will blow you away with its rugged landscapes with dramatic peaks, as its slopes are covered in manicured tea gardens and a blanket of clouds. Take a stroll around Kandy Lake, then visit the Temple of the Tooth, one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. Have a cup of tea at the Ceylon Tea Museum or admire over 300 varieties of orchids at the Royal Botanical Garden. If you’re up for an adventure, go trekking in the Hanthana Mountains.
Most visitors are lured in by the mesmerizing temple ruins at Angkor when visiting Siem Reap in Cambodia, but the area also offers you a chance to explore its hill tribe cultures, floating villages and bird sanctuaries. Start by visiting the UNESCO-listed Angkor Temple Complex to learn about the Khmer empire, then take a hike through the River of a Thousand Lingas. See the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve around Tonle Sap Lake, admire the natural beauty of Kulen Mountain National Park or watch a traditional Apsara dance.
Borneo is one of Asia’s best summer destinations, perfect for when you want to have a once-in-a-lifetime animal encounter. Summer is the best time to see the orangutans in the wild, while turtles can also be seen on Lankayan Island during this time. Sign up for an eco-tour at the Orang-utan Project, trek up to Mount Kinabalu to soak up the magnificent views or take a dip at one of the beaches that offer world-class snorkeling.
You’ll find some of Malaysia’s most picturesque beaches in Langkawi, as this area offers sunseekers a great place to enjoy a tropical vacation without all the crowds. A combination of luxury spas, scrumptious seafood and pristine beaches surrounded by lush jungle landscapes, Langkawi has it all. Admire the stunning landscapes from the famous Skybridge or hike to the top of Gunung Raya to capture views from the tallest mountain on the island. Cruise around Dayang Bunting and Beras Basah Island or go snorkeling at Pulau Payar Marine Park.
While the rest of Vietnam is scorching in summer, Nha Trang boasts pleasant weather along its six miles of pristine coastline. Beach lovers can enjoy its crescent shoreline on a day of lounging and scuba diving and go beach hopping at Doc Let Beach, Dai Lanh Beach and Bai Tru Beach. Visit the National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam to get up close to sharks, lionfish and turtles, then take a ride on the world’s longest overwater cable car to Vinpearland.
One of the most picturesque destinations in China, Guilin is famous for its beautiful karst topography. Spend your time soaking up the marvelous limestone scenery and the Li River views on a canoeing or cycling adventure, then visit the Longji Terraced Fields, the Reed Flute Cave and the city’s twin pagodas, the Sun and Moon, to see it lit up at night. Bring along at 20 Yuan note to compare its images alongside the picturesque countryside, rice paddies and karst mountain landscapes.