Looking to escape the constant drizzle and downpour that the monsoon months bring? Here are 10 destinations around Asia that are sunny and dry at this time of the year.
1. Jakarta, Indonesia
With its bustling streets, Jakarta is a city which is truly diverse – thanks to its wonderful mix of Asian, Arabic, and European cultures. Best known for its nightlife, the city has a host of other things to do as well. Visits to the National Monument, the National Museum, and the Wayang Museum should be on the top of your bucket list. Koa Tua, the Old Town, is close to the Monument and has a lot of colonial architecture left over by the Dutch. It is a great place to enjoy an old fashioned walk and grab a plateful of street food.
Visit the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, and the Jakarta Cathedral. For shopping, Pasar Baru, the oldest street market in Jakarta is the place to go to for local handicrafts and street food. If high end brands are on your shopping list, stop by at the city’s countless shopping malls. Amusement parks Dufan and Dunia Fantasi keep the brat pack occupied constructively.
2. Sumatra, Indonesia
This archipelago in Indonesia is the best holiday destination for those willing to explore the wonders of nature. Known for its natural beauty, Sumatra is a wild place, literally! For wildlife lovers, playing with and bathing elephants in Tangkahan and the Bohorok Orangutan Centre at Bukit Lawang are essentials. One can watch and learn about sea turtles at the Tukik Babel Sea Turtle Conservation Centre and spot the world’s largest flower at the Rafflesia Park.
Make sure you take a tour of the island’s rainforests, where you can see rare bird and wildlife species native to the island. Muara Jambi is another great site where you can explore the ruins of ancient Hindu and Buddhist sites. Relax at the Tanjung Tinggi beach and learn about the island at the North Sumatra Museum and the Tsunami Museum. The Kerinci Seblat National Park is a must if you visit Sumatra. On the northern end of the park stands the 3,805 metre tall Gunung Kerinci, Southeast Asia’s tallest and most active volcano. If you’re lucky, you can also spot Sumatran tigers and the one-horned rhinoceros.
3. Sulawesi, Indonesia
Indonesia again, but we can’t help it. The place simply has so much to offer! A rugged coastline dotted with coral reefs, Sulawesi is best described as fascinating. Makassar is a relaxed port city on the island, where one can shop at malls, relax on the sandy beaches or visit museums, all at the same time. Unique to the city is the Pantai Losari, a kilometre-long promenade that stretches south to Masjid Amirul Mukminin, the ‘floating mosque’.
You can stop by Fort Rotterdam, a well preserved example of Dutch architecture to learn about Indonesia’s colonial history. Takabone National Park, the third largest atoll in the world, is a great place to discover marine life. The Togean Islands are known for their white sandy beaches and are a great spot to unwind and enjoy a romantic sunset. If you love shopping malls, then head to Manado.
Synonymous with cosmopolitan and fun filled, a vacation in Singapore is a delight for visitors of all ages. The Singapore Zoo, Sentosa Island, Universal Studios, the Night Safari, and the River Safari – its clichéd hotspots always have something new to surprise you. Relax at beaches and take a stroll through the Esplanade Park or watch a play, opera, or a concert at the Esplanade Theatre. The ArtScience Museum, National Museum, Fort Siloso, Fort Canning, and the Science Centre are havens for the museum brigade.
Singapore also offers foodies some of the world’s best recipes, right from street stalls to Michelin starred restaurants. For a taste of Vegas, stop by at the Marina Bay Casino in the evening. Suntec City, Clarke Quay, and VivoCity are few of Singapore’s many shopping hubs. Finally, you have the Merlion, the city’s iconic site. Remember to attend the sound and lights show held here every evening.
5. Tokyo, Japan
The capital city of the Land of the Rising Sun, Tokyo is a city where tradition and modernisation coexist and complement one another. Start your exploration of Tokyo with Shibuya, one of the busiest places on the planet. An ideal time to visit will be in the evening when the neon signs light up the square. Shop, eat, and be amazed at the wonder that is Tokyo. Make sure you stop by for some sushi.
The Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden has English, French, and Japanese themed gardens and is an ideal place for a stroll. Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s famous Sumo Wrestling hall, is also a must visit. Cat lovers must check out the Cat Café, where you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee and make some adorable feline friends. For a taste of tradition, do check out the Meiji Shrine, Shibuya, and the Yoyogi park. Get on top of the Tokyo Tower from where you can get a panoramic 360° view of this spectacular city.
6. Bandung, Indonesia
Bandung is unique; after all, there aren’t many places where you can stroll around tea plantations, walk into live craters, and then go right ahead and shop fashion. With so much nature to explore and admire, start with a visit to Tangkuban Perahu and walk into its live crater for a once in a lifetime experience. Take a small excursion out of town to Kawah Putih, the sulphur crater lake with dramatic surroundings.
Soak in local culture with a performance at Saung Angklung Udjo or dig into cheap and delicious local fare. Get a glimpse into the history of the city as you walk around streets dotted with colonial architechture, or get a bird’s eye view of the city from Villa Ilosa perched strategically on a mountain top. Spend some time at the Geology Museum, St Peter’s Cathedral, and Patengan Lake. Head to the centre of town to Braga Street for some chic shopping and fancy bites.
7. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
This pretty hill station is right out of a brochure – dotted with waterfalls, gardens, farms and plantations, Cameron Highlands turns the charm on with hikes, trails, temples and quaint markets. Start with its tea gardens and plantations, go on to unwinding in the middle of a sea of lavender blooms at the Lavender Gardens, or spend a day close to nature hiking up the pretty hills and jungle trails.
You could visit the Butterfly Farms, the Big Red Strawberry Farm, the bee farms or picnic at Thompson Falls. For the sake of variety, there is a Cactus Garden that you can visit as well. Get some local flavour at the morning or the night markets that stock everything from souvenirs to spices. Other sightseeing spots include temples, galleries, and museums.
8. Nha Trang, Vietnam
Nha Trang, quintessential city on the coast, is all pretty beaches, seafood and water activities. The main beach at Nha Trang which is lined with seafood restaurants and hotels, has areas exclusive to swimming. After a day of diving, snorkelling, and exploring the abundant coral reef, relax into a hot thermal mud bath at the Thap Ba Hot Springs.
Step out of the swanky restaurants and dig into local hawker style barbeque on the beach for a real feel of Vietnam. Lounge with Nha Trang’s beautiful people and get lovely views at the Sailing Club and the Louisiane Brewhouse. Sightseeing includes a visit to Ponagar Temple and the Stone Church. For some theme park styled entertainment, head to Vinpearl Land and its rides!
9. Da Nang, Vietnam
Da Nang has been described as coastal city, transit stop, French colonial port, and plays each of these parts perfectly. It has the sandy beaches and surfing spots that a coastal city needs – sprawl at the favourite My Khe beach, the popular Pham Van Dong beach, Bac My An beach, or the pretty pink Nuoc Nuoc beach.
Da Nang‘s proximity to sights like the Ba Na Hills, Hai Van Pass and the Marble Mountains make it the perfect taking off point for excursions – grab a bike and head out to explore. Enjoy the views and nature reserve at Son Tra Peninsula and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site at My Son. Da Nang is also a destination for foodies with its booming restaurant and street food scene.
10. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Looking for a city break, head to Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia’s capital city – growing vertically but staying in touch with its roots, offers you everything. Get a feel of the real Kuala Lumpur at Bukit Bintang, strain your eyes to see the top of its cloud piercing Petronas Towers, and hit the street food scene.
There is Central Market with Chinatown and Petaling Street to explore nearby; Little India with its colours and flavours; the Batu Caves and the KL Bird Park to visit. For a break from your city break, head to Fraser’s Hill, a pretty colonial hill station about two hours away. And when you are done sightseeing, hit the malls – the Kuala Lumpur shopping scene redefines consumerism!
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