Incense in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Best Places to Travel in Asia in December

It’s easy to see why December is such a popular month for travel – no matter where you call home, there’s a destination perfect for what you’re craving in December! Whether you’re looking for an escape from the long nights and cold weather in the northern hemisphere, or you’re craving a wintery escape to the ski slopes from the southern hemisphere’s summer, there’s always a place in the world in December perfect for your next adventure. 

But what if we told you there was a part of the world that could offer you both of those experiences when you travel in December? From winter sports to sandy beaches, a visit to Asia is always unique, exhilarating, and perfectly matched to what you love most about travel, and visiting this continent in December means that, depending on where you decide to travel to, you’ll find something amazing and memorable. 

From what you can expect from the weather to a few of our favourite destinations, we have your complete guide to travelling in Asia in December here!

Travel to: Asia

Weather in Asia in December

In terms of weather, Asia delivers the best of both worlds in December! For some winter sun and your new favourite beaches, head to Southeast Asia – places like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam will enjoy perfect weather, with an average temperature of 85ºF and those perfect beaches everyone raves about!

A tip for visiting Southeast Asia in December is to go early in the month – temperatures will be great, rainfall and humidity will be minimal, and you’ll avoid the Christmas crowds. However, if spending a Christmas on a gorgeous sunny beach is at the top of your bucket list, fear not! Make sure to book well ahead of time to avoid disappointment, and consider travelling on a group tour, where accommodation and excursions will be booked ahead of time.

A snow day by a river in Japan
Some parts of Asia, such as Japan, see a very snowy winter! | © Shitota Yuri/Unsplash

If thrills and chills are what you’re after, though, you’d be better suited to East Asia, where you’ll find snow-covered temples, cozy cafes, and that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with December! 

The best places to travel in Asia in December

Kyoto, Japan

One of the chillier destinations on this list, Kyoto, Japan in December is its own kind of magical. There are so many festivals and events in December that you’ll hardly care about the freezing temperatures – or maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll dive into the cold weather headfirst!

One of Kyoto’s most popular attractions, Kiyomizu-dera, is a temple where people go to worship the goddess Kannon. In December, make sure to visit at night – the temple puts on an event called Kiyomizu-dera Temple Night Illumination, which lights up the temple beautifully!

If you’re looking for snowy skies, look no further than Kinkakuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was established in 1397. This wooden building is a fascinating visit, where travellers can learn about three distinct architectural styles (a Heian palace, a samurai house, and a Buddhist temple), but Kinkakuji shines most in the winter, where the gorgeous evergreen trees that surround it become covered in soft white snow. 

The view from a mountain on a winter day in Kyoto
Snow as seen from Mount Hiei, Kyoto | © Takahiro Taguchi/Unsplash

Goa, India

Now you’ve had snow, how about some sunshine? 

Goa, a state on India’s southwest coast, enjoys gorgeous temperatures in December – but travellers should note that December does fall within Goa’s high season, so those sunny skies and relaxing beaches can come at a higher price, or with a larger crowd. Despite this, however, Goa remains a fantastic destination for the month of December – the average temperature will be 32ºC, and there should be very little rain.

A beach in Goa, India
Goa, on the other hand, is all sand and sun in December! | © Mitul Grover/Unsplash

If you’re looking to avoid tourists, the south of Goa should be slightly less crowded, as the beaches in north Goa are the best-known and most popular. Looking to dance the night away? Goa lights up with parties on December evenings, from silent discos to all-night beach raves. 

Hanoi, Vietnam

Bad news: December in Hanoi is one of the coldest months of the year.

Good news: that still means the city enjoys balmy temperatures of 18-20ºC!

While travellers should keep in mind that Vietnam’s humid climate can mean that the warm-sounding temperatures can often feel chillier than they appear, it’s nothing a warm sweater and a waterproof jacket can’t fix! The streets of Hanoi are transformed into a glittering wonderland for the holiday season, so visiting in December means travellers will get a glimpse of Christmastime in Vietnam. During the day, enjoy Christmas markets, and at night, music festivals and parties take to the streets to keep the festive atmosphere going after hours. 

A railway track in Hanoi, Vietnam
Explore Hanoi without the blistering heat | © Mehdi Genest/Unsplash

Siem Reap, Cambodia

December is a popular month for travellers to visit Siem Reap, so, as with Goa, prepare in some cases to pay peak-season prices. However, the break from Cambodia’s stifling heat and humidity may be well worth visiting during peak season! There should be little to no rainfall in December, and temperatures should hover at around 25ºC. 

Are you one of those people who can’t stand it when the daylight gets shorter and shorter in the lead-up to the holidays? Siem Reap is a popular Christmastime destination for the very opposite reason – travellers will enjoy long hours of sunshine, making it the perfect getaway from some winter sun. 

A tree growing into a building in Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Angkor Wat is an ultimate bucket-list attraction | © Taylor Simpson/Unsplash

December is also a great time to visit Angkor Wat, the iconic temple that put Siem Reap on the travellers’ map. Not only will you be able to fully enjoy exploring the temple without oppressive heat, there are sometimes fun events planned around the temple, such as the Angkor Wat marathon. 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Party paradise, natural retreat, history buff heaven – Chiang Mai is known for so many different things to so many different people, it’s only natural that it’s become one of Thailand’s most popular destinations! December is a great time to visit – once again, it falls within the dry season, so travellers won’t have to worry about getting caught in a sudden downpour or struggling under extreme humidity. While travellers should bring an extra layer or two in case temperatures dip, in general Chiang Mai doesn’t get too cold, so if you’re looking for that perfect Christmas Day on the beach Instagram post, look no further! 

Two people standing on a balcony overlooking a valley in Chiang Mai, Thailand
A peaceful moment in Chiang Mai | © Alex Ware/Unsplash

From holiday getaways to get-me-out-of-the-holiday-season escapes, visiting Asia in December offers something for everyone. Before you head out, consider travelling on a tour – while visiting Asia in December is beautiful and memorable, you may also be dealing with crowds, and a group tour’s VIP access style is a great way to bypass the busyness so that you can focus solely on having a great time. 

Where would you most like to visit in Asia in December?

Maggie is a life-long traveller with a special affinity for the United Kingdom. When she's not reading, writing, or dreaming about her next trip, you can find her talking at length about her dog to anyone who'll listen.

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