If you live anywhere in Southeast Asia, most months are just another month in the year of a never-ending summer. Since it’s almost always hot and humid around here, escaping to cold and faraway places is such a novel experience. Usually, this means travelling to countries that have four seasons, be it in Europe or East Asia. But did you know that there are cold places in Southeast Asia itself where you can travel to escape the sweltering heat?
Here’s a list of Southeast Asia cold destinations to add to your holiday bucket list!
1. Kundasang, Sabah
First up on this list of Southeast Asia cold destinations is the humble town of Kundasang. It is nestled in the luscious green hills of Sabah and lies six kilometres away from Mount Kinabalu Park. Situated almost 2,000 metres above sea level, Kundasang is known to have nightly temperatures as low as 13°C, especially in the months of July and August! With such stunning natural scenery and a lovely climate to relax and unwind, it’s no wonder the town is known as the “New Zealand of Malaysia!”
Also read: 10 Best Things to Do in Sabah for Your 2022 Bucket List
2. Cameron Highlands, Pahang
Cameron Highlands is one of the all-time favourite getaway destinations among locals in Malaysia. With spring-like weather all year round, it is home to numerous beautiful organic farms and tea plantations. Surrounded by natural scenery, Cameron Highlands is a great place to have a leisurely stroll amongst nature, pick strawberries, and even enjoy some freshly brewed tea while overlooking breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.
3. Bukit Tinggi, Pahang
Situated in Bentong, Pahang, Bukit Tinggi is often overlooked by travellers due to it being close to more popular destinations like the aforementioned Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands. Featuring a French-themed village resort (Colmar Tropicale) and a Japanese-inspired Zen village, Bukit Tinggi is a picturesque destination meant for relaxation and romantic evening strolls. While not as cool as the other places on this lineup of Southeast Asia cold destinations, its average temperature of 25°C is still a lot cooler than the sweltering heat in metropolitan cities!
4. Chiang Rai
I know, I know, Thailand isn’t exactly a country that’s often associated with cool weather. But I reckon that’s because most of us only ever experience Thai destinations like Bangkok or Phuket. Chiang Rai is a little more off-the-beaten-track and, between the months of December and February, boasts a climate of about 24°C.
The peaceful town is home to Phu Chi Fah cliff, from which you can see the most amazing sunrise and ever peer out into Northern Laos and the Mekong River when the skies are clear! Singha Park is another picturesque location in Chiang Rai with beautiful scenery and fun activities all around. Sometimes, it’s definitely worth going off the beaten track when it comes to Southeast Asia cold destinations!
5. Chiang Mai
Much like Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai (don’t get confused about the names now) boasts a winter-like season between November and February. While the city is famous for its numerous cultural monuments, it is during the winter months when the city’s natural landscape is in full show.
The Doi Inthanon National Park is home to scores of cherry blossom trees that bloom in early January. Who says we have to head to Japan for beautiful sakura? But if you’re in for a truly chilly experience, hike to the peak of Doi Inthanon Mountain, where the temperature occasionally dips to below 0°C! So make sure you go prepared!
Also read: 3 Skills Filipinos Can Learn in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Are you on the search for cold places in Southeast Asia where you can still enjoy the great outdoors? Tucked away in north-central Thailand is the idyllic and tranquil province of Phetchabun. This region boasts unspoiled natural wonders: from lushly forested peaks like the Phu Thap Boek Mountain, to ancient ruins and unique temples such as the Wat Pha Sorn Kaew. Because of its cooler climate and majestic alpine vistas, Phetchabun has earned the nicknames Little Switzerland and Thai Alps.
Phetchabun’s average low temperature can drop to 16°C from November to January. Naturally, this provides the perfect weather for visitors and local folks who wish to go on a nature-filled holiday. Here, some must-do outdoor activities include camping, hiking and, of course, sightseeing.
7. Tagaytay, Cavite
Over in the Philippines, Tagaytay is a city a couple of hours away from Manila, the nation’s capital. With temperatures recording a yearly average of between 22°C and 25°C, it’s among the popular Southeast Asia cold destinations for locals and tourists alike. From mesmerising natural scenery like the Taal Lake and Taal Volcano to its host of exciting leisure activities like forest zip-lining, Tagaytay is a destination not to be missed when looking for a (literally) cool place to travel to!
Also read: Winter in the Philippines? 8 Places to Experience a Cold White Christmas
8. Sagada, Mountain Province
The mountain province of Sagada is situated high up in the Cordillera Mountains, with temperatures averaging about 20°C year-round. Here, you can witness a blend of true indigenous culture, majestic nature, and age-long tradition. Some local-recommended attractions include its vast rice terraces, the limestone formations of Sumaguing Cave, and the iconic Hanging Coffins found on the cliffs outside town.
While travelling to Sagada might prove quite a challenging journey, it is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and peaceful mountain towns in the country.
Also read: 14 Sagada Tourist Spots Every Traveller Must Visit for Retreat or Adventure
9. Baguio, Benguet
Most people know that Manila is the capital city of the Philippines. But did you know that Baguio is known as the summer capital? That’s because the city’s daily temperature averages between 18–20°C!
Its top tourist attractions include the Mines View Observation Deck, Burnham Park, and Baguio Botanical Garden. February is the best time to visit as it is also during this time when the city holds its Panagbenga Festival: an annual flower fiesta. Certainly, it’s one of the most charming mountain towns in the country for those who want a chilly and breezy holiday!
Also read: Baguio Travel Guide 2023: Best Things to See, Eat, and Do
10. Batanes Province
Another chilly destination in the Philippines would be the archipelagic province of Batanes. Situated in the northmost part of Luzon, it is considered to have a semi-temperate climate. This means it has moderate rainfall spread across the year, mild to warm summers, and cool to cold temperatures from December to February.
While Batanes may be the smallest province in the Philippines, it boasts breathtaking attractions that look straight out of a postcard! Some of its best-loved wonders include the vast Vayang Rolling Hills, captivating lighthouses, scenic waters, and views of the Pacific Ocean.
One of the top destinations in Southeast Asia, Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and one of the most atmospheric cities in the region. Known as the “Paris of Asia” for its charming yet quaint ambience, delicious baguettes, and aromatic coffee, the city’s temperature plunges to the low 20s between December and February.
That said, it boasts ideal weather to visit the many cultural locations and scour the streets for delicious street food. And needless to say, a trip to Ha Long Bay in this weather is an experience not to be missed!
Also read: Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi: 34 Hours Aboard a Vietnamese Train
12. Sa Pa
We move from the popular city of Hanoi to the more rustic rural charms of lesser-known Sa Pa. While tourism has enabled the town to develop quickly in recent years, the true charm of Sapa lies in its outskirts. It is Northern Vietnam’s premier trekking hotspot, offering lush greenery, and the chance to live amongst the hill tribe minorities as they go about their daily lives.
The average temperature here reaches extremely low levels during the winter months, which means locals and visitors get to enjoy the snow. So, if you’re looking for cold but not freezing-my-eyebrows-off cold, plan your visit between March and May.
Don’t let the name fool you, Cipanas‘ maximum average temperature year-round is only 25°C. (Definitely not as… panas (hot)… as the weather in most parts of the region). Given the nickname Kota Bunga or Flower Town, Cipanas is home to lovely sights of blooming flowers and is famous for its sulphuric hot springs!
Due to its connection to Indonesia‘s colonial past, you’ll notice that Cipanas gives off the vibe of a quaint European town. Home to gushing streams and bubbling lakes, it gives you the illusion of being in Europe in the middle of spring when you visit.
14. Mount Rinjani, Lombok
Much like Bali, Lombok Island is generally known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. However, located on Lombok is Mount Rinjani, the second-highest volcano in Indonesia. This is not for the faint of heart as the hike to the peak takes an average of at least two days and the temperature drops below 10°C at night! Sure, the hike sounds like a harrowing task but the view from the top will be well worth the climb.
Apart from hiking, you could also take a stroll and visit the numerous waterfalls and local villages around the area for a less tiring yet equally fulfilling getaway.
15. Carstensz Pyramid, Papua
Carstensz Pyramid or Puncak Jaya situated in Central Papua, Indonesia is the highest peak in the Sudirman Range. It is also part of the famous Seven Summits which consists of the highest mountains across all seven continents. This jagged snow-capped limestone escarpment is said to have a staggering elevation of 16,023 feet!
For well-experienced mountain climbers, Carstensz Pyramid is arguably the ultimate peak quest waiting to be conquered. Perhaps this could be your next extreme holiday adventure?
16. Bukittinggi, West Sumatra
Witness a different side of sunny Indonesia when you step into the charming city of Bukittinggi. Nestled 3,000 feet above sea level, it has a comfortably cool climate with average low temperatures of 16°C to 24°C.
Here, visitors can experience breezy winds brought by the winter monsoon blows, which make it an ideal year-end holiday destination! Go see the iconic Jam Gadang clock tower situated right in the city centre, or explore popular nature spots on the outskirts of town like Sianok Canyon and Lake Maninjau.
17. Bukit Timah
Bukit Timah is the highest natural point on the sunny island of Singapore, which treats locals and visitors to cool weather. This pocket of nature situated right in the middle of the metropolis boasts lush green hills, nature reserves, and tons of hiking trails. It may not be one of the extremely cold places in Southeast Asia; however, it lets you enjoy chilly breezes and a treasure trove of nature spots for a unique Christmas getaway.
18. Fort Canning Hill
Another ideal place to head to for a cool Christmas in Singapore would be the sprawling grounds of Fort Canning Hill! During the month of December, this iconic hilltop landmark features nine gardens and typically experiences an average low temperature of 24°C which makes for a cool trip to the park.
Here, some of the most anticipated events in town take place: From theatrical plays like Shakespeare in the Park, to contemporary performances like Ballet Under the Stars. Expect to see twinkling lights and dazzling displays come the Christmas season!
Also read: How to Travel to Singapore From the Philippines on a Budget
And there you have it, everybody! Next time when you’re thinking about how to escape the infernal weather, you don’t have to think about expensive trips to places halfway across the world! This list of Southeast Asia cold destinations is a great place to start for your next holiday!
Facebook image credit (right): Joseph Christopher Oropel via Canva Pro. This article was first published on TripZilla.