When is the cheapest time of year to travel to Asia?
We like to think we know a thing or two about Asia, but there are two questions we get asked a lot which are always a challenge to answer well: When is the best time to travel to Asia? And when is the cheapest time to travel to Asia? In this blog I will try to tackle the difficult question of when the cheapest (or best-value) time to visit Asia is. To do this, we need to look closely at airfares and hotel rates.
The continent of Asia covers an area of nearly 50 million km², has sweltering deserts, thick rainforest, low-lying tropical islands, the highest mountain range on earth and it includes some of the poorest as well as some of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries in the world. This all means that making generalisations about anything to do with Asia is fraught with difficulty. Therefore, to answer when the cheapest time of year to visit Asia is, we must, to a certain extent, differentiate between countries and regions within this vast and diverse continent. It goes without saying that the cheapest time of year to travel to Taiwan might not be the cheapest time of year to travel to Sri Lanka.
The most important thing to say is that the cheapest time to visit Asia is not necessarily the worst time to visit. For example, if we look at the southern part of South East Asia and the South Pacific, places like Indonesia, Borneo and Papua New Guinea experience their best for travelling during our summer months (April to October). But whilst prices for flights and hotels are at their highest during the holiday months of July and August, if you can travel in May, June or September, you’ll generally be able to take advantage of very competitive hotel rates and the lowest airfares of the year, meaning these months can be both the cheapest to travel and offer visitors some of the the best weather conditions of the year.
But it is also true the cheapest times to visit some places in Asia are sometimes not at all good times to travel because they clash with bad or extreme weather. Flights and hotels might be cheap, but you won’t want to be travelling in southern or central India when the monsoon kicks off in June. Similarly, you’ll find that Tibet and the Himalayan Kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan are best avoided from June to August, when heavy rain brings widespread landslides which block many roads. Oh, and, by the way, Mongolia is very cheap to visit in January…but it is also -20°C!
There are three times of year that we can certainly write-off in our search for the cheapest time to travel to Asia: the few weeks around Christmas and New Year, the few weeks around Easter and the summer holiday months of July and August. These are all hugely popular times to travel and generally the most expensive times to travel anywhere in Asia as airlines hike their prices up to take advantage of the holiday season and most hotels also charge inflated ‘peak season’ rates. I hear a sigh from our family travellers and teachers but do not despair. Why not consider October half term for your best value family holiday to Asia? UK schools are often given a two-week holiday in October, but long-haul airfares remain very reasonable at that time and great family destinations such as Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are just coming into season. Japan is at its prettiest in October with Autumn leaves and mostly fine and sunny conditions. Temperatures in China too are perfect for travelling in October.
If you’ve read this far, you might have guessed that we are building up to some sort of a list to try and decide when really is the cheapest time of year to visit Asia. I have tried to apply a sort of scientific approach with this list, splitting Asia into five regions and listing the countries under each region.
In each country I have suggested the cheapest month to visit where the weather will allow you to travel and have a successful trip but disregarding months that are highly likely to be totally washed out by a monsoon, unbearably hot or painfully cold. Of course, some countries are huge and have very varied climates – for example, I’ve listed May for India but we’d advise against travelling to Rajasthan at this time because of the sweltering heat, but if you focus your itinerary on Kerala and the south or the Himalayan regions in the far north, you can have a fantastic and very good value holiday in India.
Below, I have listed the cheapest months to visit each of the 20 destinations that we operate in, then we counted which months are the most popular and come up with an answer to the question, which I think is fair…
And the winner is:
So, it’s now official, May is the cheapest month to travel to Asia! And it is true to say that it is usually a pretty good month of weather to travel in a lot of our destinations. However, for more specific information on the best time to visit, you should refer to the relevant section on each of our country pages (e.g. when to visit Myanmar). Or better still get in touch and discuss when is the best time of year for your trip with one of our Asia experts, who will also be able to advise you on any specific hotel and flight deals that you can take advantage of.