16 Best Asia destinations in December of 2017

After a quiet autumn for tourism, the planes headed to Asia are all full again starting in mid December. Most tourists want to go to the beaches and islands, and there are plenty of those on the list below, but many of Asia's best cultural destinations also have fantastic weather starting in December.

Below you'll find a mix of the destinations that have great weather in December and are also very worthwhile stops. If you are looking for a sandy beach to relax on you'll have many good choices, but first-time visitors to this area should really include at least one or two of the main cities as well.

16 Best destinations in Asia for December

Bangkok, Thailand

  • December avg high: 88°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.4″/1.0cm

Bangkok is literally the hottest capital city in the world, but December is its most pleasant month so it's the best time to come if you can make it. That is true of most of Southeast Asia as well, which is one reason why this marks the beginning of the busy season in this whole region.

Even though Bangkok is more crowded than usual in December, it's still a great travel bargain by international standards. You can get a quality 4-star hotel room in a nice area here for what you'd pay for a 2-star room in most of Europe. The food is also a great bargain, especially if you eat a meal or two from the famous street stalls that are literally in every neighborhood of the city.

>>>Bangkok prices and travel tips


Phuket, Thailand

  • December avg high: 88°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 75°F/24°C
  • December avg precip: 2.3″/5.8cm

Phuket is the largest and most famous of Thailand's many islands, but they all have similar weather in any given month so they all experience their peak tourist season in the last week of December. Phuket is still the best choice for many people because it has its own large airport so you can fly in from many places without having to change planes in Bangkok.

If you are looking for adult-oriented nightlife or a shopping overload you probably want to stay in or near Patong Beach, which is the largest of the beach towns on the island. If you aren't so interested in those things you should stay anywhere else. Karon and Kata are more family oriented beach areas that have a lot to offer.

>>>Phuket prices and travel tips


Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • December avg high: 83°F/28°C
  • December avg low: 59°F/15°C
  • December avg precip: 0.8″/2.0cm

As Thailand's second city, Chiang Mai is the most popular stop for those visiting the country aside from Bangkok and the islands. The weather in December is pretty much perfect because it's warm every day and cool enough every evening that you don't get sick of the warm days so fast.

Chiang Mai is also one of the world's great travel bargains with decent hotel rooms starting not much higher than US$10, and very nice hotels rooms starting around US$40 per night. The food is also cheaper than Bangkok, with many different dishes that you won't see much in the capital. Many people stay here for a month or more because it's so cheap and pleasant.

>>>Chiang Mai prices and travel tips


Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • December avg high: 88°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.3″/0.8cm

If you are coming to southeast Asia it would be wise to plan at least a short stop in Siem Reap to see the famous Angkor Wat temple complex nearby. It's easily the most impressive sight in the whole region, and also one of the top sights in the whole world.

Siem Reap itself is a charming little town built around the entrance to Angkor Wat, and it's very relaxed and cheap as well. Similar to Cusco in Peru or Pokhara in Nepal, Siem Reap is built as a staging area for famous nearby sights, but it's so enjoyable that many people end up staying much longer than they originally intended.

>>>Siem Reap prices and travel tips


Luang Prabang, Laos

  • December avg high: 80°F/27°C
  • December avg low: 58°F/14°C
  • December avg precip: 0.5″/1.3cm

Another tourist town that is far enough north to have chilly evenings in December, Luang Prabang is the top destination in Laos for good reason. It's a lovely and relaxed town along the Mekong, and a 2-day slowboat ride from the Thailand border is one of the most popular ways of coming and going.

You can also reach Luang Prabang by bus from Laos' mostly uninspiring capital of Vientiane. For those on visits to the region of two weeks or less it might not be worth the trouble of coming here, but for those on longer trips it's pretty much a must. Things here are also wonderfully cheap, especially considering how nice the town is compared to many other cities in the area.

>>>Luang Prabang prices and travel tips


Hanoi, Vietnam

  • December avg high: 71°F/22°C
  • December avg low: 60°F/16°C
  • December avg precip: 0.8″/2.0cm

Hanoi is far enough north that you'll actually need to pack a jacket with you if you include it on your itinerary. But it's definitely worth it as this is one of the most unique and interesting cities in southeast Asia. The cuisine of the whole country combines traditional Asian with French, and Hanoi is considered the culinary capital of Vietnam.

Another reason to visit is that Hanoi is one of the cheapest cities in the world for tourists. You can find surprisingly nice hotels with good locations starting at around US$20 per night, including a filling breakfast. Many people also include a short cruise on the nearby Halong Bay, which is another fantastic bargain, although booking a cruise can be confusing at first.

>>>Hanoi prices and travel tips


Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

  • December avg high: 87°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 71°F/22°C
  • December avg precip: 2.2″/5.5cm

Parts of Vietnam's central coast are still rainy in December, but still many people take the train between Hanoi and Saigon and make a few stops along the way. Ho Chi Minh City, as Saigon is officially known, is much larger and arguably less charming than Hanoi, but it's still worth a visit.

The December weather is very pleasant, especially when compared to the scorching conditions you'd get if you arrived in April. Hotels in the main tourist area are more expensive than in Hanoi, but still a very good bargain compared to almost any other city.

>>>Ho Chi Minh City prices and travel tips


Hong Kong

  • December avg high: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg low: 60°F/16°C
  • December avg precip: 1.4″/3.5cm

After its ridiculously wet rainy season, Hong Kong does start getting a bit chilly in December, but at least it's mostly dry. This is an excellent stop for those looking for food and culture rather than beaches and relaxing like most others on this list.

Hong Kong is also a good gateway city because of its huge and busy airport. If you are flying in from Europe or North America it might be worth first booking a flight into Hong Kong for a few days and then booking a cheap flight from here to any of the other places on this list.

>>>Hong Kong prices and travel tips


Boracay Island, Philippines

  • December average high: 82°F/28°C
  • December average low: 75°F/24°C
  • December avg precip: 7.1″/17.8cm

The rainy season in Boracay usually ends in early December so it might be best to book your stay in the middle or end of the month. This small island with one of Asia's best beaches is a real throwback to the way many of the most popular Asian cities were in the 1970s. Nearly everyone gets around on foot, mostly on the sandy trail along the beach that connects most of the hotels here.

Boracay is a bit out of the way so you won't wind up here by accident, and there aren't many hostels or very cheap hotels so it's not the best place for backpackers in Asia. For those same reasons it's extremely popular with middle class European visitors who come back every year. The nightlife here is good, especially around Boat Station 2. The beach buffets are cheap for those with large appetites, and alcohol is cheap for everyone.

>>>Check Boracay resort deals


Malé, Maldives

  • December avg high: 84°F/29°C
  • December avg low: 77°F/25°C
  • December avg precip: 8.5″/21.3cm

December can be rainy in Malé, but you don't really want to visit the capital of this archipelago nation anyway because it's tiny, crowded, and surprisingly dull. But you might want to visit the Maldives anyway to stay in one of the 120 or so private-island hotels and resorts that span from near Sri Lanka to the equator.

The December weather is usually perfect at most of the resorts, although you might still get a quick rainshower a couple times in any given week. Some of those storms happen overnight and the daytime storms usually happen in the late afternoon, leaving behind an amazing sunset. If your budget can stand at least US$300 per night or so you should stay in a water villa in the Maldives at least for a few days.

>>>Malé prices and travel tips


Pokhara, Nepal

  • December avg high: 63°F/17°C
  • December avg low: 41°F/5°C
  • December avg precip: 0.4″/1.0cm

As you can see by the temperatures above, Pokhara is pretty chilly in December, but it's on the list because this is also one of only a handful of dry months in this town. If you haven't heard of Pokhara you aren't alone. Kathmandu is the capital, but most visitors head here to Pokhara after only a couple days in the bustling capital.

The main reason this town has so many hotels and restaurants is that it's the main hub for trekking in the country. If you go on an organized trek it's going to cost you quite a bit for the guides and equipment. But while you are just hanging out in Pokhara you'll find it amazingly cheap. In fact it's often the world's cheapest tourist destination according to our Backpacker Index.

>>>Pokhara prices and travel tips


Colombo, Sri Lanka

  • December avg high: 87°F/31°C
  • December avg low: 73°F/23°C
  • December avg precip: 6.9″/17.3cm

The dry season in Colombo and most of the rest of Sri Lanka usually starts early in December, but after that the weather is wonderful until late April. Colombo is of course the capital of Sri Lanka, but it may be unwise to spend much time here because it's incredibly crowded and most of the island's best sights are in the mountains and along its southern beaches.

You can now book a flight into Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport and skip Colombo altogether if you'd prefer to go straight to one of the southern beach towns. December is of course even cooler in the hill towns in the interior, so it's a good time to visit if you aren't a fan of sweating all day.

>>>Colombo prices and travel tips


Taipei, Taiwan

  • December avg high: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg low: 59°F/15°C
  • December avg precip: 3.1″/7.8cm

With its location south of mainland China, Taiwan has reasonable warm winters so it's an interesting stop even this time of year. Taipei is a huge and bustling city with many fantastic sights and some of the most famous cuisine in Asia. Most things here are more expensive than in all but China's largest cities, but still good value in general.

Many of ancient China's most famous artifacts are housed in the huge museum here, so in some ways this is an essential stop for anyone interested in the history of China itself. English isn't widely spoken, but all of the important signs and most menus have English translations, so it's a pretty easy place to visit.

>>>Taipei prices and travel tips


Delhi/New Delhi, India

  • December avg high: 73°F/23°C
  • December avg low: 45°F/7°C
  • December avg precip: 0.3″/0.8cm

Winters in Delhi (and New Delhi) are pleasantly cool and sometimes quite chilly, but they can also be foggy. Even so, this is one of the very dry months and it's an ideal time to visit, especially if you are mixing it with Goa or one of the other beach areas in the south. This enormous and crowded city is overwhelming even to experienced travelers at first, so brace yourself.

Many people visit Delhi primarily to take a long day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, but there is plenty to see in Delhi itself. Hotels and hostels here are quite cheap, though it can be unwise to be too thrifty because the cheapest places here are a big step below the cheapest places in most of the rest of the world. Read those reviews carefully before you book.

>>>Delhi/New Delhi prices and travel tips


Goa, India

  • December avg high: 91°F/33°C
  • December avg low: 69°F/21°C
  • December avg precip: 0.3″/0.8cm

During Goa's autumn rainy season the place is deserted, but starting in December this coastal state fills up with Europeans and hippies from all over the world. There are about 20 different beach areas to choose from and each has its own vibe so choose your hotel carefully.

One nice thing is Goa's beach towns never feel insanely crowded like all of India's large cities do. In other words, this is an easy place to visit, which is not true of most of the rest of India. You can get great deals at beachside hotels in most of Goa, although the 5-star places are still quite expensive. At least the alcohol in Goa is cheap, even compared to neighboring states.

>>>Goa prices and travel tips


Mumbai, India

  • December avg high: 90°F/32°C
  • December avg low: 65°F/18°C
  • December avg precip: 0.0″/0.0cm

December is typically dry as a bone in Mumbai, and the evening temperatures are a welcome relief from the hot days. Mumbai isn't really a tourist-oriented city, but it's where many longhaul flights into India land and it's interesting for 2 or 3 days at least.

Due to the limited real estate in the tourist neighborhoods and the business district, hotels in Mumbai are the most expensive in India. This is a place that is almost as fascinating as it is crowded. Again, the cheapest hotels here can be horrendous so it's usually worth paying a bit more for something that gets good reviews.

>>>Mumbai prices and travel tips




2 Responses to “16 Best Asia destinations in December of 2017”

Hoda says:

hi Roger, i appreciate yr time , myself and my husband looking for a vacation las tof dec/first week of Jan starting from lax to spain/Europe somewhere not too cold.looking for culture, history, sight seeing. not too expensive .dont care about night life or wine tasting …etc we want to have the most of experience of our destinations within 2 weeks.We will appreciate yr advice.thx

 

    Hoda,

    I’ll be happy to help. Somehow you wound up on my list of Asia destinations, and the first step will be to check my similar list of best Europe destinations in December. Similarly I discuss the December weather in all of the best places to go that month, and what is going on there. I think you’ll find some good suggestions. If none of those work for you let me know why not and I’ll try again. -Roger

     

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