Month by Month Recommendations for Your Asia-bound Holidays with Secret Retreats – Part 2
One of the most common questions posed to our Concierge Team is “where can I travel to during X month?”. These days, covid travel restrictions aside, the world has never been smaller, allowing us to travel anywhere in ways to suit almost any travelling style or budget. And this is where curated travel of the sort provided by communities like Secret Retreats come in so handy, as with so many options available and so much to consider, it can be hard choosing the best destination and itinerary for your next trip.
In this week’s newsletter we share with you our second edition of our Month-by-Month Recommendations for your next holiday in Asia. By no means an exhaustive list, we have simply highlighted the destination that our teams think offer the best experiences for each given month. But for a more detailed view of the best travel options for your own travel plans or holiday thoughts for Asia it’s always best to contact the Secret Retreats Concierges directly, who will be happy to share their expertise with you and help you plan, build and book the ultimate travel itinerary tailored to suit you and your travelling friends and family. So, let’s look at this week’s recommendations for Asia travel from July to December where wonderful travel experiences await you.
Lombok – Indonesia
With its proximity to the equator the Indonesian island of Lombok is a year-round destination. With temperatures steady throughout the year, weather is only divided by the wet or the dry season. And in terms of the weather, the best time to go to Lombok is from July to August when the average temperature is a pleasant 25°C and the island is in the height of the dry season promising the daily delight of clear blue skies. Often overshadowed by its more ‘on the beaten path’ neighbouring island of Bali, this actually works in favour of travel to Lombok. With most of the mass tourism focused on Bali, Lombok is able to share with its visitors unspoiled beaches and much less of the commercialization that blights the well-trodden paths of tourism. Lombok still possesses today the raw natural beauty and sense of an island life unchanged that has been lost somewhat on the parts of Bali where big brands and mass travel enterprises have made their mark.
There are a lot of activities to be enjoyed on Lombok including diving, snorkelling, surfing, yoga, golf, trekking and even swimming with turtles. And an island of stunning natural beauty to explore. Here, visitors can climb to the summit of Indonesia’s second highest volcano, Mount Rinjani, that dominates the northern half of the island and shares breathtaking views from its peak. Hike through the emerald jungles to see Lombok’s wealth of waterfalls and natural springs. Take a boat ride to the Gili Islands, off the northwestern shores of Lombok, and dive deep into the colourful reefs that are teeming with coral and vibrant marine life. Catch a wave off Lombok’s southern coast, which attracts skilled surfers from around the world to take on what is often called “the world’s best wave.” Ocean lovers of all ages will find plenty to see and do in the turquoise waters surrounding Lombok.
For those who prefer to remain inland, the island’s rich forests hide a treasure trove of waterfalls and natural springs, including the 45-metre-high Tiu Kelep Waterfall that seems to pour out of a wall of dense vegetation. And Mount Rinjani, really a must-visit for all travellers to Lombok. Known locally as Gunung Rinjani, Mount Rinjani is a massive active volcano that reaches a height of 3,726 metres. With a quintessential conical profile the caldera houses a 230m deep crater lake filled with turquoise blue waters. Sacred to both the Sasak and Hindi people a visit here is a fantastic reminder of the power of our earth, and the deep time that is behind the making of our beautiful blue-green home. It is an immensely impressive reminder if one were needed of really why we need to care for our planet-home and the importance of conscious travel, supporting sustainable and regenerative tourism whenever and wherever possible.
Kerala – India
Kerala is the perfect destination for nature lovers and for those looking to boost health on a wellness holiday. And August is a great time to head to Kerala for both of these activities, as well as being a very pocket friendly destination at this time of year too. While the south west monsoon may be soaking the region, don’t let this put you off, the payoffs for a visit in August are manyfold. While the weather can be very warm and humid, the cloudbursts of monsoon rains refresh the rolling green hills and tea plantations and reward visitors with lush green landscapes. The freshness after the rains is invigorating and is just one of the many moods of Kerala in August.
Rains can come as gentle showers or dramatic downpours, but it doesn’t rain all day, and between the rains the sun breaks through making rainbows through the mists rising up from the tea plantations or within the woodland and forest. And tranquility is assured too with the crowds heading to Kerala largely for the beach life in the area’s high season between December to February. The monsoon season is also considered to be the best time for ayurvedic treatments and therapies. A traditional and holistic healing system that has been practiced for more than 3,000years in India, practitioners aim to achieve a balance between mind, body, and spirit. The monsoon rains cool and clear the air which according to ayurvedic practitioners makes the body most receptive to the herbal oils and treatments of this ancient healing art.
For nature lovers, head to the hill stations or the backwaters to marvel at the incredible birdlife. Also Kerala has one of the few national parks in India that remains open during the monsoon season, the Periyar National Park, famed for its Bengal Tigers and herds of Asian Elephants. And festivals, August is the time for Kerala’s biggest festival of the year, the Onam festival. Celebrated for 2 weeks, Onam is a Hindu Harvest festival, a time of great celebration and feasting, with dancing, music, boat races and Pookalam competitions where families decorate their homes with incredible floral displays and decorations made up from a variety of colourful blossoms. Not forgetting Kerala’s biggest snake boat race, the Nehru Trophy is held in August too.
Bounded by the Arabian Sea on India’s southwestern shores, the southern state of Kerala has long attracted travellers to its natural beauty. Part of the Malabar Coast, which encompasses the slender coastal plain of Karnataka and Kerala between the Western Ghats range and the Arabian Sea, the area was historically a major spice trade centre and also welcomed Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India by sea, on his maiden voyage. For history, culture and India’s ever-permeating spirituality, visit the Mutupam Temple and witness a tantalising Thayyam dance performance. Alternatively, opt for exploring the Goddess Snake Temple, the ancient Bekal Fort or a slew of small, traditional fishing villages. Learn how to prepare native Malabar dishes using spices from Kerala’s Western Ghats. One can also journey inside, soothing the body and soul with a holistic Ayurvedic massage, meditation course or yoga classes, finding harmony with the divine and relishing in the treasures of magical Malabar. A visit to Kerala in August is guaranteed to soothe the soul.
Seoul – South Korea
Once the humid heat and rains of summer have passed, South Korea once again bursts into wonderful colour and festivals come to the fore. Stunning shades of dynamic orange and red pepper the autumnal landscapes. It’s best to avoid the summer months, also known as monsoon season. During these months, Seoul can be uncomfortably humid and also over-run with tourist groups.
Seoul may appear to be a very modern success story full of glamour, glitz and neon, but this modernity is backed by rich and ancient traditions that reward the visitor with a fascinating culture and cuisine to explore and enjoy. Amongst the skyscrapers, fashion and general ‘swag’ of this fast-paced capital, is a preserved, World Heritage site of historical significance that was definitely made to last. The Bukchon Village in Seoul is a breathtaking traditional Korean village in Seoul and Secret Retreats has sourced the best Hanok in Seoul, that simply, beautifully exemplifies the boutique hotel Seoul character. A stay in a Hanok Seoul is a quintessentially South Korean experience that really should not be missed.
Pokhara – Nepal
With a gentle sub-tropical climate cooled by elevation with summer (August through October) temperatures typically between 17 and 30 °C and in winter (December through February) between 8 and 21 °C, Pokhara makes for the perfect location for trekking throughout the year and for all levels of ability.
To enjoy some of the best sunset views over Pokhara, a walk to the Shanti Stupa or World Peace Temple is a must. The Peace Pagoda, opened in 1999, offers incredible views towards the Annapurna mountains, Fishtail, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna South, and Annapurna III. The walk starts at the end of the Fewa Tal lake and then climbs the steep forested slopes to the peace pagoda. From here you can return to the lake shore and take a ride in one of the colourful local boats, or ‘doongas’, across to Pokhara’s busy lakeside area of Barahi Ghat and take in some shopping or a refreshing drink at one of the local bars, or choose instead to dine at one of the many restaurants in this part of the city.
Secret Retreats concierges can assist you with planning your Himalaya trip, from the many walks and treks all of which are professionally guided to any of the other popular activities in Pokhara including paragliding, climbing, mountain biking, canoeing on the lakes, white water rafting or for those looking for something more relaxing, perhaps a trip to one of the many museums or temples ( the International Mountain Museum that tells the story of mountaineering, and the Gurkha Memorial Museum telling the story of these amazing Nepali soldiers are both certainly well worth a visit).
And don’t forget to make time to slow life down while in Nepal by learning a few skills to take home with you to your busy everyday life. Take a moment to practice yoga and meditation in Pokhara with the magnificent Himalayas as your backdrop. There really isn’t a better place and a better view in the world to put life, and what’s really important, in perspective and to rejuvenate the soul ready to take on the world again with a new and refreshed vigour.
Kyoto – Japan
No visit to Japan would be complete without experiencing Ancient Kyoto, and especially during autumn. While the cherry blossoms at their peak are a truly lovely sight, there is something more breathtaking about Japan’s autumn foliage, it really is a sight that will live on with you long after departing from the Land of the Rising Sun. And, while catching the cherries in peak blossom requires a lot of luck because they only peak for a few days a year, the fall foliage lasts for up to two months.
The leaves start changing in ancient Kyoto in October, reaches its peak in mid-November, and you can still usually see beautiful colours on the trees through into early December. Thus, in a typical year, the wonderful autumnal colours are painting the woodland and hillsides of Kyoto like the brushstrokes of an impressionist painter from the 15th of October to the 15th of December.
Once the ancient capital city of Japan, Kyoto holds a special place in the hearts of the Japanese people. Very much today seen as Japan’s cultural capital Kyoto is estimated to host 40 million tourists and visitors, both domestic and international, each year and it is easy to see why. With Secret Retreats you too can immerse yourself in the heart of ancient Japanese culture set with the backdrop of the most beautiful autumn scenery for a Japanese travel experience beyond compare.
Phuket – Thailand
December is the best month to visit Thailand’s most famous island, Phuket. As mainland Thailand blocks the worst of the north-east monsoon rains, leaving only cool breezes and blue skies over Phuket, the island’s greenery positively sparkles, the air is fresh with humidity at its lowest, and sunny days with perfectly blue skies check in. The sea around the island is calm, perfect for watersports, swimming and boating. This is Phuket’s cool season, and what weather for a winter with daytime highs in the mid-20s °C and azure blue seas mirroring the clear sunny skies above. This wonderful weather period lasts until March when the island begins to get heat up again.
Each beach in Phuket has its own personality and attractions so whether you’re looking for an endless party, outdoor fun in the sun, or the best secluded beach in Phuket, this tropical destination offers something for everyone, and to match every budget and style of traveller. And for this reason, it is a destination that welcomes the world, which is why when looking for serenity and seclusion local knowledge goes a long way. This is where the Secret Retreats concierge team is so essential to planning your Phuket and Southern Thailand sojourn, ensuring that you get to see and enjoy the best of Phuket, Ao Nang and Krabi without having to share those experiences with the crowds. It’s built into the DNA of a stay with us, sharing the secret spots of our homes in Asia with you, sensitively, sustainably and regeneratively.
Deciding on the best time to visit Asia can be challenging, especially if you wish to combine a visit to several regions or countries in your itinerary. Let Secret Retreats, the Asia experts, make it easy for you. Consult with the Secret Retreats concierges on email@example.com who are ready and waiting to help you choose, plan and book the best time to travel to Asia according to your schedule and preferences.