Traveling Asia in February is ideal, assuming that you stay closer to sea level or in the tropics, where temperatures are warm. February is a fantastic month to take advantage of the tropical weather in Southeast Asia as other destinations get chilly. Thailand and neighboring countries will be enjoying the peak of the dry season.
When winter is still holding on in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather in Southeast Asia is ideal; monsoon season will have become a memory from October. Days are hot, but not as scorching until the high humidity arrives in March and peaks in April.
The Lunar New Year (includes Chinese New Year and Vietnamese Tet) sometimes happens in February — dates change annually. If the 15-day celebration hits in February, many top destinations in Asia become overrun with people who travel during time away from work.
Asia Events and Festivals in February
Many events in Asia are scheduled around lunar events or rely on lunisolar calendars, causing the dates to vary from year to year. These winter events and festivals could potentially take place in the month of February:
- Vietnamese Tet: (January or February; usually coincides with Chinese New Year). You'll need to plan ahead if traveling in Vietnam; the country's largest national holiday really shakes things up. Tet is a very exciting time to be in Vietnam, but it's also the busiest.
- Setsubun: (dates vary between regions, but usually February 3 or 4) The bizarre Japanese bean-throwing festival marks the traditional beginning of spring. Beans, and sometimes money or candy, are thrown to ward off evil spirits and delight spectators.
- Thaipusam: (dates vary; sometime in January or February) The Hindu holiday of Thaipusam falls in January or early February. Festive celebrations — and some face piercing — take place in India, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and any other place with a large Tamil community. The Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia host one of the biggest celebrations.
- Carnival: (February) The Christian celebration of Carnival — celebrated as Mardis Gras in the United States — isn't regularly observed in Asia. Festivals and parades are sometimes held in places where Christianity was introduced by colonists. Carnival was brought to Goa in India by Portuguese colonists; large parties and lots of revelry take place each February. Then again, there's always a party in Goa! Ironically, the Philippines — Asia's most Catholic nation — doesn't typically observe Carnival in the usual way. They have their own version split into separate festivals that usually take place in January.
- Full Moon Party: Thailand's popular Full Moon Party on the island of Koh Phangan will be raging in February as tens of thousands of travelers head there. February often sees one of the biggest parties of the year. The event has grown large enough to affect the flow of backpackers in Thailand! Destinations in the north such as Chiang Mai will be quiet, meanwhile, islands on the Gulf (east) side of Thailand will be very busy the entire week of the full moon.
The Lunar New Year
Most commonly referred to as "Chinese New Year," the Lunar New Year is arguably the most widely celebrated festival in the world. Lunar New Year occurs in January or February each year. The action certainly isn't limited only to China or East Asia! Chinese New Year affects destinations throughout Asia as millions of East Asian residents travel in the region.
Many businesses will be closed — or inundated with travelers — during the 15-day holiday. Transportation becomes bogged down by people on the move. Accommodation prices in popular places can triple during Chinese New Year, so plan accordingly!
Tip: If your February travel plans are flexible, here's what to expect in Asia during January and March. You may wish to tweak your itinerary to see a Lunar New Year celebration — or avoid it altogether!
Where to Go in February
February is one of the last months of pleasant temperatures before heat and humidity build to unbearable levels throughout much of Southeast Asia. The heat remains until the monsoon season moves in to cool things down in April.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and others get very busy during February.
Although the weather is excellent in places such as Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, February marks the peak of the busy season. You can pretty much expect to pay full price for accommodation unless you negotiate hard for rooms.
Places With the Best Weather
Places With the Worst Weather
Of course, you can always find enjoyable places to go in all destinations, no matter the season. Southern destinations in the Northern Hemisphere at lower elevations will be warmer in February. Even countries such as Indonesia that will be experiencing monsoon season in February, will have sunny days to be enjoyed.
India in February
February is the perfect month to visit Rajasthan — India's desert state — before temperatures climb to scorching levels. Tourists, both Indian and foreign, flock to the beaches in the south such as Goa. With less suffocating humidity in February, destinations in the far south of India are also ideal to visit.
Although snow in the mountains is picturesque, many roads become impassable. The high mountain passes often close due to snow and rock slides. Transportation can be delayed for weeks.
Singapore in February
Because of its southern location and proximity to Sumatra, Singapore experiences mostly consistent weather throughout the year: warm with occasional showers to keep the greenery growing. Yes, Singapore has a lot of greenspace to balance the concrete!
February typically brings far less rainfall than December or January, although regular showers do pop up. Fortunately, there's plenty to enjoy indoors in Singapore while waiting out the rain. And carrying an umbrella, rain or shine, is the thing to do in Singapore!