February in Asia: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

What to Know About Traveling Asia During February

green mangroves and mountain in Pha Ngan Bay, Thailand

Dulyanut Swdp / Getty Images

 

Spending February in Asia is ideal, assuming that you stay closer to sea level or in the tropics where temperatures remain warm.

February is a fantastic month to take advantage of the dry season in much of Southeast Asia as other destinations in East Asia induce shivering. Thailand and neighboring countries will be enjoying the peak of the high season. Days are hot but not as scorching as they will be in March and April during peak temperatures and humidity.

But not all of Asia is balmy in February. Much of East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, and neighbors) is cold and gray until spring arrives to thaw things out.

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. Be ready!

Asia in February
 © TripSavvy 2018

Chinese New Year in February

While Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are experiencing the peak of their dry seasons, Chinese New Year has the potential to shake everything up in February. Dates change annually, but if Chinese New Year occurs in February, your trip could be affected by the largest human migration on earth.

Referred to as Chunyun, over a billion people are on the move just before and right after the 15-day Lunar New Year holiday period. During the break, millions of additional travelers take advantage of time off work to visit some of the top destinations around Southeast Asia. Plan accordingly for transportation delays and price hikes on flights and accommodation.

Bali Monsoon Season

Although you could get lucky with weather, February is typically one of the wettest months for Bali and surrounding area. The lush island receives an average of 17 days of heavy rain in February — not exactly ideal for coming home with a tan.

Asia Weather in February

(average high / low temperatures and humidity)

  • Bangkok: 93 F (33.9 C) / 77 F (25 C) / 70 percent humidity
  • Kuala Lumpur: 92 F (33.3 C) / 75 F (23.9 C) / 78 percent humidity
  • Bali: 87 F (30.6 C) / 77 F (25 C) / 81 percent humidity
  • Singapore: 89 F (31.7 C) / 76 F (24.4 C) / 79 percent humidity
  • Beijing: 42 F (5.6 C) / 23 F (minus 5 C) / 42 percent humidity
  • Tokyo: 45 F (7.2 C) / 40 F (4.4 C) / 47 percent humidity
  • New Delhi: 77 F (25 C) / 52 F (11.1 C) / 66 percent humidity

Average Rainfall for February in Asia

  • Bangkok: 0.79 inches (20 mm) / average of 2.4 rainy days
  • Kuala Lumpur: 7.8 inches (198 mm) / average of 17 rainy days
  • Bali: 10.8 (274 mm) inches / average of 17 rainy days
  • Singapore: 4.44 inches (113 mm) / average of 8 rainy days
  • Beijing: 0.19 inch (5 mm)
  • Tokyo: 1.97 inch (50 mm) / average of 6 wet days (4 snow days)
  • New Delhi: 0.87 inches (22 mm) / average of 1.8 rainy days

Most of China, Japan, Korea, and the rest of East Asia will be cold in February. Meanwhile, much of Southeast Asia will enjoy the last months of pleasant temperatures before heat and humidity peak in April and May. The heat is suffocating until the monsoon season moves in to cool things down in April.

Although the weather is excellent in places such as Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, February marks the peak of the busy season. You can pretty well expect to pay full price for accommodation; negotiating discounts will be difficult. UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the temples in Ayutthaya, Thailand, get very busy during February.

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. For warm choices, go for sea level in the tropics. Any destination higher in elevation will be cold and possibly buried in snow during February.

Finding pleasant weather during your trip is also a matter of good timing. The countries such as Indonesia that experience monsoon season in February will still have some sunny days to be enjoyed.

What to Pack

Even if you're traveling to sunny Southeast Asia in February, you'll want to bring one warm top or coverup. Public transportation is often freezing cold, and even destinations such as Pai in Northern Thailand get cool at night due to the nearby mountains.

If you'll be traveling during Chinese New Year, consider bringing along something red to wear for good luck!

February Events in Asia

Many February events in Asia are scheduled around lunar events or are based 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 season.
  • Setsubun: (dates vary between regions; 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 Hindu Tamil community. The Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia host one of the biggest celebrations.
  • Carnival: (dates vary) The Christian celebration of Carnival — celebrated as Mardis Gras in the United States — isn't regularly observed in Asia, however, 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 side of Thailand (the east) will be very busy the entire week of the full moon.

February Travel Tips

Big holidays such as Chinese New Year, Tet, Thaipusam, and others in Asia get busy! You should certainly take them into account when planning a trip itinerary. Either arrive early and plan to enjoy the festivals or avoid the area altogether until things return back to the "usual" level of chaos.

Travel Tips for The Lunar New Year

The East Asian Lunar New Year (includes Chinese New Year) is arguably the most widely celebrated festival in the world. The holiday occurs in January or February each year. The whole of Asia will be affected, not just China or East Asia!

Banks and businesses will be closed — or inundated with travelers — during the 15-day holiday. Small, family-run places may close up, however, larger shops and restaurants will remain open to serve travelers. Transportation becomes bogged down by people on the move before and after the event. Accommodation prices in popular places and flight fares can triple during Chinese New Year — plan accordingly!

Tip: If your February travel plans are flexible, know 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!