Enjoying Asia in March obviously depends on where you travel — Asia is big. But March turns out to be an ideal month for much of the region as temperatures increase and seasons transition.
Although very hot, Thailand and neighbors will be experiencing dry season, making them ideal to visit. Meanwhile, cold weather will begin to slack off across East Asia, causing spring flowers to pop up. Humidity will still be low for many destinations in March. India and much of South Asia will be at peak enjoyment.
Landscapes come alive. The blooming cherry blossoms are particularly celebrated throughout Japan. Some exciting festivals and good weather in tropical places make traveling through Asia in March a very enjoyable experience!
Events and Festivals in March
Because many festivals and holidays are based on lunisolar calendars, dates change from year to year. Occasionally, Easter falls in March and is celebrated vividly throughout the Philippines. Some other interesting festivals have the potential to come up in March:
- The Holi Festival: Definitely the messiest of the festivals in India, the Indian Holi festival is all about covering friends and strangers with colored dye while in a dancing frenzy. Colors aren't just thrown around in India: you'll find celebrations across Southeast Asia in places with sizable Hindu populations. You may luck into a Holi celebration in Singapore, Penang, or Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
- Carnival: Fat Tuesday occasionally lands in March, however, the Christian holiday isn't given much focus in Asia. Even the Philippines, a predominantly Christian country, doesn't make as big a deal about Carnival as one would expect. A large dance celebration is held in Goa, India, where Portuguese colonists introduced the holiday. But then again, there's always a party in Goa!
- Hanami Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan: Celebrated on different dates throughout Japan as the trees bloom, groups and families flock to parks for picnics and hanami — literally "flower viewing." It's a fun, social time to be outside in the spring air. The end of March and all of April are great months to be in Japan for enjoying the beautiful-yet-fleeting blossoms.
- Full Moon Party in Thailand: The monthly Full Moon Party in Thailand will be in peak form in March as tens of thousands of revelers cram into Haad Rin on the island of Koh Phangan. Don't complain: either join in the madness or avoid the area altogether! The party actually fills accommodation and transportation on that side of Thailand.
- Nyepi: The Balinese Day of Silence follows a rowdy New Year celebration, usually in March or April. Tourists are expected to remain inside their hotels for 24 hours; all activity on the island shuts down, even the airport. Participation is mandatory!
Where to Go in March
March is a very pleasant month for visiting much of Southeast Asia; rain won't be much of a problem. Be warned, however, countries in the north will be approaching peak temperatures! Afternoons can become unbearably hot in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
March is a pleasant;y dry month for enjoying India before summer months bring relentless heat.
Some Places with the Best Weather
- Sri Lanka (half of the island will have rain)
- Sabah in Malaysian Borneo
- Parts of the Philippines
- Thailand (although, the north will be very hot and have haze)
Some Places with the Worst Weather
- China (cold)
- Korea (cold)
- Most parts of Japan (cold)
- Higher elevations (snow)
- Cameron Highlands in Malaysia (rain)
Southeast Asia's Islands in March
March is a transition "shoulder" month for popular island destinations in the south such as the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia, the Gili Islands in Indonesia, and Bali. The driest times to visit those islands is during their busy seasons in June, July, and August.
Rainy days will be on the decline, however, there will still be plenty of heavy showers to clear sunbathers from the beaches. The good news is that crowds and accommodation prices on the otherwise-busy islands will still be low until the peak summer months. Once winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere, look out! Australians grab cheap flights to Bali to escape cool temperatures.
Here are some fun islands that are great picks for Asia in March:
Nepal in March
March is a great month for visiting Nepal. Kathmandu will still be enjoying dry season, and humidity will still be low for enjoying mountain views.
For travelers planning to hit the Himalayas, there will still be plenty of snow and cold temperatures in March. But March is a good month for trekking before the trails get even busier.
Spring flowers will be blooming along the slopes, and visibility will be good. Climbing season for Everest doesn't really begin until May, however, teams may be making some preparations at Everest Base Camp in March and April.
A Warning for Northern Thailand in March
Traveling in Northern Thailand is immensely enjoyable, but there's a catch: the unpleasant "burning" season rages in March and April.
Not sunburn, although there will be plenty of that, too, in Chiang Mai's hot climate in March. Even little Pai is scorching hot. March is peak month for annual slash-and-burn agricultural fires that rage out of control in Thailand along with neighboring Laos and Myanmar (Burma). Air pollution and haze choke the air until Thailand's rainy season arrives in May to quench the fires.
Particulate levels in the air often reach threatening levels in March, stinging eyes and causing many locals to don masks. People with asthma or respiratory problems should check before planning a trip to affected areas in the north of Thailand.
The annual occurrence has received plenty of criticism and definitely has an impact on tourism. Despite threats, the government has barely been able to get a handle on the recurring problem. In fact, the problem has grown bad enough to close the airport in Chiang Mai on numerous occasions due to low visibility!
If traveling Thailand in March, opt for a nice island instead.
Malaysian Borneo in March
The rainforests in Borneo stay green for a reason: they receive a lot of rain throughout the year! And unfortunately, most of the adventurous activities that make Borneo so alluring are outdoors and better enjoyed without rain and mud.
Sabah (the northernmost state) will have less rain in March than Sarawak. Rainfall will be on the decline in Kuching, but you'll probably have drier weather the farther north you travel. Consider starting your trip to Borneo by flying into Kota Kinabalu (Sabah).
East Asia in March
China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea are each large enough to have varying climates within the countries, depending on elevation and latitude.
Higher elevations will still have snow in March, along with freezing temperatures at night. Closer to sea level, numerous rain showers and warming temperatures will bring out flowers in places with warmer climates.
If you don't mind chilly nights, each country in East Asia has its own unique draws in March. Choosing where to go isn't easy!