Traveling to Asia in November

Where to Find Exciting Festivals and the Best Weather in November

Yi Peng - Asia in November
••• Suttipong Sutiratanachai / Getty Images

Asia in November typically marks the changeover of monsoon seasons, bringing drier weather to much of Southeast Asia.

While popular destinations such as Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam begin winding up the busy season, China, Japan, and the rest of East Asia are already dealing with cool weather. Snow will already be blanketing the tops of mountains.

But if you left home to escape winter rather than run toward it, there are still lots of places to find sunshine around Asia in November.

A number of exciting festivals make fall a great time to travel in Asia!

Asian Festivals and Holidays in November

Many festivals and holidays in Asia are based on the lunisolar calendar, so dates can change from year to year.

Here are a few of the big fall events that often take place in November:

  • Diwali in India: Also spelled "Deepavali," the five-day Hindu Festival of Lights is beautiful. Dates change every year, but Diwali is usually celebrated between October and December.
  • Pushkar Camel Fair in India: Whether you're into camels or not, the Pushkar Camel Fair attracts a lot of people and animals. It's the busiest but most exciting time to travel in Rajasthan — India's desert state. You'll wear out your camera. The five-day event is held annually sometime between October and November.
  • Loi Krathong in Thailand: Loi Krathong, along with Yi Peng, is arguably one of the most visually mesmerizing festivals in Asia. Thousands of candle-powered lanterns fill the sky along with fireworks while krathongs (small candlelit boats) are floated on rivers. Chiang Mai, or elsewhere in the north of Thailand, is the place to be. Dates vary; Loi Krathong is most often observed in November.
  • International Film Festival in Goa, India: This annual event is sometimes in November or December.

The Diwali Festival

Also known as Deepavali or the "Festival of Lights," Diwali is celebrated by people in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, and other places with sizeable Hindu populations.

Although seeing the lights, lanterns, and fireworks associated with Diwali is unforgettable, traveling during the holiday can be frustrating due to the crowds that gather. Plan accordingly! Transportation bogs down as millions of people make moves to celebrate and visit family members in other parts of the country.

President Obama celebrated Diwali at the White House in 2009, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.

Where to Go in November

Although technically the monsoon season should be coming to a close in much of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and other countries in Southeast Asia, Mother Nature doesn't always work around our travel plans.

Regardless, November marks the official start of the dry and busy season in Thailand and neighbors. The number of rainy days drops off sharply after October. High season begins in Sri Lanka as well. But as those countries get better weather, things get wet — and seas get rough — in Bali and parts of Malaysia.

Even though prices in Thailand will already begin going up in anticipation of the busy season, November is a good time to travel because things aren't too busy — yet. Crowds surge around Christmas, New Year, and Chinese New Year. Meanwhile, things get way more quiet in Bali. The many Australian travelers who frequent Bali are enjoying the warmer weather at home in the Southern Hemisphere.

Fall foliage in East Asia may still be clinging in southern areas, however, cold weather and snow will already be slowing down business in mountainous regions such as the Himalayas. Some roads and mountain passes in places such as Nepal become impassible.

Places With the Best Weather

These destinations have great weather in November:

Places With the Worst Weather

You might want to avoid these places in November if you're looking for great travel weather:

Thailand in November

While some parts of Thailand are receiving less and less rainfall throughout November, some islands have their own microclimates. The rain drops off severely in Bangkok and Chiang Mai during the month of November. With cooler temperatures and far fewer thunderstorms, November is an excellent time to visit before the crowds pour in for the busy season.

Koh Chang and Koh Samet, both close to Bangkok, enjoy excellent weather in November while Koh Samui and Koh Phangan often receive the most rainfall in November. Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lipe on the Andaman (west) side of Thailand don't dry up until around December. Phuket and Koh Lanta, although nearby to the other islands, are often exceptions with good weather in November. Storms hit sporadically.

The Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festival (usually November) in Northern Thailand is a spectacularly visual affair as tens of thousands of flame-powered lanterns are released into the air. The sky appears to be full of twinkling stars. The festive holiday is a favorite for locals and travelers alike. Accommodation and transportation will be affected in Chiang Mai, the epicenter of the festival.