When planning a trip to Asia in November considering the weather and what's going on in the countries you want to visit are both important parts of that process.
November typically marks the transition out of monsoon season, bringing drier weather to much of Southeast Asia. While popular destinations such as Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam are just beginning to enter the cool and dry busy season, China, Japan, and the rest of East Asia are already dealing with cold weather. Snow may already be blanketing the tops of mountains.
Even though prices in countries like Thailand will already begin going up in anticipation of the busy season, November is a good time to travel because it's considered a shoulder season. Be aware that 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 and calmer weather at home in the Southern Hemisphere.
So, there are still many places to find sunshine around Asia in November. Add in experiencing one of the exciting festivals taking place in November and the adjacent months and you'll find that fall is a great time to travel in Asia.
Festivals and Holidays
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 stunningly beautiful. Dates change every year, but Diwali is usually celebrated between October and December. Diwali is celebrated by people in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, and other places with large Hindu populations.
- Although seeing the lights, lanterns, and fireworks associated with Diwali is unforgettable, traveling during the holiday can be daunting due to the crowds that gather. Transportation bogs down as millions of people travel to celebrate and visit family members in other parts of the country.
- 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 at this colorful five-day event held sometime in October and November.
- Loi Krathong in Thailand: Loi Krathong, along with Yi Peng, is 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 northern Thailand, is the place to be. Dates vary but Loi Krathong is most often observed in November. The festive holiday is a favorite for locals and travelers alike and so accommodations and transportation will be crowded in Chiang Mai, the epicenter of the festival.
- Thailand Full Moon Party: The monthly party held at Haad Rin on the island of Koh Phangan is a legend. Don't go near the event unless you're willing to join the all-night dancing fun. Parties aren't always on the exact night of the full moon because of many Buddhist holidays that coincide, so check Full Moon Party dates before you go.
- International Film Festival in Goa, India: This annual event is sometimes in November or December. The festival is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia.
Weather varies greatly throughout southeast Asia. November marks the official start of the dry and busy season in Thailand and neighboring countries. The number of rainy days drops off sharply after October. Good weather and the tourist 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. So it's important to do some prior planning.
These destinations have great weather in November:
- Hong Kong
- Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand
- Koh Samet and Koh Chang in Thailand
- Vietnam (temperatures in Hanoi will feel cool but rain slows)
- Langkawi Island in Malaysia (some rain)
- Sri Lanka (particularly the beaches in the south)
- Rajasthan in India
- Mumbai and New Delhi
- Kathmandu (although the Himalayas will have a lot of snow)
One popular destination that has especially widely varied weather patterns in Thailand. While some parts of Thailand are receiving less and less rainfall throughout November, some islands have their own microclimates. The rain dies down 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.
You might want to avoid these places in November if you're looking for great travel weather:
- Northern parts of China
- Bali (rain every other day)
- Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia (lots of rain)
- Perhentian Islands in Malaysia (rough seas and business closures)
- Tioman Island in Malaysia
- Koh Samui and Koh Phangan in Thailand
- Singapore (weather is usually consistent throughout the year, however, the wettest months are between November and January)
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.