If you are planning to travel in January, Asia can be your preferred continent. In this article, I am presenting you the best places to visit in Asia in January for different preferences and budgets.
Since countless Asian regions offer dry winter seasons, January invites countless adventures without monsoon rains dampening your travels. You can beat the crowds too before incoming Chinese New Year travelers start cramming hotspots late in the month.
We’ve uncovered the top spots in Asia ideal for your next January getaway whether you crave outdoor snow sports, jungle treks, volcanic island explorations, temple hopping heritage journeys, beachfront relaxation, or big city lights. Let’s discover the best places to travel in Asia in January.
The Best Places to Visit in Asia in January
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city life. January brings cool temperatures (29 degrees Celsius during the day and 14 degrees C at night, on average, with no rain) and clear skies, making it an ideal time to explore the temples of the Old City.
When visiting Chiang Mai, I am recommending you to take a journey to Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak, and be surrounded by lush landscapes. Doi Inthanon National Park is unmissable as well and if you like to go out during the evening, you can experience the vibrant night bazaar.
For unforgettable memories, you can take a hot air balloon ride over the picturesque landscapes.
Siem Reap, Cambodia: Angkor Wat
January is the perfect time to explore the ancient wonders of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.The temperatures are, on average, 31 degrees Celsius during the day and 21 C at night.
Marvel at the intricate architecture of the temples and witness breathtaking sunrise views. Dive into the local culture at the vibrant markets and indulge in Cambodian cuisine.
Among the things to do in Siem Reap and nearby: explore Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, take a boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake and an off-the-beaten-parh activity is joining a Khmer cooking class for a hands-on culinary experience.
Side trips reveal more Cambodian treasures like boating on Tonlé Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, to spy on rare waterbirds and river dolphins.
Back in Siem Reap, dine in converted colonial and Khmer-style villas on fragrant local delicacies like amok (seafood curry baked in banana leaf) and Fish Amok, washed down by fresh tropical fruit juices and cold Angkor lager.
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Basking just north of the equator in balmy Indian Ocean breezes, Sri Lanka flashes its wilder side to visitors this January.
The island’s far southeast corner at Yala National Park offers endless wildlife watching in comfort. As the northeast monsoon rains fade late each December, Yala’s scrub forests and grassy plains flourish with a dazzling array of exotic birds and beasts on display during lush green safaris.
When you’ve gotten your fill of elephant herds, venomous snakes, tool-wielding monkeys, sloth bears, jackals, buffalo, wild boar, and some 215 species of birds, schedule time for land’s-end scenery along Sri Lanka’s shores, linger beside the cerulean waters fronting palm-shaded Tangalle Bay or the quieter sands edging Weligama Bay.
Tour south coast Portuguese-Dutch towns like vibrant Galle or the surfer town of Hikkaduwa offering potent Sri Lankan toddy (palm liquor) likely to fell even the heartiest drinkers.
Prices stay reasonable outside peak tourist seasons across Sri Lanka meaning January is the perfect time to indulge in sprawling resorts or intimate boutique hotels at budget rates after the holidays.
For skiers and snowboarders, few Asia January destinations compare with Niseko on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
In Niseko, there are 2,000-plus skiable acres across four interconnected snow resorts. Niseko is considered the number one (or at least one of the top 5) places to go in January in Japan for skiing.
Another unmissable activity in Niseko is relaxing by soaking in forest onsens (hot spring baths). Then refuel on ridiculously fresh sushi and seafood direct from Sapporo markets.
While low January temperatures deter many travelers from visiting the north, cosmopolitan Shanghai (one of the largest cities in the world) makes for an ideal cool weather escape as average highs of 8 degrees Celsius (1 at night).
Besides packing extra layers and an umbrella, January serves up one of Shanghai’s least humid and comfortable months to explore its outstanding array of attractions spanning futuristic skyscrapers, European Concession legacies, and nostalgic Old Town history.
After reading about the cultural etiquette in China, plan your trip and make sure you include riverside promenades and vast city green spaces like Century Park and Fuxing Park graced by traditional Chinese gardens on your itinerary.
To fully digest Shanghai’s immersive history, dive into its glut of world-class museums like the Shanghai Urban Planning Center with its hypnotizing city model and Zhongshan Road’s cluster of sites narrating pre-revolutionary banking fortunes and political intrigue.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Nestled in jungle foothills beside the turquoise Mekong River current, this former royal capital tops serenity seekers’ lists as Southeast Asia’s most enchanting inland retreat and one of the best places to go in January in Asia.
Once home to Buddhist monks and Hmong tribesmen who helped the CIA fight the Secret War, today this UN World Heritage town lulls January visitors into peaceful cycles wandering 33 gilded wats (temples) framed in flowering frangipani and bougainvillea.
The charming faded Indochinese architecture fronting dusty lanes now houses cozy cafes pouring rich Lao coffees and boutique hotels heaped with comforts.
I recommend starting pre-dawn when streets fill with thousands of barefoot monks accepting alms, their orange robes vibrant against sleepy French Colonial shopfronts.
While away afternoons admiring faded murals and carved wooden windows around Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang’s emblematic golden temple, or lingering in museums housed in former Royal Palaces.
Explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town and for a serene escape, take a boat trip to the Pak Ou Caves, filled with thousands of Buddha statues.
For more active outings paddle upriver under karst cliffs to pottery villages or emerald Kuang Si waterfalls before returning to town in time for sunset cocktails above the russet Mekong.
And if you truly want to of the beaten path, then join a traditional Lao cooking class for a taste of local flavors.
Throughout January, Luang Prabang offers balmy 26 degrees Celsius days, reasonable hotel rates, and the country’s most sacred sites devoid of tourist hordes – making it my favorite month to experience Laos’ gem.
Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, Indonesia
An exotic winter adventure perfect for January is far across Java island’s central moonscapes dominated by still-rumbling volcanoes.
Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park is one of the best places to visit in Asia in January. The temperatures are 23-26 degrees Celsius and there are things to do for many preferences.
Watching the sun crest and burnish vast lava fields in golden light with Semeru puffing sinister plumes behind the Tengger Massif makes for a jaw-dropping spectacle. As a note, this is the largest volcanic region in the province, and Mount Semeru, an active volcano, rises 3,676 meters above sea level.
The national park also affords hiking opportunities to navigate colorful crater valleys passing through some of Java’s last remaining forest and encountering few other trekkers this time of year.
With lodges staying reasonably priced and most January days sunny between the occasional passing tropical shower, it’s the perfect time to explore Indonesia’s most unique landscape relatively crowd-free.
Hoi An, Vietnam
As Vietnam’s coastline escapes the chill affecting northern climes in January, the riverside charmer of Hoi An spins atmospheric magic all month long.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site laced with canals and curio shops spilling from heritage buildings along pint-sized Tran Phu Street, time-traveling foodies adore this town near the midpoint of Vietnam’s coastline – one of the top places to go in January in Asia.
Linger over flavorful regional specialties by the riverfront bedecked in glowing paper lanterns as old quarter streets come alive from the afternoon through late evenings with street food hawkers tempting passersby to noodle shops and café patios.
I would recommend you to allow a full three days to absorb Hoi An’s mix of Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples, and Vietnamese tube dwellings of the Ancient Quarter without feeling rushed. On quieter side streets, you’ll find historic workshop-homes to witness heirs keeping wooden sign carving and embroidery crafts thriving just like generations past.
Seoul, South Korea
Vibrant, ultramodern Seoul makes for an ideal cool-season city break in January in Asia. Seoul is one of the safest cities in the world – and this was confirmed by locals as well. The temperatures are low (1 degree Celsius during the day and -8 during the night), but the vibrant capital of South Korea, offers a dynamic winter experience in January.
Explore the historic Bukchon Hanok Village, visit ancient palaces like Gyeongbokgung, and indulge in winter sports at Vivaldi Park Ski World.
Seoul’s quirky café culture invites warming up over mugs of ginseng chicken soup or Asian flower teas between museum-hopping (Seoul is home to one of the top museums in the world) traditional hanok courtyard estates and regal Joseon palaces like the already-mentioned Gyeongbokgung to understand Seoul’s six-century transition from imperial power base to cutting-edge high-tech hub.
January unveils a peaceful side of Pokhara, nestled against the backdrop of the Annapurna Range.
The weather in Pokhara in January is dry and cold, but comfortable with an average daily temperature of 12 degrees Celsius which makes it one of the best Asia destinations for January.
Enjoy the serenity of Phewa Lake, embark on a trek to Sarangkot for sunrise views, and explore the World Peace Pagoda. The city offers a gateway to the Annapurna Circuit for trekking enthusiasts. You can also paraglide over Pokhara for a thrilling adventure.
Yangon, with its blend of colonial architecture and spiritual landmarks, is one of the top destinations in Asia in January.
Explore the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, stroll through the colonial-era buildings in downtown Yangon, and discover the vibrant street food scene in the city.
You can also take a ride on the Circular Train for a unique and unforgettable local experience.
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s cultural heart, Ubud, offers a serene escape in January. With an average daily temperature of 28 degrees Celsius and a night temperature of 25 degrees Celsius on average, it is one of the warm places to visit in Asia in January, perfect for a relaxing vacation.
Wander through lush rice terraces, explore the Monkey Forest, and visit ancient temples. Embrace the artistic spirit of Ubud with its vibrant markets and traditional dance performances.
If you do not mind waking up early, take a sunrise trek to the summit of Mount Batur for panoramic views and you will see why this is one of the best tourist destinations in Asia in January.
There are so many astounding and affordable places to visit across Asia in January whether you crave snow adventures, beachfront relaxation, jungle trekking, or temple hopping heritage circuits. These are my top recommendations to escape the crowds and make travel memories that will burn bright and beautiful in your mind long after Asian New Year’s fireworks fade.