Best places to visit in Southeast Asia in January

There’s never a bad time to visit Southeast Asia. However, if you prefer a tropical climate with warmer water to have a small escape from the frigid temperate winter, then January is the perfect month to visit.

Here is the list of the top 5 spectacular places that will give you the best memories and refresh for a new year. Let’s check it out.

1. Siem Reap – Cambodia

It’s dry season now in Siem Reap – the spiritual and cultural heart of Cambodia, a very suitable time to kick off the winter doldrums thanks to the Northeast monsoon in January.

Of course, one cannot go to Siem Reap without visiting Angkor Wat. It is the used-to-be center of the Khmer empire that once ruled most of the Indochinese peninsula, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the national flag. This awe-inspiring temple complex has attracted millions of tourists every year for both its grand scale and its incredible detail.

Siemriep Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is described, quite literally, as “heaven on earth”.

Getting to Angkor Wat early for sunrise in a January morning will give you a very amazing experience and fresh air to start a new day in the religious atmosphere. Besides this artistic complex, Siem Reap still offers you a variety of choices. During your trip, you can choose among thousands of temples the best ones to visit such as the ancient Ba Yon temple, the tranquil Ta Prohm temple, the notable Banteay Srei; as there’s no question that Siem Reap is something of a spiritual hub. This January escape can also give you a precious lesson in national history at the Cambodian Cultural Village or in bargaining at the Angkor Night Market, a bonanza of shopping stalls, food vendors, and bars.

Angkor Night Market in cambodia

A cozy colorful corner of Angkor night market.

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Located in the Southwestern region of Vietnam, Mekong Delta in January usually has brief and heavy showers, mostly in the afternoons, but it clears up again really quickly. This leads to the high enough levels of water for boat floating markets and  sailing trips, a stunning chance to watch the busiest river life.

A fascinating floating market with its abundance of fruits and vegetables  in Mekong Delta

A fascinating floating market with its abundance of fruits and vegetables in Mekong Delta.

January offers the best overall weather throughout Vietnam, the best season with a wide range of different tropical fruits ready to be harvested in the orchards as well as beautiful gardens full of flowering bonsai trees welcoming the spring with a brand new breathe.

If you are a true nature lover, you will absolutely enjoy the exciting attractions, activities and excursions the Mekong Delta offers, especially in January. You can paddle through the fascinating floating markets of Cai Rang, ride the bike through small local villages, along rice fields and lush orchards, enjoy an excellent river cruise, visit fishing farms, even visit some local families which allows a more intensive insight into life in the Mekong Delta region.

A peaceful cruise along the river.

A peaceful cruise along the river.

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3. Mai Chau, Hoa Binh – Vietnam

Unlike the South of Vietnam, the North experiences four season all over the year. It only takes three and half hours to get to Mai Chau, which is about 140km to the Southwest of Hanoi. The valley is set in the stunningly beautiful and mountainous area of Hoa Binh province, which has a quite cold winter with an average temperature of 16°C in January.

terrace fields in Mai Chau

An idyllic valley in Mai Chau far away from the hustle and bustle

During the trip, you can go trekking or cycling to enjoy fruitfully the picturesque valleys and rice paddy terraces; visit some alluring caves such as Chieu and Mo Luong, some local villages such as Lac and Pom Coong; stay in some stilt houses and try the buffalo meat and traditional rice wine whilts lisening to the stories of the local people, who are really friendly and hospitable. What could be more cordial in such a cold January? This is how we take a break from the touristy hubs to take an insight into the life of Vietnam’s indigenous ethnic minority groups who also make the local Sunday markets colourful places to be! If you fancy trying their costumes, never should you waste such a chance!

mai chau market

The Hmong people in unique costumes selling vegetables in the local market.

4. Hanoi, Vietnam

 Located in the heart of Vietnam, Hanoi is a must-visit place that no tourist can ever miss when setting foot on this Southest Asia country. January is no doubt the coldest month of the year and this climate condition enables visitors to enjoy the diverse tasty hot food of Hanoi such as noodle, hot pot and roasted dishes.

Hoan Kiem lake at night

Peaceful atmosphere around Turtle Tower by night.

In January, the city seems to have its busiest days of the year and streets are more crowded than usual during working hours as people are trying to finish their work to prepare for a new year coming. However, it is quite nice place to visit this time, especially for ones who are interested in exciting atmosphere in crowded streets. You can easily make your trip here worthwhile by taking a look around the city; visiting some famous places such as Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Vietnamese women museum and Hoa Lo prison; or simply walking around the city or within its Old Quarter and enjoy the fabulous diversity of street food culture it possesses.

long bien bridge in hanoi

A small cozy vendor on Long Bien bridge in the nolstagically cold winter night.

 5. Ban Gioc Waterfall, Cao Bang – Vietnam

If you’ve ever heard of Iguazu Waterfall between Brazil and Argentina, Victoria Waterfall between Zambia and Zimbabwe, or Niagara between Canada and the U.S, you never should miss a chance to visit the fourth largest border waterfall – Ban Gioc in this Shoutheast Asia trip. Located in the northeastern province of Cao Bang, Ban Gioc Waterfall is 30 metres high and 300 metres across, making Ban Gioc the widest waterfall in the country. Here, the Quay Son River forms the border between Vietnam and China. This scenic place is also a beautiful landscape used in film studio of the well-known Chinese TV series “Journey to the West”.

cao bang ban gioc waterfall

Naturally majestic beauty of Ban Gioc Waterfall.

This cold weather of January doesn’t allow visitors to swim. Instead, you can enjoy the blooming season of wild sunflowers and buckwheat flowers stretching along the sides making the stunning scenery during the trip. The fall is not as big as in rainy season (June to October) but the water is beautifully transparent and the river is very green. These two together combine an artistic picture of Mother Nature that one must visit.

ban gioc waterfall

The sparkling beauty of Ban Gioc Waterfall, one of Vietnam’s most impressive natural sights.

6. Bagan, Myanmar

Dominated by over 2,500 pagodas and temples; Bagan is an incredible destination to soak up the timeless beauties of Myanmar. This sacred plain was established in 11th century to remark the flourish of Buddhism and still remains its nostalgic beauty for thousand years.

The highlights of Bagan does not only come from its religious sites, visitors have chances to admires the scenic Irrawaddy River, colorful traditional workshops and soak in the Balloon Ride.

Hot airbaloon over Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan is a famous stop for any Myanmar Tours, especially for photographers who want to capture the core charm of the old Burma kingdom.

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