Winter weather in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean

Where to find the best of the weather in December, January and February.

Sri Lanka is perfect for a Christmas getaway (image courtesy Shutterstock).


Dry season, blue skies and great temperatures make winter the best time of year to holiday in Southeast Asia. If you're looking for a festive break, our top eight picks are Cambodia, Laos, the west coast of Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.


Cambodia

It’s a great time of year to visit Cambodia as it’s dry season until spring. Expect pleasant, cooler weather in which to enjoy exploring the temples of Angkor Wat or diving in the waters off Cambodia’s beaches and islands.


In December the landscape is still relatively lush from the wet season, but as we move into the new year the dry conditions will start to tell.


Indonesia

The west and central areas of the country, including Bali Java, the Gili islands, Lombok and Komodo, are in wet season at this time of the year, with short sharp bursts of rains lasting until April.


But to the east, taking in Sulawesi, West Papua and Raja Ampat, conditions are drier.


Temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year in Indonesia at around 28 degrees.


Laos

The dry season runs from October to the end of April in Laos and temperatures are cooler.


The coldest months of the dry season are December and January when temperatures can dip to as low as 17 degrees and you might need to think about rugging up, particularly late at night and early in the morning.


However, by February and March temperatures start to rise again.


Malaysia

The months of December, January and February are considered to be Malaysia’s winter.

On the east coast, the northeast monsoon hits from November through to February which means the islands, such as Tioman and Perhenthian, should be avoided at this time due to the heavy rain. Some resorts close at this time of year.


Winter is the time to head to the west coast, including Langkawi and Penang, as it remains hot with blue skies; by December the heaviest rainfall experienced in September and October will have eased off.


Maldives

It’s the dry season and the best time of the year to dive in the Maldives. These great conditions run from November through to May, although the country remains pretty amazing year round.


With this in mind, it’s understandable that the high season runs from now through to April and prices predictably shoot up during the Christmas holidays.


Fly now and expect blue sky days and temperatures in the late 20s and low 30s.


Philippines

Weather-wise, it's the dry season in the Philippines and an ideal time of year to visit. However, it’s also the high season in December so expect crowds. Swimming and diving conditions are excellent.


However, although December is in the middle of the dry season, typhoons are possible.


Expect generally blue skies and temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s.


Seychelles

It’s summer in this southern hemisphere country and the warmer weather coincides with the wet season. Expect temperatures to hit 30 degrees plus and the odd heavy shower. However, if it’s raining on one side of your island, it could be dry on the other and the showers don’t last long.


In January humidity and rainfall are at their highest. The Seychelles are still popular at this time of year due to the Christmas holidays, but head to the Maldives if you want drier conditions.


Sri Lanka

December is a great time of year to head to Sri Lanka if you’re holidaying on the popular western and southern coasts. Expect blue skies and sunshine that stretch inland to hill country.


However, in the north and east it’s much wetter.


But generally, if you’re looking for a Christmas beach break, Sri Lanka is a great option.


Thailand

Again, December is one of the best months to travel to Thailand so it’s another destination that should be top of your Christmas holiday list.


Expect low humidity and slightly cooler temperatures in Bangkok and central Thailand, so make some time for sightseeing. In the north, the temperatures are cooler again - ideal for hiking or biking around Chiang Mai.


It’s also pretty perfect on the islands with temperatures in the low 30s, although there may be some rainfall in the east around Koh Samui and Koh Tao. If you’re diving, head to Phuket and Krabi where the conditions are ideal.


Vietnam

You can’t really go wrong in Vietnam, either, at this time of year. Optimum conditions prevail in the north and the south of the country and Phu Quoc is ideal if you’re looking for a beach holiday.


December is one of the driest months in the north and it can be cold overnight. Storms and rainfall are possible on the central coast, such as around Hoi An, although temperatures are cooler than the sticky dry season months. In the south, well, it’s all blue skies and sunshine.


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Spring weather in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean


Summer weather in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean