Traveling around Asia in April is a mix of fun festivals and mostly changing seasons.
In Southeast Asia, April is a month of transition. The oppressively hot days eventually succumb to the afternoon rains that accumulate in the rainy season as the Southwest Monsoon approaches.
Meanwhile, countries like Indonesia that were experiencing rains will slowly begin to dry out as they carry the rain north. Tourist crowds will head south to Bali for better weather.
Although April is considered quite well as the last dry month in places like Thailand, the heat is at its peak during the year. Dust and ash fill the air after so many consecutive dry months. By April, local residents are quite ready for the rain to begin. On the other hand, Beijing and other destinations in East Asia can comfortably enjoy the spring weather.
Festivals celebrating the changing of the seasons abound throughout Asia. April marks the true beginning of spring in East Asian countries like China, Japan and Korea; the flowers will absorb the abundant April rains and begin to bloom. In Japan, the parks will be filled with admirers of hanami flowers.
April is the last month to enjoy decent weather in Hong Kong and many other popular destinations before temperatures and rainfall increase dramatically. Humidity can become a real nuisance.
Big events and festivals in April
These big events will certainly affect travel in some places, as hotels and transportation are booked. Don’t be surprised; schedule your trip carefully to be at each location a few days in advance to enjoy the festivities.
- Songkran in Thailand – Held annually from April 13-15, the traditional Thai New Year is definitely the biggest water fight in the world! For at least three days, both locals and tourists will fill the streets to splash, dance and fight for the water in good character. The epicenter of Songkran is in Chiang Mai, however the festival is celebrated in Thailand and even in Luang Prabang, Laos. Warning: you will get wet at this festival!
- Vietnam Reunification Day: April 30 marks the reunification of North and South Vietnam after the Vietnam War. Temporary stages are built for performances on the streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Flag waving and patriotic propaganda are plentiful. Reunification Day is an interesting time to be in Vietnam’s big cities, however some attractions may be closed or extremely busy.
- Hanami in Japan: April is the peak month to see freshly blooming cherry and plum blossoms throughout Japan. The beautiful flowers begin to appear from south to north as the weather warms up. Japanese friends, couples, families and coworkers gather in parks for picnics and parties to enjoy the flowers with the help of good food and some sake .
- Golden Week in Japan: Four holidays come to Japan from April 29 to May 5: Showa Day, Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day. As businesses close for the holidays, many Japanese take advantage and travel during Golden Week, making it the busiest time of the year in Japan. Transportation will be bogged down until at least May 6 and the attractions will be packed, plan accordingly!
- Nyepi: Bali’s Day of Silence, Nyepi , sometimes comes in April. The occasion is based on a Hindu lunisolar calendar; dates change annually. During Nyepi, the airport closes, all transportation is interrupted, and visitors are expected to stay inside their hotels for 24 hours. Tourists are not exempt! But don’t worry, the night before Nyepi, considered New Years Eve, is one big party.
Where to go in April
The weather is in constant transition across Asia in April. The first signs of the arrival of the Southwest Monsoon will begin to show as rainfall increases over much of Southeast Asia.
For the most part, April marks the end of peak season in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and northern Southeast Asia. You may not realize it: Thailand is such a popular destination that it is busy practically all year round, regardless of the season!
Southeast Asian countries further south, such as Indonesia, will prepare to be even busier. April is one of the best months to enjoy Bali before the summer crowds roll in. Australians take cheap flights to Bali just as winter begins to take hold in the southern hemisphere.
Spring will unfold across much of China, Korea, and Japan, with temperatures rising to comfortable levels during the days, but falling for cool nights. Most places in India will be very hot and dry.
The spring rains will make East Asia nice and green after a long winter. Fruit trees, especially cherry and plum trees, will flourish, making parks and public areas more and more beautiful and crowded.
April and May are good months for hiking in Nepal before the summer rain, snow, and humidity come to obstruct the views. April is a good compromise between nice weather and fewer people on the trail. Some trails get very crowded in May with Everest climbing season in full swing.
Places with the best climate
- Beijing and central China
- Parts of Sri Lanka
- Borneo (Sabah is drier than Sarawak)
- Parts of Nepal
Places with the worst weather
- Northern Thailand (strong heat and haze)
- New Delhi (strong heat and fog)
- South China (heavy rains)
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (rain)
- Cameron Highlands, Malaysia (rain)
Smoke and haze in northern Thailand
Smoke and haze from illegal fires raging in northern Thailand, Laos and Burma can cause air quality to become extremely poor in the area. Popular tourist destinations like Pai are affected.
In years past, particulate matter has reached dangerous levels. Sometimes Chiang Mai airport has to be closed due to low visibility. Large particles in the air are very unhealthy. Sometimes plastic trash burns at the same time, adding additional toxicity.
Conditions improve rapidly once the monsoon rains begin; however, travelers with respiratory problems should be aware of particulate levels before planning a trip to the area.