EASTER is a beautiful time to travel in Asia. It’s a fantastic season when the winter has begun to ease in northern parts of the region and Spring breaks through with flowers and melting ice. While in the south the full brunt of the summer and monsoon season have not yet begun either, making for pleasant temperatures all around.
These five locations should give you a taste of the mountains, the lakes, the cities and festivals happening around Asia this time of year.
Lake Toba, Sumatra
Escape most of the commercial to do of Easter by heading to this quiet lakeside retreat in central Sumatra. A lot of the locals here are Christians and there are churches so you can get to a service if that’s imperative for you.
Otherwise relax and enjoy the serenity of this enormous lake. Sip coffee and enjoy the views or get more active and rent a bike or motorbike, hike, take a boat out on the lake, go fishing or relax in some hot springs. A real holiday from your holiday kind of place.
Spring is the time for blooming rhododendrons in Nepal and there are numerous ones around the quiet lakeside centre of Pokhara, particularly up into the neighbouring hills. Pokhara remains a relaxed centre that is immediately appealing to travellers after the chaos of the capital Kathmandu.
Spring is also an excellent time to hike once the winter snows and ice have melted. Temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold and you’ll enjoy excellent views if hiking is your thing. There are numerous day and multi-day hikes heading out from Pokhara including the famed Annapurna Circuit.
Songkran, the Thai new year celebration, is just around the corner and you could extend a stay in Thailand over Easter where there is little traditional celebration beyond eggs and bunnies, with the new year festivities that run roughly 12-15 April across the country. Be prepared to get wet. The capital Bangkok has particularly soaking fun festivities planned.
The Philippines celebrates Easter in style with some of the most vibrant and colourful events in Asia. Everywhere you go there will be traditional masses, services, celebrations and even some gore if you decide to attend the Moriones festivals on Marinduque Island where real life crucifixions can take place.
Another great place to visit in the Philippines for both Easter, Catholic and Spanish traditions is the delightful town of Vigan in Northern Luzon. There’s plenty of old world charm here with old Spanish villas and various colonial architecture, replete with horse and carts clopping around the streets.
China is another place where no traditional Christian Easter celebrations are held. Although you may find some of the commercial trappings and the Chinese have a tradition of egg painting at this time of year as a symbol of Spring. This time of year in China is beautiful, particularly in Yunnan when the temperatures ease and there are warmer and sunny days. It also means you can get out into the surrounding countryside with more ease.
Kunming is actually known as the spring city because its flowers bloom all year round. Kunming is surrounded on three sides by mountains and the other side by Dianchi lake.