Where to keep cool in the Asia-Pacific region

SUMMER, or any time of year, can be hot in the Asia Pacific region but it doesn’t mean you need to lose your cool. There are plenty of places to go that will help you beat the sultry heat including anything from places like the highlands of Vietnam and Nepal to the wilds of Tasmania and New Zealand.

Hobart, Tasmania
Summers in Tasmania are pretty mild compared to other parts of the land downunder, in fact it can still blizzard on some parts of the apple isle, including along the Overland Track, so come prepared for all and any kind of weather. However the state capital has a monthly average from December-February, the hottest summer months, of just over 20 degrees, meaning there’s ample opportunity to get out and enjoy the city’s sights like the Salamanca Markets, MONA museum and harbour, without working up too much of a sweat. If it does get warm you can always head to the heights of Mt Wellington, just out of the city, for cooler air.

The view from Mt Wellington. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Mt Kinnabalu, Borneo
The popular hike in the East Malaysian state of Sabah is not only a great challenge in order reach the top of the 4000m peak, but also a great way to beat the sultry heat prevalent in this part of the world. The climb traipses a variety of habitats and a wide climatic range with lush forest, alpine meadows and grasslands to freezing ground conditions near the summit. While you may start in t-shirt and shorts, a jacket and pants (plus gloves) are needed at the top, particularly if you plan to do the popular dawn climb.

Mt Kinabalu. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Central Highlands, Vietnam
Vietnam has a number of mountainous regions where you can escape the summer heat. One of these regions is the central highlands in the south of the country bordering Laos and Cambodia. It’s actually a series of plateaus that reach anything from 500m to 1500m with surrounding mountain ranges. Towns worth a visit in this area include Dalat for its wonderful gardens and fresh produce and Kon Tum for its vestiges of the French colonial period.

Misty hills above a village near Dalat in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

High country, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s high country is a verdant green, tea producing region that’s a world away from the sweltering coastal lowlands. Many of the hill stations were founded thanks to the success of Ceylon’s tea plantations, while other regions were shaped more by the nation’s last independent kingdom that still has its own distinct music, dance and architecture. Whatever you choose to do in this part of Sri Lanka – enjoy the cultural elements of Kandy, climb Adam’s peak, enjoy a cup of tea or a walk at a number of plantations or take a scenic ride on the train – you’ll enjoy perpetual spring, mist and cooler temperatures.

Tea picker, Sri Lanka. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Southern Alps, New Zealand
This mountain range extending much of the length of New Zealand’s South Island basically means there is plenty of high country to enjoy year round, whether in the depths of winter for skiing and snowboarding, or in the height of summer when you may seek out a cooler climate. The tallest peak in the range is Aoraki, or Mount Cook, a wonderful alpine environment to wander in summer when the fox glove flowers bloom and it’s possible to enjoy a number of walking tracks without worrying too much about the weather. Some parts of the southern Alps have snow and ice year round at their highest points.

Hikers on New Zealand's Routeburn track with a view of snow mountains in summer. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com

Himalayas, Nepal
If you really want to beat the heat you’ve got to climb in altitude and Nepal is one of the best places to enjoy the heights, with extensive, gob stopping views to match.  Nepal is home to some of the world’s largest peaks, including Mt Everest, and many of these are snow covered year round. That means a down jacket and woollen underwear can be required even in summer, depending on how high you climb. Thanks to an array of tracks it’s possible to get high into the reaches of the Himalayas without mountaineering equipment or guides.

Crossing a snow bound stream on the way to MBC. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com