EASTER can be an excellent time to travel in Asia for the holidays, particularly as the crowds post-Christmas will have long abated and much of Asia will not yet have entered the wet and humid monsoon season of the middle of the year, or the scorching temperatures that can come in April. Having said that, it is still advisable to choose carefully based on geographical variation, so here are some of the better options.
Some of the best weather you will find in Asia over Easter is in Nepal. Trekking in March and April is particularly popular, with generally stable weather before the onset of the monsoon and after the worst cold snaps of the winter. The views may not be as clear as they are from November to February, but you won’t have to shiver so much to enjoy them, either.
Easter is also commonly a time when the beautiful rhododendron trees flower, showering the landscape with cascades of pink, red or white flowers. Pokhara is an excellent place to start a trek and travellers often enjoy the peaceful lakeside town before and after their walk.
Some of the most interesting Easter celebrations in Asia take place in the Catholic nation of the Philippines, with both the Lenten period and Holy Week packed with events and symbolism. Some of the most famous ones include the Moriones Festival on the island of Marinduque, which features fierce Roman soldiers who crucify Jesus Christ, while in the provinces of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija there are reenactments of the torture and death of Jesus. People self-flagellate by whipping their backs and wearing crowns of thorns, while some penitents are even nailed to crosses. On Good Friday, many towns carry religious figures around and on Easter Sunday itself, most people attend masses and celebrate afterwards with a feast.
If you haven’t come for these traditions, then the beach is another option. Typhoon season doesn’t start until May and it’s usually dry and pleasant. Do note, however, that some resorts do raise their rates before Easter so you may want to choose something more off the beaten track or just be prepared to bear the costs.
Cherry blossom viewing time, or hanami, is usually from late March to mid-April, and sometimes even into early May. The iconic pink blossoms carpet the country in colour and make it a wonderful time to visit, even though Easter is not celebrated in Japan. Crowds often gather under the blossoms in picnics or other hanami festivals and there’s usually plenty of good cheer, and sake, to enjoy.
Christianity is the main religion in Goa, thanks to its Portuguese heritage, and the southwestern state has an array of traditional masses and events, including Carnival over the pre-Lenten period. Most people go to mass during Holy Week and the Easter weekend in the state’s many white-washed churches.
While temperatures do start climbing by Easter time, it’s normally still bearable at Easter, although air-conditioning may be advisable, or alternatively, staying as close to the beach for cooling sea breezes as possible. However, on a positive note, the height of the tourist season is normally over and prices also have started to come down in resorts and hotels across the region and you may find a good end-of-season deal.
Vietnam has so many geographical variations that you can safely visit at any time of year and find a climate that is suitable to your needs. At Easter time, cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi can be hot, given all the traffic and population congestion, but there are plenty of other options for travellers: the south of the country is generally dry and green until about May, the central coast around Hue and Hoi An has more mild and stable weather into September, making for nice beach days, while the northern regions such as Halong Bay and Sapa are just coming out of their monsoon season, which can mean some swirling mist and cooler temperatures.