Where to go in Asia this spring

Spring brings colour to the world following the dull, bleak winter months. It is often seen as a time of renewal and regeneration so when better to take a break, rejuvenate, and discover the colours another culture has to offer.
Young girl dancer's joyful expression at Holi / Spring festival in Kolkata. Photo: Shutterstock
Young girl dancer's joyful expression at Holi / Spring festival in Kolkata. Photo: Shutterstock

1. Bhutan

Spring is a time of celebration in Bhutan, with the Paro Tshechu festival falling on the 10th day of the second Bhutanese lunar month (27–31 March in 2018). This five-day festival is the most popular festival in Bhutan, and creates a great opportunity for tourists to observe and interact with local traditions. Honouring the Guru Rinpoche, the saint who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, celebrations include monks and laymen dancing in elaborate masks and costumes throughout the streets. The highlight for the locals is the unveiling of the thangka (a holy scroll) for a few hours on the final day. These celebrations are believed to remove misfortune and repress evil. Spring is also a pleasant time to take to the hiking trails through the forests where rhododendrons and other flowers are coming into bloom. See the colours of Bhutan on Insight Guides’ Family Adventure in Bhutan trip which includes bonfires, temple trips and forest walks.

Colourful masks at Bhutan's annual Paro Tshechu festival. Photo: Shutterstock

2. India

Holi, which takes place on the 1st–2nd March 2018, is one of India’s most iconic festivals. It consists of one evening, Holika Dahan, where people gather around bonfires, perform religious rituals, and try to rid themselves of any inner evil. During the following day, Holi, clouds of colour cover the streets, parks and temples of India, as people throw coloured powder and paint over anyone who walks past. Groups of musicians move from place to place, encouraging people to dance and sing. Evenings are spent visiting family and indulging in Holi delicacies such as gujiya (a sweet dumpling), phirni (a creamy milk and rice dessert) and bhaang (edible cannabis). Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and spring over winter. It is a time to give thanks for the coming year's harvest, and to strengthen relationships. Visit this March to immerse yourself in the festivities with any of Insight Guides’ trips to India.

Celebrating Holi in Jaipur, India. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Bali

Bali’s proximity to the equator makes it is a good year-round destination. Visit in spring to join the locals in celebrating the Saka New Year (17th–18th March 2018). The three days before New Year are occupied with purification ceremonies at local beaches, followed by temple visits. On New Years’ Eve, parades of papier-mâché grotesque effigies are marched through the streets to be burnt on bonfires in local towns. This symbolises the burning of demons. New Year's Day is Bali’s Day of Silence, or Nyepi. An unusual tradition, a vow of silence is taken for 24 hours. The country shuts down: restaurants, shops, beaches, transportation and even the airports close for the day. No-one leaves their home; instead they remain with their families to fast, meditate and contemplate as they reflect on the year just gone. Enjoy all Bali has to offer on Insight Guides’ The Best of Bali trip.

Floats at the parade during Balinese New Year. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Maldives

Temperatures soar during spring in the Maldives. These small atolls, in the remote regions of the Indian Ocean, offer an idyllic destination for some early sunshine and rejuvenation following the winter months in the Northern hemisphere. With an average temperature of 29°C (84°F)  on land and 30°C (86°F) degrees in the crystal-clear water, the Maldives offer activities from relaxing on a sun lounger to diving with reef sharks. For those who want to rejuvenate, the only break from the sun lounger should be to the spa to indulge in pampering, with massages, facials and body scrubs all available at most resorts. Alternatively try a meditation or yoga class at the health centre to relax your mind. For activity enthusiasts, there is paragliding, surfing, and kayaking. Most importantly, food connoisseurs will savour the Indian fusion cuisine. Fish (tuna, wahoo and mahi-mahi), coconut, rice, taro and cassava feature heavily in the local dishes. Visit the Maldives on Insight Guides' Luxury Sri Lanka and the Maldives trip.

Idyllic villa at the Maldives. Photo: Shutterstock

5. Nepal

Colour carpets the mountains of Nepal in spring, as flowers bloom in the grassy plains, in the forests, and along the walking trails. Red, yellow, orange, pink and white blossoms decorate the rhododendron bushes throughout the forests; wild orchids colour the trails and wild flowers grace in the grass land. The warm air becomes aromatic with the scent of the sweet flowers lingering. Temperatures in Nepal in the spring months vary from 16–23°C (61–73°F); it is slightly warmer in the lowlands with a more moderate temperature in the higher ground. Sunny, clear skies, and light, warm breezes, combined with the colourful landscape, create the best atmosphere for hiking and many other activities including bungee-jumping , zip-lining, white-water rafting and paragliding. Search Insight Guides' Nepal itineraries for more inspiration.

Trekking to Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Photo: Shutterstock

6. Oman

The temperature in Oman is often too hot for visitors to want to tour the country. Driving to different towns and ancient villages, or to the desert dunes, can seem like too much effort in the sometimes oppressive summer heat. However, spring offers temperatures of 25–30°C (77–86°F). This allows visitors to explore the country, as well as enjoy some beach time. From the capital, Muscat, there are trips into the rural centre of Oman. These include dune-bashing in Wahiba Sands, visiting Wadi Bani Khalid, Jebel Shams and Birkat al Mouz Clay Village. Alternatively there are city tours that include the Sultan Qaboos Mosque and the spice souk. There is also the option to visit smaller towns such as Nakhl, and the old capital, Nizwa, both of which have ancient forts. For something water-based, cruise the fjords off Khasab, or visit the Daymaniyat Islands. These islands offer some of the best snorkelling and diving in Oman. Kayaks and SUPs are also on offer here. Insight Guides has a range of trips to Oman, click here to search existing itineraries.

Wadi Bani Khalid, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oman. Photo: Shutterstock