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Asia Cruise: When to Go?

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When Is the Best Month to Cruise Japan?

If you’re a fan of spring blossoms and fall foliage, then you’ll appreciate cruising Japan during the shoulder months of March-April or October. Go during this time to catch cherry tree and maple leaf festivals, celebrated with flower-viewing boating excursions and fairs. 

Spring and fall have sporadic rainstorms and mild weather, making both ideal periods for a tour of Japan. The best time to cruise the country can often be decided on travelers’ weather and festival preferences. 

Fall sees foliage that begins to turn brilliant colors in October through early November. Visit Japan during the fall to see the renowned maple, ginkgo, and ash trees turn yellow, orange, red, and purple. It is also a season of many regional festivals. Fall is a great time to cruise in Japan as the weather is cool and dry.

Wandering through colorful Japan
Wandering through colorful Japan

Winter months (December and February) bring moderate cold and snow, good news for the many Japanese ski resorts and winter sports enthusiasts. The weather rarely dips below 30F (-1C). However, New Year’s is widely celebrated and is a very busy time for traveling with airlines, highways, and trains crowded with passengers.
Japenese Cherry Blossom tree
Japenese Cherry Blossom tree

Cruising Japan during spring (March through May) allows passengers to experience the famed cherry or sakura blossoms, which bloom in March or April. Plum trees blossom as early as the end of February, and the season is characterized by various blossom-viewing festivals. April 29 through May 5 is Golden Week, a time when most of the population goes on holiday, leading to crowds.

Summer (June through August) is divided into two seasons; June to mid-July is the rainy season, and mid-July through August is hot and humid. The rainy season can be a cool and less crowded time to travel to Japan. 

The O-Bon festival occurs from August 13-16 and many Japanese citizens go on vacation. Tokyo is quieter than usual as many residents return to their home towns for the holiday.

Unlike mainland Japan, the northern region Hokkaido does not experience rain nor hot and humid temperatures in summer, but cool, dry weather. 

Best Time to Go on a Cruise to South Korea

If you want to see the vibrant pink of the cherry blossoms in bloom, the best time to visit South Korea is between March and May, but if you want to see the leaves change color and enjoy cooler weather, visit between September and November.

June, July and August offer the best conditions for hiking, but the weather is hot and humid away from the mountains. December, January, and February temperatures are bitterly cold, with temperatures regularly falling below -10C (14F) and even lower.

China Cruise Time

A cruise down the awe-inspiring Yangtze River is a must for any visitor to China.

The best time to visit is during April-May and September-October, when the weather is warm and mild and flight schedules are stable. Of course, since this is the peak time for Yangtze River Cruises, booking far in advance or flexible travel dates are necessary.

Great Wall of China in the sunshine
Great Wall of China in the sunshine

Spring and autumn are the best time to visit Great Wall of China, with comfortable temperatures and greenery on the mountains. However, if you don’t like the sweltering heat, avoid visiting during this season.

Winter is a good time if you want to avoid crowds, but because it is cold, therefore, it's not recommended to visit in winter.

Best Time to Cruise Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar 

Other stops on a cruise of Asia may include Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. The southern regions of these countries, particularly coastal areas, experience a monsoon season from May to October. Summers in these areas are hot and humid.

A more enjoyable time to visit is later in autumn and early winter, when temperatures are cooler and rain is unlikely.

Flower farms in Sa Dec, Vietnam
Flower farms in Sa Dec, Vietnam

While Mekong River cruises are offered all year-round, the best time to visit is during the dry season between November and April. The cool temperatures in November through January make this the ideal time to take a river cruise in Asia, since the wet season has already passed and the weather is still relatively low. The Mekong River is the twelfth largest river in the world, flowing through six Southeast Asian countries.

Adventure Life offers numerous Mekong river cruises, primarily from Vietnam and Cambodia.

Boat floating along the Mekong River
Boat floating along the Mekong River

If your Asian voyage continues up towards Russia and the Arctic Circle, expect the largest holiday crowds and warmest weather in July and August. To avoid the crowds, try the shoulder months of May to June and September to early October. In early autumn the foliage is brilliant and mushrooms and berries are ripe and ready to be picked or foraged. Winter is bitterly cold, hence its reputation, though Russians are very hospitable and eager to share their theater, indoor warmth, and vodka to enjoy while watching the snow. Spring (February-mid April) in Russia in spring is very slushy, muddy, and generally not recommended for enjoyable travel.

Contact Adventure Life for expert advice in planning the best time to cruise southeast Asia.

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