The sweltering summer months have come to a close. This opens up a whole new set of travel opportunities throughout Asia. Instead tropical islands and remote beaches, it’s time for fall foliage and brisk mountain hikes. Here are four destinations to inspire you on your autumn travel plans.
We’ll start with an option that is close to home. Autumn is prime season for a Beijing visit. The weather is pleasantly cool, hovering between in the teens to the 20s. The winds that carry the dust and grit from the deserts in the northwest subside, making the skies a crystal clear blue. This means the conditions are perfect for a pleasant stroll through Beihai Park or the grounds of the Summer Palace or the Temple of Heaven.
The weather is cool enough that you won’t mind the long lines to get into the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square. It’s also a great time for a day trip to the Great Wall. Pro-tip: Avoid the crowds of the wall’s Badaling section. Opt instead for the less developed Simatai section. It’s farther away from the city center, but less touristy and far more atmospheric.
This ancient city in Japan is the quintessential autumn destination. As the mercury drops, the foliage in the trees begin to change from green to crimson and gold. At peak season, the city’s numerous temples look like they are ensconced among jewel boxes.
Tofukuji Temple is perhaps the most celebrated site for viewing foliage as the grounds have been planted with nearly 2,000 trees. Enrian Temple is another spot worth visiting. The site is known for its abundance of maple trees that turn a rich ruby red. Rurikoin Temple is special site as well. It only opens to the public twice a year: in the spring for viewing cherry blossoms, and in the winter for viewing the turning leaves.
Nepal’s second largest city offers the gorgeous natural scenery lakes, ponds and forests all in the shadow of the stunning snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. This time of year, the weather is moderate, but sometimes dips down into an invigorating chill. This means it’s the perfect season for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, and zip lining.
There are also ample opportunities for cultural discovery in Pokhara. The city is also home to the unique Newari culture, and there are loads of temples to explore, like Barahi and Bindhyabasini.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Once the capital of Laos, Luang Prabang is the cultural seat of the country. The city’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is distinctive for its architectural and artistic heritage. Here traditional Lao aesthetics mingle with the architecture of the colonial era. Luang Prabang is studded with some of the most ornately designed Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. Three is perhaps no better example of this than Wat Xieng Thong, with it is magnificent sloping roofs.
The city is also a center for artists and artisans specializing in painting, pottery, textiles, basketry and more. Temperatures this time of year remain in the 20s making it a great time of year for outdoor activities like kayaking, mountain biking, or hiking to the top of the holy Mount Phousi for spectacular views of the Mekong Valley.