… when the weather is hot, you can stretch right up and touch the sky, when the weather’s fine, we got TOP 10 COOL SUMMER GETAWAYS on our mind
Summer is typically July through September and that is the period when most holidaymakers are on the move. Tourists from US and Europe traditionally use their summer holidays to soak up the sun while those from the Middle East will head towards Asian countries with lots of rain and greenery. But for those looking for respite from the sweltering heat, we have a list of recommendations for you that won’t break the bank.
1. Sapa, Vietnam
Located at north end of Vietnam, the town of Sapa was built around 1922 in a valley about 1,600 metres above sea level. The average temperature during summer is around 22-25°C with occasional rainfalls. The charming town is small enough to be explored on foot. You can start from the main Cau May street which is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants catering to tourists and make your way to the old church. Behind the church is an open-air night market with makeshift stalls selling all kinds of stuff from winter clothing and shoes to local snacks and cheap torchlights. In Sapa, you will most likely meet the ethnic minorities in their colourful attire, the most distinctive being the H’mongs and Red Dao people. The real deal in Sapa is the villages of the ethnic minorities located outside the town. You can sign up with any of the local tour operators to bring you to the villages and to overnight at the homestays.
2. Dalat, Vietnam
Dalat is called le petit Paris (Little Paris) for a reason. This beautiful town, located at an altitude of 1,500 metres above sea level in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, was developed by the French as a highland retreat to escape from the heat and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Till now many French villas remain while newer mom-and-pop ice cream parlours, trendy cafes, bread and pastry shops have also cropped up, especially along the neon-lit Ba Thang Hai street. Visitors can spend time taking in the fresh cool air over local coffee or take a walk around the Xuan Huong lake. There is a 22-hectare Flower Garden near the lake where you can admire the flowers in bloom. Other attractions include the Bao Dai Palace which used to be the summer villa for the former Emperor of Vietnam, Linh Phong and Linh Phuoc pagodas. Outside town, you can go mountain trekking or visit one of the many waterfalls around the area. During summer, the temperature hovers around 22°C but may dip lower at night, so do bring a jacket when you visit.
3. Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Situated 1,500 metres above sea level, Cameron Highlands is a famous hill resort in Malaysia known for its scenic tea plantations. It used to be a retreat for expats during the colonial days. Till now, one can see many Tudor-style buildings around town. Tourists usually visit one of the butterfly, strawberry and honey bee farms but the highlight is a visit to the tea plantation for tea and scones while taking in the view, a tradition that goes back to British colonial days. Bird-watching and trekking are also popular activities here. The average temperature at the highlands is around 22°C.
4. Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, is surrounded by many natural attractions. Just an hour outside the city, you can explore the west coast beaches and rugged coastline. You can also take the ferry to Rangitoto island, famous for its dormant volcanic cone. Another island, Waiheke, is known for its wineries and vineyards. To get the best experience, you can sign up for a food and wine tour. Within the city, you can check out the iconic Sky Tower to get a panoramic view from 192 metres above ground, visit the many art galleries and museums or explore the restaurants, bars, cafes and markets. It’s mostly sunny during summer with temperatures around 14°C.
5. Melbourne, Australia
While not as flashy as its sister, Sydney, up north, Melbourne is known to have a more cosmopolitan vibe with an exciting arts scene and thriving coffee culture. Its small alleys and laneways invite visitors to explore and be rewarded by excellent finds—from small cafes and bars to award-winning restaurants and exotic shops. A large number of theatres, art galleries and museums add to the city’s charm. Summer feels like winter in Melbourne with temperatures around 14°C, so do come prepared.
6. Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
Bandung, the capital of Indonesia’s West Java province, is a modern city set amid scenic volcanoes and vast tea plantations. It’s known for its cool climate thanks to its 768-metre elevation and at its warmest, the temperature hovers around 30°C. The city is also famous as a shopping haven, especially its factory outlets which sells clothes and other merchandise at bargain prices. Outside the city, you can explore a volcanic crater lake, trek mountain trails or visit a strawberry farm, among other attractions.
7. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located in the mountainous region in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a historic city with hundreds of Buddhist temples. Besides going to the temples, tourists can visit the villages of the “long neck” ethnic tribes, spend time at the elephant park, go jungle trekking, shopping or savour the local delicacies. Most visitors to Chiang Mai would include a visit to the sister town Chiang Rai, which has a more relaxed and down-to-earth feel. The temperature in Chiang Mai hovers around 31-33°C during summer.
8. Lijiang, Yunnan, China
Lijiang is a well-known ancient city located in the mountainous region of Yunnan province, China. It’s also home to the Naxi ethnic minority group. Although it is a tourist destination and mostly crowded, one can still find a quiet place within the labyrinth of old alleys paved with time-worn cobblestones for a cup of tea or a western meal at one of the many historic shophouses turned into cafes and restaurants. The city’s old quarter, known as Dayan, is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Just four kilometres away, there is a quieter and smaller old town called Shuhe that has less crowds. Outside Lijiang, you can visit the Baisha Murals, Lashihai lake, Tibetan temples and other attractions. The temperature during summer is between 15°C and 23°C, so a jacket would come in handy at night.
9. Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia
Manzhouli is an interesting town in Inner Mongolia province, China. Located close to the China-Russian border, the town has a Russian rather than a Chinese vibe and its shops and restaurants are mostly geared towards Russian tourists who drive across the border. Many Chinese shop owners are fluent in Russian and signboards are in two languages. Around town, there are attractions like the Matryoshka Doll Square, a colorful theme park featuring Russian nesting dolls, the Russian Art Museum, a Russian-style church and the Hulun lake, the largest in the province. Manzhouli is also known as the springboard for tourists to experience the Hulunbeier grasslands, hailed as the most beautiful in China. The temperature during summer is between 22°C and 28°C.
10. Mohe, Heilongjiang, China
Mohe is called China’s arctic town for good reason. Located in the northernmost part of China bordering Russia, its temperature falls below freezing point for most part of the year. Summer, although lasting for just half a month around mid-July, is probably the best time to visit. Daylight can last for a record 19 hours during summer. Despite the cold weather, Mohe is famous for its picturesque scenery. About two hours outside Mohe is a small settlement called Beiji village (Beijicun in Chinese) where you can live in log cabins or home-stays run by locals.
Summer is peak period in the tourism calendar, so you can expect prices for hotels and other services to be at a premium. Some hotels will also be busy with higher occupancies. It’s best to plan all your bookings well in advance. Summer is also the rainy season in many places, so do read up to make sure that does not put a damper on your outdoor plans.
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