Lantern-lit skies, circus-like activities, bejewelled camels, and the flying powders of Holi: grab (and water-proof) your camera, because Asia’s festivals are a visual banquet. Rooted in Buddhist and Hindu traditions and timed to the rhythms of the moon and stars, they are joyful celebrations of fortune, prosperity and new life. To join in Asia’s festivities is to feel part of something bigger than earthly ‘business as usual’. Plus, when else do you get to drench your grandma with a Super Soaker in the name of spiritual purification? Yes, we’re looking at you, Songkran.
Asia Festivals trips
Embrace the festive atmosphere at the Naadam Festival, with visits to the region's...
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Popular festivals in Asia
While we don't have trips that centre around each of the festivals below (other than Naadam in Mongolia), we do offer trips that run through these cultural celebrations so you'll still get a chance to experience some of the best festivals in Asia.
Holi Festival, India
With colours so vibrant they threaten to break the saturation on your screen and set fire to your eyes, Holi - the ancient Hindu Festival of Colour - is held each March (or late February) during the full moon and lasts up to a week. We’ve got a number of trips running through the Holi hotspots – Delhi, Goa and Rajasthan – all you have to do is pick your favourite.
- Buy a cheap pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the colour
- Dress appropriately (nothing fancy)
- Protect your camera with a recyclable and waterproof bag
- Grease up your skin before the colour battle begins if you want it to wash off easily
View all trips to India
Naadam Festival, Mongolia
The wind-swept tundra of Mongolia isn’t a typical setting for a big party but they might be the most impressive, especially when thousands of Mongols celebrate Naadam, their biggest national holiday and festival, each year. An exhibition of the three classic martial arts: horse riding, archery and wrestling, this festival is held on a national holiday from 11 July to 13 July each year.
- Don’t miss the opening and closing ceremonies
- Play a game of shagai (skittles)
- Touch the sweat of the winning jockey or wrestler for good luck
- Buy Mongolian souvenirs from local craft stores
View all trips to Mongolia
From a tradition originally all about instilling respect for your elders and cleaning Buddhist imagery, the world's biggest water fight - Songkran - was born in Thailand. Every year, from 13–15 April, locals young and old set about soaking each other silly in the hope of washing off the past year's misfortunes and preparing for the year ahead. In other words, prepare yourself for one big street party splash-fest.
- Only take waterproof photo equipment with you
- Dress appropriately
- Avoid during the festival and be aware when crossing the road
- Only throw clean water at people.
View all trips to Thailand
Vietnam’s biggest festival celebration (between the last ten days of January and the first 20 of February) is a little like New Year’s meets a good old spring clean. Respects are paid to ancestors, new clothes are bought and worn, banquets are prepared, flowers are arranged and an emphasis is put on resolving feuds. For the visitor, all this means an exhilarating atmosphere of anticipation and renewal.
- Never show up uninvited anywhere
- Many businesses shut down during this period so stock up in advance
- Be sensitive in haggling over prices
- Refrain from arguing and indulging in conflict, etc
View all trips to Vietnam
Cherry Blossom Festival, Japan
With a long history that's tied to Kings and dignitaries, it's no surprise that Japan goes all out once a year for their beloved cherry blossoms (think picnics, get-togethers, and barbecues). While you can expect crowded places and plenty of people, this two-week period in late March is one of the best times to visit the country as the landscapes are made more beautiful by the soft pale, pink of the fragrant trees.
- Expect large crowds so be mindful of your belongings
- Learn the Japanese terms: sakura for cherry blossoms and hanami for cherry blossom viewing
- Head to iconic spots for the best cherry blossom viewing (Himeji Castle, etc)
- Always carry a cardigan or jacket with you
View all trips to Japan
The Hindu festival of Diwali in India celebrates the victory of light over darkness; goodness over evil; knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. Right across the nation, for four days each October - November, homes, offices and city skylines are bathed in light emanating from diverse sources such as tea candles to fireworks; all in veneration of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity.
- Beware of burns from fireworks and open flames
- Dress nicely (think new clothes and plenty of jewellery)
- Get into the local spirit by going vego for a while
- Gambling is customary but only gamble what you're willing to lose
View all trips to India
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