Welcome to Meanwhile in ASEAN and our blog series exploring the best spots to escape the cold this winter. From island paradises to metropolitan cities, we discover all the best sunshine-laden destinations in Southeast Asia to add to your travel list.
Grab your summer hat and join us as we delve into the tropical climate of Indonesia and Singapore to see which local festivals and events are on from January to March. With plenty to see and do under the warm sunshine, you might be jetting off to Southeast Asia, sooner than you think.
With highs of 26-27°C between January to March, Indonesia attracts droves of travelers to Maluku and Papua to enjoy the dry season. Both regions are ideal at this time of year for those who like to dive. The wet season continues in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Bali, and Lombok but temperatures remain pleasant.
Have you heard the wonders of Belitung’s beaches? Flanked by the Gaspar and Karimata Strait, off the eastern coast of Sumatra, Belitung is a beautiful island blessed with a magnificent landscape, divine beaches, and outstanding scenery. This tropical wonderland is truly a place where you can get a glimpse of what paradise would be like. One island, in particular, Lengkuas Island is the site of a 19th-century antique lighthouse.
The upcoming Belitung Cap Go Meh Festival will be held on 19th February 2019, marking the last day of the Chinese New Year or Imlek. The festival means “the 15th night”, hence, it is celebrated 15 days after Imlek, when the full moon will be at its brightest. Chinese descendants all over the world, including Chinese-Indonesian, celebrate this day with vibrant festivals. The festival usually includes Barongsai (lion dance) performance, lantern parade, and delicious food festival. One of the most well-known and awaited is the lontong Cap Go Meh.
Travel between Indonesia and Singapore
It couldn’t be easier to cross-travel between Indonesia and Singapore. Direct flights take less than two hours in total. Numerous flights leave each day to and from Singapore’s Changi Airport, connecting to various Indonesian locations – including Tanjung Pandan Belitung, Jakarta, Semarang Central Java, Yogyakarta, Surabaya East Java, and Denpasar Bali.
If you have more time on your hands to enjoy a slower mode of travel, you can also travel between the two countries by ferry. Several local ferry companies travel directly from Singapore to Indonesia, in less than eight hours.
Singapore enjoys at least 10 hours of wonderful sunshine each day from January to March, with temperatures staying consistent around 28-32°C. Considered “shoulder season” as it sits between peak season and low season, January – March is a great time of year to enjoy the beautiful Singaporean sunshine and avoid the crowds. And, it’s not just the weather that draws in visitors. There’s plenty of festivals and events to enjoy while you’re there.
Two-day Hindu festival Thaipusam, brings traffic to a sstandstillon 20-21 January. An exceptionally lively celebration, Hindu devotees in Singapore commemorate with dance, music, and processions to give thanks for their blessings. Visitors to this festival can expect to see a range of large colorful processions running from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road and Sri Thendayuthapani Temple located on Tank Road. Festivities also extend to Little India and Mariamman Temple where outdoor celebrations are also in full swing.
Celebrations in Singapore turn up a level in February, as Chinese Singaporeans hold elaborate activities to welcome in the Chinese New Year. To take part in the festivities, head to Marina Bay Floating Platform to witness Singapore’s impressive floating platform in NS Square (formerly known as Float@Marina Bay). Here you can enjoy breathtaking displays of Chinese lanterns, eat mouth-watering local food and soak up the warm climate in the open-air.
The famous Chingay Parade is Singapore’s Annual Street parade, celebrating the rich and diverse culture of Singapore. Famed as the largest street performance and float in Asia, expect to see decorated floats, dancing dragons, and traditional costumes representing Singaporean culture today.
With plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, Indonesia and Singapore offer the perfect getaway to warm-up this winter. Join us next time, as we explore festivities and events in the tropical Southeast Asian nations of Myanmar and Thailand.