As a digital nomad who’s been living in Southeast Asia for the past 2 and a half years, I’d say that living here is mostly awesome… But honestly, sometimes the heat can get exhausting.
So today, let’s take a look at some of the colder cities in Southeast Asia. None of them are cold enough for snow—but regardless, their cool temperatures will feel refreshing compared to the consistent heat across most of the region.
The first two cities are cool all year. The last three cities are cool in the winter (around December and January), but they’re hot in the summer.
1. Da Lat, Vietnam
Da Lat has relatively consistent, cool temperatures. This is because of its high elevation, about ~1,500 meters above sea level. Da Lat is surrounded by mountains and nature, with a big lake even inside the city.
The coolest month in Da Lat is December, with average daily highs of 69°F (21°C) and average daily lows of 53°F (12°C).
The warmest month in Da Lat is April, with average daily highs of 79°F (26°C) and average daily lows of 59°F (15°C).
Personally, I loved staying in Da Lat, and I want to return sometime. It’s a relatively small city, with a population of ~425,000 people. But if you’d like a small, cool city in the mountains of Vietnam, it may be perfect for you.
2. Baguio, Philippines
Baguio is another consistently cool destination. Similarly to Da Lat above, Baguio is a small mountain city, with an elevation of about ~1,400 meters above sea level.
The coolest month in Baguio is January, with average daily highs of 70°F (21°C) and average daily lows of 56°F (13°C).
The warmest month in Baguio is April, with average daily highs of 74°F (23°C) and average daily lows of 61°F (16°C).
Baguio is a popular vacation spot for people living in Metro Manila—it’s about a 3 or 4 hour drive away. Baguio has a slightly smaller population than Da Lat, with around ~350,000 people.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai has a cool, dry season in the winter (which is also called “high season”). However, the summer is quite hot and rainy.
Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains, but it is not as consistently cool as the mountain destinations of Da Lat and Baguio above.
The coolest month in Chiang Mai is January, with average daily highs of 85°F (29°C) and average daily lows of 59°F (15°C).
The warmest month in Chiang Mai is April, with average daily highs of 97°F (36°C) and average daily lows of 74°F (23°C).
I visited Chiang Mai in late January once. The weather was very pleasant. In the afternoon it still gets warm, but the nights and mornings are cool. It’s refreshing if you’ve been in hot places in SE Asia for a while!
4. Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi has a cool, dry season in the winter—but the summers are hot and rainy like most of Southeast Asia.
The coolest month is January, with average daily highs of 68°F (20°C) and average daily lows of 57°F (14°C).
The warmest month is June, with average daily highs of 92°F (33°C) and average daily lows of 79°F (26°C).
Hanoi is the biggest city on this list. It’s the capital of Vietnam, with a metro population of over 8 million people. It has beautiful lakes within the city, and is said to have retained more of its traditional Vietnamese culture compared to Saigon.
As of this writing, I spent about two weeks in Hanoi, and I’m planning to go back soon. However, my first visit was in August, and it was very hot. Next time, I’ll visit during the coolest month, January!
5. Chiang Rai, Thailand
Chiang Rai is a totally different city from Chiang Mai (listed above). But they have a relatively similar climate, which has a hot summer but a pretty cool dry season.
The coolest month in Chiang Rai is December, with average daily highs of 80°F (27°C) and average daily lows of 58°F (14°C).
The warmest month in Chiang Rai is April, with average daily highs of 93°F (34°C) and average daily lows of 71°F (22°C).
Chiang Rai is the smallest city on this list in terms of population. It has only ~200,000 people. It also has stunning temples and nearby mountains and nature. It’s a very relaxed destination, if that sounds appealing to you.
11 More Cold Destinations in SE Asia
For the main list above, I decided to focus on cities to live in. But if you expand your search to include more cold destinations for shorter visits, there are quite a few more.
My impression is that the following spots are not really cities, but just small towns or rural areas with some resorts. However, some of them are very beautiful:
- Sapa, Vietnam
- Sagada, Philippines
- Tagaytay, Philippines
- Kundasang, Malaysia
- Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
- Genting Highlands, Malaysia
- Bukit Tinggi, Malaysia
- Mount Rinjani, Indonesia
- Cipanas, Indonesia
- Wonosobo, Indonesia
- Putao, Myanmar
Interested in more suggestions of where to live in Southeast Asia? Check out my blog post, “6 Best Cities to Live in SE Asia as an Expat or Digital Nomad.”