For many parts of the world, the Easter break brings an extended holiday with a few extra days off work, allowing you to explore a little further afield than your usual weekend getaway. Easter symbolises the beginning of spring for the northern hemisphere: an idyllic time to get out into the countryside or see city foliage in full bloom. We’ve collected together some of our favourite destinations to spend the Easter holidays combined with some ideas on how to delve a little deeper, making the most of those few extra days to explore.
1. Alishan, Taiwan
Blink and you’ll miss it. Taiwan’s cherry blossom season, similar to Japan’s, only lasts for a few weeks each year. Luckily, since the Easter holiday comes at the beginning of April in 2015, you should be able to catch the tail end of the season. And even once the sakura is over, a wealth of other colourful flowers are in bloom, making it a special time of year to visit. Alishan National Scenic Area is often proclaimed as the best place to view the cherry blossom with an annual festival from 10th March to 10th April. Here you will find cascading yoshino cherry blossom in abundance, not to mention surrounding views of some of the island nation’s most spectacular scenery. Whilst in Alishan, be sure to ride one of the antique trains through the old Japanese logging village and snack on the famed lunch box meals. And for the most magical experience, wake early to take the vintage train up to see incredible views of the sun rising mystically through the clouds.
2. Jeju, South Korea
A sea of yellow will immediately face you upon landing on Jeju, South Korea’s holiday island, at Easter. Early to Mid-April marks the high season for Jeju’s rapeseed fields, paving the way to spectacular views across the hills and down to the deep blue of the ocean. The temperatures are perfect for outdoor pursuits. Hike Mount Hallasan‘s trails flanked by springtime azaleas, ride the biking trails cross-crossing the island, visit cascading waterfalls or circumnavigate the island’s dramatic coastline by sailing boat. There’s a reason why Jeju’s popularity continues to explode!
3. Okinawa, Japan
Japan‘s topical southern islands are often overlooked. But whilst whether in Tokyo and northern Japan can be unpredictable and even a little chilly in April, Okinawa enjoys a tropical climate year round, making Easter a great time to visit. The islands themselves are a fascinating destination, with a unique individual culture, customs and language quite different from the rest of Japan. But what makes Okinawa truly special is the ocean. The sea is beautifully warm and full to the brim with colorful sea life. With your few extra days of vacation time, be sure to book yourself onto a Okinawa diving course. Cave diving, shore diving, boat diving, night diving and even whale shark diving! The choices are endless, with trips catered to both beginners and more experienced divers. And if diving’s not your thing, the snorkeling in Okinawa is out of this world. Alternatively, join a whale and dolphin watching trip to spot the majestic humpback whales (you’re in luck: the season runs from January to April).
4. Pokhara, Nepal
Despite cooler evenings which may require you to bring a warm jacket, the weather in Nepal tends to be clear and pleasant during April. There are some seriously cool activities to be found in Pokhara which you will have a hard time finding elsewhere, especially for the same price. How does parahawking (paragliding beside Egyptian vultures!) sound? And of course, any itinerary offering views of the himalayas, be it a hike, cycle or flight, can only be amazing, right?
As a popular 2-day destination already, maybe you think Singapore a poor choice for a longer stay? However many visitors are unaware of the huge array of activities on offer if you venture out of the spotlessly clean urban centre. Convenient choices include a day at Singapore Zoo or Jurong Bird Park, whilst the more adventurous should take the quaint bumboat to Palau Ubin where you can enjoy a host of outdoor activities amongst the mangroves such as kayaking or biking. Thanks to its location nestled close to the equator, Singapore enjoys a year round tropical climate making Easter (as well as most other months) a great time to visit!
6. El Nido, Philippines
A nice thing about visiting the Philippines at Easter is that the predominant religion amongst the nation is Christianity, meaning that the Easter holiday is celebrated across the country, adding a festive feel to your getaway. Visit El Nido at Easter to join in with week long celebrations, markets and a town parade. Aside from the festivities, El Nido, located in Palawan province, is consistently hailed as one of the Philippines’ most beautiful locations. With azure waters, dramatic karst topography and world-class diving, not to mention some of the world’s friendliest people, it’s hard to argue with that.
7. Bali, Indonesia
April marks the end of the rainy season in Bali, signifying a decrease in humidity and less rain to interrupt your sightseeing and sunbathing. In contrast to the preceding months, April sees less cloud cover so you’re far more likely to get spectacular views if you head up one of the island’s mountains. How does a sunrise breakfast atop Mount Batur sound? So whether you head to the southern beaches, hang out in cultural Ubud, surf on the northern coast or take off on an inland adventure, visiting at Easter will quickly get you ticking things off your wish list.
8. Siem Reap, Cambodia
April and May bring the heat to Siem Reap and many may perhaps regard this as a poor choice of time to visit. However, from June onwards comes the rain and with it, flash floods. On the other hand, April usually sees evening storms which settle the dust and bring nature into bloom. To avoid the heat, be sure to book an air-conditioned hotel room and try out morning and evening sightseeing such as sunrise temple cycling or a private sunset dinner. Opting for a Cambodian cooking class will keep you shaded during the worst of the heat or a guided motorbike adventure will deliver you to some more secluded spots to cool off at.
9. Penang, Malaysia
April sees Penang just emerging for the end of the rainy season but expect a few showers during your stay; though considering the high temperatures, you’ll be pleased for the few minutes of rainy relief! Aside from spectacular sandy beaches and warm seas, Penang offers visitors numerous other things to do. There are temples and cultural sites in abundance, plenty of galleries and quirky street art to keep art lovers entertained and the food alone is worth the trip.
10. Koh Samui, Thailand
Thailand is notoriously hot in April so a visit to the sweltering north or sweating it out in the capital might not be your best option for an Easter holiday. Thankfully, the Gulf Islands are your saving grace. Temperatures are still high but isn’t that what you want when you’re relaxing on the beach or hopping between postcard-perfect tropical islands? Head to Koh Samui to spend some time with your favourite book under the nearest coconut palm, be conveniently located for an island day trip, or to take your pick of activities including fishing, golfing and marine park snorkelling.