May is such a lovely month for many places around the world: for wildlife watching, optimum weather and arts and culture experiences – so figuring out where to go and what to see can be tricky.
So, whether you’re looking for planning a longer-term trip, or are just looking for a May short break somewhere pleasantly sunny, we’ve got recommendations for you.
Top 10 places to visit in May:
- South Korea
- Northern Vietnam
- Arenal Volcano
- Phillip Island
- Galapagos Islands
There seems to be a million and one good reasons to visit South Korea in May.
Early May also sees Damyang’s annual Bamboo Festival take place, with opportunities to try bamboo stalk-brewed booze, make bamboo crafts and fish with a bamboo basket yourself. There’s also the Boseong Green Tea Festival. No medals for guessing what that’s about!
Flights are often reasonably-priced in May, too – given that peak season is March to May and September to November.
Places to visit in South Korea
- Jeju Island
South Korea weather in May
There’s the pleasant weather, with lows of 13°C and highs of 23°C. Clear skies and warm days are on the horizon, before the humidity picks up in summer.
May marks the end of Japan’s spring, when the weather is starting to get a little warmer. It arrives just before the start of the rainy season in June, which lasts all summer until August.
Early May makes a lovely time to visit Japan, especially if you want to enjoy hanami (cherry blossom viewing). Throughout spring, the country’s famous pale pink cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Blooms of wisteria are also prime for viewing in early May. Plants are tucked away all over. Ashikaga Flower Park, and the wisteria tunnel at Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu, are particularly stunning.
Japan weather in May
In May, we can experience around 23 degrees Celsius during the afternoon, with temperatures decreasing to around 15 degrees in the evenings and mornings.
Sun-seekers should head to the Bahamas in early May, where temps go as high as 29°C during the day, and stay warm in the evening, averaging around 22°C. Later in May and going into June, you’re looking at rainy season.
With over 700 islands making up the Bahamas, there’s plenty to do beyond lounging on the beach. You could dive the Abacos, the third largest coral reef in the world, or go birding in Inagua National Park, which is home to 50,000 pink flamingos.
Bahamas weather in May
29°C during the day, and stay warm in the evening, averaging around 22°C.
The best time to visit Uzbekistan is in spring or autumn, when you will avoid the scorched summers and freezing winters. April and may are particularly pleasant. Our favorite things to do here include exploring the Silk Road and discovering over 200 ancient mosques along the way; admiring the incredible, 3D-tiled buildings of Samarkand; and joining a traditional Uzbek festival
Places to visit in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan weather in May
April to May is one of the better visiting windows for Uzbekistan. Being a desert country, it’s often rather hot and dry during the summer.
Hiking the rice fields and mountains of Vietnam isn’t advised during the rainy season of June to September. It’ll take you longer, and it’s likely there’ll be far more Vietnamese visitors trekking during these months.
Instead, outdoor activities in towns like Sa Pa, Ha Giang, Bac Ha, and Mu Cang Chai should be done in May, right before rainy season begins, while the weather’s still warm and dry.
Places to visit in Northern Vietnam
- Sa Pa
- Ha Giang
- Bac Ha
- Mu Cang Chai
Northern Vietnam weather in May
In the north of the country, regions including Halong Bay and Hanoi are usually dry with average temperatures of 29°C during the daytime.
Early May is the very start of rainy season in Costa Rica, but with the added benefit of not really being that rainy.
It does have a few more benefits: the lushness of the transitional ‘green season’ is in full force and you’ll also find it’s less crowded. Chances are you’ll be more likely to find better deals on accommodation and flights. Despite a little bit of unpredictability with the weather, it is a good time to see the active Arenal Volcano and take part in the many outdoor activities in the surrounding national park. For best views of the volcano, visit early in the morning or later at night.
Arenal Volcano weather in May
Early in the month it may be more like dry hot April with highs well into the 32-36 °C but once the season switches it’s more like June and a few degrees cooler.
Phillip Island is a well-known destination for wildlife watchers keen to see penguins. In May, penguins start their nest building, and can usually be spotted around 5.30pm. There’s also a ‘penguin parade’ at sunset, whatever the weather.
From May to October, there’s a chance of seeing whales, too. Humpback whales and southern right whales are often spotted along the Victoria coast. There are numerous trails and update pages to help you with the best chance of spotting.
Dry season begins in May and lasts until October, and low season for safari parks is December to April – so May is an ideal time to visit any of Botswana’s main safari reserves, including Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta.
Not only does it have some of the best weather conditions for safari (clear skies, warm weather without overbearing heat and only a small chance of rainfall), but it’s also before the absolute peak season begins in June.
Places to visit in Botswana
- Chobe National Park
- Mokolodi Nature Reserve
- Tsodilo Hills
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Botswana weather in May
ThThe temperatures are relatively cool, typically 10°C in the morning and 28°C in the afternoon. Night temperatures can drop below freezing, especially in the dryer Kalahari areas. Afternoons will be more pleasant, with temperatures around 25°C.
Polar bears can be spotted around Svalbard all year round – there are said to be around 3,000 in the region.
There aren’t ‘safaris’ as such – the best way to see them is via a cruise around the archipelago. You’ll need a guide with you to ensure you’re safe. Polar bears aren’t as cuddly as they look.
May is the beginning of the season, and is the best time to go if you’re a wildlife photography enthusiast, as the ice hasn’t quite melted yet. You’ll be in for some epic shots.
Places to visit in Svalbard
- Global Seed Vault
- Hinlopen Strait
Svalbard weather in May
May’s temperatures creep up slowly with lows of -7°C and highs of around -3°C throughout the month. Plenty of layers will still be necessary but it will be much more pleasant than earlier months.
Not only is the weather in the Galapagos beautiful in May, with milder temperatures and a lower humidity, but its effects can be seen across the islands in the lush green foliage.
There are typically less visitors in May, which is useful info if you want to avoid the crowds. It’s ideal for animal lovers, who’ll be able to witness green turtles hatching from their eggs. Penguins nest in May, and you may be able to spot them from Fernandina Island or certain parts of Isabela Island.
Birdwatchers will also be able to spy blue-footed boobies doing their courtship dance, waved albatross and greater flamingos, among a host of other species, across various islands.
Places to visit in Galapagos Islands
- North Seymour Island
- Las Bachas
- Black Turtle Cove
- Bartolomé Island
- Mosquera Island
Galapagos Islands weather in May
The weather is pleasant and there is a lower degree of humidity than will be experienced at other times of the year. The sea temperature is around 24 degrees Celsius.