March 2019

Traditional Celebrations

Unlike most cultures across the world that celebrate New Year with parties and sparkling festivities, the new year in the Balinese Saka calendar is dedicated to complete silence. This is called Nyepi Day, the Balinese day of Silence, and it falls 7 March (the night of a new moon). Demon effigies or huge monsters with bulging eyes made of bamboo, papier-mâché and cloth and known as Ogoh-Ogoh are carried through the streets in torch-lit parades. No travel (domestic, international or local) or activities should be scheduled for Nyepi Day.

Lantern Festival (2 March) is the first significant feast after Spring Festival. The most important activity is watching beautifully lit Chinese lanterns float into the sky. During the festival, most Chinese households eat yuanxiao (rice balls stuffed with fillings), so it is also called the Yuan Xiao Festival.

Shwedagon Pagoda Festival (20 March) is Yangon’s biggest festival. Leading up to the full moon, teams of weavers compete to loom the most cloth for resident monks. Visitors come from all over Myanmar, dressed in the best attire to make offerings of water, light and flowers at the country's most important pagoda.

Pindaya Cave Festival (17-21 March) takes place at the Shwe Oo Min Pagoda Cave in Pindaya, where thousands of devotees throng the cave to pay homage to the pagoda. You will find hundreds of small stalls selling delicious local foods, Shan handicrafts, all kinds of cheroots (Myanmar cigars), Shan umbrellas, and tribes from all over Shan State dressed in colourful costumes.

International events

Keep in good shape at the Tokyo marathon (3 March). Tokyo provides a fantastic venue for one of the world’s greatest marathons. The Grand Sumo Tournament takes place in Osaka (10-24 March).

Art Basel (29-31 March) in Hong-Kong attracts the world's leading gallerists and collectors. The Hong Kong International Film Festival also takes place from 18 March - 1 April.

Borneo Ultra Trail Marathon (9-10 March) is an extreme, outdoor ultra-trail marathon taking runners through a combination of natural jungle settings and cultural landscapes via trails, dirt tracks and back-roads in the Kiulu Valley North of Kota Kinabalu.

This year celebrates the 15th edition of Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival (1-3 March). In the first 10 years the festival was running, names such as the late James Brown, Santana, Stevie Wonder and Jamie Cullum have graced the stage - with many more big names set to join their ranks.

The more eco-friendly Formula E in Hong Kong (10 March), is a motor racing championship for electrically-powered vehicles. It is recognised by motorsport's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), as the highest class of competition for electric open-wheel racing cars.

Bali Spirit Festival (24-31 March), is a spiritually charged event that celebrates yoga, dance and music and the synergy of global cultural collaboration through the arts in Bali.

Langkawi International Maritime and Aeospace Exhibition (LIMA) (26-30 March), is one of the most influential shows within the maritime and aerospace industries.

Cambodia International Film Festival is an annual non-competitive festival held every year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The official main venue of the festival is The Flicks Community Movie Theaters in Phnom Penh (dates TBA).

Weather Patterns

The weather is predominantly great for traveling in Southeast Asia during March (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore). Now is also the ideal time for cruising on Halong Bay in Vietnam (dry and cool). Spring is approaching in Japan and China with cherry blossom ready to burst open. The rapeseed flower fields are also nearing opening in Luoping (Yunnan province, China), while the peach blossom festival takes place in Shanghai, China.

With March arrives excellent weather for traveling in Malaysia, with the exception of Borneo where rain is still expected.