February falls during the dry season for many of the top backpacking destinations, which makes it the perfect time to plan your trip. Backpacking is a journey of true discovery, where you learn as much about yourself as the country you’ve chosen to visit. Here’s my guide to the finest places to embark upon that voyage during this month.
Cambodia has come out of the shade of its famous neighbours Thailand and Vietnam to become one of the most popular backpacking destinations. It has the allure of the spiritual side of the many temples that scatter the country, the ancient and more recent past to delve into and some of the most stunning landscapes and sea-fronts to enjoy. On top of this, it’s a great backpacking destination because of the low-cost of living. During February, Cambodia sees excellent weather, with temperatures rising through the month. February sees averages of 27C (81F) which means you’ll benefit from the sunshine and warmth without the oppressive humidity that will follow in the next few months.
There are a number of must see sights within Cambodia that are ideal for visiting whilst backpacking. The temples of Angkor are by far the most famous site within the country and a visit here is truly breathtaking. Dating back to the 12th century, this sprawling complex of temples is the largest religious building in the world. My top tip is to visit around sunrise to witness a spectacular scene and base yourself in the atmospheric city of Siem Reap. Other great buildings to visit include the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Phen and ancient Koh Ker. For a laid back rest, take to the beaches of Kep and Sihanoukville, where you can enjoy idyllic white beaches and tropical scenery.
Bordered by Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and China, Laos is the perfect place to base yourself for a tour of South-East Asia. Visiting during February, you’ll find the country deep in its dry season, with temperatures climbing as you travel south through the country. It offers a chance to see traditional South-East Asia, with untouched cultures, towns and landscapes. February also boasts the Elephant Festival in Sayaboury which not only celebrates this majestic animal but seeks to help conserve the species.
The cities within Laos are a good place to start planning your backpacking trip here. Vientiane, the capital, has retained much of its colonial French past and feels very much like you’ve stepped back in time. I would almost guarantee that it is the most laid back capital city you’ll ever visit. Top attractions here include Pha That Luang and Buddha Park. I would also recommend taking a cruise down the Mekong River which opens up the rest of the country and is a fantastic way to travel. From Vientiane, make your way to Luang Prabang, located in the north of the country. Here you can explore the stunning landscape, by visiting the Kuang Si Falls and using the city as a base to explore the jungles, hills and mountains of the north. To enjoy the landscape of the south, head for the Four Thousand Islands where you can stay in a bungalow right on the beach. I’d recommend Don Dhet for a relaxing beach break.
Colombia in February is an exciting country to visit. You’ll find the country in the grip of its dry season with high humidity. Temperatures vary due to the area you travel to, but averages in the capital Bogota reach highs of 13C (55F) whilst in the Amazon region, temperatures climb to 31C (88F). February sees the second largest carnival in South America held in Barranquilla. The carnival takes place on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and sees an explosion of colour and sound take to the streets.
Colombia offers the chance to explore a number of natural landscapes all within one country. Visit the rainforest by taking a trip into the Amazon, one of the most famous and most breathtaking natural wonders in the world. Start your journey in Leticia and then head off into the jungle to explore the small villages, the lush landscape and witness the ecosystem in full flow. From greenery, head for the extreme other end of the scale by visiting the desert of Tatacoa where you can enjoy the arid landscape filled with cacti. And from the desert, take a trip up into the mountains of the Andes which wind their way through the country.