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In May, Uzbekistan sees rainfall at its lowest and temperatures at their mildest, making it the perfect time to explore souks and visit the beautiful cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. Meanwhile, in the Himalayan foothills, the temperature is warming with tea pickers out in force on the hillsides of Darjeeling alongside vivid wildflowers, ensuring beautiful mountain views. In Latin America, wildlife comes alive amid calm seas in the Galapagos throughout May, just as the tourists begin to dwindle. While northern China’s pleasant weather makes it an ideal time to explore before the summer crowds flock. For those with adventure in mind, Lebanon makes for a fascinating escape in May, combining the country’s coast, mountains and numerous historic sites.
Lebanon is a relatively small country that’s packed with impressive Roman remains, beautiful vineyards, quiet fishing villages and soaring mountains. The best time to visit Lebanon is late spring (May) or autumn (October and November) when the weather is pleasantly warm and dry. The scenery here is at its most beautiful, and the archaeological sites are less busy. May and June are also the best months for a wander in places such as the Kadisha Valley or Horsh Ehden as well as for wine tasting in the Bekaa Valley.
As the temperature in summer can reach 40°C, the best months to visit are between mid-April and early June. Temperatures during this time are mid to high 20s and there is still a cool breeze. In the Tien Shan mountains, the wild flowers of Uzbekistan are in bloom, predominantly red poppies and tulips. In Bukhara, the Silk and Spices Festival is held in May. The weekend is dedicated to cultural heritage and supports local arts and crafts, from gold embroiderers and hand weavers to wood carvers, carpet weavers and fine art. Before the summer heat begins, you can also stay the night in a yurt in the Kyzylkum desert.
In May the weather tends to be clear, sunny and warm with little rain. However, southern China is humid and tends to have heavy monsoon rainfall. Across the countryside, the surroundings are verdant and wildflowers are in bloom, making it the perfect time to visit natural attractions such as Tiger Leaping Gorge, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Shilin Stone Forest before the crowds arrive. The weather also makes it pleasant to roam the streets of Lijiang, whose old town has been declared a Unesco world heritage site. In neighbouring Hong Kong, the Dragon Boat Festival is held at the end of May, a colourful traditional event where paddlers race in long narrow boats.
Luckily, the Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination as the weather is temperate. However, in May, the skies are at their bluest and the seas are calm. Wildlife activities are rife: the eggs of marine iguanas and sea turtles begin to hatch and many birds begin their courtship rituals, including the unmistakable blue-footed boobies. Flowers are now in bloom and the water is warm, making snorkelling a delight. Plus, as the peak season begins in June, you will be able to experience the Galapagos with fewer tourists.
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With winter’s snowfall thawed, rhododendrons and magnolias bloom in the charming Indian Himalaya hill stations of Shimla and Darjeeling. The quintessential sight of tea pickers scatter Darjeeling’s mountain slopes and Shimla enjoys its warmest month of the year with temperate days and cool nights, as well as the start of the city’s Summer Festival which erupts into a riot of colour and celebration. Darjeeling enjoys ideal weather conditions in May ahead of June’s monsoon season, making it a popular time to visit, whilst bustling Dharamsala’s pleasant weather makes it easier to explore the Dalai Lama’s local community in comfort.