Across the northern hemisphere, May brings spring blossoms, sunshine, and warmer weather, but the summer crowds haven’t arrived in most destinations. In the southern hemisphere, the rains are ending and the weather is starting to cool down a bit.
If you want to get outside to enjoy the ample sun, you might hike in Scotland, look for wildlife in US National Parks, or take a water safari in a mokoro canoe in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It’s also a popular time for festivals, whether you’re in Venice to watch the mayor pledge himself in a symbolic wedding to the sea, watching jazz performances in Saint Lucia, or sampling single-source organic chocolate in Belize.
1. Thailand - Visited
Thailand’s weather is reliably dry and hot throughout May, but the majority of the crowds have headed home, making this an excellent time to visit. Throughout the month you’ll enjoy summery temperatures and uncrowded beaches, as well as mostly blue skies, with just a small chance of rain. If you tire of the beach, you might take a guided walking tour of Bangkok’s street food or go to Dragon Island, where you can explore the bizarre rock formations, sheer limestone cliffs, hidden grottoes and untouched beaches. For an in-depth look at Thai life, head north to Chiang Mai and spend a day with a local family.
Don't miss: A classic Thailand tour
Flight time: 11½ hours (Bangkok)
Time difference: UTC +7
May Temperature (Day): 31 to 34°C, depending on the region
May rainfall: 103 to 420mm, varies by region
2. The USA - Visited
Across the northern half of the country, spring has settled in with pleasantly warm temperatures. April rains have left much of the landscape lushly green, from the prairie grasslands of the Midwest to the woodlands of New England. It’s a fine time for exploring the outdoors, especially in the national parks, where the wildlife is active.
In the southern half, spring is starting to shade into summer, but days are still comfortable and you can expect dry weather and sunny skies. (The exception is Hawaii, which sees Pacific storms and lots of rain.) Despite the comfortable weather, the crowds are generally thin until Memorial Day (the last weekend in May).
Don't miss: Classic New England self-drive tour
Flight time: Between 7 (New York) & 20 hours (Honolulu)
Time difference: UTC -5 to UTC -10
May Temperature (Day): 1 to 35°C, depending on the region
May rainfall: 19 to 464mm, varies by region
3. Croatia - Visited
Though Croatia is a year-round destination, May is a particularly lovely time to experience all that the country has to offer. The weather is warm and sunny, but not too hot for hiking, kayaking and other outdoor activities. You’re also visiting before the summer crush that occurs as spring turns to summer.
May is also when Split celebrates its patron saint, Domnius, with processions, traditional klapa music, a rowing contest, and a street fair. For a more rural experience, consider a guided tour of the Šibenik Islands, where you’ll find more traditional villages. Or enjoy the country’s landscapes with a boat tour of Krka National Park.
Don't miss: A tour of Croatia
Flight time: 2 hours 30 upwards depending on the airline (London to Split)
Time difference: UTC +1
May Temperature (Day): 21 to 22°C, depending on the region
May rainfall: 52 to 84mm, varies by region
May is the only month that’s pleasant across the whole of China, making it the best time for a grand tour of the country. Temperatures are warm, but not yet sticky and hot. In Yunnan, the flowers are in full bloom and rhododendron bushes cover the mountain slopes in shades of pink and white. Be aware that the first few days of May are a national holiday and very busy, so plan around those dates.
Your visit might include a walk along with one of the less-busy sections of the Great Wall or a leisurely cruise down the Li River. To sample the many nuances of China’s cuisines, consider a guided food tour in Shanghai or Chengdu.
Don't miss: Highlights of China: Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Shanghai
Flight time: 9¾ hours (Beijing)
Time difference: UTC +8
May Temperature (Day): -1 to 29°C, depending on the region
May rainfall: 3 to 173mm, varies by region
5. Botswana - Visited
May marks the beginning of the dry, cooler period in Botswana. Humidity falls, leaving comfortably warm conditions. Nights and early mornings can have a chill in the air, so you might need an extra layer for dawn safaris and after sundown.
As temperatures gradually dip, animals become more active. You’ll see them in peak health thanks to the abundance of water on the ground. As well as game drives, you can take boat or mokoro (traditional canoe) trips to explore wildlife along the Okavango Delta’s reed-lined waterways. Botswana’s reserves are never crowded, but you’ll see even fewer visitors than later in the season, and might be able to take advantage of lower prices.
Don't miss: Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta
Flight time: 13½ hours (Maun via Johannesburg)
Time difference: UTC +2
May Temperature (Day): 0 to 40°C, depending on the region
May rainfall: 0 to 600mm, varies by region
The type of weather you get in Belize is dependent upon where you’re visiting, but May is warm, dry and sunny in the Cayo District and on the Cayes. It’s before the rainy season starts in June but well after the Easter rush, so you’ll have fewer visitors to contend with.
The third week of May is also the Toledo Cacao Fest, a week-long festival dedicated to all things chocolate. You can attend tastings, cooking competitions, and street fairs that put the spotlight on the country’s small but burgeoning cacao industry. If tastings aren’t enough and you want to learn more about Belize’s chocolate, we can arrange for you to tour an organic chocolate farm.
Don't miss: Simply Belize: Jungle & beach
Flight time: Approx. 13 hours (via the USA)
Time difference: UTC -6
May Temperature (Day): 30 to 32°C, depending on the region
May rainfall: 82 to 205mm, varies by region