Avoid the crowd – the best times of year to visit the world’s busiest cities if you hate queuing

2018-09-05 10:30 - Marisa Crous
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The Hong Kong cityscape and junkboat at twilight (Photo: iStock

The best time to visit a city is subjective, of course. And it all depends on what you are keen to get out of the experience.

Whether it's standing in awe of the pale pink cherry-blossoms in Kyoto, Japan in the month of April among thousands of other tourists who chose to do the same, or decide to trade in the Cape Town winter cold for warm sunny weather in Vilankulo, Mozambique, sitting solo in a lounger chair on a vacant beach having a cold beer. Each to their own. 

This year market research firm Euromonitor International’s latest Top 100 City Destinations Ranking listed Hong Kong as the most visited destination city in the world. The bustling metropolis has held this honour for the last nine years. 

SEE: Visa-Free holidays: 5 stay ideas to help you plan an exciting, south-east Asia escape 

The ranking table is based on visitors who spend more than 24 hours in the city. Here are the top 5 cities, and the amount (in millions) of people who visited the city in 2017: 

1. Hong Kong (26.6)
2. Bangkok (21.2)
3. London (19.2)
4. Singapore (16.6)
5. Macau (15.4)

Yet if you're not a fan of crowds, or queuing for that matter, and want to visit these extremely popular cities boasting a huge influx of tourists annually, then here are the best times to visit:  

Hong Kong 

Why visit?

Why not visit? There's no city like Hong Kong. A real-life Gotham City, the sheer magnitude of it blows you away. 

Take the Peak Tram up to The Peak on Hong Island for the best panoramic views of the city. 

When to visit? 

Go in their winter - mid-December to February. Temps are down, but not freezing and crowds thin out during this time. 


SEE: Quick guide to Thailand: Visa free travel for South Africans 

Why visit?

While most go for the shopping, culture seeps through every pour of this city. Take a water taxi to the Grand Palace - a sight even those who detest sight-seeing will appreciate. So vast, so overwhelmingly beautiful, the experience is a must. 

When to visit? 

Many opt to visit Bangkok in September as it's low tourist season, yet the weather often plays up during this time. So head to the city in March, May or June for the best crowds to weather ratio


Why visit?

The markets, museums and galleries. Sure, London has sights for days - even weeks! But markets like Columbia Road Flower Market and galleries like the Tate Modern are itinerary firsts. 


When to visit? 

Go in spring. March through May has mild weather (for the most part), and is more quiet than peak seasons. However, always pack for two seasons as London's tumultuous weather makes no set-in-stone promises. 


READ: Quick Guide to Singapore: Visa-free travel for South Africans 

Why visit?

This city is fast-becoming one of the most popular destinations with tourists. Don't miss the Marina Bay Sands Skypark Observation Deck, also featuring an infinity pool, and view the entire city from here. 

When to visit?  

Singapore is known for its consistent temps, but to avoid massive crowds at popular sights it's best to head here around December and January. 


SEE: Quick Guide to Macau: Visa-free travel for South Africans 

Why visit?

Known as the fun, gaming capital of Asia with a plethora of casinos and gambling options, the contemporary-cool architecture is not to be left off the must-do list. The Macau Tower, in particular, is a symbol of the city's modernity. The highest viewing deck allows you epic views up to 55km away. 

When to visit? 

Visit Macau in February as temperatures (especially humidity) are down and gamblers are laying low. 

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