The best places to visit in May for those last rays of sunshine

Stephanie Yip 1 May 2017


When Easter ends, the travel bargains begin.

The month of May brings with it the end of the Easter school holidays and cool weather. Whether you’re looking to take advantage of off-peak prices or you want to extend your summer days just that little bit longer, there are some perfect places to do both that won’t break the bank.

And, in case you’ve forgotten, May is also the month of Mother’s Day. So if you’ve forgotten to grab her a gift, a trip away for the weekend is the perfect way to get you back into the position of “favourite child”


1. Best budget destination: Bali

Beaches, temples, hikes and cheap flights. Is there any wonder why Aussies are in love with Bali?

Nicknamed the Island of the Gods, Bali is the full package. It’s got inviting sands, stellar surf conditions and villas stays at just a fraction of the cost of the Australian equivalent. May is the dry season in Bali but it’s just outside the June-August peak season, so you won’t be slammed with increased prices. Searching for a cheap break for mum? This could be it

  • May weather: 30°C, dry season.
  • Top May events: Ubud Food Festival (12-14 May), Bali Blues Festival (26-27 May).
  • Best for: Relaxation, watersports, partying.

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2. Best city to visit: Los Angeles

Summer might be over in Australia, but in Los Angeles, it’s just getting started.

With winter (if you can call it that) well behind it and festival season in full swing, Los Angeles thrives in May. As summer vacation hasn’t started yet, you won’t find the city overrun with tourists, though you will find it hard not to be one yourself. Hello, Hollywood!

  • May weather: 23°C, spring.
  • Top May events: Museum of Ice Cream (22 April-29 May), Obscura Day (6 May), Angel City Heritage Music and Arts Festival (6-7 May), National Public Gardens Day at the Getty (12 May), Los Angeles Asian Pacific Arts Festival (27 April-11 May).
  • Best for: City slickers, tourist attractions, that big US road trip.

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3. Best for beaches: The Greek Islands

European summer is best spent on a Mediterranean island.

The Greek Islands offer holidaymakers everything from swimming and sunbaking to world-renowned sunsets and ancient ruins. In March, the resorts and islands start to welcome tourists again after the winter off season, so by the time May rolls around, the weather is perfect for Greek Island hopping.

  • May weather: 18-22°C, spring.
  • Top May events: Sound and Light show in Corfu and Rhodes (for the whole month), Feast of Flowers (1 May), International Museums Day (18 May), Battle of Crete (20 May).
  • Best for: Island hopping, beaches, romance.

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4. Best for events: Sydney

Sydney’s iconic festival of light shines brightly on the city’s landmarks in May.

Vivid Sydney is an institution that needs no introduction. This year, the arts festival runs from 26 May to 17 June 2017 and is expected to be bigger and better than ever. On top of the usual landmarks, Kings Cross and the new Sydney precinct Barangaroo will be hosting displays.

  • May weather: 12-16°C, autumn.
  • Top May events: Vivid Sydney (26 May-17 June), Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Weekend Edition (19-20 May).
  • Best for: Sightseeing, city breaks.

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5. Best surprise destination: Alaska

Cruise through May by treating yourself to a trip through this unique US state.

Alaska is one of those big bucket-list places that you’ve just gotta see and May is the ideal time to do it. May is the beginning of the Alaskan cruise season and you’re likely to find voyages at a fraction of the price with ships that aren’t fully booked. While it’s not yet the right time to go hiking, you can still gaze upon glaciers and go salmon fishing this month.

  • May weather: 11-15°C, spring.
  • Top May events: Great Alaska Craft Beer and Homebrew Festival (26-27 May), Kodiak Crab Festival (25-29 May), Copper River Shorebird Festival (4-7 May), The Great Alaska Aviation Gathering (6-7 May).
  • Best for: Cruising, exploration, adventure.

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Top May events

  • Mother’s Day: It’s on 14 May this year, so mark it on your calendar now before you forget. PS, you’re NOT going to forget.
  • Cannes Film Festival: The red carpet is rolling out and the A-listers are strutting their stuff. This world-renowned film festival on the French coast runs for 12 days (17-28 May) and is the best place to be to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Time to get your fangirl/fanboy on.
  • Waisak/Vesk: This is the holiest day in the Buddhist calendar and is observed in various countries worldwide including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. The date changes depending on where you are but it generally falls in May. During the festival, Buddhists assemble at various temples for ceremonial flag raisings, singing, offetaries and prayer.

When is the best time in May to take a holiday?

As May falls just after the Easter holidays this year, it finds itself in a low-season lull. Because of this, we’ve seen quite a few last-minute flight deals to Italy, Los Angeles and domestic Australian cities throughout the month.

That being said, we wouldn’t say the whole month is a good time to travel. The Mother’s Day weekend is likely to raise the price of airfares due to mother’s being gifted holidays and children visiting their parents.

If you’re flying domestically, you might also want to avoid travelling to Sydney during the Vivid festivities to avoid peak prices and crowded attractions.

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