Asia is a shockingly diverse continent. Stretching from the frozen plains of Siberia down to the tropical islands of Indonesia, one could spend a lifetime exploring and never scratch the surface of its endless beauty. Even so, it’s easy to think of Asia as a warm destination, and many would assume the list of coldest places in Asia would be limited to a few select countries.
However, we’ve taken a deep dive into the different countries – uncovering their chilly mountain villages and rarely visited frozen towns. From the village of Dingboche, tucked in the Himalayan mountains, to snow-covered northern Japan, each place has its own charm and uniqueness.
If you prefer nature dressed in its winter coat, grab a warm cup of tea and settle in for the nine coldest places in Asia. Who knows, you might even be planning your next winter trip in a very unexpected place.
1. Coldest Place in Russia – Verkhoyansk
- Coldest day on record: -67.8 °C (-90 °F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -48.3 °C (-54.9 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: -42.2 °C (-44 °F)
Vying for one of the coldest places in the world, Verkhoyansk in winter is no joke. In fact, besides Oymyakon (also located in Russia), only Antarctica has seen lower temperatures. From October through April, temperatures stay well below freezing, and in the middle of winter, average highs are a bitterly cold -42.2 °C (-44 °F). On top of this, Verkhoyansk has an extreme subarctic climate. This causes minimal cloud cover, low precipitation, and guaranteed cold temperatures all winter long.
If you find yourself in this frozen town, don’t expect a tour book full of things to do. Besides a Pole of Cold museum, a fur-collecting depot, and a few reindeer farms, the options are rather limited. Even so, it’s not all winter for Verkhoyansk. The town also holds the record for the hottest temperature recorded north of the Arctic Circle, with a high of 37.8 °C (100.0 °F).
2. Coldest Place in Kazakhstan – Nur Sultan
- Coldest day on record: -51.6°C (-60.9 °F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -30 °C (-22 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 31 °C (88 °F)
Set in the wide-open plains of Kazakhstan is one of the strangest and coldest places in Asia. Nur Sultan, formally known as Astana, is the capital of Kazakhstan and the second-largest city in the country. Being extremely exposed to the sweeping winds of northern Kazakhstan, its winters are long and harsh. On average, temperatures will drop to the -30’s °C (-20’s °F), with bitter winds dropping the wind chill even lower. In summer, the opposite happens, with high reaching the mid 30’s °C (mid 90’s °F).
However, its futuristic and unique buildings are built to withstand these extreme temperatures, and once inside, you’ll immediately forget about the weather outside. This is especially true of the Khan Shatyr shopping mall, which has an indoor beach all year round, sits at 35°C, and is also deemed the highest tent in the world. The city is also home to many professional sports, including ice hockey, football, and basketball teams. Just be sure to learn the bus schedule as the walk between buildings is impossibly long with no protection from the weather.
3. Coldest Place in Mongolia – Ulaanbaatar
- Coldest day on record: −42.2 °C (−44.0 °F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -36 °C (-32.8 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 24°C (75.2 °F)
A city of contrasts, Ulaanbaatar is equal parts a frozen tundra and a bustling summer destination. If you visit during one season, it’s hard to imagine the sprawling city in the opposite season. In summer, highs are in the mid 20’s °C (mid 70’s °F), and the city is full of life with festivals and bustling nightclubs. Then, during its long winter, temperatures drop down to between −36 and −40 °C (−32.8 and −40.0 °F), and the city seems to go into hibernation.
The cold winters of Ulaanbaatar can be blamed on its location hundreds of miles away from any coast and at an elevation of 4,300 feet (1,200 meters). However, also being one of the oldest and capital cities and one of the coldest places in Asia, the residents are experts and living with the cold. Most houses are built as traditional yurts, which do not protrude into the soil, and wool and cashmere jackets and sweaters are abundant.
4. Coldest Place in China – Harbin
- Coldest day on record: -45 °C (-49 °F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -36 °C (-32.8 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 25.5 °C (78 °F)
Known as the ‘Ice City,’ Harbin embraces its title as being one of the coldest cities in the world. Each year the city hosts an Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which lasts over a month and is the largest of its type in the world. The giant ice and snow castles, lit by lanterns and fairy lights, feels like a frozen Disneyland, and people of all ages enjoy its magic. Most of the ice is taken from the nearby Songhua River, and with average winter lows of -22.9 °C (-9.2 °F), there’s always plenty of ice to go around. If you prefer something less fairy-tale-like, the city also boasts two main ski fields.
Contrary to its nickname, Harbin isn’t an Ice City all year round. While the summers are brief, temperatures reach the mid 20’s °C (mid 80’s °F) from June through August. Although, do be sure to bring a rain jacket if you visit, as nearly all the city’s precipitation occurs in these same months.
5. Coldest Place in Nepal – Dingboche
- Coldest day on record: not recorded
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -15.4 °C (4.5 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 13°C ( 55.4°F)
Perched in the middle of the Himalayan mountains is the tiny village of Dingboche. Home to around 200 Nepalese and only reachable by trail, it’s not likely you’ll stumble across this village at random. Even so, thousands of tourists a year find their way to this freezing town as they attempt to reach Everest Base Camp or to summit Mount Everest itself. The village relies mainly on tourists, and most stay for at least two nights as it’s the ideal place to acclimatize. Just a two-hour hike from Dingboche to the top of Nangkartshang peak gives you incredible views of Mt Everest and other Himalayan giants.
In winter, temperatures rarely get above freezing, and the average minimum is -15.4 °C (4.5 °F) making it one of the coldest places in Asia. Along with the cold, deep snow covers the trails leading to and from Dingboche, and nearly all the tea houses close up shop as the village is nearly unreachable. Summer doesn’t lend well to tourists either, as the monsoon climate sees daily rainstorms and limited visibility. However, as soon as spring and fall come around, the village bursts into life with keen hikers ready to explore.
6. Coldest Place in North Korea – Hyesan
- Coldest day on record: -42°C (-44 °F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -22.9 °C (-9.2 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 27.2°C (81 °F)
Located on the North Korean side of the Yalu River is the interesting town of Hyesan. Besides the occasional Chinese tourists and travelers that pass through, Hyesan is largely cut off from the rest of the world, and little is known about it. China is across the border, but with tight controls, it’s not a common gateway between the two countries.
Hyesan is also the coldest part of North Korea and one of the coldest places in Asia. From November, temperatures drop down to well below freezing and stay frosty through March. The average minimum temperature in winter sits at a mere -22.9 °C (-9.2 °F), and with the nearby Paektu Mountains casting its shadow over the town, one can expect cool winds and many snowy days. However, once summer hits, the frozen tundra thaws and highs soar into the high 20s °C (low 80’s °F).
7. Coldest Place in South Korea – Cheorwon-gun
- Coldest day on record: -29.2°C (-20.6 °F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -11.4 °C (11.5 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 28.7 °C (83.7 °F)
With its grim history and location right next to North Korea, Cheorwon-gun is another city you must go out of your way to find yourself in. A significant military presence sets the scene for this unique town, and it’s not uncommon to hear blasts going off multiple times a week as soldiers test and practice their explosives.
While the lack of tourists is likely due to its bloody past and more or less a dead-end unless you’re traveling into North Korea, its weather certainly doesn’t do the city any favors. In winter, temperatures drop down to around -11.4 °C (11.5 °F) from December through February, and in summer, the constant rain storms, high humidity, and cloudy skies are less than enjoyable. If you do happen to find yourself in Cheorwon-gun, be sure to check out the Saemtong Migratory Bird’s Sanctuary and the underground tunnels from the Korean War.
8. Coldest Place in Japan – Rikubetsu
- Coldest day on record: -33.2 °C (-27.8°F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: -19.6 °C (-3.3 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 24.4°C (75.9 °F)
Japan is known for its world-class snowfields, covered in feet of powdery snow all winter long and enticing tourists from near and far to enjoy the cold weather. Its coldest place, Rikubetsu, is no different. Located in the center of the Tokachi District, it’s not as mountainous as other towns, but its long winters more than make up for it.
As the city itself is tucked in a basin-shaped valley with high plateaus surrounding it, the weather is very extreme, with temperatures changing up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in a single day. In winter, temperatures can dip as low as -33.2 °C ( -27.8°F) and warm up to 6.6°C (43.9 °F), and in summer, temperatures soar up to 37.8 °C (100 °F) and have dropped to -7.2 °C (-19 °F).
Rikubetsu has embraced its frozen tundra and is home to many unique winter-themed events. If you’re feeling hardcore, you can participate in the Human Cold Reistance Test festival, where participants spend a night outside in a ‘balloon mansion’ without any heat. Also, keep your eye out for the famous red northern lights which dance across the sky on rare occasions.
9. Coldest Place in Southeast Asia – Kundasang, Malaysia
- Coldest day on record: 7.8°C (46.0 °F)
- Average minimum temperature in winter: 16.8 °C (62.2 °F)
- Average maximum temperature in summer: 24.2 °C (75.6 °F)
Unlike the other coldest places in Asia on this list, Kundasang’s temperatures don’t even drop into the negative numbers. In fact, its lowest average temperature hangs around a mild 19.2 °C (66.5 °F), and even at the top of the nearby Mount Kinabalu, snowfall is extremely rare.
However, for Southeast Asia standards, Kundasang can be downright chilly, and you’ll likely find Malaysia locals bundled up in the ‘winter months’ of December and January. Luckily, the cooler and rainy weather lends itself well to crops. The town is renowned for its 7-days a week vegetable market, where buyers come from all around Borneo to stock up and sell locally. The grassy fields also provide the perfect home for cows, and its backdrop against the stunning mountains may just have you thinking you’ve found yourself in New Zealand.
What is the coolest country in Asia?
Without a doubt, Russia is the coolest country in Asia. Not only is Russia home to many of the coldest cities in the world, but its largely inhabited Siberia territory is also a frozen tundra for nearly half the year. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Russia is a frigid -89.9 °C (-67.7 °F)
Which Asia country has snow?
Surprisingly, many countries in Asia experience snow throughout the year. These include Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
What is the coldest country in Southeast Asia?
Due to its location in northern Southeast Asia, Myanmar tops in as the coldest country in Southeast Asia. In the higher elevations of the highlands, it’s not unusual to receive heavy snowfall. Even so, the average temperature still sits at a pleasant 21 °C (70 °F).
Which country in Asia is the coldest?
Home to more frozen cities than one could ever count, Russia is, by far, the coldest country in Asia. For half the year, life outside seems to stop as permafrost takes over and frozen rivers and lakes settle in. Siberia is especially cold and is home to many of the world’s coldest places.