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Historic Site

When should you visit a historic site? Historic sites are locations where pieces of political, cultural, or social history have been preserved. Often due to their cultural value. Historic sites can be temples, whole cities, pyramids, castles, churches or any other kind of buildings.

Mont Saint Michel the most visited destination in the Normandy with an estimated three million visitors and pilgrims each year. The island is situated 600 meters from the mainland with its own microclimate. Mont Saint Michel is 78 meters / 256 feet high. Extraordinary is the highest tidal range in Europe with roughly 15 meters. This makes a visit during spring tide a unique experience. Regarding the weather, it may be pleasant from May to October. What makes a visit outstanding? Continue reading to get detailed information.

Tides at Mont-Saint-Michel

If possible, visit Mont St. Michel during low tide. Spend a couple of hours on the island and the Abbey and wait for the incoming high tide. Ask at the information center close to the parking and opposite the shuttle bus stop when the first wave may come. After visiting the Abbey, instead of leaving it walk back to the west terrace especially if a spring tide is expected. You can also leave the Abbey at the entrance afterward. Alternatively, visit the Abbey half an hour before the first wave, the tidal bore is predicted. Bear in mind that you may queue for a ticket depending on the season and time of the day. This ensures that you are in time at the west terrace to get a good place for watching a spectacular show of the incoming tide.

Crowds on the west-terrace at Mont-Saint-Michel watching the spring tide
Pretty busy on the West Terrace

The sea flows out 15 km during spring tides and comes back with an immense Tidal bore. You already hear the sea coming back from far away with 30 km/h / 18.64 mph. It’s an extraordinary experience to witness the power of the tides.

The first wave at spring tide watched from Mont-Saint-Michel
Most impressive is the first wave; the tidal bore

The spring tides occur 36 -48 hours after full and new moon; in total round about 20 times a year. Mont Saint Michel becomes an island with a water level of 12.85 m and higher. The strongest spring tides happen in March and September with a sea level above 14 m. To get the most out of your visit check the tides first. If the spring tide is in the night, you can watch it, but you can't get a good shot. If a spring tide is forecasted for the evening; the Abbey closes around 10 pm. Mont St. Michel is not accessible roughly for 1 ½ hour during the highest water level. We experienced this outstanding spring tide in September 2018. Tidal times for Mont Saint-Michel

Visitors are waiting for the spring tide on the bridge in front of Mont Saint Michel
Visitors are waiting for the spring tide.

Visitor Centre Opening Times

It’s open from 9 am to 7 pm from Easter until the end of September and the rest of the year from 10 am to 6 pm. Only closed on Christmas Day the 25.12. and New Year 1.1.

Abbey Opening Times
  • Closed on 1st January, 1st May and 25th December
  • 2nd May until 31st August from 9 am to 7 pm, last admission one hour before
  • 1st September until 30th April 9.30 am to 6 pm, last admission one hour before
  • Exceptions: During July and August also open from 7.30 pm until 11 pm except Sunday with a special programme and illumination. An additional or combined ticket is necessary for it. Roughly four evenings each year during spring tide in the evening open at least until 10 pm
Peak Season and Crowds

With three million visitors each year it’s almost always crowded but summer months are the worst. You even have to queue for the restrooms and for paying your parking ticket at the ticket machine. Most of the guided bus tours come here during the day and already leave the outstanding place in the afternoon. If you want to avoid the crowds; come here for the sunrise or in the afternoon. Experience the village in the evening when most of the shops are closed, and the narrow alleys are almost without any people.

Narrow alleys are empty at Mont Saint Michel during the evening
The main street "Grand Rue" is less crowded during the evening.

Weather

Mont St. Michel has a coastal climate but due to the location, influenced by the tides it has its own microclimate mostly a bit cooler. Rain frequently occurs throughout the year but not much just around 750 mm per year. Less precipitation from June to September. Most sunshine hours from May to September. The summer is the most popular time of the year for a visit with pleasant temps and plenty of sunshine. Temps in summer are on average around 20°C but can climb up to 25°C as well. October and May are similar to an average daily temp of 16°C, and the lowest is 10°C. December to February expect one-digit temps. Anyhow, it’s pretty chilly during winter due to the high humidity. The water temp is below 20°C even in the summer.

Tidal Flat Tours

There are tidal flat tours offered at low tide. If you visit the area for more than one day, it'll be an outstanding experience. It's essential to book a guided tour due to quicksand, waterholes and the fast coming tide.

Tidal Flat Tours at Mont Saint Michel, Normady

Where to Stay

Camping
The closest campground is “Camping du Mont Saint-Michel”. It’s just the location next to the walkway to Mont Saint Michel which makes it worth to stay here. The campsites are not big. The facilities are ok more or less. Anyhow, you can check in 24 hours at the hotel reception and the staff is friendly. If you plan to stay just for one night it’s fine but for a couple of days you better chose “Camping aux Pommiers - Mont Saint Michel”. The facilities are well maintained. Plenty of showers and dishwashing sinks are available. There’s an indoor pool and cabins with private bathroom are offered as well. The campground is open from the end of March until the beginning of November.

Hotels
You will love to stay on the island for one night. Enjoy the mystic atmosphere in the narrow alleys when day visitors left the island. Experience the sunrise in front of Mont Saint Michel. The best rated charming hotel for Mont Saint Michel is the "Auberge Saint Pierre". You get remembered to Hogwarts from Harry Potter.Auberge Saint Pierre at Mont Saint Michel island

Another cheaper option but not in such a magical location is the “Le Relais Saint Michel”. Ask for a room with a Mount St. Michel view. It’s situated just next to the walkway.Hotel Le Relais Saint Michel close to Le Mont

FR France

This is one of the most stunning historical sites of Sri Lanka. It's also very popular and heavily crowded at times. We show you how to avoid the crowds and make the most out of your visit. Also, make sure to read our 7 must-know tips before you visit at the end of the article.

Avoiding the Crowds


Sigiriya Stairs Sri Lanka by Falco Ermet, CC BY

It's significantly less crowded in the early morning and in the late afternoon. If you want to avoid midday heat and beat the crowds at the same time, be there at 7 a.m. sharp or visit in the late afternoon.  Visiting later in the day (about 2 hours before they close) also gives you the perfect light for a good shot of Sigiriya Rock.  Especially the intriguing fresco paintings are at their best in the late-afternoon light. However, for a perfect photo, it needs to be sunny. Avoid weekends and public holidays if possible, as in addition to foreign tourists many local and domestic visitor are there. Overview of public holidays: Sri Lanka Public Holidays. Opening hours from 7 am - 5:30 pm. The entrance fee is costly (30 $ in 2017), and the experience may get spoiled when you arrive at midday while sharing the place with tons of other tourists.

Climate / Weather


Sigiriya Rock by Vinnie Cartabiano, CC BY

'Dry season' in this area is from May to August/September but often overcast from June to August. It's a tropical climate with humidity around 80 % most of the year. October until December are the wettest months. From January to May it's frequently sunny. We spent two days at Sigiriya in January, and the weather was quite nice. Helpful weather overview: Climate - Average Monthly Weather Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a year-round destination. It usually offers the most pleasant weather conditions between January and June. However, showers can occur throughout the year.

LK Sri Lanka
Avoiding Crowds

To enjoy this beautiful place without crowds, you should be there from spring to autumn either very early in the morning or late evening. It is the most popular place in Saxon Switzerland with around 1.5 million visitors each year. We visited this magic sandstone bridge several times in May. We enjoyed most our visit at 6.30 on a Sunday morning. 

Opening Hours

The reproduction of the castle is accessible 24/7. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. the entrance fee of 2 € has to be paid at a cash desk and afterwards, you are asked to put the fee into a metal box. This is a marvelous opportunity to enjoy this magical place with a view people and photographers only.

Tip for Photographer

Early morning is the best light for a good shot of the Bastei bridge.

DE Germany

The guards change ceremonies at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial bronze statue hall takes place on top of the hour. You should arrive at least 15 minutes before. This will ensure that you may get a place in the first row. 

Opening Times and Crowds

The hall is open from 9 am until 6 pm but the guard change happens from 9 to 5 each hour in total 9 times each day. The hall is closed at Chinese New Year Eve, Chinese New Year and maintenance days. The monument and the park around are one of the main attractions for tourists and guided tours in Taipei. Try to get there early in the morning and in general avoid weekends because the location is visited by many local people as well. The Memorial Park opens daily from 05:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Crowds at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Peak Season in Taiwan

Avoid the summer months (July and August) and around Chinese New Year (late January or early February) when prices are on the highest level, accommodations are often fully booked, and many places are overrun.

Taipei Weather

From April until October temps can be unpleasant hot with high humidity at daytime. In summer day temps are around 30°C and in winter (Dec. to Feb.) around 20°C while nights are cold with less than 10°C. Most precipitation from May to September but a dry season does not exist. The driest months are November to January/February with rainfall on average less than 100 mm. The climate is influenced by the northeast and the southwest monsoon. The northeast monsoon season lasts long from October until March and the southwest from May until September. At the monsoon season typhoons occur, and Taiwan gets hit each year frequently from July to September.

Chiang-Kai-shek Memorial Hall view from the park

TW Taiwan

The place is usually swarmed with tourists. Sometimes it even becomes difficult to move around. To beat the crowds you need to:

  • Avoid weekends, go mid-week.
  • Arrive early, if possible between 6 A.M. and 7 A.M.: It's a perfect time to enjoy the magic of this temple in solitude. If you can't make it that early try to be there at least between 7 - 8 A.M when it‘s still relatively quiet compared to later in the day. TIP: Stay at the closest hotel (walking distance) and get there easily first thing in the morning. See our guest house/hotel recommendation below (Where to Stay).
  • You could also arrive late, about 1 hour before it closes. Then you may have the last minutes almost for yourself. 

Opening Hours (Entrance Fee 300 Yen)

Open year-round from 6:00 .a.m.
Closes at 6:00 p.m. (18:00) or 6:30 p.m. (18:30), depending on the season. More details (and night opening hours) here: Kiyomizudera Opening Hours

Spring and Fall Illumination

18:00 to 21:00 (mid-March until mid-April and mid-November to early December, see details in the link above). It's also crowded during this time but worth it.


Highlights (Cherry Blossoms / Fall Foliage)

Nature's seasonal highlights at Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto are cherry blossoms in spring and the changing leaf color in autumn. The temple features about 1500 cherry blossoms and 1000 colorful trees with changing leaves.

Cherry Blossoms: 
The temple is one of Kyoto's top cherry blossom spots, with almost 1500 mountain cherry and somei yoshino trees. The blooming season is very short. It only takes about two weeks from the opening of the first blossoms until they are falling from the trees. On average the first blossoms in Kyoto open end of March. They reach full bloom around April 5. However, the start of the blooming season can vary by one week (plus/minus) each year. Generally, your best bet is to visit early April, if you'd like to spot them. A great map and table with dates for Kyoto and other cities: JNTO Cherry Blossoms Timetable Tip: The blossoms are illuminated at night, creating a beautiful romantic scenery. If you don't mind the crowds, visit during the spring illumination.

Fall Foliage: 
The leaf changing colors are almost equally beautiful and Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a truly spectacular autumn color spot. Compared to cherry blossoms, the gorgeous leaf colors last much longer: The foliage season in Kyoto lasts from mid-October until mid-December, with a peak in mid-November. Your best bet to spot the beautiful fall foliage is between mid-November and late November. However, any time within the two months is usually worth it. Tip: Like for the cherry blossoms in spring, the fall illumination of the autumn foliage creates a beautiful atmosphere. 

 

JP Japan

Be aware that a visit during sunrise brings a lot of crowds. However, you wouldn't want to miss the scenery - it's just magical. In order to avoid the heavy crowds, arrive in the afternoon, and instead enjoy sunset before the temple closes.

Following the typical weather patterns for much of Southeast Asia, the best time to visit Angkor Wat is during the dry season from late November to early April.

KH Cambodia