In our August travel safety roundup we examine summer weather, tensions in Hong Kong and a relatively quiet election period. Otherwise, we cover polls in Abkhazia, while many millions of Muslims will travel to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.The electoral period may be quiet, but the weather is hot in many northern parts of the world and Hong Kong will remain tense.
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How safe is Hong Kong?
Demonstrators will continue to demand protection of their political freedoms in Hong Kong in the coming weeks. Indeed, the protests could last much longer than August.
In general, the ongoing situation might make this territory of over seven million people look turbulent and scary. However, with low crime rates and excellent infrastructure, it remains one of the world’s safest major cities.
The majority of protesters want to remain peaceful. The violence is likely to remain contained, usually to a hardcore of demonstrators at the end of large gatherings who refuse to disperse. The coming weeks may also see an increasing shift to new tactics such as disrupting public transport as harder-line protesters attempt to keep up the pressure on the government.
There is a persistent concern that the Chinese government could send its military into the territory to crush the unrest. However, this does not look likely at present.
Such a move would be hugely controversial internationally, and it would not be undertaken lightly. It would be seen as a highly provocative move with various implications for China’s reputation.
It would risk alienating a much larger proportion of Hong Kong’s population against both Beijing and the Hong Kong government.
It could also stoke greater anti-Beijing sentiment in Taiwan, where pro- and anti-Beijing candidates will contest a presidential election in January.
For now, travellers should avoid the regular protest hotspots, particularly at the weekend when the protests are usually most intense. Protest locations are usually widely publicised in advance in Chinese- and English-language media. Ad hoc protests can emerge at times, but these tend to be smaller and more easily avoided if encountered.
Expect potential logistical disruption, such as sporadic delays to the city’s metro and bus systems or even more gatherings around major thoroughfares or the airport.
Some travellers may also get caught up by police attempts to clear certain areas or the sporadic use of teargas, particularly as the protests can occasionally spread out quickly from their starting points. Again, giving the pre-announced protest locations a very wide berth is the best advice to minimise this risk.
Stay up to date with the latest news and be mindful of the tensions. Hong Kong society is currently extremely tense; don’t voice political opinions in case it causes offence or provokes a hostile reaction.
It might also be advisable not to wear black or white t-shirts as you might be mistaken for an anti-government protester or one of the pro-government counter-protesters.
Otherwise, August is a time for holidays, particularly in Europe, and even for politicians. As such, the month tends to see few democratic elections.
This coming month is no exception. The disputed territory of Abkhazia is due to hold a presidential election on the 25th August, already delayed due to the possible poisoning of one of the candidates.
In Britain, politicians have begun their summer recess. The election of Boris Johnson as new leader of the Conservative Party has led to his appointment as prime minister. A general election could yet take place this year but for now he seems determined to push Brexit through by the 31st October.
Either way, expect continued uncertainty and volatility in British politics – and the economy – in the coming months.
The month of August normally marks the end of winter in many parts of the southern hemisphere. It can also see very hot temperatures and heat waves in parts of the northern hemisphere
These temperatures can sometimes take places of Europe by surprise. However, this process has already begun.
Recent heatwaves have taken place around the region. Forest fires have even swept large parts of the Arctic Circle.
The hurricane season persists in the Caribbean, while the end of the month can bring a higher risk of typhoons in Japan.
The south-west monsoon in the Gulf of Aden also usually brings choppier seagoing conditions which has traditionally led to a decline in pirate activity.
Where to go
Popular travel destinations at this time include much of Europe. Indeed, August is the month that many people across the continent take off work.
As well as the popular Mediterranean, this is a good time of year to visit northern parts of Europe which might otherwise be avoided during colder times of the year.
Other popular destinations include East Africa, South East Asia and North America. Just be prepared for strong sun and high heat.
Standard Weather Changes
The following countries and territories mark notable weather changes this month:
Bhutan: the rainy season, which began in June, usually ends this month.
Botswana: the country can often experience dusty winds this month.
Ethiopia: the rainy season, which began in June, usually ends this month.
Guyana: the rainy season, which began in May, normally ends this month, although another one will take place again from November to January.
Japan: typhoon season is already underway but the period of greatest risk is normally from the end of August until early September.
Maldives: the rainy south-west monsoon season which began in June normally ends this month.
Pakistan: the rainy season, which began in July, normally ends this month.
Taiwan: the rainy season, which began in June, normally ends this month.
Barbados: Emancipation Day
Benin: Independence Day
Democratic Republic of Congo: Parents’ Day
Jamaica: Emancipation Day
Trinidad & Tobago: Emancipation Day
Russia: Paratroopers Day
Ukraine: Paratroopers Day
Niger: Independence Day
Burkina Faso: Independence Day
Colombia: Battle of Boyaca Day
Croatia: Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day
Bolivia: Independence Day
Jamaica: Independence Day
Zambia: Farmers’ Day
Côte d’Ivoire: Independence Day
Tanzania: Nane Nane (Farmers’ Day)
Singapore: National Day
South Africa: National Women’s Day
Ecuador: National Independence Day
Islam: Eid ul-Adha (expect large numbers of visitors to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj)
Central African Republic: Independence Day
Tunisia: Women’s Day
Zimbabwe: Heroes Day
Morocco: Oued ed-Dahab Day
Pakistan: Independence Day
Bangladesh: National Mourning Day
Republic of Congo: Independence Day
India: Independence Day
Paraguay: Founding of Asuncion Day
South Korea: Liberation Day
Christianity: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Dominican Republic: Restoration Day
Gabon: Independence Day
Indonesia: Independence Day
Estonia: Restoration of Independence Day
Morocco: Revolution Day
Morocco: Youth Day
Ukraine: Independence Day
Abkhazia: delayed presidential election
Uruguay: Independence Day
Moldova: Independence Day
Namibia: Heroes Day
Slovakia: Slovak National Uprising Anniversary
Kazakhstan: Constitution Day
Turkey: Victory Day
Kyrgyzstan: Independence Day
Malaysia: National Day
Moldova: National Language Day
Trinidad And Tobago: Independence Day
We hope you have safe travels ahead!