|Tokyo Carnival via LuxTonnerre|
Even if you've never been to Brazil in February, if someone mentions the Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, images of gaudy floats, colorful costumes, over-the-top revelry, and perfectly proportioned scantily-clad dancers come to mind almost immediately. Yes, if you really want to experience this pre-Lenten bacchanal, Rio is the best destination on earth. Things are more toned down in Asia, but thanks mainly to centuries of Portuguese influence, a few destinations do have some very fun Carnival celebrations.
East Timor (Timor Leste)
East Timor, the youngest country in Asia and the place that most displays a Portuguese influence, is another south-of-the-equator Carnival destination. Dili's Carnival is probably most akin to the celebrations that take place in the Caribbean: casual parades, a happy-go-lucky street-party atmosphere, and a strong dose of local culture. Dili is still a pretty raw place, but that is what makes Carnival here such an attractive idea.
Carnival is celebrated in the former Portuguese enclaves of Western India. The only event worth mentioning, however, is held in the tourist haven of Goa. With floats, music, acrobats, dancers, and parades, Goan Carnival is a wild as it gets in super-conservative India. A lot of the events have adopted a cultural theme, with locals taking the opportunity to introduce unique Goan culture and history to tourists. Goa's Carnival is a little less over the top than its Brazilian peers, but generally, tourists will feel more at ease here and will still be able to immerse themselves completely in the street-party atmosphere.
Yes, you can find some celebrations elsewhere in Asia, but these are quite muted, and some don't even take place until after the traditional Carnival season has ended. One event worth noting is the Carnival in the Asakusa District of Tokyo. This area has a strong Brazilian presence because of decades of immigration. A massive samba parade is held, not in February, but in the late summer. Because of the South American influence (and Japan's fascination with dressing-up in over-the-top costumes), this is arguably the most authentically Brazilian Carnival parade in Asia, and certainly worth a visit if you don't mind waiting until later in the year for your fix of samba music and feathery costumes.