Best Time to Travel in Southeast Asia (And Avoid the Monsoons)
Here is the perfect scenario for you vacay: sunny weather, no chances of rain, not too hot, not too cold… It is hard to tell what kind of weather you will get nowadays (climate change is real!). But with the right amount of planning, you can avoid booking an island resort and be confined to the hotel room due to constant rains.
Although it can be tough to predict the exact weather conditions, we can find out what is the best time to travel and avoid extreme weather conditions. We gathered all the information you need here.
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Rainy Season Cheatsheet for Southeast Asia
Here is the rainy season calendar for the top destinations in Asia:
Countries by the season
“Seasons, what seasons?”, You may ask. In our little tropical paradise called Singapore, weather is uniformly humid and hot so we don’t experience extreme climate changes. For other Southeast Asian countries, that is not so.
In Southeast Asia, the rainy season falls in the second half of the year, for most cases. There are some regional variations and even inside the same country, there can be significant differences in the seasons, depending if you are in the north or south of the country.
Note: The information used above was sourced based on historical weather patterns. Considering the extreme climate changes, the seasons’ patterns might also change overtime.
When planning a trip to Malaysia consider where you intend to go: Peninsular Malaysia? East or West coast? Are you going to East Malaysia? The climate varies a lot depending on your destination.
- December to February is an excellent time to visit West Peninsular destinations, such as Penang or Langkawi.
- For Borneo in East Malaysia, the wettest months happen during the same time, between December to February. So, if you want to avoid the rains, Kuching might not be the best option. Instead, try to travel to Kota Kinabalu in January to March when the weather is drier.
- The East Coast islands (Perhentian islands, Redang, Kapas) close during monsoon from November to March.
Indonesia is so vast that the weather will vary a lot from region to region and island to island. As a rule of thumb, know that the rainy season happens from October to March.
- Bali experiences heavier rains from December to March. If your goal is to enjoy a sunny day by the beach, try to go in June to September during the dry season.
In Thailand there are mainly three seasons:
- The period between November and February is considered a cool season.
- From March to May, you will experience the hot season.
- And Monsoon, between June and October.
The weather changes as you go from North to South so you might find cooler, wetter weather in Chiang Mai while it is sunny and dry in Krabi.
- Thailand is not as strongly affected by typhoons as their neighbours, but those tropical storms might cause heavy rains from September to November.
- Monsoon season can also bring strong sea currents so check on that before dipping in the waters of Phuket.
- Koh Lanta practically shuts down for the rainy season.
- But the Samui archipelago (Koh Samui, Pha Ngan and Koh Tao) is drier during that season because its rainy season happens mostly between October and January.
4. The Philippines
The weather is also #morefuninthephilippines except during typhoon season that usually occurs between August to October, flooding cities and disturbing flights. Actually, the Philippines has two different monsoon seasons:
- The southwest monsoon season: from June to October, bringing excessive rainfall and strong winds.
- And, the northeast monsoon season: from October to April, which is considered the high season, because it brings more cooling breezes and clearer skies.
- The period from December to April has the best weather.
- The rainy season happens from June to August.
In eclectic Vietnam, the rainy season arrives from May to November in Ho Chi Minh City, and from May to September in Hanoi.
- You can expect typhoon season from August to October, but usually, they are not as severe as in the Philippines.
- Floods are rare but proceed with caution when you visit riverside areas during the rainy season.
In Cambodia, the rainy season occurs from June to November, with particularly heavy rain in September and October. We aren’t in any way advising not to travel there during this period. Actually, Angkor Wat looks beautiful during the rainy season: the jungles become greener and lusher, and the water pools reflect the temples nicely making for great photo opportunities.
- Go prepared to brave the rains and muddy paths if you decide to visit Angkor Wat during the rains.
- Siem Reap is sunnier and drier from November to March, with almost no rainfalls in December & January.
If you are looking to visit Laos while it is hot and sunny, go during the dry season, from October to April.
- During May to September, it gets wetter, and it might not be so pleasant to explore the outdoors.
- The rains might cause delays on land transport, and you should exercise caution if you visit areas on the banks of the Mekong river.
In BurmaMyanmar, rainy season happens from May to October. If you intend to visit, pack a raincoat and keep your schedule flexible.
- The best time to visit Bagan and Mandalay is from November to February but note that temperatures can rise above 35 degrees Celcius.
9. Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka also has two different monsoon seasons
- The Northeastern, from December to February, that brings colder and windy weather but clear skies.
- And the Southwestern, from May to September, that brings actual rain.
- November to April is the dry season for the beaches in the south, so book your tropical escape for the time of the year.
Monsoon happens from May to October in the Maldives. If your plan is to enjoy the sea and book yourself on a luxury water villa, schedule a trip for December to march instead.
- In Bhutan, the weather is generally warm and temperate throughout the year. You can experience four seasons, and the climate also varies with the altitude.
- The monsoon season is from June to August and Bhutan has more rainfall than other areas of the Himalayas.
Tips to travel during Monsoons
- Check the weather forecasts and news before you go.
- Pack accordingly: take proper shoes, a waterproof bag, mosquito repellent if you choose to travel during the rainy season.
- Be careful around a river or flooded areas.
- Avoid raw food: in some of these countries, there are higher chances of faecal-to-oral diseases during the rainy season.
- Account for travel delays, slower traffic and more extended waiting periods.
Should you travel during monsoons?
The answer is, yes, you may. If your objective is to laze around on a beach, stay clear and avoid travelling during those periods. If you find that the weather is not that extreme that will disrupt your travel plans, travelling during rainy seasons often comes out to be cheaper. There is so much to experience in the destinations above. Rain is only a temporary nuisance.
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