When to travel to Southeast Asia?

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Date: January 16th 2020
Traveller: Carla Rijnders
Traveling through Vietnam, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia or Laos is something you can do the whole year round. Yes, there are monsoon seasons in these countries, which can ruin your beach holiday, but if you want to have the beautiful temples of Luang Prabang all to yourself (almost…) and don’t mind a bit of rain then traveling in the rainy season might be something for you!

Traveling in each season has his highs and lows and that makes picking the right time a bit more difficult. That’s why we want to give you an overview of the different seasons in each country so you can make a good decision for yourself.

Vietnam is a thin, long and stretched out country, offering different climates from north to south. For this reason we have broken the country down for you:

North Vietnam: In the North of Vietnam it depends a bit on where you are – let’s divide them into North Vietnam and Mountainous areas.
In North Vietnam, you can see that there are four distinct seasons. From November onwards you can experience a nice autumn period; weather around this time of year is cool and dry. In December the winter sets in, with average daily highs of around 20°C. From March onwards the weather slowly warms up offering a nice spring period. It’s still dry, but this will start to change in April, when the hot, wet summer months will start, lasting till October. May till August are the hottest months with average highs up to 32°C. Be careful when visiting the coast from August till September as there is a high risk of typhoons during this time.
In the mountainous area weather slightly differs, especially when looking at the temperatures. In the wintertime, it can be really cold, and it’s even possible to see snow around this time of year. Make sure to bring warm clothes, as there is no heating in this part of the country. The rainy season from May to September makes it difficult to travel in this area, especially when you want to trek the beautiful area.

Looking at the weather we would recommend traveling North Vietnam from April to June and from September to November.

Central Vietnam: Central Vietnam remains relatively warm throughout the year, however the mountain chain between Hue and Hoi An causes a change of climate. This means that going from Hoi An south the weather is more pleasant and drier than Hue and the North side of the region. That being said, the rainy season falls from September until December with the occasional typhoons crossing the area from October till November. Hot and dry weather will be here from around mid-January till late August.
Weather wise the best months to travel here are from May till June.

South Vietnam: In the South of Vietnam there is not really a big change in temperature with temperatures of 30-35°C year round. December is the coolest month, and the hottest months are around April and May.
If there is not so much difference in temperature, we will take a look at the rain, as there is a distinct dry and wet season in the south. December till April are the driest seasons.  From May until October you can experience the rainy season, which slowly changes in November. During this time expect dry mornings and heavy downpours in the afternoon.  According to us, the best time to travel here is from November to February.

Laos has a pretty simple climate if you compare it to Vietnam. It’s not as stretched out and doesn’t have a coastline. Here you’ll find three seasons – the cool dry season from late October to March when you can experience temperatures between 20-25°C. Do note that the higher areas might be quite a bit colder!
From March onwards the weather starts to warm up, which will bring you in the hot season. During this time expect hot days around 35°C. Which lasts till June when the rainy season starts, bringing in some lower temperatures. Expect the rainy season to last till early October, with especially wet months in August and September. During this time, of year it might be difficult to access several parts of the country due to bad infrastructure.

Looking at the weather the best time to travel Laos is from October to March, which extends till June in the higher regions.

Next up – Cambodia! This country probably has the simplest weather climate in the region. The country has a tropical climate and is warm in most of the country. However, the higher areas of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri are slightly cooler.
The dry season in Cambodia is from October to late April. During this time you’ll notice that the months of October till December are the coolest with average highs of about 28°C. In February the heat starts to rise, going to its peak in April and May with temperatures around 37-40°C. Luckily the rainy season sets in around this time of year, offering some relieve from the heat.
The ideal travel period in Cambodia would be from November to March with dry weather and pleasant temperatures. Do note that the dry and rainy season has a huge impact on the Tonle Sap Lake – contact us to find out the best period to travel here.

In Myanmar you can experience three seasons; cool season (October to February), hot season (March to May) and the rainy season (which differs in the different regions, but we mainly see it from June to September). Although Myanmar has three different seasons, you can visit the country throughout the year. That being said, we recommend traveling to Myanmar from October till the end of March, when it’s dry and not too hot. Also, take into account that at the peak of the wet season some regions become inaccessible and some even close altogether in preparation for the high winds and heavy rainfall that batters the coast annually.

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is generally a year-round destination. During Summer months (May to October) we would suggest to head towards the east coast and northern regions for dry, sunny weather and swimmable sea as the west and south west coasts experience rain and rough sea currents at this time. The west and south west enjoy favourable weather conditions during the winter months (Novemeber to April) when the monsoon season then transfers to the east and north. As with many South-East Asian destinations, the period from December to mid-April is considered the peak season for overall weather conditions in Sri Lanka.

And then the last country on our list – Thailand. Here you’ll find three seasons: rainy (May to October), cool (November to February) and hot (March to May). When looking at the different seasons, the rainy season is most unpredictable, and worth considering when planning your trip. As during this time of the year, there are showers in the afternoon with prolonged rains in August and September where dull grey skies will occur. For this reason, we recommend visiting Thailand from November to March when there is loads of sunshine and blue skies and the temperatures aren’t too hot yet!
If you come to Thailand for the beaches head south, as here you’ll find a two weather system offering beach days almost every time of the year. Head to the east coast (such as Koh Samui and Koh Phangan) from January to September, and switch over to the west coast from October to April (with destinations as Koh Chang, Phuket, Krabi and more). 

If you like more information on traveling through Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia or Laos, don’t hesitate to contact us on our website or through Facebook! 


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