This question gets asked all the time and there really is no right or wrong answer. It simply depends on you as a traveller, what you’re into and what you can afford. Travelling Southeast Asia is something we recommend to everyone, it has everything to offer. You can spend days hiking in mountains in Northern Thailand, days relaxing under a palm tree at the beaches in the Philippines, Kayaking in Halong Bay, reading in quirky little coffee shops in Siem Reap and not forgetting the best one, eating delicious street food everywhere you go!
It gets extremely hot in Southeast Asia around March and even though the north is cooler, it can still reach up to 40 degrees Celsius in Chiang Mai. The rainy season starts in May across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, although on the Andaman side of Southern Thailand, rainy season can start in April, and northern Thailand is usually somewhat dryer than the south. The Philippines is known to get some nasty weather and has been hit by some awful typhoons in the last few years, so this is probably the only place I would avoid going to between June and September when the rain is at its heaviest.
I wouldn’t let the rain get you down and definitely don’t let it stop you visiting these places! Although it might be raining I can assure you it wont be cold, just chuck on a rain mack and enjoy it! It wont last long either, most of the time… The only time we were cold in Southeast Asia, was in the mountains of Chiang Mai in December, but once you get back down it was shorts weather again and we spent the rest of the day sunbathing by the pool. The other time it got cold was northern Vietnam. Hanoi, Halong Bay and Cat Ba and everywhere north of there were all pretty cold, around 10-15 degrees Celsius in January – February.
In the off/rainy season especially on the islands and small towns, many establishments will close down between May – November, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. You will be able to find restaurants and bars still open but many will close down between this period, unless you are in the cities. We found this out on Koh Lanta when we were there in October, only a handful of places were open had to walk quite a distance for a meal in the evenings. There is a plus to this though, as during this time there were very little tourists on the island which made it extremely relaxing, we could walk along the beach every morning and see only a few people for an hour, then once everywhere started to open at the beginning of November, there were people everywhere! So if you like peace and relaxation, going off peak might be best for you, and October, although it did rain, it was only for short bursts and there are some amazing lightening storms at night and there was definitely plenty of sun everyday.
Another bonus for visiting Southeast Asia in the off season are the prices, everything is cheaper, from accommodation, motorbike hire, to activities, so you will definitely get more for your money.
So as you can see, there is no perfect time to go to Southeast Asia, it all depends on what you want to get out of this beautiful place, do you want peace and relaxation? Cheap prices? Party? Cooler weather? Or activities? Whenever you decide to go, there is one thing I do know for certain, you will love it!
By Poppy Glendening – Checking In Travel.