Should I travel to Southeast Asia in the rainy season?
January 30, 2010 8:11 AM   Subscribe

If I'm planning a trip to Southeast Asia in late September/early October, should I be concerned about the weather?

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Southeast Asia for two weeks in late September or early October of this year. Countries that excite us include: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and perhaps Vietnam. We're just starting to plan the trip, and have read that the time we'd be able to visit would be at the end of the rainy season, which could be prohibitive to our travel. Should we forge on, or reconsider?

A few years ago we visited Costa Rica in the rainy season. It poured every afternoon for 1-2 hours, which actually turned out fine. It gave us time to just sit back and relax, or made the outdoor adventures more thrilling. Though I have a feeling that rain in the Southeast Asian countries means something different...more like full days of unescapable downpour. Am I right?

What would you do? Keep in mind that postponing the trip is an option for us, but if that's what you would recommend please let me know when a better time to visit would be.
posted by josh.ev9 to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Actually the absolute perfect time to visit Thailand would be very late October/early November. Rainy season is just ending, temperatures are (relatively) mild. Both my husband and I have been there at separate times during that time period and it was great.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:27 AM on January 30, 2010

I can only speak about Thailand, yes mid-Sep is at the end of the rainy season and depending on what you'd be planning to do might be no problem at all rain-wise.

If you'd be sightseeing in Bangkok, it tends to rain for 30 - 90mins at a time when it does rain, during the daytimes at least. It's torrential rain but then probably finished for the day - similar to what you found in Costa Rica. In general the streets don't get flooded very badly in Bangkok. Probably the main inconvenience you'd have is if you wanted to go to a night market, if it's raining a lot of stall holders will pack up early & go home.

The Thai coastal resorts can (but sometimes also only an hour) have quite a lot longer periods of rain ie. 4+hrs. But it's not 100% predictable and one wet day doesn't automatically mean rain the next as well: the locals will have a fair idea though. Hotels and some internal flights (AirAsia etc.) will be a lot cheaper outside of the peak season too.

On the balance of probabilities I'd agree with St. Alia of the Bunnies, you'd probably be better off pushing your dates back as far as possible into October if you were planning a holiday either trekking or on Thai beaches etc.

This is the Thai Meteorological Department - there's a PDF link on that page about the rainy season, but it didn't seem to be much help when I just glanced at it.
posted by selton at 9:09 AM on January 30, 2010

After having lived in urban southeast Asia for a year, I can say that the single best thing about the rainy season was how clean the air seemed after a downpour ended. Air pollution was always a nasty side of life there, but the rains really seemed to scrub the dust/grime/nastiness from everything. I say press on with your plans and breathe a bit easier!
posted by mdonley at 9:24 AM on January 30, 2010

It will be easily bearable for all those countries but may narrow down the amount you can do with your time. With only two weeks you really need to narrow it down to one country anyway. I've travelled around all the countries you mention and would highly recommend Cambodia and Laos especially if you can delay your trip until November-January.
posted by turkeyphant at 11:24 AM on January 30, 2010

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