Many places are telling me that from October-Feb is probably the best time to go to SE Asia, that it can get oppressively hot or far too wet during the middle of the year...
...but what happens if I can only manage to get there May,June,July,August-ish? Will the monsoon season in Burma make getting around difficult? Is Southern Laos too hot to do anything? Farmers blazing smoke stacks in May?
I will admit that I don't have much of a plan at the moment other than I'll be in SE Asia around this time.
I appreciate any input and would like to hear other peoples experiences, more than needing specific advice :)
Will the monsoon season in Burma make getting around difficult?
Could do, though I thought the roads had improved quite a bit since my previous visit a 5 or 6 years ago, particularly the road to Inle. The bus didn't have to go dead slow to get round huge potholes etc.nearly as much! In May Burma will probably be either be incredibly hot and dusty or rather wet and muddy. After May it'll probably be rather wet and muddy until November. Of course it won't rain ALL the time but like elsewhere in SE Asia the rain that does fall could be torrential and that will affect the non sealed roads and maybe worsen the sealed ones that aren't great.
If you're rich enough you could always fly the more difficult bits ... mind you when I was there the govt suddenly withdrew Air Yangon's license to fly, leaving only Air Bagan or Air Mandalay as options. Also half of Air Mandalay's fleet (of 2 planes) was out of action at the time so they had to use Myanmar Airways planes instead of their own. Welcome to Myanmar.
It's still a fabulous country to visit though...so different and authentic, like going back to an older age before Western influences took over the world. Somehow Burma seems to be infused with a magical gentle golden light that you find nowhere else in SE Asia ... in dry season anyway. When it rains it's more miserable... the grinding poverty and daily hardship becomes lot more apparent.
Dunno about southern Laos.
There are places in SE Asia where it doesn't rain at that time of year however.... eg quite a lot of Malaysia and almost all of Indonesia. Did you go to Indonesia last time? Can't remember if you ever got to Borneo? Only problem is that this is peak season in those places ...something to do with the weather I expect. ;-)
May and June are usually pretty good. I have never been affected by any monsoon that newbies always worry about. It is a daily shower or two. Torrential non stop rains are not the norm. That said, it is simple to look at where you are going and then look at the the weather patterns of the countries you want to visit (which are at this and many websites and guide books) and plan accordingly.
Bottom line: You can visit SE Asia easily during the months you wan to go. I have been somwhere there safely at all those times.
Thanks for the replies! It looks like June might be a good time to start...
Thomas; good to know the seasons haven't hampered your travels so far! I am not so worried about monsoons as such, I have no problem getting wet or it being wet for days, my only concern is not being able to go to or get out of somewhere easily OR having a 3 hour bus journey turn into a 10 hour one!! :) Luckily the last time i was in SE Asia i managed to go to most places when conditions were largely favourable. I am English though, and we tend to obsess about the weather by default even when it doesn't really matter.
SBE - I definitely, 100% want to go to Myanmar/Burma this time round. Even if its 42degreesC or raining for 5 hours a day. I am going. I guess you will see me posting in the Burma section a bit more in the coming months. Is Burma's peak season really PEAK? I was still under the impression It wasn't much of a tourist destination yet.
I hadn't really considered Indonesia (I was in Bali briefly last time) but it might be worth a look. It just depends on how much time I have.
Thanks again. CT
"I am English though, and we tend to obsess about the weather by default even when it doesn't really matter."
That was funny Christay.. One of me best pals from blighty does just that!
One of my other longtime pals moved to Southern Cali....I visit him now n then and I tell ya..the sunshine everyday and dry weather is addictive!
But don't worry so much. I have had awesome times in the summer. The longest I had rain is two days but even then it stopped long enough to escape! Good luck.
Christay if you can get there in dry season then I'd urge you to do so. I've only been there in December (peak season) and it wasn't all that busy even in Inle and Bagan. There are quite a few tourists around but it's not exactly Costa del Sol levels there yet.
Even though I was there in (supposedly) dry season it rained for several days on both trips and that was quite enough rain for me.
During the first trip I got stuck for three days in Kalaw because heavy rain had cause a mudslide on the road to Inle and it absolutely poured in Yangon the day I was leaving the country. It took ages to get the airport. The taxi I was in had no windscreen wipers and 4 slow punctures, so the driver had to keep stopping every few hundred meters to blow them up. Also the windows were permanently stuck in the down position. The handles to wind them up had obviously dropped off years ago. I was a bit damp by the time I arrived at the airport!
This trip it rained for three days too when I was in Bagan but I wasn't going anywhere so it didn't affect me much as far as transport was concerned. It wasn't so great for taking pictures though and getting around the temples was less pleasant because of the mud.
BTW, it was really cold in Inle last December, especially early in the morning. Don't forget to pack a fleece if you're going then!
The longest I had rain is two days
It rained for about 10 days non stop when I was in Thailand last month and everywhere I went this year seemed to be having lots of very unseasonal rain. Don't know if it was just el nina or real climate change but it was weird weather.
At the end of the day you gotta come when you gotta come. Us as humans are adaptable creatures. Its very hot between March and May, then its wet from June to September/October. If its hot, get air condition and drinks lots of water. If its wet then get a rain mac.
It can seem daunting coming when you have extreme weather out here but i have adapted... the local people that live in SEA adapt. For me, kinda makes it more fun. More of a taste of the country you visit as you start to see them adapt and do weird and wonderful things because they are hot or because they don't want to get wet.
Just a thought and safe travels :)