My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to SEA and would greatly appreciate your advice on our route. We plan to be in the region from early April to early August and would like to visit Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia/Bali.
The initial thought was to fly into Bangkok, travel around the surrounding countries, and then head down to Bali for 2-3 weeks at the very end. However, from what I've read on this site, it sounds like Thailand and some neighboring countries can be unbearably hot in April. Because of this, where would you suggest starting the trip/what areas would be most pleasant to visit in April? Would it make more sense to start in Indonesia and then head north late April/early May? If we were to still fly into Bangkok, are there certain countries in the region that are better to visit first considering the weather in April?
Thanks a lot for the advice.
#1 ace3913 has been a member since 5/12/2012. Posts: 2
My wife and I traveled through Vietnam in April 2011 and found the weather cool up in Hanoi and Halong Bay, the further south we went it became hotter. I gave my fleece coat to our guide in Hue.
It was very hot in Siem Reap we drank lots of water.
By the end of the trip ( 25 days) we had gotten accustomed to the heat and humidity.
Look up the trip itineraries on this web site it might give you a few more ideas.
Thanks for the advice. Any other suggestions would be great, thanks!
#3 ace3913 has been a member since 5/12/2012. Posts: 2
My main concern for you would be that your current plan has you arriving in Bali in August, which is peak domestic tourism for Indonesia. I'd recommend starting there if just to avoid the increased cost and hassle for travel - last year by mid-July it was difficult to book some train tickets on Java and accomodation prices in Bali and the Gilis were on the upswing.
Indonesia's wet season trails off in April - with Bali averaging between 5-10 wet days that month - I've heard that most of those come in the start of the month, though it could just be a lite rain or a quick shower . . . have some affect on visibility with diving though.
When you'd end up in Thailand & Cambodia (May - Julyish) the weather is going to be more humid and a little rainy for most of the summer anyway, so you'd get used to dealing with it. Vietnam's climate is all over the map and I can't recall what it is like in the different regions in the summer months.
I would also say go south (Bali, etc) first then come up to SE Asia mainland. While May is usually the onset of rainy season for most of the region it's usually drier along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and southern Thailand. The Perhentian Islands and the lower Thailand gulf islands (Ko Samui, etc) are usually having their best weather May-August, but hey it's the tropics so a late-day thinderstorm is always possible. June-Aug is a good time to do the classic SEA circuit through northern Thailand/Laos, Vietnam N-S and Cambodia. Sure it rains hard sometimes, but more likely in the evenings and it takes the edge off the heat. Until the first real rains kick in (April?/May?) the interior of Thailand and Laos can be like an oven. As you can see it's fairly unpredictable, but if you plan on hot and occasioanlly rainy you won't be disappointed. (hehe)
To me the key is to avoid the rain. It will be hot regarldess. I find it more convenient to travel when it's very hot rather than under heavy rain. You can follow CaptainBoB's advise regarding the season. You can also refer to other websites to check the number of rain days per month to give you an idea. I strongly encourage you to avoid travelling in a country during the rainy season as it can make your travel less pleasant, especially if you plan to rent motorbikes, etc. The beauty of South East Asia is most of the time outdoor (even if you will find a few temples and monuments that are very nice to visit). So, take plenty of sun screen and a hat and plan your itinerary to avoid the rain. You can find the rain days of some major destinations in South East Asia here. You can search by month to see what are the destinations in SEA recommended for a specific month. Be careful the weather is not "country wide". You can have heavy rain on the West Coast of Malaysia while it's dry and hot on the East Coast, a few hundred kilometers from there.
#6 SEADragon has been a member since 14/12/2012. Posts: 11
I'm going to throw a caveat at the idea of going south first ,based on one contention.If you plan on doing any of the Islands of the Andaman... Weather will be rotten by May and that directly affects Island hopping...I went in April, 2 years ago and it was still nice but by the time I was leaving.That side of the country was getting pummeled in storms.You could fly into KL and Charter a flight to Krabi right off the bat and then head North at your leisure.