Long time lurker, first time poster here.
Me and my buddy are going to be leaving the UK in a month's time, June 19th, to head on a 7 month trip round SEA. We've been planning it for about the past 8 months and have been using travel fish as our main resource, so thanks for all the info we've already managed to get!
The initial plan up until this week has been to spend June-October in Thailand (North), Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, then October-February doing Thailand (South), Malaysia, Singapore and Indo. On the map this seems like the most logical and efficient route to take. We've known that given the length of our trip we're going to experience both good and bad weather regardless of what order we visit the various countries but we've also realised that June-October is pretty much rainy season in the northern regions while October-February is the rainy season in the southern regions.
It's not really much effort to switch our trip round, just an extra flight or two, i.e. hitting Thailand (South), Malaysia, Singapore and Indo first then flying back up to Bangkok to do Thailand (North), Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. As a bit of background info, we'll be hoping to do a good bit of surfing, diving, kayaking, hiking and motor biking as we go. Main concerns are that some roads in the likes of Laos may be impassable in July/August and that boats from island to island in Indo might not be operating (or sink) in December/January.
So basically TLDR are we being pussies and worrying about the weather too much and should just stick with our initial plans? Or, given that it's not too much effort to flip our trip around should we do so in the hope of better weather?
Cheers in advance!
On a purely weather basis, June-October is best for Indo and east coast peninsular Malaysia and the lower (east side) Gulf of Thailand, but October-February is best for most of Thailand and Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam. Of course rainy season isn't all rainy and dry season isn't all dry, but your odds of hitting it right will be better if you flip your trip around. I live in Chiang Mai and motorbike year-round, but the sweet spot is definitely Nov-Feb. West coast Thai beaches are also best then.
Good man, appreciate the response, maybe see you in Chiang Mai for a few cold ones when we're up that way :)
I think we will go ahead and flip the trip around, the only annoyance is that we fly from Singapore to Australia at the end of the 7 month trip so that was the main reason for originally going north to south. But having looked at Air Asia prices it looks like once we finish the 7 months in the north we can easily get a flight for around 50 GBP back down towards Singapore.
One question; given that we would then be visiting all the various countries when they are "in season" are we likely to see a big difference in our costs or our need to book ahead for accommodation? I realise this is a pretty broad question but any thoughts would be good. Last time I was in Thailand was in September 2011 and I never booked ahead, just rocked up and got accommodation when I arrived in various places, even Koh Phangan around full moon time.
given that we would then be visiting all the various countries when they are "in season" are we likely to see a big difference in our costs or our need to book ahead for accommodation?
For Thailand/Laos/Cambodia in Oct-Feb (considered "high season" most of that time) prices for accommodation do go up on many of the southern beaches and popular tourist spots, but if you're going for backpacker style bungalows and guesthouses the difference isn't much. Prices get most jacked-up on the top beaches of Phuket, Samui, Railay, Phi Phi, etc. but there are tons of nice alternatives which still have decent-priced options. Christmas/NewYear it's good to just plop somewhere slightly off the beaten path and wait for the crowds to go back to Sweden. Had Rin on Ko Phangan for NYE is pretty much the hugest beach party in SE Asia so if heading there try to book way in advance or else just wing it and risk sleeping on the sand. Mid-December to mid-January is the only really crazy-busy time, but you can almost always find somewhere decent to crash on a walk-in basis.
As for getting back to Singapore for the flight to Oz, it's not all that far from Bangkok or southern Thailand (AirAsia, TigerAirlines) or you could island-hop down the Andaman coast to Penang (Butterworth) and overnight bus/train to Singapore from there.
Thanks for the advice, I like the sound of hitting the Andaman coast on the way back down to Singapore. Seems as though we will be in Vietnam for Xmas/New Years so will need to do a bit of research into the best place to be for that.