I'm currently planning a RTW trip, to include SE Asia.
Due to restrictions on my ticket, it looks like I will have to arrive in Thailand (Bangkok) around 22nd September. I want to travel up through northern Thailand, round to Vietnam, through Cambodia and Laos, back round to Bangkok and then down to Singapore for 8th December (11 weeks).
However, I see that Sept/Oct is monsoon season in Thailand, so as a lone backpacker i am slightly worried. Can anybody give me some advice on whether travel at this time is ok or a definate no-no.
Any advice on preferable routes would be useful (e.g. should I fly to Hanoi and travel round, saving Thailand to November where the weather won't be so bad?)
#1 Sair83 has been a member since 8/4/2008. Posts: 9
Even though you will be in Thailand and other countries during part of the Rainy Season there is still plenty of sunshine to keep you happy! Usually the rain only falls for an hour or two and then the sun comes out again. Often the rain falls during the night anyway.
There may be some localized flooding until the drains can handle the downpour. Avoid walking bare foot through flooded areas if you have cuts and scratches on your feet, often the water has sewage and other disgusting stuff mixed with it, you want to avoid any infections!
If you get caught in the rain, stop in for something to eat in a restaurant or bar. Rain is a good reason to go in a mall and look around or take in a movie. In Laos the rain was so heavy that the streets would flood for a while - they had many tall sidewalks in the tourist areas. It was kind of relaxing having a Laobeer while watching the flooding. An hour or so later it was nice and sunny again! During the rainy season the water can be a little more choppy for boat travel.
Depending on the country you are from you may be able to get a free 30 day entry stamp in your passport at the airport. (US, UK, Canada, Germany and most European countries qualify.)
You could start your trip in Thailand, use up 29 days (if you qualify) and then go to another country. When you return to Thailand you will get another free 30 days. You will need visas that you have to pay for the Communist countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
One advantage of being in Thailand at this time is that many of the hotels will still have low season pricing. But, closer to December the price goes up, especially in the expensive hotels.
While Cambodia is currently controlled by the CPP, it's not really fair to call it a "Communist country" in the vein of Laos and Vietnam. Though corruption etc. may be as wide spread as in those countries, Cambodia is still a representative democratic monarchy.
In any case, I went around Thailand, Cambodia and Laos last year Oct-Dec, and rain was really only an annoyance in Southern Laos, where it rained for most of the day for about 3-4 days. Otherwise it was mainly just showers or 1-2 hours of rain per day, and even less in late November and early December. And as Sirhal points out, travelling outside the main season definitely has its benefits!
I reckon November is a great time to travel Thailand - the wet season is ending/has ended (except for the southeren Gulf - Samui and neighbours) but the crowds of high season are absent.
Having said that, I agree with the above that wet season is usually no reason not to travel and that normally there is plenty of fine patches - sometimes of hours, sometimes of days.
All my wet season trips to Thailand have been enjoyable.
Thanks all... I booked and paid for my ticket today, which means come 29th September I'll be in Thailand, ready to begin my travels there!!
Now... anybody wish to join me? LOL :-)
#6 Sair83 has been a member since 8/4/2008. Posts: 9