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How cold is cold?

Posted by busylizzy on 6/8/2009 at 15:02

I will be spending 6+ months in Bali/Lombok/Flores (Sep-Nov), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand (Dec - Mar).

Most of the time it will be hot and humid obviously, so I want light-weight clothing.

However, I am aware that some places I plan to visit will be 'cool' - particularly in the higher altitude places. I'm trying to work out exactly how much I need to take to keep warm.

For example, the cooler places that I may end up at include:

* Kelimutu in Flores
* Rinjani in Lombok
* Tana Toraja in Sulawesi
* Sapa in Vietnam
* Phongsali in Laos

I plan on taking a polypropelene thermals (top and bottoms) - and can layer those with a singlet, T-shirt and long trousers.

I'm in a quandry as to whether or not I would need to also take:

* a pair of sneakers and socks

* a light-medium weight polar fleece jacket (do I REALLY need this? It's bulky!)

* a polar fleece cap (small and thin)

I won't be doing any serious hiking or camping out in these places.

These 'optional' items would be taken only for the purpose of keeping me warm. (Footwear will be Teva sandals otherwise - tried and true!).

My questions - will it be cold enough at times that I actually need them? Can anyone provide info on the coldest temps that I could expect?

As I am not tiny, Asian-sized, I do not want to rely on being able to buy warm clothing as I need it over there, hence need to work it out ahead of time. I also have the opportunity to leave some gear in Singapore rather than carry it through Bali/Lombok/Flores if I don't need it there.

#1 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by BruceMoon on 6/8/2009 at 15:21

Lisa

Cold all depends on your body reaction. I've been rugged up (here in Oz) and see people swimming or walking along the beach with a stiff breeze with hardly anything on. Phew!!!

I plan on taking a polypropelene thermals (top and bottoms) - and can layer those with a singlet, T-shirt and long trousers.

Not a bad idea, but I wouldn't take any more than a t-top and thigh length bottom.

I'm in a quandry as to whether or not I would need to also take:

* a pair of sneakers and socks


Yes, take because the sneakers (but light ones). They can act as boots (no more needed) and can help keep the chills away (esp. if you get the sneezes, etc.)

* a light-medium weight polar fleece jacket (do I REALLY need this? It's bulky!)

* a polar fleece cap (small and thin)


Neither - you won't need them. The thermals will get you thru if you arrive at the wrong place at the wrong time, but I doubt you'd need anything more.

I was in SaPa in April when it was really cold. I had a cotton t-shirt, and I merely put a casual shirt on top. I always wear long pants, and so I put a pair of socks on under my sandals. I was fine.

Cheers

#2 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941


Posted by SBE on 6/8/2009 at 16:11

I can't recall being at all cold on Bali Lombok or Flores at that time of year though I didn't climb any high volcanoes when I was there. I wouldn't bother with the fleece. Maybe take the sneakers but if it were me I think I'd risk sticking to sturdy sandals plus socks. The weight of my backpack is a major consideration as far as I'm concerned! It rained a lot in Tana Toraja but it wasn't particularly cold there either. You could take one of those ultralight ponchos for the rain.

PS. Somatam as there's no PM function on here, can you give busylizzy my email please? You never know, we might even be able to arrange a travelfish pissup on Bali! ;-)

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Posted by busylizzy on 6/8/2009 at 16:26

"You never know, we might even be able to arrange a travelfish pissup on Bali"

Hey, I'd be in to that! Somtam - pls send it (and/or send mine on to SBE).

Thanks for the replies, guys.

I started to worry about this after reading an old diary I wrote when travelling through Rantepao in 1994. I had made a comment about how cold it was - but I don't REMEMBER it being cold.

"Cold all depends on your body reaction."
The problem with me is that I get VERY hot as soon as I start moving, and get cold very easily when sitting still and at night. So the concept of layers definitely works best for me.

#4 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by somtam2000 on 6/8/2009 at 18:37 admin

OK I've done the match making -- please keep me in the loop re Bali plans -- always keen to meet up with travelfishers.

#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,566
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Posted by BruceMoon on 6/8/2009 at 19:17

Lisa

I suggest that if John(MAC) wasn't off dancing in BKK, he'd be suggesting that if you're prone to getting "cold very easily when sitting still and at night" he'd be suggesting you go dancing.

Cheers

#6 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by wanderingcat on 6/8/2009 at 21:07

if you are going to Phongsaly in Dec-Jan, night time temperatures can be in single digit degree Celsius. Phongsaly town proper is up in the highlands. ~4'C when i was there in Dec, 1'C in some parts of neighbouring Houa Phan province.

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Posted by Skimonkey on 6/8/2009 at 21:11

Posted from within Vietnam.

busylizzy

I am in Da Lat now and have been to Sapa withing the last 3 weeks. Temp in Da Lat now is 18/19C at 9pm and I am now wearing a thin fleece. After spending 3 months in SEA this feels cold to me (temp has been between 24 & 36 C during the day and rarely below 20C at night thus far).

Before comming out here I have almost exclusivly been to cold climate countries, Norway\ Canada etc so my concern was dealing with the heat, which I'm adusting to slowly. I also found in Sapa that I was fine wearing 2 (If I was still cold with one) T-shirts and the thin fleece to keep me warm, but thats me. As for a hat I have just been using my sun at in the evenings which has been perfectly adequate.

I can only relate to Sapa & Da Lat but in my opinion thermals would be overkill.

Take it easy & enjoy your trip.

#8 Skimonkey has been a member since 16/4/2009. Posts: 40

Posted by somsai on 6/8/2009 at 21:11

Timing is everything.

In November through February Phongsali town can be very cold, almost to freezing. (0 degrees centigrade)There are no heated rooms or tradition of heat, in the large Phongsali hotel they leave all the windows open for the breeze to blow through, Chinese style. You see people huddled around pots of charcoal. They use those thick quilted blankets, so you sleep warm. Because of the elevation the sun shines strong in the early AM whereas most of those valley towns remain in fog and chilly until mid morning.

You could always buy a Chinese blanket in the market. I used my fleece and was still cold. Hat Sa down by the river felt relatively balmy.

I don't know how you are getting to Phongsali but a lot of those low lying river towns up north can be cool (not cold) until the fog burns off. Usually sometime in February you start getting some hot days and the nights lose most of their chill. The further north one goes the more pronounced the cool season.

As an aside, Phongsali has to be one of my favorite places in Laos, otherworldly. Of a different place and time.

#9 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568

Posted by MADMAC on 7/8/2009 at 08:05

That's good advice from Bruce. Went dancing at Xperience in Bangkok on Soi 55 in Sukhimvite. Excellent venue.

As for cold - winter definitely gets nippy here during the night. If you are on a bike it can be cold.

#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by busylizzy on 7/8/2009 at 08:48

"...if you're prone to "Getting cold very easily when sitting still and at night" he'd (MADMAC) be suggesting you go dancing."

Well, now you have introduced a new dilemma for - which dancing shoes to bring?!?! Maybe I can get some 'strap-on' heels for the Tevas...?

#11 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by MADMAC on 7/8/2009 at 23:33

"Well, now you have introduced a new dilemma for - which dancing shoes to bring?!?! Maybe I can get some 'strap-on' heels for the Tevas...?"

I don't think that would cut it, but you can try. I actually do pack dancing shoes whenever I travel.

#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gilrand on 21/8/2009 at 15:14

Heya,

Are those near freezing temperatures mostly during the night or also on day time in Phongsali? What are daytime temperatures like in November - February?

As for equiping myself for cold, can I assume that if there are cold temperatures every year, there is also some appropriate clothing for sale? Not meaning anything fancy, just some basics.

This is relevant to my interests aswell :)

Thanks,

Gilrand

#13 gilrand has been a member since 8/6/2009. Posts: 15

Posted by spikybrain on 21/8/2009 at 15:19

There is a model of tevas with heels you know. maybe get those?

#14 spikybrain has been a member since 21/8/2009. Posts: 20

Posted by somsai on 21/8/2009 at 21:05

Gilrand,

Yes there is clothing in the market. Size might be small but you can always just squeeze or buy a blanket. I think I said up thread sun comes earlier in Phongsali as it is higher in elevation. Most days T-shirt weather. but......

One time a storm was blowing through late January, overcast windy cold all day, hotels had pots of charcoal and people huddled around in middle of day.

I'd just go with what you want to carry and wing it from there. I always bring a fleece if for nothing eles it's good for sleeping in air con airports.

hope this helps.

#15 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568

Posted by dellmann on 16/11/2009 at 14:25

Hi everyone,

does anyone know how cold is cold on the Bolevan plateu, places like Attapeu and similar in December, at daytime and at night?

Cheers
Thomas

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Posted by MADMAC on 25/11/2009 at 11:34

I am sure Rufus and Somsai would know. I've never been there, but were I a betting man, and I am, I'll bet it's getting pretty nippy up there at night right about now.

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by somsai on 25/11/2009 at 21:02

Good catch Mac, I go long periods without reading.

I do remember wearing a jacket mid day up on the plateau but I haven't spent that long up there to know if it's a regular thing or not, that was December. Another day hiking I remember as being very warm.

The provincial capital Attapeu is actualy down off the plateau and very comfortable. The same with Sekong and Salavan. The only town people seem to go to up on the plateau was Paxon, the roads mostly run in a loop around the plateau.

I envy you Thomas

#18 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568

Posted by thepegasusleague on 25/11/2009 at 22:23

Tana Toraja is not at all cold in December except at the top of the range (I can't remember the name of the village up there).

Despite their relatively high altitude - Rantepao, for example, is about 500m above sea level - the climate in the towns and villages in the valleys is very much tropical.

#19 thepegasusleague has been a member since 9/11/2009. Posts: 5

Posted by MADMAC on 26/11/2009 at 06:08

In Mukdahan it gets cold. Not below freezing, but nighttime on my chopper I need a jacket. Two years ago it was around 6 degrees Celsius. During the day it's usually OK, but nighttime can get pretty cool. I would expct the Bolovens to be a touch cooler still.

#20 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by dellmann on 28/12/2010 at 08:05

Hi everyone,
How cold is cold when treking in Northern Thailand, e.g. around Pai. I have heard of people sleeping on straw mats in hills tribe villages unable to sleep because they were so cold. Would it be recommended to bring a warm sleeping back and jacket?
Cheers
Thomas

#21 dellmann has been a member since 6/11/2009. Posts: 2

Posted by MADMAC on 28/12/2010 at 11:33

Dellman
Stay in a hotel that has blankets and you'll be good to go. Humping around a sleeping bag - now that's bulky.

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Posted by goonistik on 28/12/2010 at 14:13

Dellman,

Temperatures will range from about 6 degrees C to about 21 degrees C in Pai around this time of year.

If you are camping, there is no need for a winter/subzero sleeping bag.

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Posted by busylizzy on 28/12/2010 at 14:24

It's funny to see one of my old threads resurreccted - from over a year ago.

Thought I'd post a follow up that might be useful to anyone new reading this, in terms of what I actually did in the end.

For starters, I didn't make it to all the planned places. I ended up taking a super-thin merino top and a polyprop top only; not thermal leggings. The merino top was good on the planes - it was a cross-over type one that worked well over a Tshirt.

I definitely didn't need anything warm in Bali/Lombok/Flores - a Tshirt was more than adequate when things 'cooled' off.

The only time I felt cold was in Hue , Vietnam (in December). It was drizzly and just slightly cold-ish (maybe 19-20 degrees??). That would be comfortable back in NZ, but after a few months in SEA, I was feeling the cold. I wore a Tshirt, the polyprop top and the merino top - but this was primarily when I was on the back of a motorbike, early in the morning. I stripped off layers off as I needed to during the day.

I didn't bother with shoes in the end..... just wore jandals/flipflops and teva's - they did the job. I also had a pair of cheap socks given out by the airline that I carried around and used in Hue in the room at night.

#24 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by travellingsarah on 29/12/2010 at 10:26 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

As I'm sitting here in Hanoi, reading this and feeling somewhat chilly, I thought I'd just add that it gets cold here in winter! Maybe it is just a relativity thing, as supposedly it's 19C today, but I certainly don't venture out in less than a hoodie now and I've even bought a particularly stylish (!) white puffa jacket for those cold evenings. Anyway, my point is that it's worth bringing at least a jumper / hoodie at this time of year, even if you're not going to Sapa.

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Posted by MADMAC on 29/12/2010 at 12:14

The other night I went to Norees and it was freezing! Had to be somewhere around 8 or 9 degrees. I had my jacket on, shoes, socks... I was still freezing. I ended up huddling around a small fire with a couple of the waitresses there. The ride home was bitter cold. Man, I hate winter!

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Posted by travellingsarah on 29/12/2010 at 13:34 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

All summer I looked forward to the cooler weather and now it's here I'm too damn cold! Never satisfied!

I should have said that my brother-in-law is visiting from England and he's been cold too, so it's not just an acclimatised expat thing.

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