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My SEA Itinerary - worried about weather

Posted by Phiddy on 1/12/2011 at 13:16

Hi, I'm planning a trip to SEA from mid to late January to mid April next year. I don't yet have an itinerary but I know that I would like to spend the last couple of weeks to a month in the islands of south Thailand. What I have so far is probably familiar to most of you, arriving in BKK, travelling into the north (ie. Chiang Mai and Rai) then into Laos (Ventiane to Luang Prabang), across into Vietnam and then down from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh, across Cambodia via Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, then back to BKK (then I think I might fly down to Krabi and travel to an island of my choice, most likely smaller and less touristy than most, although I understand that pretty much all of them are touristy nowadays)

I know that this is very much treading the banana pancake trail, but I'm an 18 year old girl travelling on my own for the first time, I am doing a lot of research into the less touristy areas I should go to although I think how far I stray from the well trod path will come down to how comfortable I am when I am there.

Anyway I've gone completely off topic. I really need advice on the weather - ie. when I should do what. The reason I have planned to be in the south of Thailand in April is because I have heard that many places are unbearable at that time of year because of the heat. I have also heard that March is a very bad time to travel in Vietnam... so how should I structure my trip?? If I spend the first two to three weeks in Thailand, then two weeks in Laos, I will be in Vietnam for March. So should I go first through Cambodia in Jan and then do Vietnam in February ? My immediate thought is no - because this means I will be in Laos in the first two weeks of March and then in northern Thailand in late March - ie. in the middle of the uncomfortable 'haze' period - which I really do not want !!

I'm sorry that this is so long but I am really in a pickle... any advice would be seriously appreciated

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Posted by altmtl on 1/12/2011 at 13:43

Personally I wouldn't worry about the weather, I'll be in SEA until April and it's the perfect time to travel more or less anywhere. I'm saving the north for Feb. March as it will be a little warmer.

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Posted by Phiddy on 1/12/2011 at 14:17

Thanks for the reply. Do you know why March is supposedly a bad time to go to Vietnam? Someone said this on a Thorn Tree forum but I had never heard it before, I know it might be very hot around that time, but I would have thought April would be worse. Also what is the weather around Sapa like in March ?

Also have you ever been to north / north eastern Thailand in March / April ? If so is the so called 'haze' really that unbearable?

I think if I have to choose either way I will choose to be in Vietnam in March so I can be in North Thailand in February... maybe going through Cambodia first in the last two weeks of January (could always fit in an extra week at the end if two weeks isn't enough) because this haze really does sound terrible.

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Posted by altmtl on 1/12/2011 at 15:14

https://www.travelfish.org/weather/vietnam - check here and the other weather links :)

I never heard of this so-called "haze" but it sounds creepy - lol

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Posted by Phiddy on 1/12/2011 at 16:09

Hahaha yeah if you look at the month by month weather guideline for Thailand in March and April it is described, it does sound really terrible but if people have been there (north / north eastern Thailand) at that time and not had any trouble it would be great if you could reassure me. I assume plenty have considering many go to Chiang Mai for Songkran.

With regards to the link you posted, I have done a bit of research by reading all those weather guidelines and while they are informative they can be a bit vague and, again, it would be great to hear from people who have been travelling at that time. Thanks :)

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Posted by tyler on 2/12/2011 at 12:14

Hey Phiddy,
I have been in SEA the past 5 years from January to April and the weather has been great. I leave the Canadian winter each time so it is hard not to find the weather improved! I think it is the best time to go there as the peak tourist season has already passed and therefore lots of rooms are available...everywhere. I have been in Northern Thailand in March and April and did not have any negative experiences with regards to haziness. I think your referring to smoke?
April is hotter than January in Thailand- and being on a beach with a nice breeze and cold beer will help you!
I think your itinerary is doable and you seem to have a good idea of where you want to go and a decent amount of time to do it. Enjoy!

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Posted by Phiddy on 2/12/2011 at 13:31

Thanks so much tyler ! I think the gist of the replies I have had on here and from people I know is that there are pros and cons of travelling at any time and the bonuses of travelling when I am are well worth it. Out of interest how cool is cool in north / north east Thailand in January to February? Will I need to bring some warmer clothes?

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Posted by tyler on 2/12/2011 at 16:07

I wouldn't use the term "cool" to describe the weather in Thailand at any time. I think it depends on where you are from. Australians might find it cool at certain times of the year but for me - after it is 25 degrees it is just a matter of how hot will it get! But there is a difference to be felt between January and April. April temps can be upwards of 40. And there is the humidity. But I always bring a light fleece and thin pants for the evenings and the mossy's. During the day...flip flops, T-shirt and shorts seem to work for me just fine.
Where are you coming from?

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Posted by Phiddy on 2/12/2011 at 17:00

I'm coming from the UK so anything upwards of about 20 degrees celsius will be nice and toasty. I don't know if you will be able to answer this but do you have any experience of the weather in Sapa in late Feb / early March? I have seen people say 'cool' but I don't know what this actually means... I assume colder than Thailand but is it cool enough to need a jumper / thermals? ta

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Posted by tyler on 3/12/2011 at 12:51

My only experience with Sapa was in November and it was a bit chilly. I believe that it is the same monsoon in November and March so a jumper might be a good idea. I wore pants, fleece and a beannie day and night. The hotel I was in was unheated so the early mornings were chilly as were the evenings.
If you start at the homepage on this site and click Vietnam - then click weather - the right side of the page will give you links to other posts that can give you some more detail. But if you have a jumper and long pants you'll be just fine.

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