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6 weeks in SE Asia During monsoon

Posted by erikmaez on 5/11/2009 at 05:55

I am going to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam from june 16th-July 31. My question is for people who have been there during these times... Is the rain really bad everyday? Should I reschedule or will it be ok? Is there anything that I wont be able to do/see when it is raining? Any other general advice?? Thanks sooooo much for you help very much appreciated!!

#1 erikmaez has been a member since 5/11/2009. Posts: 7

Posted by sidewinder on 13/11/2009 at 17:36

You'll be fine. In most places you'll see some rain each day but it'll be short and heavy.
Some places have heavier rainfall than others, especially islands, so you can stick to the 'drier' ones if you're worried.

For me, in 2 months, there was only about a week that was really washed out, and even that had the odd sunny day.

Obviously visiting ruins in the pouring rain wouldnt be much fun, and something like tubing would be pretty dangerous. Very unlikely you'd be in one area and not have at least one mostly dry day.

Oh and the best thing is, accomodation is cheaper that time of year :)

#2 sidewinder has been a member since 11/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 57
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Posted by tezza on 20/11/2009 at 13:13

I can only answer for Thailand - I visit quite a few times in wet season because things are more elcheapo than norma.

A typical wet season day has one or a few showers or storms, usually of short duration, separated by periods of sunshine/scattered cloud.
Fully overcast periods do occur, but because it is hot, can be great for the beach. Note you can sun-burn badly in such conditions unless the overcast is really thick. Prolonged fully overcast periods lasting several days are not all that common.
At least 30% of shower/storms are at night - if this is the only shower/storm that day, you are laughing.
Prolonged bad weather periods are rare, but can happen - from anecdotal reports, most often in Sept/Oct on the Andaman Coast and Oct/Nov in the southern Gulf. In such periods it can be extremely windy, with big seas and many boats staying in port.
All wet season months have several days with NO rain. Check links like travelfish for this. Sometimes you can get 3 or more days consecutively without rain, sometimes with little cloud. I got more than a week of the latter in my first November visit to Samui - November is supposed to be the worst month there.

Lots of vacancies, lower prices for accommodation, un-crowded transport.
Lovely cooling impact during and after a shower/storm. That special just-rained smell.
The forests and countryside gets lush and green, the waterfalls are no longer trickles, and "especially central, north and north east: nature isn't bone dry and comatose, and less dust or haze" - CHANCHAO.
Fabulous night-time electical shows.
Great cloud formations, fantastic sunsets/sunrises for photographers etc
Doesn’t get much more chilled than swinging in the hammock on your bungalow verandah with a bottle of Maekong as the drops from the late afternoon shower plop-plop off the trees onto the surrounding banana leaves.

Some people don’t like the higher humidity.
Late wet season is mosquito season.
Some places close down. Note that this seems much less common now than 10 years ago. All the well visited locations seem to have plenty of places operating now. It’s also surprising how many less visited islands have at least one place open.
Some ferries shut down eg the Krabi -Jum-Lanta and the PP- Lanta. Some mainland travelers’ routes don’t run - eg as far as I know the Krabi - Khao Sok and Krabi- Khao Lak minibus services.
During the rare extended stormy/windy periods swell can get up and normal wet-season ferries/long tails can stop running. It is maybe not such a good idea to run too tight a schedule to catch that departing mainland flight.
Lots of rubbish is carted downstream by bank-full rivers and blown onto beaches during the wet season. Keen bungalow operators clean this up. Less keen don’t.
Storm water runoff can worsen diving and snorkeling visibility and can attract jellyfish in some locations.
In some areas prolonged windy periods lead to big surf/dangerous rip-currents/drownings - southern and south-western Phuket beaches and the main big Ko Chang beaches are noted dangerous areas during these periods. Be careful. I tend to look for beaches on lee shores during wet season for lack of rubbish and smooth sheltered conditons - Ko Samet, the southern Gulf islands, Ko Ngai, the chill east coast of Phi Phi are some which have these sheltered beaches.

#3 tezza has been a member since 13/4/2006. Posts: 1,345

Posted by exacto on 21/11/2009 at 06:01

i agree with the others that you are fine and there is no need to cancel or change your plans. we visited thailand, laos, and cambodia in june and july of 2006, exactly the same timeframe you are considering, and it worked out very well. most days it rained just a bit, typically in the late afternoon, but some days it didn't rain at all. we had maybe two days out of the two months were it rained all day, but even that was pretty great in its own way.

i like the smaller crowds and the lower prices that the other guys have mentioned too. one thing to keep an eye on will be transportation, since sometimes train routes and roads can be shut down due to flooding. but on balance, rainy season travel is worth it. cheers.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,762
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Posted by Saphir on 21/11/2009 at 19:37

I visited the countries you mentioned in June/July this year and had no weather-related problems.

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Posted by erikmaez on 29/11/2009 at 07:08

Thank you all very very much for the great advice! I am counting down the days until my first backpacking adventure!!

#6 erikmaez has been a member since 5/11/2009. Posts: 7

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