Southeast Asia is an incredibly beautiful, geographically varied and culturally diverse place to travel. So many backpackers choose to travel in the Summer months (October to February) in order to take full advantage of the cooler climate and to experience this region in all its lively and bustling glory. However, travelling in monsoon season (or low-season as we like to call it) can be amazing too! This season runs from June until late September and, whilst rainfall is common, you’ll still get plenty of sunshine and warm weather!
Rachael Perkin (our Stray reservations superstar) previously travelled Southeast Asia during low season using the Lot pass. She shared a few of her stories from the road in a Stray Days interview and now she’s here to tell us why she thinks monsoon season is underrated:
Operators are used to reduced numbers of travellers passing through their towns/cities during monsoon season so most of them will drop their accommodation prices significantly in order to attract tourists. You can usually arrange discounted prices on hotel or hostel rates, especially if you decide to hop off the bus and stay somewhere for several nights.
Whether you’re booking these independently or via your Tour Leader, some activity prices are also likely to drop over this period. Because there are fewer tourists, you won’t have to book weeks in advance and you may even get a nice low-season discounted rate! Note: Always confirm prices directly with your Tour Leader or the Operator.
It’s way less crowded – but it’s still Asia!
The crowds will still be big and there will still be hundreds and thousands of people but you’ll definitely have a little more space to move! Walking through the streets of Bangkok in July, I found myself surrounded by people at all times of the day and night and I felt that electric buzz and exciting atmosphere. That said, whenever we wanted to stop at a bar on the side of the road, there were seats available and beer a-plenty. It was the perfect mix. Popular tourist destinations (e.g the Killing Fields and the White Temple) were still very busy and hostels still housed plenty of backpackers so making friends won’t be a problem – but if you’d prefer a little more space and privacy then that’s much easier to find during low-season!
There are so many events and festivals to get involved with
Just because it’s monsoon season doesn’t mean that the fun stops! Locals actually welcome the rain after a long, dry season and there are a ton of celebrations and festivals for you to immerse yourselves in. From Buddhist Lent to the rice cultivation cycle and boat racing – you’ll be able to experience the very best of Southeast Asia and make memories that will last a lifetime!
Great weather…with only a few showers
One of the things that worried me the most was the weather. I was convinced it was going to be horrendous! I wanted a beach holiday with lots of sun, and to come back to New Zealand nice and brown and ready for the Summer season (the dream, right?!). I only packed ONE poncho because I was determined for the weather to be good – and it paid off! I experienced sporadic showers every now and again but the temperatures were always high and the majority of the time it was beautiful and sunny. Showers tend to happen in the afternoon between 3-5pm. During this time, our group would run to the nearest bar/café and hide out playing cards or chatting for a couple of hours until the rain let up. Alternatively, you can use that time for your afternoon nap and then wake up in the evening feeling fresh and ready to party!
Everywhere looks even MORE beautiful
The good thing about the rain is that those brown, dusty countryside landscapes will transform into lush, green ones! Angkor Wat is especially beautiful with thriving jungles, moss and lichen on the ruins and reflections of the temples in the pools of rainwater. Proof that there is beauty to be found even on a rainy day…
TOP TIPS FOR LOW-SEASON
- Pack light, breathable clothing and a good quality waterproof jacket
- Mosquitoes are more common at this time of year so it’s vital to pack insect repellent
- Allow extra travel time – the roads can deteriorate in bad weather conditions so bus routes may take a little longer than expected.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen – don’t let the clouds and rain deceive you!
- Umbrellas are sold on almost every street corner, so don’t worry too much about packing one of these