Best time to visit Indochina


South East Asia has an extensive coastline. Of the five countries that are likely to be included in Indochina tour packages, only Laos is landlocked. Indeed, Vietnam’s coastline in well in excess of 3,000 kilometres. The influence of the sea and the monsoons mean that there can be significant changes in the climate of Indochina month by month. While highland areas may have cool nights, there is unlikely to be any really cold weather because of the latitudes between which the countries sit. A jumper for after sunset is just about all that you will need anywhere in the whole area, and lightweight waterproofs if you pick the rainy season.

Indochina travel is an experience any time of the year though there are high and low seasons. The advantages of low season include fewer crowds at the main tourist sites, often cheaper prices and greater accommodation availability. The disadvantages include rain and for those wanting to visit the more remote regions, the fact that the roads can become impassable at times.

There are variations within countries, and from country to country and it is worth looking at them in greater detail. There is the proviso that weather is never set in stone. The seasons change gradually. If you select a time when the rains should have finished, you may get the remnants while the reverse applies; the odd shower may arrive early. If your intention is to cover the whole of Indochina, you need to strike a balance, perhaps compromising to ensure you can explore the natural environment because the roads will be clear while accepting there may be slightly better times to travel elsewhere?

The East Sea wraps itself around Vietnam and Cambodia with Laos due north of Cambodia and due west of Vietnam. There are certainly similarities with regard to the climates of the three countries; the rainy season runs between May and October but that does not mean incessant rain day after day for months. Once the monsoon rains finish, November for the next few months around to their return equates to the dry season.

It is important to stress that rain may just be an afternoon shower early in the rainy season. The word ‘’monsoon’’ is sometimes used to describe wet weather, hour after hour, day after day. If you book Indochina travel packageswhen the rains are around, you would be really unlucky to find yourself sheltering from heavy showers every day. You should not pick that time for an Indochina tour if you want to spend significant time on the beach and some resorts almost close down for the weeks when the most rain is likely.

As already mentioned travelling in remote regions in the rainy season can be frustrating and even impossible.  In low-lying areas, parts of Central Vietnam for example, it tends to remain dry until mid-summer with good temperatures all year around. Likewise, in the South, you will never be truly cold but you can get wet anytime from May until the rains generally finish at the end of October.

If you are looking to combine Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia, expect hot spring weather, rains through the summer and then a dry season with temperatures still in the high 20s.

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Further west, Thailand has variations both because of the degrees of latitude it covers but also the variations due to altitude in the north, and the extensive coastline. Narrow for large areas, the climate on east facing coats differs from that on west facing coasts. The latter are best in the winter, especially if you wish to snorkel or scuba dive with the east coast having a marginally better climate all year round.

Temperatures in Myanmar can be very high in the spring just before the monsoon rains arrive in May. January and February are the best months between Christmas and the monsoon rains. The rain tends to come in the afternoon and early evening so the days are rarely totally spoiled. As the rains recede, Myanmar, while very green, can also be very soggy with travel a problem at times. However, closer to Christmas, Myanmar holds no fears for travellers wishing to explore remote areas.

South East Asia is attracting an increasing number of tourists. Thailand, followed by Vietnam, are busy countries at high season which equates broadly to dry season. While Cambodia is not as popular, Angkor is rarely quiet, and certainly not during the high season. The attractions of cities like Bangkok and Hanoi are busy all year around. In such cities, there are always things to do and places to see even if it is raining. The real issues when it comes to having an Indochina holiday when the rains are around revolve on whether you want to visit the more remote parts of the region. The transport infrastructure varies, country by country, and the rains can make some of the places you might want to visit inaccessible. Likewise, beach holidays should really be confined to weeks that are certain to be dry.

When it comes to family holidays in Indochina, the longest break that children get in the year is in mid-summer, effectively the rainy season. It does mean that families will never discount the rainy season in Indochina because it is a region that justifies two to three weeks holiday. While that may put the beaches off limits, Indochina has so much else to offer. In fact, rain can be refreshing during a busy day sightseeing.

Couples and single travellers may decide to have a break from a cold winter at home to enjoy some sun, warm temperatures and dry weather but that means high season. The major landmarks will be busy but you can plan an early start to avoid crowds. Costs are likely to be higher but as Indochina can offer a holiday of a lifetime, it may well be a price you are willing to pay.

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