With ancient temples, gorgeous beaches, dense jungles, rich handicraft traditions, and mouthwatering cuisine, Southeast Asia simply overflows with amazing experiences and colorful festivals. Southeast Asia is a popular travel destination but visitors must be cautious of when is the best time to visit Southeast Asia. The area is impacted by monsoons usually during the summer months, but there are variations in different parts of the region that influence when you may want to travel. By the same token, remember that if you want to save money, the best bargains are to be had during the offseason!
We’ve created a weather chart for six key Southeast Asian countries to help you know the best time to visit Southeast Asia. Just remember that Mother Nature is fickle, and us humans can’t control the weather. Be sure to download the complete PDF to help you plan your next trip!
Best Time to Visit Vietnam
Boasting a coastline of 2,030 miles and mountains that rise as high as 10,308′, Vietnam can be divided into several parts – the Red River Delta, the North/Northwest Highlands, the Central Highlands, the Coastal Lowlands, and the Mekong Delta.
Although Vietnam has primarily a monsoon-influenced tropical climate, there are variations depending on when you are traveling to Vietnam and the areas you plan on seeing. Diverse topography, a span of more than 15 degrees of latitude and the location bordering the South China Sea – all lead to varying regional climatic conditions.
All regions are monsoonal, but the north boasts 4 distinct seasons and the south has 2 – rainy and dry. The northern mountainous region has a more temperate climate and can even have snow in the winter. Humidity is a constant.
Spring in Vietnam
If you are traveling to Vietnam in the spring, do be prepared for rain even though March is relatively dry throughout the country. Temperatures are getting hot in the south and central coast, while in the north and highlands, temperatures are pleasant.
By late April and May, the south is seriously hot and humid, and any rain is a relief.
Spring holidays include April 30th, the liberation of the South and May 19th is Ho Chi Minh’s birthday.
Summer in Vietnam
Summer in the south is hot, humid, and often rainy. Locals seek relief at beaches, but foreign tourism is down.
The central coast tends to be hot and dry, but you can experience serious floods and typhoons.
The north will also have heavy rains and heat but is blessed with ocean winds.
A few summer holidays include Family Day on June 28th and Remembrance Day on July 27th.
Fall in Vietnam
Fall in Vietnam, as in the States, is typhoon (hurricane) time in the south and central coasts. Be cautious of serious floods when traveling to Vietnam in the fall as they are not uncommon and can disrupt travel. The north is somewhat better, but still, experiences raging storms that can interfere with Halong boat trips and general travel.
By late November, temperatures cool down and there is less precipitation, but one never knows.
In Fall, September 2nd is National Day, October 10th is Capital Liberation Day, and October 20th is Vietnamese Women’s Day.
Winter in Vietnam
Overall, winter is the time to visit Vietnam, particularly the south and central coast. It’s the driest time of the year and the most temperate weather.
The north, however, can be damp and chilly so be prepared. If you are visiting Halong or the hill tribes of the north be sure to bring jackets. Most likely, you will not want to swim in the bay. Kayaking can be fun but stay warm.
Tet generally occurs in January or February, but is a lunar festival and varies from year to year. In 2020, Tet is January 25th.
February 3rd is the Day of Foundation of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Best Time to Visit Indonesia
With more than 17,500 islands somehow molded into a single nation, Indonesia displays no end of natural and cultural diversity. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur to Komodo National Park to multicolored volcanic lakes, Indonesia offers a myriad of possibilities.
Being a tropical country with a fairly even climate all year round, the weather is divided into two seasons: wet and dry. And depending on the island of interest, the weather could be different.
Spring in Indonesia
Generally speaking, the dry season is May-September and the rainy season from October-April. We can suggest visiting the country between May and September. During this period, the downpours last a couple of hours, rather than all day.
The best months for diving off the coast of Bali or Komodo National Park is April-September. You can run into rough seas in January-February.
Java is best visited May-September, when the days are hot, dry and sunny.
On Flores Island, plan to travel between April-September for lots of sunshine and blue skies.
Summer in Indonesia
From June-September expect the “East Monsoon,” which generally brings dry weather.
If you’re looking to visit Bali, plan on a visit between May-September and Bali’s wet season from October-March. Depending on where you are on an island, can also affect the weather.
Sulawesi can see different weather across the island, but you can expect the driest months in the northern region to be between July-October, but some rain June-July.
Fall in Indonesia
Rainy season in Java runs from November-March, and East Java experiences less rainfall than the western region.
On Sumatra, the dryer months are April-October, but watch out for November-March. when the rains could start up again.
General rule of thumb: much of the country is in the “wet season” from November-April.
Winter in Indonesia
From December-March, you can expect a lot of rain during the “West Monsoon.” The heaviest rainfall season is usually December-January.
Expect prices to skyrocket over the Christmas and New Year season.
Best Time to Visit Myanmar
The 4th largest country in Asia and the largest mainland country in Southeast Asia, Myanmar boasts more than 135 different ethnic groups. The landscape rises from sea level white sand beaches to 19,295’ Hkakabo Razi at the base of the Himalayas.
Myanmar is located in Asia’s monsoon region between the Equator and Tropic of Cancer. Generally speaking, there are two major seasons – dry and wet and altitude, as you might expect affects temperatures. Some argue that there are 3 seasons – very hot, rainy and somewhat cooler.
Spring in Myanmar
March and April, although still part of Myanmar’s dry season, and May, the beginning of the wet season, are among the hottest of the year with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees.
Hill stations, the higher altitudes of the north and lake areas are cooler than the lowlands.
Rains normally start in May, although there may be showers beforehand. Only the plains around Bagan and Mandalay escape the rains, often until very late summer. March features the Shwedagon Pagoda Festival. Then, for fun, in April you can catch the Thingyan Water Festival and get doused by the locals.
Summer in Myanmar
Summer in Myanmar is hot and rainy, even up in Himalayan foothills. You might escape the rains in the Bagan-Mandalay area until August, but you can be sure the temperatures are roasting hot. Sadly, though, even in the hot rainy days, most Myanmar beaches are closed, so there is no relief.
Fall in Myanmar
September is still part of the rainy season, with hot weather throughout the country, but the rain tapers off in October.
November marks the beginning of the cooler, dry season, with temperatures between 68 and 74 degrees. You may well need a light wrap in the evenings.
This is also the season of festivals. October is the famous Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival in Inle. November boasts the Fire Balloon Festival in Taunggyi and Pyin Oo Lwin, and the Shwezigon Pagoda Festival in Bagan and others.
Winter in Myanmar
Winter is high season for tourists and the best weather of the year. The only thing to watch is the river levels. The farther you are from the rainy season, the lower the water is, so boats have to go slowly.
Festivals to think of include the tribal Kachin and Manaw Festival in Myitkyina and Putao. Also in January, is the Ananda Festival in Bagan.
Best Time to Visit Cambodia
Beyond the world-famous Khmer Ruins, Cambodia remains one of Southeast Asia’s undiscovered gems with amazing wildlife and romantic beaches. From Mekong River dolphins to vine-covered jungle temples and elephant sanctuaries, there are endless opportunities.
Weather is simple – hot all year round with a rainy season from May to November and a dry season from November to April. If you head up to the Cardamon Mountains, weather is a bit cooler, but the area is also rainier.
Spring in Cambodia
March is not quite the rainy season, although you might have showers. By April, rains increase and in May, the heat, humidity, and rain make quite a team! Temperatures can vary between 75 and 95 degrees, so be prepared.
Along the coast near Kampot and Sihanoukville, temperatures are not quite as hot, but rains can be stronger.
April boasts an important holiday – Khmer New Year and May is Visak Bochea Day.
Summer in Cambodia
Rain, rain, rain, and watch for flooding!
Fall in Cambodia
September is still the rainy season, although it begins to taper off in October.
November is the start of the best time to visit Cambodia but beware of possible typhoons. They are rare, but one never knows.
If you have not had enough rain, November is time for the water festival, Bon Om Touk. Also, in November is Independence Day.
Winter in Cambodia
Ah, winter – definitely the high tourist season in the country and the driest, coolest and sunniest time of the year. Temperatures range from 70 to 88 degrees, so very comfortable. This is also a good time to lounge on the beach along the coast.
January is an exciting month, the time for Chinese New Year.
Best Time to Visit Laos
Laos is blessed with enormous ecological bounties, including some of Asia’s largest waterfalls and vast stands of primary forest covering a good part of the country. Laos also boasts a 9,249′ peak, Boun Neau.
Laos is tropical in the plains, subtropical in the mountains and northern regions. Like Cambodia, it is governed by monsoons, including a winter monsoon from November to February that brings good weather and a summer monsoon with rain and humidity from May to mid-October. The hottest time of the year is pre-monsoon from March to May.
Spring in Laos
Spring in Laos is pre-monsoon and the hottest time in the country. During spring, the coolest place to be is the north, near Luang Prabang, where temperatures range between 64 and 93 degrees. Luang Prabang is also one of the drier areas.
Vientiane is centrally located and a bit warmer than Luang Prabang, averaging between 75 and 95 degrees.
Pakse, located in the south is the hottest part of the country, often boasting temperatures in the 90’s.
Interestingly, in the northwest, spring can see cyclones that sweep up from the Bay of Bengal. There are also cyclones coming from the South China Sea that bring rain and wind to the country.
March is rice festival time, Boun Khoun Khao, near Vientiane. Then, in April, join the Lao and celebrate New Year. May is time to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.
Summer in Laos
Rain, rain, rain, and watch for flooding! Note that Luang Prabang is one of the least rainy areas.
Summer is also a time of extreme heat so be prepared.
As for festivals, the beginning of June is Children’s Day. August highlights Boun Haw Khao Padap Din, a time to remember and pay respects to the dead.
Fall in Laos
As in Cambodia, September is still rainy season, but by mid-October, the rains taper off. Late fall is the start of the tourist season. As winter nears, particularly in the north, jackets or sweaters come in handy.
Fall is also a period where typhoons and some floods can affect the country.
That said, from November through winter is the best time to visit the country.
October celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent and in river towns there are boat races.
November is the wonderful Boun That Luang celebration at That Luang in Vientiane.
Winter in Laos
Winter is the height of the tourist season, the driest and sunniest time to explore Laos. A typhoon might occur in early December, but generally, weather is good. Up north in Luang Prabang and above, you will likely want a sweater, or even more. In the mountainous areas, temperatures have been known to drop as low as freezing.
By February, the weather gets warmer and temperatures can rebound up to 95 degrees.
Winter festivals include Lao National Day in December.
Boun Pha Wet honors the Jatakas or lives of Buddha and Magha Puja celebrates Buddha’s teachings given to the monks.
Best Time to Visit Thailand
Thailand is home to mouth-watering cuisine, hill tribe people, unspoiled beaches, pre-bronze-age ruins, limestone karst islands and nature reserves with spectacular landscapes.
Although the beaches of the south have a weather pattern that differs from the rest of the country, generally, March to May is the hot season, May-October is the rainy season and a dry somewhat cool period runs from November to February.
Along the western border with Myanmar and the northern border with Laos, temperatures can get cool and sometimes cold in winter but are pleasant in other months.
In the north, usually between September and November, the Pacific typhoons frequently drop the bulk of force over Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, leaving only heavy rain to pour down on Thailand. If the typhoons head south, they can pound down on the southern peninsula.
Indian Ocean cyclones, although rarer, make landfall often late spring and October to December, affect the Andaman Sea area or even continental Thailand.
Unlike other parts of Southeast Asia, El Niño brings a drier time from December to February along the Peninsula and hotter weather to the rest of Thailand. La Nina does just the opposite, bringing more rain to the peninsula and even flooding.
Spring in Thailand
Spring, March to mid-May and pre-monsoon season is the hottest time to visit Thailand. Bangkok temperatures can reach the 100s during the day and don’t really cool off at night.
Weather is a bit better in the northern hilltribe area, but still up there in the 90s, although cooler at night.
During March and April, Phuket experiences little rain, temperatures range from 75-91 or so, and it is a good time to hop down to the beach.
March and April are also prime time for visiting Ko Samui and Pattani.
March 13th celebrates National Elephant Day and in April is Songkran, the Thai New Year Water Festival.
May will celebrate the Coronation of H.M King Maha Vajiralongkorn and the northeast will light up the country with a rocket festival.
Summer in Thailand
Rain, rain, rain, heat, heat, heat and watch for flooding!
But…in July and August, you can sneak off to the eastern part of the peninsula looking out on the Gulf of Thailand, and twiddle your toes in the sand and the rest of you in the water, as the area is sheltered from cyclones and the worst rains.
In the summer, one can celebrate Phuket Yacht race week or a candle festival in Ubon Ratchethani. August or early September is the Hungry Ghost Festival, Por Tor.
Fall in Thailand
Fall, after late October, is a good time to head back to Thailand. Yes, you do have to watch for cyclones, but the rains have largely abated. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather and consider exploring the country.
Ah, fall…catch the Buffalo Racing Festival in Chonburi in October, enjoy Loi Krathong and the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai or the Elephant Round-Up in Surin in November.
Winter in Thailand
December, January, and February are, without doubt, the best months to visit most of Thailand.
Along the southwest coast (Phuket, Krabi, the Similan Islands, Ko Phi Phi, etc.), December to March are the best months.
If Ko Samui, Songkhla or Pattani are your destinations, then January to April is prime time.
Winter sees many festivals in Thailand. December is the birthday of former King Bhumibol. The 3rd week in January sees an umbrella and craft festival in Chiang Mai. About this time is also the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Let the Experts Help!
Whether you’ve just begun researching for your next trip or you have all of the details down to a T, Myths and Mountains can help! So when is the best time to Southeast Asia? Whether you’re traveling to Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia or anywhere in between, that entirely depends on your weather preferences and the activities you would want to do. Our travel specialists are prepared to assist at whatever capacity works for you. Contact us today to get started on your way to a journey of a lifetime.