The Best Time To Visit Southeast Asia – Climate Planner

Vietnam, lady on bike

We’re often asked, “What’s the best time to visit Southeast Asia?” 

While the answer can be somewhat nuanced, the good news is, that there’s no bad time. Southeast Asia benefits from a tropical climate — the entire region is within the tropical and subtropical climatic zones. 

While it can and does rain, there is no wrong time to visit. Beautiful beaches, pounding parties, epic jungle treks, and mythical mountain vistas await whenever you plan your trip. 

This climate guide to Southeast Asia breaks down each country, season by season, allowing you to pick the best time for your backpacking adventure!


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Rainy Season In Southeast Asia 

When planning for your first trip to Southeast Asia, it’s easy to panic about monsoon season. But honestly, you don’t need to worry about it too much. Sure, the rain can be heavy (and we mean really heavy at times) but across most of the region, the rainy season doesn’t mean constant rain for weeks on end. 

Contrary to common belief, the wet season can be an excellent time to travel! The rain tends to fall predictably for a few hours at a time, leaving the rest of the day bright and fresh. It’s generally cheaper, there are fewer people and you still get hours of cracking weather each day — just remember to carry a poncho in case you get caught out! 

When is the rainy season in Southeast Asia
When is the rainy season in Southeast Asia?

It’s worth noting that due to climate change it’s becoming more challenging to predict weather patterns. With the world likely to continue warming until at least 2050, this is only going to get worse.


Southeast Asian Climate — Season by Season 

While large areas of Southeast Asia tend to follow similar weather patterns, there are some unusual microclimates and alternative rainy seasons to watch out for. Don’t worry, we’ll point those out! 

As a general rule, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines experience three seasons a year:

  • Dry season – November to February
  • Hot season – March to May
  • Wet season – June to October

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore tend to only have two seasons, lasting around half the year each:

  • Wet season – October to March
  • Dry season – April to September

The Best Time To Visit Cambodia

The magnificent temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This is Banteay Srei temple
Angkor Wat is a must-see in Cambodia – be sure to travel to Siem Reap to explore the temples!

November to February: Dry season in Cambodia is the most comfortable time for tourists. It’s the driest and least humid time of year with temperatures rarely exceeding 30°C. Visit early in the season to see Tonlé Sap — the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia — at its fullest. 

March to May: Temperatures rise across the country, often reaching 35°C. You can still expect to see a lot of tourists, especially around famous sites like Angkor Wat. If it’s within your budget, rooms with air conditioning will ensure you can sleep through the sweltering nights. 

The Buddhist New Year festival of Songkran is celebrated in April so prepare for a water fight to help cool you down! 

June to October: Traditionally, Cambodia’s rainy season starts in June but more recently, the shifting climate has brought rain to Cambodia as early as May. Temperatures reach a low of 20-25°C, and the country bursts with greenery. 

Hostels and other accommodation options tend to be cheaper during the wet season. There are also much smaller crowds and some less popular spots will be almost deserted. 

Read more about backpacking in Cambodia 


The Best Time To Visit Indonesia

swing in ubed bali indonesia
This swing chair is a popular tourist spot located in Ubud, Bali!

A nation made up of islands, Indonesia covers a massive area. Each island experiences slightly different seasons. This guide is an overview so you should check with local sources if you’re travelling near the beginning or end of a season. 

Almost all of Indonesia is on, or near the equator. This means it’s pretty much always warm at sea level. At higher elevations, you can expect the temperature to drop. 

April to September: Dry season in Indonesia is the best time for water-based activities like diving, boat trips and surfing. It’s also an excellent time of year for trekking. Wildlife is easier to spot during this period, and orangutans tend to venture to the edge of the forests. 

July and August are the busiest months, and accommodation can get booked up in advance. It’s worth planning ahead if you’re travelling during these months. 

October to March: Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands are most affected by the wet season, with the heaviest rains falling from December to March. Boat trips and dive excursions are often cancelled due to rough seas. For safety reasons, the popular Lombok to Flores boat trip doesn’t run between December and March. 

Accommodation and tour prices are often lower during the wet season. It rarely rains all day, and you can still expect to catch a few hours of sunshine between showers. 

Read more about backpacking in Indonesia


Best Time To Visit Laos

Views From Nam Xay Viewpoint, Vang Vieng, Laos.

November to February: With temperatures around the mid to high 20s, dry season is the most comfortable time to visit Laos. It coincides with European winter so you’ll cross paths with plenty of tourists looking to escape the cold back home. Boat travel is excellent during this time as the rivers are full but not gushing. Trekking is popular, especially in the north. 

March to May: March, April and May are the hottest and most humid months of the year in Laos. Temperatures consistently reach 35°C or higher. Physical activity can be hard due to the heat – we definitely recommend getting a room with air-con! Temperatures are generally lower at higher elevations so this is an excellent time to visit the Bolaven Plateau

Slash and burn farming is in full swing during the hot season so prepare for reduced air quality during this time. 

June to October: The rainy season can arrive as early as mid-May but traditionally doesn’t start until June. The rains in Laos tend to be short and sharp, especially at the beginning of the wet season. Later on, around August, the rains reach their most intense and little of the country is spared. Expect temperatures to drop to the low 20s or lower at higher elevations. 

October is the best time of year for budget backpackers who want to avoid most of the rain but still travel on a shoestring! 

Read more about backpacking in Laos


Best Time To Visit Malaysia 

Botanical Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Botanical Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia experiences different weather patterns depending on where you visit. Kuala Lumpur and the west coast tend to be hot year-round, although they experience some rain during September and October

October to March: Malaysia’s west coast experiences excellent weather during the start of this period. Temperatures hover around 30°C and tourists head to Penang and Langkawi. By January, it’s only the east coast and islands that aren’t bathed in sunshine. March sees the weather improve on the east coast with islands like Tioman opening up again. 

The popular Perhentian Islands on the Eastern coast of Malaysia are effectively off-limits to travellers from November to February as they’re battered by the monsoon rains. This is known as the ‘Eastern Monsoon’ and affects Eastern Thailand (though much less heavily) as well. Boats stop running during this time as the seas are rough and dangerous. Most accommodation options and dive schools close during this time too. 

April to September: The weather is excellent across Malaysia at the start of the season. Snorkelling and diving trips begin in earnest by May and the east coast is a hive of tourist activity. The west starts to experience short but regular downpours around this time but temperatures remain pleasant. July and August see prices rise throughout the country as this time coincides with school holidays. 

This is also the best time to visit Borneo. Orangutans venture out of the jungle around this time, making them easier to spot. 

Read more about backpacking in Malaysia


Best Time To Visit Myanmar 

sunset Myanmar
Myanmar at sunset makes for the perfect photo opportunity!

November to February: As with much of Southeast Asia, Myanmar’s dry season proves to be the most popular time for tourism. Temperatures are a comfortable 25°C in the highlands but can exceed 30°C in other parts of the country. Water levels remain high from the rainy season so this is an excellent time of year for river travel in Myanmar. Expect to see plenty of European travellers escaping the bleak winter back home. 

March to May: This is the hottest time of year in Myanmar, with temperatures regularly exceeding 40°C in some areas. There are a ton of festivals throughout this period so booking accommodation in advance is recommended. You won’t find many western travellers in Myanmar at this time but domestic tourism is huge! 

June to October: By mid-June, most beach resorts in Myanmar begin shutting up for the wet season. Temperatures hover around 30°C but as the rains arrive, road travel becomes challenging across much of the country. As the roads become impassible, rivers become the most effective way to travel. By the end of the season, temperatures can drop as low as the mid-20s making for a comfortable travel experience. 

A note on rainy season in Myanmar

Rainy season in Myanmar can get particularly intense, especially in the south of the country with huge downpours, the threat of typhoons and many roads being flooded. We would probably avoid travelling to the south of Myanmar during rainy season as it’s not a very pleasant time to travel and mosquitos can be at their worst during this time.

Read more about backpacking in Myanmar


Best Time To Visit The Philippines

Manila, Philippines Skyline
Manila is the most densely populated city in the world.

You can’t talk about the weather in the Philippines without mentioning everyone’s go-to fact: The Philippines is made up of over 7000 islands! This means weather varies across the country, and shoulder seasons can be unpredictable. The following seasons are the general rule of thumb but be prepared to check locally for more exact information. 

November to February: As with most of Southeast Asia, dry season is considered the best time to visit the Philippines. The weather is at its coolest, hovering around the mid to low 20s across most of the country. This is a great time for beach lovers as the rains are few and far between. 

Be prepared for a ton of local festivals and celebrations stretching from January through May. You may need to book accommodation in advance to ensure your bed. 

March to May: The Philippines can be scorching this time of year. Average temperatures range between 28-33°C across most of the country. Higher elevations and coastal areas receive some respite from the worst of the heat. 

Holy Week takes place around Easter. This is one of the Philippines’ largest celebrations with accommodation and transport being booked up far in advance. This can be both a good and bad time to travel. Cultural emersion will be at its best but travelling on public transport and finding a bed can be hard. 

June to October: For the early part of the wet season, rain is intermittent, and there are still plenty of sunny days to be found — this is especially true in the southern regions where beach holidays are still possible.  

Typhoon season starts in earnest from August through October. It’s not advisable to travel around the Philippines during this time as disruptions to roads and boats are common. If you are travelling, keep an eye on local news for information on delays and disruptions. 

Read more about backpacking in the Philippines 


Best Time To Visit Singapore

Singapore attractions
The Merlion Fountain is a popular tourist attraction in Singapore!

Being a mere stone’s throw from the equator, Singapore is never cold. Temperatures float between 24-32°C all year. Humidity tends to be around 70% all year too. 

October to March: November to January is when the weather is at its wettest but it’s worth carrying an umbrella throughout the rainy season. 

Thankfully, Singapore is so well constructed that there are rarely disruptions in the city.

Chinese New Year falls during these months (usually late Jan/early Feb). Expect some markets and shops to be shut — especially in Chinatown — but most tourist attractions will still be open. 

February is one of the busiest times in Singapore. As the rains start to recede and the temperatures being to rise, tourists flock to the city. 

April to September: Rains are still possible in April, but they’re generally predictable, afternoon thunderstorms. 

Formula 1 tends to take place in September which can make Singapore unbearably busy — and even more pricey — if you’re a fan of the sport, this could be a once in a lifetime trip. If not, avoid it! September also sees some major Singaporean festivals. 

Temperatures tend to hover around the low 30s. 

Smoke and haze from slash and burn farming in Sumatra, Indonesia, can cause a significant drop in Singapore’s air quality from May to September

Read more about backpacking in Singapore


Best Time To Visit Thailand 

Koh Phi Phi clear waters
Koh Phi Phi enjoys tropical weather and crystal clear waters!

November to February: Peak travel season in Thailand once again coincides with the European winter and Christmas period. Travelling during this time means rubbing shoulders with a ton of other travellers. 

Temperatures are cooler than during the hot season but they still regularly reach 34°C. Thailand’s west coast gets more than its fair share of sun, making this an excellent time for beach lovers. However, Koh Samui and other nearby coastal spots can experience high levels of rainfall during this period. 

March to May: Temperatures regularly make their way up to 40°C during the hot season. Physical activity can be challenging and air conditioning is recommended if it’s within your budget! 

Songkran and Chinese New Year take place during these months. It’s worth paying attention to when these are, as accommodation and transport often need to be booked in advance during this time. 

June to October: The end of June sees the rains return to most of Thailand. The start of June still tends to deliver glorious sunshine to most of the country. 

Beach resorts, coastal hostels and tour providers start to close around August as the north of Thailand begins to experience heavy rain. However, east coast spots like Koh Samui still offer a dose of vitamin D for sun worshippers — just be prepared to dodge the odd shower! 

This rain continues throughout September which can make travel less enjoyable. On the other hand, the weather means fewer tourists and less competition. You can find some really good bargains during September and October

Rainy Season in The Gulf of Thailand = October to November

The islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui have their own rainy season during October and November. During this time, it is still hot with long downpours, but transport can be disrupted, and power cuts are not uncommon. This is not a great time to visit these islands if you want to dive as underwater visibility will be at its worst. 

Read more about backpacking in Thailand 


Best Time To Visit Vietnam 

Ho Chi Minh City from above
Would you visit this megacity in Vietnam?

Due to the shape and topography of Vietnam, you’ll find differing weather patterns depending on the region you visit. 

November to February: Southeast Asia’s traditional dry season sees most of Vietnam experiencing warm and dry conditions but the central region experiences heavy showers. Typhoons are not uncommon around Hoi An during this time. 

Temperatures in Northern Vietnam can drop into single figures at night so pack a jumper! 

January sees the rains leave central Vietnam, and river travel has become a popular way to see the country. Temperatures in the north drop, with average daytime, temps rarely exceeding 18°C. 

Beaches in Southern Vietnam are super popular during this time!

March to May: Rains across the country disperse, and Vietnam sees an explosion in tourism. Beaches across the nation welcome visitors and Halong Bay is at its most appealing with clear blue skies and very little haze. 

The northern regions warm up with temperatures reaching the mid-to-low-20s. This is an ideal time for trekking in Sapa or taking on the Ha Giang Loop

By the end of May, it’s common for areas in the north and south to experience predictable afternoon showers. 

June to October: While the rainy season begins to batter the north and south of Vietnam, the central region fares very well during the early part of Southeast Asia’s wet season. 

Rainfall is almost non-existent, and temperatures float between the mid-20s and low-30s. However, the central highlands can still experience some extreme weather so trekking in the mountains isn’t recommended. 

The story changes during September and October when the rains return to the central region. During this time, storms are frequent, and transport can be disrupted. Both the northern and southern regions see an improvement in the weather. Trekking and beach holidays have become popular again. 

Read more about backpacking in Vietnam


Southeast Asia Weather FAQs

How long does Southeast Asia’s rainy season last?

In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines, the monsoon season tends to last five months from June through October. However, some local differences can mean the season starts in May and ends in September. 

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore tend to experience a six-month wet season stretching from October to March. 

How long does Southeast Asia’s dry season last?

Dry season in Southeast Asia tends to last four to six months depending on where you are. In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines, dry season is around four months from November to February. 

When is wet season in Thailand?

The wet season in Thailand is generally from June to October. However, the Gulf of Thailand experiences its own monsoon season in October and November. 

How much does it rain in Southeast Asia’s wet season?

Contrary to common belief, the wet season in Southeast Asia doesn’t mean it rains for two months straight. In fact, the rains are usually heavy but short-lived. They tend to fall in predictable patterns, often in the form of big afternoon storms. After the daily rain has passed, the land is left cool and fresh. 


Final Thoughts on the Best Time To Travel to Southeast Asia

There is no hard and fast rule about the best time to travel in Southeast Asia. Even during the peak of monsoon season, most areas are welcoming of tourists – you can even get big discounts on accommodation and tours!

As long as you’re prepared for the odd delay and are willing to be flexible with your plans there is no bad time to visit the region!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

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