We will advise you on the best time of the year to travel and, just as importantly, when not to go to a particular region or place. We hope the following guidelines are useful:
Vietnam is large enough to have several distinct climate zones:
The South has three somewhat distinct seasons: hot and dry from March to May/June; rainy from June/July to November; and cool and dry from December to February. April is the hottest month, with mid-day temperatures of 33°C (91°F) on most days. During the rainy season, short downpours can happen every afternoon, and occasionally streets can flood. Temperatures range from stifling hot before a rainstorm to pleasantly cool afterwards. Mosquitoes are most numerous in the rainy season. December to February is the most pleasant time to visit, with cool evenings down to around 20° (68°F).
In the Central regions the Hai Van pass separates two different weather patterns of the north starting in Lang Co (which is hotter in summer and cooler in winter) from the milder conditions further south starting in Da Nang. From September until February the central regions have northeast monsoon conditions with often strong winds, large sea swells and rain. These conditions make it a difficult time to travel through Central Vietnam. Normally summers are hot and dry.
The North has four distinct seasons, with a comparatively chilly winter (temperatures can dip below 15°C/59°F in Hanoi), a hot and wet summer and pleasant spring (March-April) and autumn (October-December) seasons. However, in the Highlands both extremes are amplified, with occasional snow in the winter and temperatures hitting 40°C (104°F) in the summer
Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons: May to October is the rainy season and November to April is the dry season.
It gets hottest in March and April when temperatures can reach as high as 38C/100F. The lowest temperatures, usually in December, are around 15C/59F. The average temperature is between 25C/77F and 30C/84F.
The climate in Cambodia can, roughly at lease, be divided into two different seasons: the monsoon (rainy) season (June to October) and the dry season (November to May).
Actually there are four different periods throughout the year:
November – February: Cool and dry
March – May: Hot and dry
June – August: Hot and wet
September – October: Cool and wet
Maximum daily temperatures range from the high 20°C in January to more than 40°C in April. Daily minimum temperatures are usually no less than 15° C
Myanmar has 3 different seasons, there are advantages and disadvantages to each:
November – February (Winter)
The most popular season for tourists to travel because of the lower temperatures (evenings in the mountains can be cold – 10 degrees Celsius) while the chance for rain is less (although November 2013 saw more rainy days then July or August of that year). Daytime temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius. It is generally a good time to travel anywhere in the country but it can be busy at the major tourist locations – if you have the choice we suggest you to avoid the peak months of November and February when it can be very busy everywhere.
March – May (Summer)
The whole country can be hot (especially in the afternoon – around 35 degrees Celsius) so you’re advised to plan sightseeing more in the mornings and evenings. Landscapes are a bit dry – excellent time to visit the beaches and to visit higher parts of Myanmar (Shan state for example).
June – mid October (The Green Season)
The temperatures drop (till about 25 – 30 degrees Celsius) and the scenery is green. Sightseeing is not too hot and not too dusty. It is an ideal time to visit Bagan, Mandalay and Shan states (Hsipaw, Kyaukme, Pyin Oo Lwin, Kalaw and Inle Lake) where it doesn’t rain too heavily (mostly a short shower at the end of the day). Avoid the beaches in this period (it’s wetter on the coast and many hotels are closed at this time). Yangon can get quite some too so it is better to spend just 1 or 2 nights here. Sightseeing is great as there aren’t many other tourists around so in many ways it’s Myanmar at its best!
The Thai climate is controlled by tropical monsoons and the weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid across most of the country throughout most of the year. While Thailand’s seasons are generally divided into the hot season, cool season, and rainy season, in reality it’s relatively hot most of the year.
The weather in central, northern, and northeastern Thailand (the landlocked provinces) is determined by three seasons, whereas the southern, coastal regions of Thailand feature only two, making the weather in Thailand quite easy to understand and plan a trip around.
In Thailand’s inland provinces the seasons are clearly defined: Between November and May the weather is mostly dry and the cool season and hot season occur from November to February and March to May respectively. The other inland season, the rainy season, lasts from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in most of Thailand is at its heaviest.
The southern, coastal region of Thailand really has only two seasons – rainy season and dry season. Fortunately, for those planning a beach holiday, Thailand’s two coasts have slightly different rainy seasons, allowing visitors to find sunny beaches nearly year round.
On the Andaman or west coast, where Phuket, Krabi, and the Phi Phi Islands lie, the southwest monsoon brings heavy storms from April to October, while on the Gulf of Thailand or east coast, where Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao lie, the most rain falls between September and December.
Winter Season (November – February)
The weather in Thailand around the central, northern, and northeastern regions is mostly cool and dry between November and February, consequently these are the most popular months to visit Thailand. Considering its location in the tropics however, the Thailand climate is quite warm most of the year and genuinely “cool” weather really only occurs in the northern mountains, while areas like Bangkok and Ayutthaya receive perhaps only two or three weeks of “cool” weather in late December or early January.
The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons – “rainy” and dry, not technically experiencing “cool” weather, per se, but featuring glorious sunshine without unbearable heat, beginning in late November and continuing onto April or May.
Summer Season (March – June)
The weather in Thailand classified as the hot season lasts from March to June when higher relative temperatures and occasional rain are the norm. Around the inland areas, including Bangkok and Ayutthaya, this often means punishing heat and high humidity. The temperatures in the hot season begin climbing in February and by April the unrelenting heat makes many residents eager for the upcoming rains, which begin sporadically falling around mid-April. This is traditionally the least popular season for travelers to visit, although the weather in Thailand is still quite nice along Thailand’s coasts.
Monsoon Season (July – October)
The season lasts from July to October and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in most of Thailand is at its heaviest. However, like the “winter” season, the name “rainy season” is slightly misleading. While it certainly does rain during this season it’s more likely to consist of flash-flood afternoon downpours than a continual drizzle for days. If you can bear the heat and humidity, the weather in Thailand is typically sunny throughout the rainy season, but when the rain comes, it’s fast and it’s furious.
Fortunately for beach lovers, Thailand’s two coasts have slightly different rainy seasons, allowing visitors to find sunny beaches nearly year round. On the Andaman or west coast, where Phuket, Krabi, and the Phi Phi Islands lie, the southwest monsoon can occasionally heavy storms from April to October, while on the Gulf of Thailand or east coast, where Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao lie, the most rain falls between September and December. While the monsoon on the west coast brings a fairly steady season of continual rain that forces businesses outside the major tourist destinations to shut their doors for the season, the east coast storms are more similar to the north’s, generally sunny days with occasionally heavy downpours. Overall, the southern parts of Thailand, particularly the Andaman Coast, get the most rain: around 2,400 millimeters every year, compared with the central and northern regions of Thailand, both of which get around 1,400 millimeters.
The best travelling period is in the dry season between May and September. The sun shines 12 hours per day, as Sumatra lis situated around the equator.
The raining season on Java is from October till March, but it is possible to go to Java all year around. Only in the wet season is the chance of rain bigger than at other times of the year.
Bali has a similar climate to East Java and has therefore, apart from the mountainous regions, low rainfall during the dry season, which is from April to November.
Bali is also an island that you can visit at any time of the year.
Lombok and Sunda Islands
The best time to travel to Lombok and the Sunda Islands is in the dry period from April/May until October. January and February are the wettest months on the Sunda Islands, but even during monsoon season, it isn’t raining the whole day.
The best time to travel to Sulawesi depends on the area you wish to visit. Sulawesi lies on the separation line between the monsoons; the Southern part of the island has the opposite season of the Northern-east part. Rainy season is from October till March. The temperature on Sulawesi is between the 25 and 34 degrees. The sun shines 12 hours per day, because Sulawesi lies on the equator. In the mountains in the middle of Sulawesi it is possible to have rain during the summer months. The mountains catch the clouds and you will often have rain in the late afternoon for one or two hours. The Northern part of Sulawesi has its wettest season during the summer months. The coastal areas have oppressive heat the whole year around – only a little sea breeze will cool you down. In the mountains it is more pleasant and in the evening it can be very cold. Kalimantan Kalimantan has a lot of rainfall in the tropical forest. The centre of the mountains is the wettest area and the Southern part of the island is the driest. In November and December the South and the West have the most rain. The wet season is from October until June and the dry period is from July until September. In the dry season it is still possible to have some rain, but only in the late afternoon for around an hour or so. The sun shines 12 hours per day.
Papua has its wettest months during from December until March. January and February have the heaviest rains. Dry season in Papua is from April until November.
Please click onto the links for up-to-date visa and entry requirements for British nationals travelling to South East Asia.
Myanmar (Burma): www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/burma/entry-requirements
Please make sure your passport is valid and up to date. In general terms, your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from your date of arrival into all South East Asian countries.
Evidence of Yellow Fever vaccination may be required for travellers who are going to or have recently been to countries where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission.
Travelling with children
Single parents or adults travelling with children under the age of 18 are required to provide notarised documentary evidence of parental responsibility, or consent to travel from those with parental responsibility. Such documentation is often required before being allowed to enter South East Asian countries and, in many cases, before permitting children to leave the country.
Local airport taxes
International and domestic airport taxes may be payable locally if it is not included with your airline tickets. This is usually payable in US dollars and it may not always be possible to pay by credit/debit card.
For up-to-date advice on any vaccination requirements and any health risks associated with visiting South East Asia please contact your GP.
The following NHS website provides helpful health information and advice for travellers:
For information on the Zika virus, please see the factsheet published by the World Health Organisation:
The following recommendations are published by Fit for Travel:
Please click onto the links for up-to-date advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office:
Myanmar (Burma): www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/burma
Help for British nationals in South East Asia:
Further Advice to follow soon.
In general terms it is best to travel with US dollars.
Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels and the better restaurants and shops but may not be accepted in small shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, nor in local markets.
Exchange rates are subject to change at any time but the following table provides indicative information for South East Asia and beyond:
Vietnam: GMT + 7 hours
Indonesia: GMT + 6-8 hours
Sumatra, Java, Central & West Kalimantan: GMT + 6 hours
Bali, Sulawesi, East Kalimantan: GMT + 7
Malulu, Papua: GMT + 8 hours
Cambodia: GMT + 7 hours
Thailand: GMT + 7 hours
Myanmar: GMT + 6.30
Laos: GMT + 7 hours