Although relatively compact, Southeast Asia has a seemingly infinite amount of climates to match its varied mountains, beaches, religions and cuisines. Weather patterns vary wildly even within the same country -- in Thailand, for instance, when it’s the sunny dry season in Phuket, it’s time for monsoons just 300km away on the island of Koh Samui.
Whether planning a weeklong beach holiday or a three-month trek around the region, it’s useful to know what weather to expect. Here’s a handy guide to high and low seasons in some of Southeast Asia’s most popular spots.
When to go: April to October. Temperatures average 24-30°C and the weather is mostly dry. July to September is peak holiday season and when you can expect to pay the highest rates.
Rainy season: December to February. These months average 309mm of rain, although it’s more akin to short, intense showers than day-long deluges, meaning you can still enjoy an excellent (and cheap) holiday.
When to go: January to March and June to September. Malaysia straddles the equator, so it’s hot and humid year-round but these months have the lowest average rainfall.
Rainy season: October to December, though monsoons continue through to February in Borneo.
When to go: January to October. Like Malaysia, tiny Singapore’s weather stays fairly constant throughout the year, with temperatures only ranging from 30-33°C. June to August is driest, although flash thunderstorms and stifling humidity are never out of the question.
Rainy season: November to December average 250mm of rain each per month.
As one of the larger countries in the region, and given its proximity to both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, Thailand sees a variety of different weather patterns throughout the year. The good news is that because Koh Samui and Phuket have opposite rainy seasons, a world class beach is never too far away.
Like Thailand, Vietnam has three distinct climates. Hanoi gets downright chilly during the winter months, Ho Chi Minh City sees monsoons and temperatures remain fairly pleasant in central Vietnam throughout the year.
Sources: Fodors.com, Frommers.com, Concierge.com, Vietnam Embassy, Wikitravel, Weather.com.
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Kate McFarlane is based in Sydney, Australia