The phrase ‘Southeast Asia wet season’ might cause less seasoned travellers to run in the opposite direction with images of monsoons and cyclones in their heads. However, savvy travellers will realise that ‘wet season’ also translates to low season, which means reaping some major benefits not found during peak travel times. In the case of Southeast Asia, the pros of travelling around this region during the less busy time of year can greatly outweigh the cons.
For those that need some convincing, here are five reasons why you should consider exploring Southeast Asia during the low season.
1. It’s less crowded
This is probably the most obvious one, but there’s a reason it’s called ‘low season.’ One of the biggest perks to travelling in the off peak season is that you will not be battling thousands of other people are some of the must do attractions. You have more time and space to comfortably explore some of the key attractions on offer. Imagine visiting Angkor Wat, one of the most magnificent archaeological sites and a main draw to the region, and having to shuffle through a crowd to get a good look or take a photo. Or dreaming of a relaxing holiday on the famously beautiful Thai beaches, only to find everything is booked out and instead of remote beaches you get something closer to Times Square in New York. When you travel in low season, you can avoid some of this touristy chaos and really get immersed in the unique places you travelled so far to see.
2. It’s way cheaper
As the crowds from peak season thin out, the local businesses start vying for the remaining travellers’ attention, which means better rates and better deals across the board. If you are travelling on a budget, this really is the best time of year to travel as you are guaranteed to stretch the dollar, baht, dong or riel a lot further. While the most obvious ways to save are with airlines and tour operators, accommodation will also be cheaper as they try to fill rooms. Likewise, some of the local restaurants and activity providers will put out great offers to keep up business.
3. Unique local festivals
Keep in mind that while it’s low season for tourists, local life goes on and the wet season is still a busy time. Notable festivals that take place are the Buddhist Lent celebration (July – October), the crucial wet phase of the rice cultivation cycle and boat racing (September). These are all amazing opportunities to experience fascinating cultural events first hand. Don’t hesitate to get swept up in the colourful celebrations – it won’t cost you anything and can provide some of the most authentic and memorable experiences.
4. Smaller groups on tour
This goes back to reason #1 – less people in the region also mean naturally smaller group sizes for tours and activities. This translates to more one-on-one time with your Tour Leader and generally a more personal experience, as well as more flexibility to do interesting side excursions that wouldn’t be possible with a larger group. For example there are more opportunities for authentic local encounters at village visits and local restaurants find it easier to accommodate smaller groups. No doubt you’ll also meet some truly like-minded people who are also discovering the benefits of travelling in low season and want to compare notes on what they’ve learned so far!
5. The weather isn’t THAT bad
Most people’s biggest concern with travelling in the ‘wet season’ is the weather. We won’t lie – it will rain. But it’s not all rain, all the time, and we consider this a benefit! You will still have warm sunny days to develop your holiday tan, but expect that there will be a cloud burst most days, usually in the afternoons. These rain showers are relatively predictable and tend to finish as quickly as they began. They also offer a nice break from the heat of the day when they do come (and a chance to sit back and relax with a cheeky beer while you wait for the rain to pass). Something else you may not have considered is that the wet season transforms the Southeast Asian landscape from the dusty brown hues of the dry season to a stunning verdant green, which makes for some truly magical photos.
When is the low season in Southeast Asia? Opinions vary about when it starts, but generally between June and September is considered to be the low season.
How to best manage the weather:
As with travelling anywhere, being adaptable, prepared and having the right attitude can make the difference between having the time of your life or not.
• Pack light, loose, breathable clothing, and of course don’t forget a quality waterproof layer.
• Umbrellas are sold on almost every corner so don’t worry about packing one.
• Mosquito repellent is absolutely vital as they are more common at this time of year.
• Allow a bit more time with your travel plans to compensate for any delays.
• Repeat these words: you’re on holiday, so relax and enjoy yourself!
If you’re keen to avoid the crowds and getaway to Southeast Asia in low season, check out Stray’s latest deals!