If you hear the phrase “wet season” and shiver, you’re not alone. Many people who’ve not experienced the region run (or fly) in the opposite direction at the thought of massive rainstorms eating away at their beach time.
But wet season also translates to ‘low season’, and savvy travellers know there are some major benefits to travelling anywhere off peak. As long as you’re aware, and take a few basic precautions, the pros of travelling this region during the low time of year can greatly outweigh the cons.
1. IT’S WAY LESS CROWDED
There’s a reason tens of millions of people flock to Southeast Asia every year; it’s awesome. The downside is you can be wrestling and jostling with literally thousands of people at some of the ‘must do’ attractions. One of the biggest benefits to travelling in the off-peak season means you have more time and more space to comfortably explore. Imagine visiting places like Angkor Wat and having to queue, shuffle and take photographs over a sea of people. Imagine trying to take a relaxing holiday on the famously beautiful Thai beaches, only to find everything is booked and crossing the beach is like crossing Times Square in New York. Low season travel helps you avoid some of this touristy chaos so you can really get immersed in the unique places on offer.
2. IT’S WAY CHEAPER
As the crowds thin out, the locals start vying for the remaining travellers’ attention, which means better rates and better deals across the board. If you’re travelling on a budget you can guarantee you’ll stretch that ‘dollar’ a lot further. While the biggest wins are with Airlines and Tour operators, you will also benefit from cheaper accommodation and even food. Mmmm Thai food. Sorry, what were we saying?
3. MORE LOCAL FESTIVALS
The world doesn’t end just because there are fewer tourists, the low season is still a busy time for the locals. With a range of notable festivals celebrating Buddhist Lent (July – October), the crucial wet rice cultivation cycle and boat racing (September), there are some amazing opportunities to experience fascinating cultural events first hand. Get swept up in the colourful celebrations, it won’t cost you any extra and can result in some of the most memorable experiences.
4. SMALLER GROUPS ON TOUR
This means more flexibility for interesting side excursions, more one-on-one time with your Tour Leader and a generally a more personal experience. You’ll have more opportunities for authentic local encounters as Guides find it easier to accommodate smaller groups for village visits and dining in local restaurants.
5. THE WEATHER…. IT’S NOT ALL RAIN!
To address the most obvious concern, yes, it will rain. However, it doesn’t rain the whole time and you will still get yourself a tan! At the height of low season (June – September) you can expect a cloud burst most days, however these arrive like clockwork, mostly in the afternoons, and often finish as quickly as they started. With such predictability, it’s easy to plan your daily excursions around them. You may even begin to welcome the rain as cool relief from the heat of the day. The extra rainfall quickly transforms the landscape from the yellowy-brown hues of the dry season to a beautiful verdant green.
SO WHEN IS THE LOW SEASON IN SOUTHEAST ASIA?
There are varying opinions about when it starts, but generally June to September is considered the ‘low season.’
HOW TO MANAGE THE RAIN
As with travelling anywhere, being adaptable, prepared and having the right attitude can make the difference between enjoying yourself or not!
• Pack light loose breathable clothing and of course a quality waterproof layer is key
• You can buy an umbrella on almost every corner so don’t worry about packing this
• Mosquito repellent is vital, as there are a more around at this time of year!
• Allow a bit more time with your travel plans to compensate for any delays
• You’re going on holiday, crack a beer, relax and enjoy yourself!