Asia is a massive continent and in September, the weather varies depending on how far north or south you go. With monsoon season raging in Southeast Asia, cooler weather approaching in East Asia, and typhoons posing a threat to coastal regions from Japan to India, you're looking at many different kinds of weather conditions across the continent in September. At the same time, September is a great month to travel in Asia because the majority of tourist crowds will be heading home post-summer. This time of year also sees the return of many traditional events and festivals throughout Asia that you could make a special trip for.
Typhoon Season in the Pacific
August and September are more often than not the peak months for typhoons in the Pacific. Although they go by a different name, typhoons are basically hurricanes—the only difference being that hurricanes refer to Atlantic storms while typhoons refer to Pacific ones. These tropical storms have the potential to cause heavy rain and flooding. Some of the countries that are often hit the hardest and most frequently by typhoons include China, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Before your trip, you keep your eye on weather forecasts for your destination and can use the National Hurricane Center website as a resource.
Asia Weather in September
September is a transitional month that begins with the end of summer and ends with the beginning of fall, so be sure to take the exact dates of your trip into consideration when researching weather patterns. All the same, the weather can be unpredictable and the climate varies drastically depending on, not just the country, but also the region of that country you're visiting.
The amount of rainfall and average high and low temperatures will vary drastically. While Southeast Asia is dealing with monsoon season and cities like Bangkok are experiencing an average of 12.3 inches (312 millimeters) of rain over the month, China is beginning to cool down and dry out, especially in northern cities like Beijing where the average temperatures range between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 and 26 degrees Celsius).
Traveling in Southeast Asia during the monsoon or "green" season, as it's sometimes optimistically called, has some advantages, such as smaller crowds, discounts for accommodation, cooler weather, the availability seasonal fruit, and better air quality since the rain clears out some of the dust and pollution.
What to Pack
If you're traveling in an East Asian country like China, South Korea, or Japan, pack a light jacket or sweater for the evenings, as nighttime temperatures can drop drastically at this time of year. However, summer does have a habit of lingering around in September, so you'll want to make sure you have a few short-sleeved shirts, shorts, and other breezy lightweight clothing as well.
No matter where you go in Asia, but especially if you'll be traveling to Southeast Asia, pack the best raincoat you can find, a poncho, an umbrella, and waterproof shoes. When monsoon season is in full-swing like it is in September, you'll need all the help you can get staying dry. You may also want to learn some travel hacks which can show you cheap ways to waterproof your belongings, such as using plastic bags to keep your most important documents safe from any unexpected downpours.
Many Asian holidays and festivals are based on a lunisolar calendar, so dates change annually and may take place in September one year and in October in another. In 2020, many of these events, festivals, and gatherings may be canceled so be sure to check the websites of the official organizers for the latest updates.
- Nine Emperor Gods Festival Festival: Usually taking place in September or October, this Taoist celebration draws a big crowd to Phuket, Thailand to see the devotees who voluntarily pierce their bodies in surprising ways. Much like the pierced devotees of Thaipusam, they claim to feel little pain. This gathering of ritual mutilation is sometimes called the Annual Vegetarian Festival, because all the food served during the event happens to be made without animal products.
- Full Moon Party: Check the calendar before your trip because this monthly beach party is a legend in Thailand. Tens of thousands of travelers are drawn to Haad Rin on Koh Phangan every month to celebrate the full moon with body paint, dancing, and buckets of alcohol.
- Chinese Moon Festival: The Mid-Autumn Festival is a joyous time of celebrating the full harvest moon with family and loved ones while giving thanks. Tasty-but-heavy mooncakes are swapped and eaten during reunions. It typically takes place in late September and early October.
- Malaysia Day: Unlike Malaysia's Independence Day that celebrates independence from the British, Malaysia Day celebrates the coming together of Malaysia, Sarawak, Sabah, and Singapore to form the Malaysian Federation. The patriotic event is always observed on September 16.
- National Day in China: For this government holiday, people will begin preparations during the last week of September to get in place for flag-waving, outdoor performances, military parades, and fireworks on October 1. At this time of year, millions of people travel around China to reunite with loved ones and enjoy the holiday.
September Travel Tips
- Destinations in Asia that experience some of the best weather in September include Bali, Northern Sri Lanka, Singapore, Northern China, Hong Kong, and Borneo
- Destinations in Asia that experience some of the worst weather in September include Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand.
- If you go to Sri Lanka, this island country experiences two distinct monsoon seasons, which means you can escape the monsoons by just taking a bus to the northern region of Jafna. The eastern coast of Sri Lanka is also driest in September, while the popular beaches in the south such as Unawatuna see a lot of rainy days.
- Some islands in Thailand such as Koh Lanta are practically closed down during the month of September because of seasonal storms. Many restaurants and hotels shut down to do seasonal maintenance, which means the beaches may not be clean and there will be fewer options for accommodation.
- Even if you think you won't mind the rain, some outdoor activities such as snorkeling, trekking, or island hopping become more difficult, or even impossible, during heavy monsoon rain.