Traveling during September in Asia is certainly enjoyable. Fall begins to arrive. But unless you're a fan of rainy vacations, choosing where to travel in September is key — the monsoon season will be raging in parts of Southeast Asia. The good news is that top destinations become a little less crowded. Many backpackers, students, and families traveling with children have already gone home for school.
Hints of cooler fall weather approaching in East Asia will be welcome after a hot summer, but typhoon season can shake up the region. China begins gearing up for the National Day Golden Week, the busiest holiday time outside of Chinese New Year. Prepare for some serious crowds in Beijing!
Typhoon Season in the Pacific
August and September are often peak months for typhoon season in the Pacific. Japan can experience massive — sometimes dangerous — weather systems. Tropical storms have the potential to cause heavy rain and flooding throughout the rest of East Asia and Vietnam as they linger in the area.
The Japan Meteorological Agency is a good source of information for current weather threats.
National Day Golden Week in China
Much like Golden Week in Japan, China's Golden Week following National Day is one of the busiest times in the country.
People will begin preparations the last week of September to get in place for flag waving, outdoor performances, military parades, and fireworks on October 1. Millions of people travel around China to reunite with loved ones and enjoy the holiday. The first week of October is the busiest time to be in Beijing — plan accordingly!
Asia Weather in September
(average high / low temperatures and humidity)
- Bangkok: 92 F (33.3 C) / 78 F (25.6 C) / 79 percent humidity
- Kuala Lumpur: 90 F (32.2 C) / 75 F (23.9 C) / 80 percent humidity
- Bali: 86 F (30 C) / 75 F (23.9 C) / 79 percent humidity
- Singapore: 89 F (31.7 C) / 77 F (25 C) / 79 percent humidity
- Beijing: 79 F (26.1 C) / 60 F (15.6 C) / 69 percent humidity
- Tokyo: 80 F (26.7 C) / 73 F (22.8 C) / 71 percent humidity
- New Delhi: 94 F (34.4 C) / 77 F (25 C) / 72 percent humidity
Average Rainfall for September in Asia
- Bangkok: 12.3 inches (312 mm) / average of 21 rainy days
- Kuala Lumpur: 4.4 inches (112 mm) / average of 19 rainy days
- Bali: 1.9 inches (48 mm) / average of 2 rainy days
- Singapore: 2.1 inches (53 mm) / average of 13 rainy days
- Beijing: 1.2 inches (30 mm) / average of 8 rainy days
- Tokyo: 2.3 inches (58 mm) / average of 12 rainy days
- New Delhi: 4.3 inches (109 mm) / average of 6 rainy days
September is a transition month for seasons in East Asia; weather is often unpredictable. China and Japan begin to cool down pleasantly. Temperatures, rainfall, and humidity become a little more tolerable in Hong Kong. September begins the harvest, so travelers can enjoy festivals celebrating the many preparations for winter.
Rainfall drops sharply for New Delhi and much of India in late September as monsoon season winds down.
What to Pack
Bring a lightweight jacket for cooler evenings in China. September temperatures in Beijing can dip down to 60 F at night. Daytime temperatures in India, Thailand, and other top destinations will still feel scorching.
Expect frequent thunderstorms. No need to pack an umbrella or rain gear (both are available everywhere), but you'll want a way to quickly waterproof your passport, money, and phone.
September Events in Asia
Lucking upon one of the big fall festivalsl in Asia may become the highlight of your trip. On the other hand, bad timing could turn a fun event into a complete nightmare if you arrive just after. Plan ahead so you don't miss the fun!
Many Asian holidays and festivals are based on a lunisolar calendar — dates change annually. The following events and festivals could be celebrated in September:
- Phuket Vegetarian Festival: (dates vary) This festival has less to do with veggies and more to do with the spectacle of devotees who voluntarily piece their bodies in grotesque ways. Much like the pierced devotees of Thaipusam, they claim to feel little pain. Officially known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, this Taoist celebration draws a big crowd to Phuket.
- Full Moon Party in Thailand: (monthly; dates vary) This monthly beach party is a legend in Southeast Asia. Tens of thousands of travelers are drawn to Haad Rin on Koh Phangan during peak months. The party isn't for everyone, but it will certainly affect everyone in the region.
- Chinese Moon Festival: (Dates vary; late September or early October) 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.
- Malaysia Day: (September 16) Unlike Malaysia's Independence Day that celebrates independence from the British, Malaysia Day celebrates the coming together of Malaysia, Sarawak, North Borneo (later Sabah), and Singapore to form the Malaysian Federation. The patriotic event is always observed on September 16.
September Travel Tips
- The island of Sri Lanka is an anomaly. It's not very big at all, but it experiences two distinct monsoon seasons. Travelers can escape the monsoon region just by taking a bus for an hour or two. The northern (Jafna) and eastern sides of Sri Lanka are driest in September, while the popular beaches in the south such as Unawatuna get lots 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. The beaches don't get cleaned. Although beaches will be quiet on sunny days, there will be fewer choices for eating, sleeping, and socializing.
- Traveling in Southeast Asia during the monsoon or "green" season, as it's sometimes optimistically called, has some advantages: smaller crowds, discounts for accommodation, cooler weather, fresh fruit seasons, and better air quality. Rain cleans some of the dust and pollution out of the air.
- Travelers with strict itineraries in Southeast Asia may find rainy days interfering with plans. Some outdoor activities such as snorkeling, trekking, or island hopping become more difficult — if not impossible — during heavy monsoon rain. Enjoying attractions such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia is more difficult during monsoon season.
Where to Travel in September for Good Weather
Typically, these countries have lower average rainfall, fewer wet days, and slightly less humidity during the month of September:
- Bali, Lombok, and much of Indonesia
- The northern part (Jafna and Trimcomalee) of Sri Lanka
- Beijing and Northern China
- Hong Kong
- Borneo (Kuching may be drier than Kota Kinabalu)
Places with the Worst Weather
Although there will be a few sunny days still to enjoy, average rainfall is high during September for these places:
- The Philippines
- Thailand — September is usually the wettest month in Bangkok.