At best, predicting when monsoon season in India will begin is a fuzzy science. Sometimes it's early; sometimes it's late. But one thing is for sure: Traveling during the rainy season in India will certainly affect your trip experience. With temperatures frequently above 100 F in April, May, and June, people are ready for some relief when the rain finally comes!
India actually experiences two monsoons: the northeast monsoon that "bursts" around mid-to-late October on the east coast, and the more significant southwest monsoon that starts in June and spreads rain throughout most of the subcontinent until October.
Traveling During India's Monsoon Season
Life goes on during the monsoon season. Although some transportation may be affected, you will also encounter less tourists and may be able to more easily negotiate for better prices. On the other hand, some tours stop running and businesses close up for low season. You may have fewer choices. Outdoor activities such as trekking will obviously be affected.
India is huge! Differences in elevation and temperature affect how much rain and snow each region receives. While one part of India may be rainy, another part will be perfectly enjoyable. Deluges can be heavy, but the sun will probably be shining between them.
India's monsoon season may not be a reason to change travel plans. You will still find many fascinating places to explore in India that are barely affected by the rain. Rajasthan is India's fascinating desert state — rain is rarely an issue.
Temperatures in India, especially in the massive cities, can become nearly unbearable during the peak of the dry season. Dust, pollution, and particulate matter in the air present health problems for travelers with asthma or respiratory conditions. The rain helps clean the air.
The Best Time to Go to India
In a nutshell, monsoon season in India begins in early June and lasts until the beginning of October. The rain begins to dry up in North India first; South India and places such as Goa usually receive more rainfall during the monsoon season.
As with any destination, traveling during the "shoulder" months on either end of monsoon season is ideal. For India, May and October are often ideal months. There will still be some rain but not enough to completely disrupt plans.
About the Monsoons
The southwest monsoon in India is considered earth's most productive wet season. The rains typically begin as thunderstorms then culminate into torrential downpours — sometimes unexpectedly as blue-sky days can change quickly into soggy cloudbursts. Some downpours are even heavier than what you receive while taking a shower; you'll be drenched in seconds!
Monsoon season in India lasts roughly four months. Choosing a magical "start" date isn't realistic, but estimates can be made. Typically, daily showers become more and more frequent until collectively everyone agrees monsoon season has begun.
The Wettest Months in India
In terms of volume, Mumbai receives far more rain than New Delhi during India's monsoon season.
- Goa: The rainiest months are June, July, and August.
- New Delhi: The rainiest months are July, August, and September.
- Mumbai: The rainiest months are June, July, August, and September.
- Manali: The wettest months in Manali are July and August.
Places to Avoid During Monsoon Season in India
These places receive the most rainfall in India (in order from the wettest):
- Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
What to Pack for Monsoon Season
Although an umbrella is the obvious choice, it may not be enough to keep you dry! Inexpensive umbrellas are available everywhere for purchase in India. Bringing one from home is optional. You may also want a lightweight poncho; they're also easy to find locally.
Have a good plan for waterproofing your valuables, especially electronics and passport, in a hurry.
The mosquito population explodes between rains, increasing the risk from mosquito-borne illnesses. Be extra vigilant about packing and using repellent.
Other Factors for Planning
Although tourist numbers tend to fluctuate based around India's rainy seasons, big events and festivals should also be taken into account when choosing the best time to visit India.
Some big Indian festivals will certainly affect your trip. Holidays such as Thaipusam, Holi, and Diwali draw big crowds. You'll need to arrive early enough to enjoy the festivals or time your trip to avoid dealing with transportation disruptions and inflated prices for accommodation.