Traveling In South East Asia During Monsoon Season

Mike Behnken/

There is no doubt that over the last two decades, South East Asia has really developed as a tourist destination, and while it has always drawn a fair number of backpackers, the infrastructure and upmarket resorts there have also improved significantly. However, one thing that many people will consider when they are planning a trip is the monsoon season, with the majority of people choosing to avoid traveling at this time of year. However, it certainly doesn't mean that it is impossible to get around the region at this time of year, and in many cases there are also some attractions to traveling at this time of year.



What Is Monsoon Season And What Should You Expect?


Essentially, monsoon season is the wet season in the region, and in practical terms this can mean that most areas will have rain on the majority of days. However, in most cases this isn't going to mean that it will rain all of the time, rather it is most common for a heavy shower to happen during the afternoon, with the rest of the day remaining dry. The benefit of this is that during the monsoon season, certainly the period after the shower will be cooler than it is during the dry season.


While you will need to accept that getting around while the rain is pouring is very difficult, and as the driving conditions become very poor, for the rest of the day services will run as normal. You will find that there are far fewer tourists around at this time of year, and the pace of life just slows as everyone goes indoors to shelter when the downpours begin. As long as you give yourself plenty of time, and don't assume you will be able to travel through such rain, then a trip during monsoon season can be very rewarding.


When Is Monsoon Season?


Broadly speaking, the wet season in South East Asia is in the second half of the year, although there are some regional variations, and even in individual countries there can be large differences in the wet season. The name monsoon actually refers to the prevailing winds that affect the region, with Malaysia actually affected by two monsoons. The most important thing to do is to check on the seasons in the individual countries, otherwise you may be caught out. 


The Importance Of Wet Weather Gear


One of the key things to prepare if you are thinking of making the most of traveling during the monsoon season is to make sure that you have a good set of waterproofs. You may not get caught out too often, but be prepared that while most of the heavy showers come during the afternoon, they don't all do, so having some waterproof trousers and a coat to hand will help you to avoid getting a soaking. The showers quickly disperse once they have finished, and it won't take too long for your clothes to dry if you do get caught out.


Insects And Wildlife


Make sure that you bring your insect repellent with you if you plan on traveling during this period, as the weather during monsoon season does increase the activity of mosquitoes and other insects. This does however mean that if you are looking to spot animals and wildlife in areas such as Borneo, then traveling at this time will increase your chances of spotting the species that feed on insects, and thus the larger creatures become more active as well.


Planning Your Travel To The Conditions


The important thing to do if you are going to be traveling during the monsoon season is to make sure that you put in the appropriate planning when you are setting your itinerary. When you are researching your journeys, and particularly when it comes to looking at connecting journeys, give yourself plenty of time in case your train or bus is late because of these conditions. Along with giving yourself enough time, it can also help to consider the type of transport you are going to be booking, and how they can be affected by the heavy rains, and then thinking of an alternative way of getting to your destination if there is some sort of problem.


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