When is the Best Time to Have an Indochina Tour?
While the original area of Indochina included the countries of Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, and Thailand, the modern region of Indochina only includes those that were under French influence during the beginning of the 20th century. Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam make up the three Indochina countries which are all popular tourist destinations for western tourists.
Southeast Asia is made up of some of the most exotic and beautiful landscapes in the world, where you can find a myriad of amazing experiences. You can forget about time when relaxing on the stunning Thai beaches, or taking a leisurely cruise in the picturesque Vietnamese Halong Bay. Be astounded by the amazing temples of Angkor in Cambodia, and take an early morning stroll in the streets in Laos, where you can still see Buddhist monks walking the streets asking for alms.
The best time to take a trip to the three countries that make up Indochina can be affected by several different factors, not least of which is the weather. Travel to Indochina is possible at any time of year, and the best time for most people depends on their interests, what they want from the trip, and their preferences. Everybody has a favorite season during which they prefer to travel to get the most out of their tour. There are also the variations in altitude and latitude to take into consideration when traveling to Indochina, and each of these should be taken into account when planning a trip to three different countries with three very different climates.
The climates in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are relatively similar, with two main seasons across the region: the rainy season from May to October/November; and the dry season from December to April. However, Indochina does cover a large area, and there are climate variations within each region that you may find agreeable. If you love the sunshine and are looking for the gorgeous tropical beaches, then parts of the dry season would be good for you. However, for those who do not mind the rain, the wet season also has its own ideal sights to see. With a normal tour of Indochina including three different countries, then consideration of the ideal time to visit is three times more important.
Best Time to Visit Cambodia
Cambodia is reputed to have one of the simplest weather systems in Asia, with just two simple seasons, and very little differences when moving between regions of the country. The dry season in Cambodia runs from October to late April, while the wet season, which includes the tropical monsoon, normally starts around the beginning of May, and runs through until late September.
Temperatures are similarly set into two distinct ranges, which are pretty much constant around the country. The coolest period is normally between October and December, with an average high temperature of around 28 degrees Celsius. While not exactly cool, it can be considered to be “balmy”. The hottest period in Cambodia is often from February to June, and the average highest temperatures during the “summer” range from around 32 to 35 degrees Celsius. Peak season in Cambodia runs from November to March, when there is little to no rain, and the temperatures are at their best. The climate is often compared to the Mediterranean countries during peak season, and accommodation should really be booked well in advance.
Sunny days bring in the crowds, and if you want to go when it is less busy, the best time is in the low season, from May to early October, when prices are also lower. While many people prefer not to go in the wet season, the period from May to October is normally marked by a good downpour in the afternoon, which rarely affects travel plans. Days still include many hours of sunshine, or at least just warm cloudy days, with very slight showers, and is a great season to see the countryside come to life with plenty of lush greenery. Discounts on accommodation are also sometimes available, and the cloud cover makes it a better time to visit the temples, which is a baking trip in the height of the dry season.
Best Time to Visit Laos
With no coastline for the beach lovers and sun worshippers, Laos is a country of exploration and excitement, rather than relaxing on the beach and sunbathing. The climate is much simpler than Vietnam, although not as simple as Cambodia. Very similar to Cambodia, Laos has two distinct seasons, which are roughly consistent throughout the country. The wet season runs from May to September, while the dry season is normally between October and April.
The best time to visit Laos is from November to April, during the dry season, when rain is at a minimum and the temperatures are relatively moderate. In lowland Laos, November to January is best, as the daytime temperatures are comfortable, the evenings are a little cooler, and the countryside is lush and green after the rainy season. However, temperatures can be a lot colder at the higher elevations, and can sometimes drop to freezing at night. There are also places that have a year-round temperate climate, such as Paksong on the Bolaven Plateau.
Agriculture in Laos is of the “slash and burn” type, so in much of the north the area becomes clouded in smoke from March until the start of the rainy season. This can make a trip very uncomfortable. While the rainy season often means the road conditions become worse, even to the point of being impassable, the dry season means the rivers are too low for boat travel. Moreover, some of the northern areas have a temperamental climate that means one day could be bright and sunny, and the next wet and cold.
Best Time to Visit Vietnam
With a long, thin geographical location, Vietnam has three distinct climate patterns which vary dramatically from north to south. When deciding to visit Vietnam, you need to consider the country’s tropical monsoon climate, as well as the separation of climates across the three main regions, North, Central, and South. The Southwesterly Monsoon dominates the country from May to September, while the Northeast Monsoon affects the country mostly from October to April. There are some basic patterns and marked differences from region to region, according to the altitude and latitude of the area. Southern temperatures can be pleasant all year round, while the northern areas experience some very distinct seasonal shifts in both temperature and climate.
The northern areas experience two separate seasons, with the dry season running from November to March, with much cooler temperatures, and the set season from April to October. December to February are the lowest temperatures in the north, with an average high of around 20 degrees. May to August is the hottest period of the year, when temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees, with an average of around 32 degrees. In the mountainous far north, however, the climate changes again, with December and January being very cold with chances of snow. September to November and March to May are the best times to visit here.
The weather in the central region is very hot and dry from around the middle of January to late in August, while the rest of the year remains relatively warm throughout. Rainy season in the central region falls in September through to December, and the region is prone to typhoons in October and November. In the central highland region, the climate pattern is the same, except with much cooler temperatures, especially at night. The rainy season can extend through to February in some parts of the central region, especially around Hue and Danang, so it is best to visit this area from February to May.
June to August is the time when temperatures reach their maximum, and it is a pleasant time to head for the hills and the cooler climes. Typhoons and hurricane-force winds are normally restricted to the coastal areas of central Vietnam, and they are notoriously difficult to predict.
The southern region of Vietnam sees very little variation in temperature throughout the year, and the average daily highs in the entire year only range between 30 and 35 degrees. March and April are normally the hottest months, with high temperatures reaching up to a stifling 40 degrees. December is the coolest time of year, as the rainy season ends. From December to April, there is almost no rain at all, and the climate is dry and arid, akin to a desert environment. When the rainy season sweeps in from May until October, the downpours are often heavy, but short, and normally occur in the late afternoon.
This can be a little off-putting to some visitors, but it should not ruin the trip. However, the Mekong Delta is prone to extreme flooding during the monsoon, and this can cause severe problems to travelers, so it is best avoided until the weather dries up. Typhoons in the south are rare, due to the Intercontinental Tropical Convergence Zone, which directs low-pressure areas further south.
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- All UNESCO World Heritage Sites for Indochina Tour
- How to Plan a Cambodia First-time Trip
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