Best Time to Visit Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia
Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, three of the main countries that once made up the region known as Indochina, are some of the best places to visit in Asia for independent travel. Located on the Indochinese Peninsula, the area within the influence of India to the west and China to the east, these predominantly Buddhist countries are filled with temples and complexes, many of which date back to the time of the Khmer Empire.
Cambodia is a relatively level country, with a huge basin that covers the central region and surrounded by lowland hills and low mountains, while Vietnam has a range of elevations, with Mid-range Mountains to the north dropping to the central and southern lowland areas. Laos, which lies in between the two, has a similar topography to that of Vietnam, with the high cold mountains to the north while the central and southern areas are filled with dense forest and lowland jungle. Climates in the three countries are varied and somewhat different across Indochina, though all three countries can be visited throughout the year.
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Climate features of Vietnam Laos and Cambodia
Cambodia has the simples climate of the three countries that make up Indochina, with just two simple seasons, wet and dry. The dry season, which is also the peak period for tourism, runs from November to April, when the weather is dry and clear and the temperatures are at their lowest for the year. The dry season is a good time to travel around Cambodia, as the roads have dried up from all the monsoon rains and the attractions are easier to get to and the sunshine is warm and pleasant.
Angkor Wat Cambodia
The wet season in Cambodia is not all rain and dull skies, and while it is set from May to October, much of this period sees very little rain at all. The main wet period in the monsoon season is from June to August, when the rains are heaviest, while in May there is moderate rainfall but very high temperatures. This is also the low season for tourism in Cambodia, and as long as you can handle a little rain, is a great time to travel for less busy attractions.
Laos also has a wet and dry season climate, with a dry season that runs from November to March. The weather in the northern part of Laos can be changeable due to the mountains, and most of the north of the country is cooler than the south throughout the year, with December to February being fairly cold in the region of the Annamite and Luang Prabang Mountains. Monsoon in Laos typically runs from April to October, though April to June has very little rain and very high temperatures and humidity. Most of the rain comes from September to October, with the north getting less rain than the lowland south, where remote areas can be cut off due to the heavy downpours.
Luang Prabang Laos
Vietnam has the strangest climate of all, with the weather patterns split across the three main regions of the country. Long and narrow, Vietnam is affected by two separate monsoon systems, northern and southern. In the north, the climate is more of a four-season climate, with the northeast monsoon season coming from November to March. This makes the area dry and cold, with sharp winds. June to August is the wettest period, though there is still little in the way of rain.
The central region, renowned for its beaches, protected from the worst of the rains throughout the year by the Truong Son Mountain Range. From April to September, when the southwest monsoon is causing most of the rain in Asia, the central region remains relatively dry and humid, with the main heat of the year hitting from September to December. This is the main typhoon period for the central region, and the typhoons that push across the South China Sea can ravage the coastline.
The southern region of Vietnam has a more general two-season climate, with defined wet and dry seasons. The long dry season runs from December to May, and brings dry cool weather for the first part, with the heat rising from February to May. The monsoon, from June to November, is more normal for a sub-tropical country, with the rains falling as showers for most of the period. Majority of the rain falls late in the day, and while the monsoon can be milder than in the central region, heavy downpours do occur occasionally.
Best time to visit Vietnam Laos and Cambodia for a lifetime tour
These three countries may have very varied climates, and even varying climates within the individual countries in some cases, and the best time to visit each country individually can also vary somewhat, though there is usually a time of the year when a crossover occurs for all three. In Vietnam, the best time of year depends on the region, with the central and south regions best visited from April to August and the north from October to December. In Laos the best time is from December to January, and in Cambodia, from December to February.
However, while there are some differences in the “best” time to visit each country, there is one period when you can actually visit all three together without hitting the very hot periods or the very wet part of the monsoons. Dry season in Cambodia is from November to April, while in Laos it is from November to March. However, April is not as hot as May, and in Vietnam, the dry period in the north runs through to the end of April, and while the middle of the year is the best time for the south and central regions, the dry period from January to May is also a good time to visit.
Angkor Wat visiting
Overall, the ideal time to take a vacation that covers all three countries would be from January to the end of March, which is a dry and cooler period of the year for international travelers. You can avoid all of the rainy parts of the year in all three countries, as well as staying relatively cool and out of the hottest times of year.
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Best time to visit Vietnam Laos and Cambodia for a budget tour
For those traveling on a budget, the peak seasons are not the ideal times to travel, which for Cambodia and Laos is from December to April. For Vietnam, the peak season for tourism is from November to April in the north, March to May and September to November in the central region, and December to April in the south.
In order to best take advantage of the low season for tourism to get the best deals, traveling to the three countries together requires some careful planning. Avoiding the crowds may be the best idea, and for Cambodia, this is at the tail end of the monsoon, in September and October, when what little rain that still falls tends to come in the afternoons and early evenings, and the mornings are normally bright with plenty of sunshine for traveling around. The same can be said of Laos, with the latter part of the monsoon period, from September to November, being the optimum time to visit for low-season budget travel. However, it is best to avoid the lowland southern areas as the rains can be torrential in September and October.
trekking in sapa
For Vietnam, to match the other two countries, September and October are good times to visit the north and south of the country, though the central region is on one of its two peak seasons then. Overall, if you are traveling on a budget, early September to the end of October is the best time to visit Indochina.
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With such a huge difference in the weather of these three Southern Asian countries, it can be very hard to find an ideal time to visit all three. Climates are varied across Indochina, and the geography and topography of the landscapes and the latitude of the regions of the countries has a profound effect on the varying climates. Add to that the additional factors, such as the typhoon season in Central Vietnam, the complex seasons of southern Laos, and the late monsoon in the outlying parts of Cambodia, and the equation gets even more complex.
For those traveling in the peak periods, it is best to head for the three countries together in around January, February, and March, as these are the optimum times for the best weather in all three countries together. This allows you to avoid the heavy monsoon rains, and the intense heat, yet still being able to visit all three places. For budget travel, September and October are low season periods for all three countries, and you will be able to get to most of the three countries without any problems. However, whichever option you are facing, there will be places that you will not be able to visit without either getting wet or suffering the intense heat. Opting to miss these, though, is not a major issue, and they are always available at a later date, unless you do not mind the changeable weather.
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