Best time to visit SE Asia

Old Jan 13th, 2024, 07:11 AM
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Best time to visit SE Asia

Hello,
My husband and I are planning a trip to SE Asia for either 2025 or 2026. The countries we want to see are Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and possibly Singapore. I've been researching the best times to visit, and what I have found generally is that November to February is the best time to visit these countries, except for Singapore. We definitely want to avoid heat and humidity. This trip will be about a month long. We prefer not to travel in November and December. We like to be home with our children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So that leaves January or February. Would January be more crowded than February because of New Year festivities?

I remember reading on this forum about avoiding the months when farmers in some countries burn their fields because the air is thick with smoke. Crellston may have mentioned this? But I don't remember which countries and what months.

Thank you for any help and advise you can give!
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 04:31 PM
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Hi, KarenWoo,
We were in Thailand for 2 weeks starting the last 2 weeks of January in 2014 and, by and large, it was a good time to go. We actually had an unusually cool spell by the time we reached Chiang Mai and were wearing sweaters in the morning and evening, though during the day it was warm but comfortable. We then spent a few nights in Luang Prabang for the first few days of February, and the weather was warm and sultry during the afternoon. And by the time we got to Siem Reap, where we spent 4 nights, it was really hot. It was good to have a hotel with a swimming pool!

We were in the area only the once so can’t compare it to other times of the year, but it’ll probably be warm to very warm in the region. I’m sure others here can give you more information about the climate and each location when you hope to visit.
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 05:17 PM
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Hi, Karen -
You might find this website useful:
https://weatherspark.com/
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 07:01 PM
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It may be busy around Lunar New Year, which shows up in crowds and in prices. In 2025, it falls on Jan. 29th. In 2026, it's 2026. Cambodia and Thailand are among the most humid places we visited, and this was in November and in December. The weather in Singapore is fairly similar year-around as it is near the equator. Five countries in a month would be very rushed though.
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 10:58 PM
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Hi Karen.

January and February will be great for most parts of SE Asia. Here is a tour operators website which provided a pretty good synopsis of the weather in the various countries. Current set for January in Thailand but you can play around with the destination and month to find some pretty detailed info https://www.selectiveasia.com/thaila...eather/january

Essentially , January and February are excellent times to visit the region. I have been helping our nieces with their gap year travels and they are currently in Cambodia having just travelled overland form Laos. Great weather and they are having a blast - oh that I were that age again (knowing what I know now!)

The heat and humidity is relatively good in most places from November on but both start to increase as you move toward Feb and get pretty hot and damp by say April. Everything is relative though. Even in the "cool dry" season it is still hot (though far less humid) it just gets even hotter and more humid as the months go by.


The burning season which starts once the fields and forest start to dry out usually happens in Mar-May Andean affect much of the region though the worst effects will be around Northern Thailand and Laos though some years it has been far more widespread. Not sure if the authorities have had any success in controlling it in recent year but there may be info online. As far as the countries you mention, I would only be concerned re north Thailand and Laos and you should be fine if you complete travel by the end of Feb or mid march (though the later you go , the greater the risk.

Hotel prices and airfares will be expensive over the New Year period but start dropping once the European school holidays are finished by mid Jan.

As you have Vietnam on your list, the timing of the Tet holidays is another consideration. In 2025 it will be 28 Jan to 3 Feb and 2026 16 Feb to 20 Feb. Those dates and a few days either side are best avoided in Vietnam as room rates and airfares will be higher more difficult to come by and many places close when workers go back to their family homes for the hols. I would probably avoid Vietnam during those time.

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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 05:42 AM
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Thank you to everyone for your very helpful comments.

Crellston, thank you for your detailed reply and for the link with the weather synopsis.

Tripplanner001, I agree that it will be a very rushed trip. We could add an extra week so perhaps 5 weeks. I will have to see how our 6-week trip to Australia and New Zealand go this October/November. We haven't done trips this long as of yet so I need to see how we fare on these longer trips. We are both in our 70's so I know we will only make one trip to SE Asia which is why we want to see as much as we can. We normally prefer slower-paced trips and I believe that less is usually better. But in this case, if we decide to see less, we will do so knowing we won't be returning to visit the countries we missed. So we may have to be happy with a "taste" of each country. Unless we have amazing health and physical endurance for the next 10 years!

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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 11:40 AM
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I understand, KarenWoo. Here's to many more years of wonderful trips near and far. I really liked Singapore, but you can get a good taste in 3-4 days. For Cambodia, given your limited time perhaps focus just on Angkor; we thought the 4 nights we had were good although we wouldn't be board with more. Ten to 12 days would give you an overview of Bangkok and perhaps northern Thailand, unless you prefer to relax on one of the islands in the south. I haven't been to Vietnam or Laos so I don't have anything to offer for either country, but you'll get plenty of good advice from others here.
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 01:06 PM
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KarenWoo,
Believe me, I can understand! There are places I’d like to get to but we, too, are in our 70s and I know that we’re not going to get to all of them. I have a constantly rotating set of priorities which also gets smaller as I try to focus on those places that call to me or to my husband.

I think one of the pieces of managing a long trip is traveling at a comfortable pace (longer stays in places) and having manageable expectations of what to see. It’s a work in progress in figuring things out and coming up with a realistic itinerary - and I don’t always follow my intentions to take things slowly - but it does seem to be getting easier.

it’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years, but we were in Thailand (2 weeks for Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and the north), a boat ride down the Mekong from Thailand to Luang Prabang (3 nights) and then we flew to Siem Reap (4 nights). It worked out well and I felt we got a good taste. I’m not sure if we’ll get back to SE Asia, though right now I’m actually hoping we go to Japan (we really loved it) and Taiwan next year.
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 02:44 PM
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Tripplanner001 and Progol, thank you very much for your thoughts and for your helpful suggestions regarding minimum stays. That's the kind of information I find very helpful.

Progol, I've been following your planning thread on returning to Japan and also visiting Taiwan. No pressure, but just wondering if you are going to post about Kyoto on your current TR?
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 04:00 PM
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KarenWoo, I will finish up the report in Kyoto! I know, I know, I need to do it soon!

in the meantime, if youíre interested, here is my report from 10:years ago. It might be interesting to read as you think about a trip:

Travels in Tumultuous Thailand, languid Luang Prabang & Smiling Siem Reap

Of course, this is before the days when we could post photos on Fodors, but I think I have links in the report to the current albums on Flickr.

yestravel has a wonderful report which I used a lot in my planning. They also went to Vietnam (a place Iíd like to visit but who knows when) on that trip.
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Old Jan 15th, 2024, 04:40 AM
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Progol, thank you for the link to your trip report. I will definitely read it.
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Old Jan 15th, 2024, 11:57 AM
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And hereís our report on Cambodia and Thailand from last year: Three Weeks in Cambodia and Thailand

Feel free to ask questions as you think about and plan your trip.
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Old Jan 16th, 2024, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by tripplanner001
And hereís our report on Cambodia and Thailand from last year: Three Weeks in Cambodia and Thailand

Feel free to ask questions as you think about and plan your trip.
Thank you so much for the link to your recent TR! I really appreciate it. I use trip reports all the time to help plan my trips!
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Old Jan 17th, 2024, 01:17 AM
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The best time to visit Southeast Asia countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Singapore is generally from January to February while avoiding the peak of heat and humidity. January may be slightly less crowded than February. Agricultural burning particularly in parts of Southeast Asia done during the dry season from February to April.
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Old Jan 19th, 2024, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
Hello,
My husband and I are planning a trip to SE Asia for either 2025 or 2026. The countries we want to see are Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and possibly Singapore. I've been researching the best times to visit, and what I have found generally is that November to February is the best time to visit these countries, except for Singapore. We definitely want to avoid heat and humidity. This trip will be about a month long. We prefer not to travel in November and December. We like to be home with our children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving and Christmas. So that leaves January or February. Would January be more crowded than February because of New Year festivities?

I remember reading on this forum about avoiding the months when farmers in some countries burn their fields because the air is thick with smoke. Crellston may have mentioned this? But I don't remember which countries and what months.

Thank you for any help and advise you can give!
"We definitely want to avoid heat and humidity."

I don't know how that's going to happen as it's Southeast Asia. I've always been in heat/humidity there for over 20 years of going there, but it doesn't bother me. Plus, there's a lot of air conditioning to duck into. For me, it's more about avoiding heavy rainy seasons than heat/humidity. The heavy rain can really be a mess, like Bangkok in July or August as one never knows what one might get.

I've been to S.E. Asia in Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb/ March or April/ Aug, but the majority of the time that I'm there is December to February which I prefer due to the great holiday decorations and festivities. As for the countries that I'm personally in, within S.E. Asia, they're Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

I don't understand the part about not visiting Singapore from November to February. The majority of the time that I'm in Singapore is in late December, mid-January, and early February all within the same 6-weeks in the region, But, I think I was also there one of the spring months.

Happy Travels!
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 07:32 AM
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Hi Guenmai,
Thank you for your detailed response. It’s very helpful!

I thought I had read somewhere that January/February is not the best time to visit Singapore. So after reading your post, I re-read the information I printed out, and I see that I am wrong about that. February to April is Singapore’s dry season so that would also be a good time to visit. I must have been thinking of a different country when I made that comment in my first post.

I am aware that SE Asia is always hot and I agree with you that we should avoid the rainy season because then the humidity will be even worse.

Because of other things we have going on in 2025, I think our trip will be in January/February of 2026.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 07:50 AM
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Hi Karen,

You have great info above of course. I'll just add that Chinese New Year is February 17, 2026. There is a lot of holiday traveling then, so if your trip is planned for then you may want to keep an eye on transportation and lodging options farther in advance than usual. Singapore puts on quite a light show, it can be a fun time to visit.

I spent a couple of years in Singapore over numerous business trips from 1985-2010. The rainy season there is not as noticeable as the rest of SE Asia, so no need to fine tune that portion of your trip with regard to rain. Have an umbrella and prepare to be hot. And as Guenmai noted, the air-con can be cranked up so high that you might need to carry a sweater around too.

Have a great trip.
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Old Jan 21st, 2024, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo
Hi Guenmai,
Thank you for your detailed response. Itís very helpful!

I thought I had read somewhere that January/February is not the best time to visit Singapore. So after reading your post, I re-read the information I printed out, and I see that I am wrong about that. February to April is Singaporeís dry season so that would also be a good time to visit. I must have been thinking of a different country when I made that comment in my first post.

I am aware that SE Asia is always hot and I agree with you that we should avoid the rainy season because then the humidity will be even worse.

Because of other things we have going on in 2025, I think our trip will be in January/February of 2026.
As for avoiding the rainy season, a lot of it's due to flooding. I remember landing at the old airport in Bangkok, for example, and it taking a whole hour for the driver to get us out of the parking structure due to the streets being flooded. Plus, when it rains really hard, it's no fun to possibly end up walking in puddles that can be past one's foot/ankle height.

Happy Travels!
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Old Jan 21st, 2024, 09:25 PM
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KarenWoo seems like January/February 2026 is likely your best bet based on the weather and avoiding major holidays. Be sure to check Chinese New Year dates too since some places celebrate more than others.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2024, 09:37 AM
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Hi the best time to visit Thailand is December - March
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