There are two distinct seasons for traveling in Southeast Asia. High-tourist season & Low-tourist season, i.e. monsoon season. Both seasons offer travelers great positives and frustrating negatives. And each Southeast Asian country, though geographically located next to each other in a small region known as Indochina, all experience their monsoon season(s) in varying months.
On one hand, high-tourist season is when all the activities, sites, and tours will be open and in full operation, the sun will make an appearance everyday, and offers the most ideal weather for sightseeing, partying, and being able to pack lighter. However, on the other hand, traveling during monsoon season offers less tourists, cheaper flights, and offers a different, more unique visit to the country.
We breakdown the 6 most common thoughts about traveling during the monsoon season and tell you whether they're true or false.
1. It's Cheaper
We are not quite sure why everyone believes this so much. In our experience living and traveling around Southeast Asia over the last two years, there really is not much that is offered to tourists at lower prices in the low-tourist season than the high-tourist season - aside from maybe flights or hotels. You may find a tour company here or there that has a slight discount, but honestly it wont be anything drastic. Even souvenirs for tourists won't be marked down any. Think about things this way: the people that are selling you street food, souvenirs and tour packages are doing that to make money to feed themselves and their family. They make even less money during low-tourist season to support their family, therefore, they will not have the flexibility to negotiate prices as drastically as they can during the high-tourist season. The only reason traveling during the monsoon season would be cheaper, is because there are less things open and therefore less things and activities to spend money on. Making this a little true but more false.
2. Less Crowded/Shorter Lines
This is a very obvious, and is most definitely true when traveling anywhere during the low-tourist season. However, there is one thing to consider: because there are naturally less tourists during off-season months, there may be less transportation options. Sometimes bus, train and even airline companies will lessen the amount of vehicles they use or the amount of trips they take. The same general rule goes for daily tours of famous landmarks or museums, too.
3. Monsoon Season Is Crazy
Can monsoon season be crazy? Does it sometimes bring in huge storms from the Pacific or Indian oceans? Do the streets flood often? Though all of these questions can be answered with a 'yes', they are not all true 100% of the time. More than likely it is going to rain the majority of the time you are visiting a country during the monsoon season, however, that does not mean it will rain the entire time. If you don't mind getting wet (drenched really), being thrown around by the wind, or being transported in vehicles that think are used like boats, you will be fine. More than likely your tour, activity or store won't be closed. Asian people are used to this kind of weather and know how to work around it.
4. Unique (Seasonal) Opportunities
Of course this is true. When you travel somewhere during the "off" months, the low-tourist season, or winter or monsoon months, the way you see the city/country, the people you meet, activities you do, trips you plan, and your interaction with the locals will all be a little different than if you were to visit with the masses during the high-tourist season, summer months. Traveling during the monsoon season allows you to see the city/country running normally without as many tourists. It allows you to better see how the locals interact with each other, what they have to do during the low-tourist season to get ready for the high-tourist season and how they deal with the annual problem of flooding. Travelling during this time even allows you to see/do different activities that may not be available in the hot summer months.
5. More Accommodation Options/Cheaper Flights
Definitely true. Due to the lower number of tourists, this usually causes hotels, hostels and airlines alike to list cheaper prices. The prices may not be huge, but they are more than likely a good deal. We have saved a couple hundred dollars traveling in SE Asia during monsoon season because of cheap flights. Make sure to check out our favorite search engine for airline tickets, Kiwi.com. Also, make sure to check out our tips and tricks for finding the best airline deals in every country, here.
6. The Locals/Other Tourists Aren't As Rude
We seem to find this one to be true. You would think that because there are less visitors during the monsoon season months that people selling their wares would be pushy to make a sale. But for same strange reason the exact opposite thing happens. Locals tend to be more calm and relaxed during the low-tourist season making the tourists more calm and relaxed. We think that's so because: during the high months the locals have to be overly kind, have unique items, always smiling, AND offer the cheapest price in order to make a sale. Whereas during the low months, they don't have to compete with each other as much in order to make a sale. Really all they have to do to make a sale in the monsoon season is be at the right place at the right time and don't overtly take advantage of the price. Besides, most people (if able) try to make all their money in the summer to last them throughout the winter or monsoon season. Tourists seem to be a little more relaxed in the rainy season too. Maybe it's because we all know there is nothing we can do about the rain and/or because everything is less crowded, everyone seems to be a little more relaxed than they would in the crowded, hot summer months.