Enjoying Southeast Asia in the Rainy Season: Where to Travel in July & August
Southeast Asia is on many of our minds when it comes to planning summer holidays, but midsummer is not traditionally the ideal time to book a Southeast Asian luxury tour as the annual monsoon season peaks in July and August. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. While some spots, like Hoi An, Vietnam or Phuket, Thailand, will be pretty wet, there are still plenty of Southeast Asia travel destinations that escape this monsoon pattern or where the rain actually accentuates the experience. Here are five of our favorite ATJ destinations to explore during Southeast Asia’s summer rainy season.
There is something magical about seeing Angkor Wat during the monsoon. Not only does the rain bring an almost surreal lushness to the surrounding jungle and varying hues of intense greens to the moss and lichen covered temple stones, but the crowds are much lighter during the rainy months. And while it is undeniably wet in Cambodia in July and August, dry days are not unheard of. In fact, short, heavy rainstorms that clear quickly are more common than endless rainy days.
Located just south of the equator, Indonesia is visited by a different monsoon system, which occurs between December and March. So unlike the rest of Southeast Asia, summertime in Indonesia is dry, cool and the prime time to visit. As such, it is also the height of the tourist season in Bali. To enjoy the good weather, while avoiding the worst of the tourists, try snorkeling off Menjangan Island and West Bali National Park or exploring the island’s more remote east coast. That being said, you’ll still want to book accommodations well in advance.
Sri Lanka is in a unique location between two different monsoon systems. Certain areas of the country are rainy in the summer and others in the winter. With proper planning, this makes the island a wonderful year-round retreat. In July and August, the area around the Cultural Triangle experiences minimal rainfall and warm temperatures. It’s a great time to take in the numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites and spot wild elephants roaming the national parks, or sometimes just by the side of the road. Midsummer is also a good time for to enjoy warm, sunny days on the untouristy beaches of Sri Lanka’s east coast.
Thailand’s convoluted coastline means that year round there is always some area with sunny skies and good weather. Some of the driest beach towns in Thailand in July and August are Hua Hin and Ban Krut on the Upper Gulf Coast, about 125-miles southwest from Bangkok. While this region does still see rainfall, it is less heavy than other parts of Thailand and tends to fall in shorter bursts. Aside from offering a lovely beach, Hua Hin is also home to some of Thailand’s best tailors, so any rainy days can be spent getting custom clothing made. At ATJ we offer a number of custom Thailand packages that make planning a trip here a breeze.
Like the Upper Gulf Coast, the popular islands off the Lower Gulf Coast—Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao—stay drier than their west coast counterparts in the Andaman Sea, like Phuket and Ko Lanta, which are best avoided during these months. While we can’t promise it won’t rain in July (it probably will), sunny days are still quite common, the intra-island ferries still run and the crowds are less intense. If you’re looking for low-key relaxation during your summer vacation, these islands are a great choice.