"Is it raining all day?", "Aren't storms likely to spoil my vacation?"... Ask these questions about the monsoon to a Thai or a Vietnamese, he will no doubt be amused by your apprehensions.
If, for simplification, many of us consider that our summer corresponds to the rainy season in Southeast Asia, the reality of this meteorological phenomenon is much more nuanced.
The showers do not last all day, at most a few hours
, reassures Anne-Sophie Tardy, Asia expert at Altaï Travel, specialist in nature travel
In recent years, with climate change, we have been witnessing 'dry' monsoons, ie periods of several days without rain.
The types of monsoons (dry or wet), their intensity and their periods vary from one country to another and even from one region to another within the same country, in particular according to its geography.
This is particularly the case in
km of coastline and a variety of reliefs, the country offers a mosaic of microclimates
," explains Chung Trinh Van, a French-speaking guide.
Hai Van Pass, above Danang, acts as a natural meteorological boundary between north and south
The north has four seasons, while the south has only two: dry from November to April, wet from May to October.
In both cases, the rains are more marked in July-August.
Read alsoPerfect trip to Vietnam: the Figaro guide
, it is better to avoid the west coast bordered by the Andaman Sea (Phuket, Krabi...) between May and October because of the heavy rainfall.
Conversely, over this same period, the conditions are ideal on the east coast (Koh Samui...), facing the Gulf of Thailand - the monsoons tend to take place between October and December.
, it is simpler: the rains occur from June to September, with marked monsoons in August and September.
, Indonesia, the seasonality is reversed: the dry season runs from April to October, while the rains are concentrated between November and February.
The central mountains divide the island into several microclimates.
The north and east, in particular the villages of Pemuteran and Amed, have a drier climate than the south
,” says Wayan Sugina, independent guide in Bali, founder of the Bali Different agency.
By the way, what do we mean by “monsoon”?
This phenomenon is due to a warming and then a rapid cooling of the earth's surface.
This variation takes place faster than the temperature of the sea, creating two distinct masses: the continental mass and the oceanic mass which come to juxtapose creating a phenomenon called 'periodic alternating winds' which then brings sustained showers, called monsoons "
. describes Anne-Sophie Tardy, Asia specialist at Altaï Travel.
Fewer people and lower prices
Karst peaks and forest on Cheow Larn Lake in Khao Sok National Park.
This region in the west of Thailand is best during the dry season, between January and April.
STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine
Disregarding the small inconveniences caused by the monsoon is the guarantee of a stay in excellent conditions
," says Guillaume Linton, CEO of the Asia travel agency.
This period corresponds to the low tourist season, so there are fewer visitors.
The range of accommodation available is wider and their prices are lowered, around 20
% less compared to the high season.
"On the air too, we can expect good deals with prices that can vary"
from simple to double
However, keep in mind that the price of flights to Asia is skyrocketing in this post-pandemic period.
Difficult to get a round trip for less than 1000 €, even with a stopover.
Tourists therefore come out on top, and this benefits the local economy.
Leaving in low season is a way of traveling responsibly by allowing guides to maintain an activity throughout the year and locals to smooth out their income from tourism
," continues Anne-Sophie Tardy.
As rural work is often paused during the monsoon, the inhabitants are more available to interact with travelers and share their culture.
Finally, the resources are better managed: we avoid drawing on the water reserves that the inhabitants constitute for the dry season.
Another advantage: nature is particularly lush during and at the end of the rainy season.
Thus, the rice terraces of northern Vietnam, such as those in the Sapa region, are best appreciated in late August, early September, when they display a beautiful palette of colors ranging from yellow to green.
It is at this time that the rice, planted in March, is about to be harvested.
Read alsoCycling in the rice fields of Vietnam
A more relaxed pace of travel
Rice fields at the foot of the sacred mountain, the Batur volcano, on the island of Bali in Indonesia.
STANISLAS FAUTRE / Le Figaro Magazine
All this should not overshadow certain disadvantages.
The high humidity, in addition to favoring the presence of mosquitoes, can give a feeling of heaviness in the air that some people find difficult to bear.
Activities in the great outdoors, such as hiking, kayaking or diving, can occasionally become impracticable and be canceled at the last moment due to flooding or strong winds.
It is better, more than usual, to show flexibility and leave room for the unexpected.
In other words: to adapt.
Right now, in February, the tours start earlier in the morning and end around 2 p.m., when the rain falls heavily for an hour or two.
Customers return to the hotel after lunch and then resume their activities at the end of the afternoon
, explains Wayan Sugina.
The islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are more protected from the rains and have a drier climate.
They are a good alternative if the rain persists in Bali, which is however relatively rare
In Vietnam, cruises in Halong Bay are subject to cancellation in July-August due to bad weather and the risk of typhoons.
The alternative usually offered by local agencies is the province of Ninh Bình, nicknamed "land Halong Bay".
Located 100 km from Hanoi and less known than its maritime version, it offers the same landscapes and can be explored on foot, by bike or by boat.
The opportunity to venture into places you would not have thought of.
Read alsoIndonesia: three reasons to discover Nusa Penida, Bali's secret little sister
When to leave?
Which regions of Southeast Asia should be favored according to the weather, temperatures or major events?
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