Pros and Cons of visiting Thailand in Monsoon!

Bringing this post to you live from my hostel room in Phuket old town, while I wait for rain to reduce a bit so that I can head out...

June to September is deemed off-peak season for visiting Thailand. June to September is off-peak mainly due to monsoon rains. Best season is said to be from November to April. I have had 2 trips to Thailand in August and 2 trips in other seasons. While rain can play spoilsport, there're several benefits of visiting Thailand (or most South East Asia destinations for that matter) during monsoon. In this post I am listing all of them, so that you can make informed decision while planning your vacation.

Are rains in Thailand that bad?
From what I have experienced, they are usually not bad. Probability of raining non stop for several days is very low. Most of the time rains are short spell- a burst and gone after sometime. Often manageable with an umbrella or raincoat. Only very rarely it may rain whole day, spoiling your plans for the day. This is a risk worth taking, considering other benefits.

Benefits of visiting Thailand in Monsoon
1. Low ticket fares: Because of low tourist inflow, flight tickets will be cheaper. My current Phuket ticket is Rs 9500 approx- Chennai-Phuket and return. Even up to one month before the trip, the return fare was around 16000, which is reasonable. Domestic flights within Thailand are also super cheap. You can probably plan two separate trips at half the price, than paying double to fly during peak season.

2. Reduced hotel rates: Off-peak season means every hotel is eager to fill up its rooms. Lesser rates and higher chance of upgrades. 3 of the hostels I stayed were almost empty- I got full room all for myself, for the price of 1 bed. (Pro-tip: Don't go by the advise "Book Early & save more" for off-peak season travel. If you book your hotel room 6 months in advance, you will pay standard room rate. Book 15 days in advance, you ought to get it cheaper- as hotels realize rooms are not filling up, they tend to give better discounts. Book Early & Save works only for peak season. If you don't trust me monitor rates for 2-3 hotels yourself.

3. Less crowd: Most attractions will have less crowd, making your trip more pleasurable. Getting last minute ticket

4. Pleasant weather: During monsoon, overall temperature will be low by a few degrees. Outdoor trips are more comfortable, less money spent on refreshments. You can get pleasant views like below-clouds kissing mountains, not possible in peak summer. In peak summer you will sweat a lot.
5. Better bargaining power: While shopping or negotiating a deal, you can afford to bargain harder. With less customers, shop owners/operators will be willing to cut their margins a bit and close a deal.

6. Quicker Visa on Arrival: Visa On arrival queue can take 2-3 hours or more during peak season. During off peak season, lines will be shorter. Depending on how lucky you are, you may clear formalities within 30-90 minutes. This saves time and effort you've to otherwise spend in getting advance visa (going to VFS once to submit passport, another time to collect it etc)

In summary, the amount you will save overall can be significant enough to fund another off peak season trip or at the minimum, compensate for various inconveniences you may encounter during monsoon, listed below.

Disadvantages/Risks of visiting Thailand in Monsoon/Off-peak season.
1. Expect one or two days to get washed away due to rain. It is not possible to predict rains months in advance and plan. (There is no guarantee it won't rain some day during peak season/summer) A bit of risk has to be taken. I don't expect every single day to get spoiled due to rain, but you should be mentally ready to stay indoors for a day or two, when heavy rains may make outdoor activity difficult. Keep some backup plan for such days- some indoor activities, reading books or some half day/few hours plans that can be executed once rain stops.

If you're lucky it may rain only in night, or when you're in transit or indoors, minimizing impact on your schedule.

2. Pre-paid trip rescheduling: Before booking day trips, do check with your agent how the cancellation/rescheduling works. Most trips do operate even in rain, provided there's no storms or very rough sea, but some trips are best enjoyed in dry conditions. Booking a non-refundable activity could mean greater loss. Best is not to book anything in advance. You can book from your hotel the previous night, if you feel weather is going to be good. This gives you great flexibility. The price difference (whether you book in India in advance through a website or you book on the spot from your hotel in Thailand) is not huge (usually +/- 10%) but the flexibility it offers is priceless.

3. Risk of damage to electronics. Water sensitive gadgets like camera,phone etc will need better care.

4. Poor sunset/sunrise pics: Due to clouds, sunset/sunrise is usually not that bright and colourful. Booking sunset cruise or other such activities are usually not worth. If you're planning some sunrise/sunset photography be ready for some disappointments.

5. More slippery surfaces: Need more caution while walking around- particularly in national parks or on the rocks etc.

6. More waiting for shared services: If you're looking to avail shared taxis, boats etc, operates will wait longer to fill up the seats, so factor slightly more time.

7. Early closure of shops: Due to low tourist turnout, many shops tend to close early and call it a day. At big Buddha temple, though it is open till 7 PM, by 6.30 shops were packed up. Of course this is not major concern. 7-11 is open till 11 PM for essentials, shops in major tourist streets- like in Patong area in Phuket are open till late night. If you need something particular for the night, don't delay till last minute. At times this may work in your favor also- like at one of the viewpoints, closing time was 6 PM, I reached at 6.20 or so, no one was there to collect entry fee or parking fee.

12 comments:

  1. Thailand seems to be a good option for a monsoon getaway. I think monsoon is a lovely time for a holiday anywhere. Like recently I had a monsoon break in Goa and it was fabulous.

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  2. Helpful tips. Never been to Thailand during the rains.

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  3. Thanks for the informative post, Shrinidhi. Been to Thailand twice and both times summer months..when it's pretty sweaty. After reading the pros and cons here, I guess the pros weigh heavier for me. Monsoons,less crowd and pretty misty landscape...perfect combo!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment after long time. Plan a trip.. What are you waiting for..

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  4. Hello, seems good off season time to visit thailand,can you suggest how will be end of september and early october period visits.

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    Replies
    1. End of September/Early october will be great. Monsoon about to end...

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  5. Perfect use of the time... great piece of information!!

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