Rainy seasons, rather unfairly, in my view, get a bad press. The phrase invokes images of storm-whipped palm trees, evacuations and TV news reporters being swept away in freak winds, live on air.
The reality (often nothing more hazardous than a warm afternoon downpour) is that you’ll find fewer crowds and you’ll see a big drop in the prices of flights, hotels, tours and restaurant bills.
The hospitality industry has begun referring to these wetter months as ‘green season’. I’m all for it if it encourages tourists to see the resulting lush, fertile landscape as a positive. A spot of afternoon rain provides refreshing relief from sticky humidity and intense heat, too.
It’s easy to check your destination’s climate before you book. Check online weather reports for average temperatures and rainfall, and when the low season begins and ends. Fares are considerably lower outside peak season to Asian countries, in particular, with a monsoon season between May and October.
Hotels in particular will be vying for custom in their quieter months.
I’m not suggesting that you jet off into imminent danger, ignore weather warnings, or go against the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s travel advice (because that would invalidate your travel insurance). I do recommend doing a little research, and have some rainy day plans up your sleeve. Try a museum visit or a long, lazy lunch, for when the scheduled morning shower looks set to hang around for the afternoon as well.
Negotiate! Hotels in particular will be vying for custom in their quieter months. Regardless of the rates you see on booking engines or published on their website, try contacting them direct and see what they can offer you. Bargain for extras such as free transfers or breakfast. On a recent trip to Vietnam, I persuaded our hotel to throw in a one-way airport transfer worth £30 and a free extra bed for my son (usually £12 per night) as well as 20% off our restaurant bill.
With some sensible precautions, you won’t regret travelling mid-monsoon. Read hotel reviews posted at the time of year you plan to travel. Is it practical to travel at that time, or too risky? Did the power go off frequently, or were the roads impossible to pass? Contact the hotel for reassurance.
Capsizing wasn’t the romantic start to my holiday that I was hoping for.
Recently, I caught the end of Typhoon Doksuri which passed over Thailand on its way to eastern Vietnam. I was worried that my transfer to my hotel in Krabi by long tail boat might be cancelled if the sea was too choppy.
Capsizing wasn’t the romantic start to my holiday that I was hoping for. Hotel staff confirmed that they were running the service as normal, and that the high winds had already blown over. If you’re uncertain, allow extra time for essential journeys, check ferry or boat operators for updates, and keep an eye on local news.
Book your more adventurous outdoor tours as spontaneously as you can, to avoid losing out if you have to cancel last minute due to bad weather. I prefer inquiring locally for the forecast rather than relying on weather apps, which tend to generalise.
Packing essentials include mosquito repellent (rains bring out the creepy crawlies like nothing else) and waterproof protection for your camera, mobile phone or other devices. Packed your umbrella? You’re all set.