By: Nicole Long- Laos Country Director
I know that Lonely Plant tells you that the best time to visit Laos is between the months of October and February. They say this because it’s the dry season and you won’t have to worry about the rains and the temperatures are much cooler than the rest of the year. On one hand I agree with them- during this time of the year the temperatures drop to resemble late fall, early winter in the US. The air is cool and crisp and not hot and humid like it is the remainder of the year. And since it is the dry season you will never have to worry about surprise afternoon showers or muddy pathways.
However, with all of that said, I disagree with them. There are a few months of the rainy season that are my absolute favorite and I don’t think they should be overlooked because of a little water. Yes, I know sometimes there is more than just a “little” water during the rainy season. There have been a few years here in Luang Prabang where I felt like it didn’t stop raining for a week. I think most of the season isn’t like that and if you can deal with a little water I think you are able to get a lot of positives from traveling to Laos during this time of the year.
So, if you are considering traveling to Laos and are hesitant about traveling during this time please take a look at my list of reasons why you SHOULD travel between April-August:
- Not as crowded. Luang Prabang is a quaint little town so in the dry season when most people travel it can feel like it is a bit overrun by tourists. There really aren’t as many people here as in many other tourist destinations, but it feels so packed with tourists during this time because the downtown area is literally like 5 blocks! You will NOT feel that way traveling in the rainy season. The streets are practically empty making the town feel like it’s your own!
- Green! Green! Green! I can’t express to you how magically green Laos is during this time of the year. With practically daily showers the air is fresh and the hills are green. You can really enjoy the varying shades of green in Luang Prabang with it being surrounded by endless tree-covered mountains. In the dry season all of this beautiful green turns into a dusty brown. Most travelers never get to see the true beauty of the country because they don’t travel when it’s at its best!
- Best hotel rates. You will be able to have a wide range of choices concerning accommodation. You might even get the opportunity to stay somewhere you might not have thought possible because the rates have dropped to a reasonable price. Regardless of what choice you make for accommodation, you will find that your hotel or guesthouse is peaceful and quiet due to a lack of other guests.
- Blue skies. I am from North Carolina and we have some amazingly beautiful sky, but I don’t think I have ever seen such an electric blue sky before. And the clouds-they are like giant puffs of dreamy white cotton candy. It truly adds to the magic of the country.
- Boat travel is lot faster and safer. Due to the higher water levels of the river, boat trips are more available from the north of Thailand to Luang Prabang, as well as cruises in the south of Laos. During the dry season these options can be unavailable due to receding waters making it impossible for boats to make passage in the rocky rivers.
- Tour promotions! Who doesn’t like to save on travel? Many great tour suppliers offer discounted rates or packages usually not offered in the dry season. Many promotions offer two for the price of one!
- Best guides. Since the rainy season is considered the low season for tourism, a lot of Lao’s best freelance guides have much more available schedules. Even though Journeys Within tries to give you the best of the best when it comes to guides and service, you are pretty much guaranteed to have that same quality across the board for all our services and suppliers during this time. If you have more time available, you should take the opportunity to travel more around the country with the local experts.
- The country is at its most beautiful point. If you travel on the outskirts of town you will see how this season is a busy time for local farmers. May to July is the rice planting season. During the high season, the crop has already been harvested and the fields are covered in dried rice husks and weeds for the grazing of buffalo. But, during this time, the sopping rice fields are sprouting bright green stalks and reflect the beaming sun. The colors and imagery make fantastic snapshots to add to your travel album.
- You get more daylight hours! You get impressively long days during this season. Start your day with morning alms at 5:30am then a full day city tour with a trip to Kuang Si waterfall followed by a sunset boat cruise on the Mekong. You can pack a lot in your day with the sun going down at 7:30pm!
- Rain. Rain? Rain! I don’t know about you, but I happen to have a deep love for a good rain shower. Yeah, they can be inconvenient at times, but it’s really in how you look at it. I love that the rain makes you slow down and take a moment; surrender your control to it. Take a moment to relax with a cup of tea or a good book as the storm passes. After all, you are supposed to be on holiday not a sightseeing race!