How to manage travel in the hot season

by Amanda (editor)
(Oslo, Norway)

So, you're considering traveling in Asia during the hot season?

The challenge is the combination of hot and humid, and it gets worse in the hot season. We're talking about temperatures between 30-40 degrees, accelerating sweaty pits and drowsiness.

In most parts of Southeast Asia (except Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia), the hot season runs from March to May/June.

But backpacking in Asia in the hot season can still be done despite the climate.

Here are some tips:

- Be strategic about where you're going to travel, you won't regret it

Stay as much as possible near the coast or in the mountains/hill stations, at the beaches or in coastal villages. Try to avoid desert areas and inner country villages.

Some regions and cities are worse during the hot season, because of the location and topography. Siem Reap feels hotter than Phnom Penh, and south India is a sweating paradise compared to north.

Ideal destinations during the hot season:
- Thailand: North (Chiang Mai, Pai, Mae Hong Son), South (any island and coastal village)
- Laos: North of Vientiane, South (4000 islands)
- Cambodia: South (Sihanoukville, Kep, Kampot)

- Book AC-rooms

If you're staying in say, Bangkok or other cities and your budget allows it, book AC-rooms. You'll thank yourself. If you're staying at beach-front bungalow, you might not need AC because of the sea breeze. But AC-rooms are definitely a must in the big cities and country (non-mountainous) villages.

- Drinks lots of water

It might seem obvious, but I know too many people who forget to drink water while they're running around and exploring. It's easy to forget when you're having a good time ;-)

Take short sips at a time so you lessen the toilet visits.

I personally use CamelBak's drinking system whenever I'm in Asia. You can carry 3 liters of water and it keeps it nice and cold for many hours. I can't live without it.

- Add some salt in your drink and food

Excessive sweating leads to loss of salt. Sprinkle a little salt in your smoothie or Pad Thai or whatever, and it will help the re-hydration.

- Take a break from the sun

Find a shadow once in a while and chill for a couple of minutes. The climate will make you a little drowsy, so it's a good idea to take extra breaks from the sightseeing to regain strength and clarity.

When I'm backpacking with my boyfriend, who's an ethnic Norwegian, we often take breaks from the sun by finding a restaurant to get some cold drinks. He gets drowsy more easily than me and that's completely understandable.

The tolerance level towards heat and humidity varies from person to person. A Canadian might have a lower tolerance level than a Australian. I'm ethnic Filipina and get easily cold, but manage heat and humidity a lot better.

- Wear a bandana or a sun hat

It protects your head from all the sun rays. I have black hair and it feels like the sun is cooking eggs on my scalp, so I wear a bandana.


Posted: Jan 13, 2013

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