Summer’s here, and if you’re not heading to your home country for a long break, then the temptation is to pack a suitcase and hit a nearby Southeast Asia beach resort. Before you make a booking, though, keep in mind the weather – monsoons, in particular, can turn a dreamy tropical escape into a damp squib. Even within individual countries, the climate in July and August can differ from place to place. To help you out, we’ve run our eye over five of Singapore’s closest neighbours to sort out the best beach destinations for summer from the soggy, windy wannabes.
Oh, and another thing: with all that unpredictable weather around, it’s crucial that you have excellent travel insurance – after all, one cancelled flight can throw a spanner in the works of an entire itinerary. Scroll down for more on this – including a great deal for Expat Living readers, from DirectAsia Insurance.
The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia cops a battering from the northeast monsoon, which tends to last from around November to March, and many resorts in that region actually close their doors for several months. Come summer, though, these places are sparkling, so it’s the perfect time to hit the likes of Tioman, Redang and the Perhentian Islands. In Sabah, the water visibility is brilliant in July and August, so divers will want to make tracks for Sipidan or Layang Layang.
Who doesn’t love a holiday in Phuket? Let’s get one thing straight, though: in July, you’re going to get wet – and not just from swimming. Of course, those big, boisterous tropical downpours can be invigorating, but you’ll also find that certain activities are curtailed by the climate – boat tours to Phi Phi, for example. A better bet in the Thai summer are the destinations on the other side of the peninsula: Koh Samui, for example.
Good news: summer is Indonesia’s best time of year. The November-to-March wet season is a distant memory, and July and August are hot and sunny – Bali is among the best beach destinations in the region. Of course, great weather means large crowds; if you like things on the quieter side, try Lombok. Also, if you’ve had Komodo on your bucket list, keep in mind that later in the year – September/October – is better for seeing not just the famous dragons, but whales and manta rays too.
Vietnam stretches over 1,600km from north to south, so it’s no surprise the climate changes dramatically. Summer is the wet season at both ends of the country, which means you’re going to need a nice big brolly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – in August, these places average more than a foot of rain. The best destination for this time of year? Central Vietnam, without a doubt. So, pencil in some beach time at Da Nang, with a visit to the nearby UNESCO town of Hoi An.
Summer is low season in the Philippines, and accommodation is often 30% cheaper than other times of year. The reason? It’s typhoon time! August is the worst month – if luck’s not on your side, you can face successive days of torrential rain. In particular, the north cops a deluge, so somewhere like Cebu in the south should be Plan A. We adore Palawan, but the kind of island-hopping travel that it requires is probably better reserved for a milder time of year.
SRI LANKA: The east coast is sunnier than the west in July and August, so our tip is to skip Mirissa and Unawatuna and make for Trincomalee instead.
AUSTRALIA: The winter water is chilly for swimming in the south, but Cable Beach in Broome, WA, and Rainbow Beach in Queensland are two great places to visit in July and August.
JAPAN: Okinawa is hot and humid in July and August, and it can be wet too, but the bonus is that it’s festival season, so there’s plenty to see and do.
Summer in Southeast Asia is a wonderful thing, but, as you can see, even the best beach destinations can be dramatically wet and windy. With these factors in play, it’s more important than ever that you have the right level of cover for your trip. DirectAsia Insurance is the leading insurer of its kind Singapore; as a direct insurer, it doesn’t pay commissions, which means savings for travellers (and, unsurprisingly, very high rates of customer satisfaction). Up to four children are covered for free with a DirectAsia family policy, which also includes unique extras such as cover for rental car excess.
Special deal: DirectAsia annual travel insurance within Asia is already great value at $204 a year, but the company is offering Expat Living readers an additional 10% discount available between now and 31 August. That brings the amount down to just $184. Note: This one-off price is available only by phone – call 6603 3633 and quote “Expat Living” now.
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