Monsoon Travel

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“How I love the rain, the coolness of it upon my skin, the taste of it upon my lips, and the fun of it as I playfully stomp my way like a child through endless puddles” – Rebecca S Russell.

Girl in RainIf you are among the ones getting dreamy eyed on reading these lines, you belong to the ranks of rain lovers. If you also nurse a lurking passion for travel, this is the moment to stop reading and wonder why you never thought of planning a monsoon-vacation before.

Of course there is a lot to be considered – for the experience can be breathtakingly sublime or a damp, muddy disillusionment. However, with proper planning and the right precautions you could end up enjoying the loveliest holiday you ever took.

South Asia enjoys monsoon showers every year from June to October, depending on the geographical location and the vagaries of the monsoons. However, some regions like Southern India come under the influence of the Retreating Monsoons (from October to December). There are other places in the world which also come under the influence of the monsoons between June to September like Costa Rica and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) to name a few.

Kerala Monsoon FestOn the flip side however, a small but steadily growing number of travellers are discovering the pleasures of monsoon travel.Most globe-trotters would shy away from planning a break in the rains and with good reasons.

Consider this:

  • Low tourist crowd (you may actually manage to get a picture of the gorgeous monument, without the unknown grinning faces alongside).
  • Off season rates in hotels, airfare and other packages.
  • Some places are at their best during monsoon; greenery is greener, waterfalls are even more spectacular!
  • One can catch the special monsoon festivals and celebrations.

8How to choose the right destination:

If you are travelling in the monsoons and are not keen on enjoying the showers, choose places which are free from the effects of the monsoons. Indonesia remains dry and cool between June and September while the rest of South-Asia is under monsoon attack. You could head to Singapore too, which may have only brief afternoon showers. In India, Rajasthan and Ladakh are beautiful destinations which are more or less free from the monsoon showers.

Do you want to enjoy the rain but don’t want it to play spoilsport?

Remember, it does not always pour non-stop during monsoon. There are places where it rains for a short spell, leaving the weather even more beautiful than before. Check the weather forecast and once you know the pattern of rainfall in that area, you can plan your day accordingly. For instance, it rains heavily in Thailand, but mostly late in the day. The Valley of flowers in Northern India blooms alive with lovely flowers at this time. Some hill stations in Western India are particularly lovely after a short shower; making it the perfect time to explore the natural beauty of the place, take that romantic walk or stand speechless before a foaming waterfall.

CherapunjeeLove the rains?

Almost the entire South-Asia is open for you to choose from. You can watch the grand spectacle of the reversal of the flow of the Mekong River in Cambodia; the swelling waters of the Tonle Sap Lake and its floating villages; or experience first-hand the heavy showers in Cherrapunji as well as in Mawsynram – a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya (India), reportedly the wettest place on the planet.

Some monsoon fun activities in Asia:

  • Go River Rafting in Thailand,
  • Enjoy Teej (monsoon festival) in Rajasthan, India,
  • Marvel at the Dudhsagar falls in Goa, India,
  • Experience the thrills of live-aboard diving at the Maldives,
  • Rejuvenate with an Ayurveda treatment in Kerala, India.

Asian kidsImportant travel and safety tips:

  • If it is peak season at the destination, book in advance for transport and hotels; if it is typically off-season, wait a little longer to finalise the bookings, depending on the weather report,
  • Pack synthetic, quick-drying clothes. Umbrellas, raincoats. Sturdy rain-boots are must haves,
  • Carry mosquito repellents and protect yourself from mosquito bites and malaria,
  • Be very careful about food and water. Drink only boiled or bottled mineral water; eat fresh, hygienically prepared food,
  • Do check the weather forecasts and travel conditions before the start of a journey,
  • Check the spare tyres, tools and keep torches handy,
  • Keep phone numbers handy and try to keep someone informed about your movements,
  • Plan shorter trips to overcome extreme weather uncertainty.

Every traveller worth his salt knows the best times to visit a destination. But how about getting a little more adventurous and exploring destinations at other times? It may turn out to be a revelation, seeing familiar places under new garbs or seeing an entirely new perspective. You might then be able to say with the poet that you took the road “less travelled by and that has made all the difference.”