South-East Asian Climate and Weather.
Temperature Map of Asia by www.windy.com
Temperature map taken November 2018 shows a diverse range of temperatures across Asia, with lower coastal latitudes possessing relatively hot and humid climates, and northern continental regions heading into colder wintery conditions. The higher latitudes of South-East Asia show a mix of the colder northern weather along with the warmer southern climate.
Tourists and travellers generally favour destinations that consistently experience clear skies of settled sunny weather and avoid those with gloomy, cold and wet weather. InterNations, an online vehicle aimed at global expatriates rated such countries as Costa Rica, Greece, Spain and Mexico as preferred destinations for expatriates, with weather being a major consideration. Conversely, any Northern European Countries along with the UK and Russia fit within the least desirable countries. Most Asian countries featured little in desirable climate appraisals.
That is not to say that Asian countries are not sought after destinations, nor that they don’t possess great weather …… just that other attributes such as cultural richness, cost to travel, and type of travel are more significant regarding a travellers consideration to visit. It is clear that destinations such as Vietnam are exceptional places to visit for experiential travellers who seek substance with their travel, where the way of life, culture and religion is juxtaposed with their own own lives. Weather and climate are neither drawcards for Asian destinations, nor are they obstacles to a traveller’s consideration to visit.
Tourism Along the Coastal Fringes of Asia.
Asia itself is extremely large, encompassing some of the hottest and the coldest, the driest and the wettest regions on earth with a diverse range of climatic regions and weather. Much of coastal Asia is situated within extensive tropical zones making such areas popular tourists destinations, with extensive sandy beaches, warm tropical waters, and extended periods of settled sunny weather. These characteristics are extremely marketable within tourism and constitute attributes that instil significant “pull’ motivations in tourists and travellers alike. For mass tourists on packaged holidays, the prospect of lounging on tropical beaches under clear blue skies is the travel expectation associated with “fly and flop” vacations. Similarly, clear settled weather allows travellers to move about with ease, mingling with local people, and experiencing a destination’s culture and landscapes presented at their finest.
Two distinguishing features dominate Southern and Eastern Asia; Monsoons and Cyclones, both of which have largely determined the annual cycle of life for many Asian communities, and have been primary determinants of societal customs and traditions. At grass-roots level, much of the way of life is moulded by what the physical environment surrounding communities imparts. For travellers, how communities have struggled and overcome the adversity associated with their weather highlights a cultural depth within Asian societies that is absent in more temperate climates.
The Superficial Perspective of Tourists and Travellers.
Generally, visitors are oblivious to the narrowness of their weather expectations during periods of travel, do little in the way of studying weather and climate of the destinations they intend to travel to let alone any research into what they might see, do and experience at the time of their visit. Consequently, a bad travel experience is often a consequence of bad planning and unrealistic expectations. Few if any destinations possess the perfect weather sought by visitors all of the time.
Unsurprisingly, tourists are somewhat superficial when it comes to the destination climate and weather. The only thing of any importance is what the weather going to be like at the time they will be visiting? Generally, travel writers will try to whittle down annual climate patterns and associated weather for tourists in as few sentences as possible. The attention span of most travellers is limited to whether or not any extreme weather events are likely during their trip, along with local forecasts of rain, wind and adverse weather while they are there. Reality is that travel marketers attempt to present simple climate descriptions, broadened “best times to travel”, exaggerated positive climate imagery, and under-stated adverse weather risks. For their part, tourists buy into marketing ploys when such strategies suit the trip decisions they wish to make.
But what happens when a country’s geography, land shape, and global spatial position instils such complexity that gross generalisations are simply not possible. In such cases, presenting a clear picture of what travellers could expect while travelling through a destination in few words is both hopeless and impractical. Tourists expectations may be fulfilled, or it may not ……. Unfortunately, often visitor’s destination reviews are coloured by the differences between their expectations and actual visit realities.
The Moral Dilemma around "Being informed".
Map of Asian Typhoons by NOAA (https://coast.noaa.gov/hurricanes/)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration keeps comprehensive data on global hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones. The above map details all typhoons that have occurred in the Asian region over the past 10 years (2008-2018), and clearly shows that the region is significantly affected by such events on a regular basis. Typhoon tracks in green and yellow represent Cat 1.0 and Cat 2.0 Typhoons, while purple and violet represent the devasting Cat 4.0 and Cat 3.0 Typhoons. Each Asian region experiences typhoons at differing times of the year, causing substantial infrastructure damage and loss of life.
Map of Potential Flooding of the Mekong Delta by www.floodmap.com
A number of Asian Regions are low lying and particularly susceptible to flooding during storge surges, tsnunami and other extreme weather events. The map shown shows the undulation of the Mekong Delta when the sea level is raised by 500mm, and illustrates the devastation that such events cause. Consequent risks to travellers and tourists is extreme, especially as civil defence mechanisms in many Asian countries is limited and hampered by a lack of robust infrastructure.
There is a moral dilemma regarding climate and weather. Within tourism, having a reputation for adverse weather will negatively impact on a destination's visitor appeal. Some destination marketers speak about the various impacts of Monsoon season, typhoons are the elephant in the room and their discussion is largely avoided. While typhoons loom large within media, there is a distinct absence of any data about them or information provided regarding traveller preparedness. Regardless of whose responsibility it is to ensure that tourists are sufficiently informed (travel professionals or the tourists themselves?), there is a need for travellers to be much better enlightened about the weather they are likely to encounter, and the risks that are associated with travelling to destinations during periods of heightened typhoons activity.
Two Possible approaches regarding "Travel-Windows".
(By Augustus Binu, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/)
(By Michael Coghlan, CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic, https://commons.wikimedia.org/)
For most travellers, "travel-windows" are usually pinned to particular times of the year when they can get away, and generally there are certain inflexibilities in peoples travel plans. A compounding factor is the increasing strategy of airlines to load airfares during peak times and discount over the lower seasons, making travel during less desirable periods more attractive.
Regardless of chosen "travel-window", consideration of likely weather conditions are paramount and should be uppermost in travel expectations and planning. Two approaches can be taken in selecting appropriate travel-windows:
A Conservative - Restricted "Travel-Window" Approach.
Limiting travel windows to specific times of the year, and eliminating difficult to assess destinations will maximise the probability of experiencing good weather. Travel is likely to be more expensive, and be restricted to more frequented regions. While little research may be required, the prospect of being a part of authentic travel experiences is slim.
A Judicious - Broadened "Travel-Window" Approach.
Carrying out a more comprehensive investigation of a destination's weather will allow for the consideration of a broadened travel-window, which will carry with it a better-informed expectation of what to expect. More effort is required, and parts of a journey may need to be modified as a consequence but will be rewarded by being able to visit less travelled parts and being part of more authentic travel experiences. It may be more economical as time of travel is likely to be less popular.
First Approach | A Conservative - Restricted "Travel-Window".
For travellers that are flexible around when to travel, both in regard to weather and the height of the tourist season, a conservative travel window can be ascertained. Travellers can be quite cursory in their appraisal in the knowledge that the probability of having reasonable weather during their planned trip.
Here the travel window avoids the monsoon rains and likely occurrence of typhoons. It also allows for more agreeable temperatures, but will be quite restrictive over the recommended timeframe when travellers should plan their journey. Travellers should also note that this restrictive window will largely occur over the drier and cooler months of the year. While this is likely to be more comfortable on the coastal fringes, in the higher more temperate regions this will mean that temperatures will be cold, particularly in the north. In short, there will always be some compromises that need to be made.
Second Approach | A Judicious - Broadened "Travel-Window".
(By Ziegler175, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/)
(By BluesyPete, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/)
As with most things, being forewarned allows visitors to be forearmed. For travellers, taking the time to delve into the likely weather patterns across Vietnam will allow critical decision making around trip planning. Depending on the time of year, certain areas may be best to be left out and more time spent in more suitable regions. Alternatively, a study of the historical data may show that while there are increased risks of adverse weather during particular months, that these are seen as being acceptable. As a consequence, the order of travel, North to South, or South to North may be chosen to best mitigate such risks. Taken to the extreme, the advent of bad weather may be acceptable as the types of things that are planned to be seen and done may be largely indoors within urban areas.
However, regardless of the time taken to evaluate weather during the planned time of travel, a conservative approach is always advisable when considering travelling during increased risk of typhoons. Safety remains paramount, and the types of activities and accommodation should be considered and not trusted to luck. In such cases, coastal travel, in particular, should be well thought out as typhoons have the greatest impact when first reaching landfall. Further, the advisability of undertaking excursions into rural areas should be assessed, as buildings in more remote areas tend to be less sturdy, and availability of civil defence services limited.
Map of Cloud Cover over Asia by www.windy.com
A snapshot over Asia in November 2018, showing significant cloud cover over extensive parts of coastal Asia, particularly South-East Asia. This coincides with a lowering of sunlight and increase of the occurrence of storms and adverse weather.
FloodMap.com. (2018). Flood Map: Water Level Elevation Map. Retrieved Nov, 2018, from http://www.floodmap.net/
NOAA. (2018). Historical Hurricane Tracks. Retrieved Nov, 2018, from https://coast.noaa.gov/hurricanes/
windy.com. (2018). Windy.com. Retrieved Nov, 2018, from https://www.windy.com
Zeeck, M. (2016). Top 10 Countries with the Best Weather and Climate. Huffpost Life. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/top-10-countries-with-the_b_11328900