I always find it tricky trying to decide whether to visit places out of season, especially if I’m travelling somewhere faraway like Thailand for a holiday. I don’t mind the odd rain shower here or there but for us Brits, having some much-needed sunshine is kind of an important thing when we go away! Luckily, Thailand’s two southern coastlines – the Andaman on the west and the Gulf on the east – have different rainy seasons, so no matter what time of year you visit Thailand you’d be unlucky not to find a sunny beach somewhere.
On the Andaman coast places like Phuket and Krabi experience the wet season from around April to October while islands in the Gulf such as Koh Samui and Koh Phangan get most rainfall around September to December.
Yes, the weather doesn’t tend to be as good when you visit out of season but then there are lots of other benefits to be gained, as I discovered last year when I spent two weeks on Koh Lanta in June. It was my third stay on the island, but the first out of season, so having experienced both I thought I’d put together a list of pros and cons to help anyone facing the dilemma of whether or not to visit Koh Lanta in the low season – or any Thai island for that matter.
1. Cheaper hotel deals and upgrades
This was probably the biggest bonus for my husband and I. It meant we were able to enjoy two nights at the exclusive Pimalai Resort and 13 nights at Twin Lotus Resort and Spa for more than half the price it would usually cost. We were also treated to an upgrade at Twin Lotus. Not only are the rooms cheaper in low season but you’ll often find that hotels will include free transfers and offer good deals on spa packages, meals and scooter hire.
A rainy day on Koh Lanta isn’t all that bad
2. More personalised service
When there are fewer guests to look after, hotel staff can be more attentive and get to know you…and they’ll often have some time to challenge your husband to a game of pool. That also goes for locals outside your hotel – you start to become familiar to people, and not just another tourist in the crowds.
In the low season you can enjoy places like this all to yourself. Cocktail, anyone?
3. Being a responsible tourist
Like in many parts of Thailand, the people on Koh Lanta rely upon tourism for a source of income, so it’s nice to know that we can support them all year round.
4. Fewer crowds
I guess this can be a good or a bad thing. On one hand you don’t have to fight anyone for a sun lounger, but on the other hand it’s nice to have the atmosphere that people bring to a place and the opportunity to socialise.
1. Bad weather
Let’s face it – when it rains, it’s just not much fun (although you do get to take some silly selfies wearing his ‘n’ hers ponchos). In the low season some of the boat services might not run and you’ll probably be limited as to what day trips you can do. Visibility won’t be that great either for snorkelers or divers.
2. Some places close
This was perhaps the biggest downside for me. A lot of restaurant owners take the opportunity to go on holiday or carry out maintenance in the low season. When I visited Koh Lanta on my previous trip I had a wonderful meal at Greek Taverna on Klong Dao Beach. It had a lovely setting with a relaxed atmosphere so I was excited to take my husband there, but when we headed out there one evening on the scooter we found that it was closed! Luckily they re-opened a few days before we left the island. The food was still great but there’s no denying that the atmosphere would have been better if we didn’t have to sit away from the beach out of the wind. We also returned to Living Room Bakery along the Phra Ae (Long Beach) road – by chance we stopped there on the last day before they closed for the season. At least we got to go while they were still open but it just meant we couldn’t enjoy any more of their coffee and cake for the rest of our stay – probably not a bad thing for my ever-expanding waistline.
3. Power cuts
When the weather gets a bit rough you can experience some power-outages, but then again this is quite common on the Thai islands. I can cope without TV and wifi, but no aircon – that’s a different story.
4. A false impression
Undoubtedly visiting Koh Lanta in the wet season won’t give you the opportunity to view it in its full glory. I’d hate to think that that would put people off returning there as it’s such a lovely island.
The big question: would we go back in the low season?
YES! We really enjoyed our time on the island and would definitely return in the low season. If you’re looking for an island with a relaxed vibe, where you can chill-out, be active, explore, eat good food and of course, go for a massage or two, Koh Lanta offers all that – come rain or shine.