How do you say “Holy crap, it’s hot out!” in Lao?

So! New Orleans summers too warm for you? Think DC is nothing but a hot-air swamp? Find Minnesota summers insufferable?


Welcome to Southeast Asia.

Two seasons

I took this photo of a poor shivering soul at about 10:00 am on January 26. The weather for that particular day—broken down by the hour—can be found here (for those WeatherFiends amongst you). At 10:00 am, it was 75°. In two hours, it would be 90°, with 94% humidity.

This photo was taken at about 75 degrees F

Winter in Vientiane.

Weather in Laos can be divided into two primary seasons: hot and wet; hot and dry.

November through February is the cool dry season; winter(ish). This is really a very pleasant time to visit, and at elevation, it gets pretty chilly in the mornings.

The next few months—March through April—are the hot, dry, dusty, smoky season.


The rainy season runs from May through October.I absolutely love monsoon rains.

These storms bring childhood memories of counting thunder (one one-thousand, two one-thousand; or my sister-in-law’s version: one Ferrari, two Ferrari…). Of playing full-contact cribbage and backgammon by candlelight during frequent power outages. Of dodging herds of flying termites.

From my privileged box seats (not living in a low-lying village in Pakistan, for example), monsoon rains seem to come along at just the right times and with just the right drama and refreshment. They usually don’t last for more than a few hours, although they can drop monstrous quantities of rain in that time.

The result is a general cleansing and freshening, and then the sun comes back, shining and glorious!

Now: let’s put our first-year Chemistry class to good use. Remember what happens when you heat water?

Eeyup—heated water evaporates and turns to steam! In atmospheric terms: humidity. Lots o’ humidity! Like zo:

So, my two cents:

  1. Buy an umbrella when you arrive—one of the cute ones hand-made out of rice paper. It’s a nice souvenir, it will keep out the sun, and you’ll be in good company.
  2. Learn to wear a bandanna gracefully or be resigned to wearing a hat all day—it’ll keep the sweat out of your eyes. (Unless you’re me, in which case I advise a Twiggy haircut and a towel.)
  3. Resign yourself to Monsoon Time and learn to enjoy it—if it’s pouring, sit back, have another coffee or BeerLao, and wait ’til it stops.
  4. Drink water. Drink LOTS of water.