This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads
When people ask for advice on when to travel to a certain destination, I usually respond that they should chase the weather they want. You like your torrential downpours? Head to Southeast Asia during the monsoons. Of course, with global warming and changes in weather patterns, one season tends to bleed into the next. Which is why I tell those who are on the fence about weather that they ought to visit during shoulder season.
Benefits are plentiful: squished between the high prices of peak season and the often cold or rainy low season, it’s a perfect time to see the sights and still manage to find some deals. You’ll usually benefit from off-peak hotel rates and a friendlier set of locals since the crowds are gone.
And you’ll get some deliciously beautiful sunsets on the cusp of a seasonal change. Take my trip to the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. It was end of August, a time where the rates for beachside bungalows were halved, but the rains had yet to move onto the islands in full force.
Instead, daytimes were ideal:
Afternoons saw the clouds roll in:
And sunsets were beyond lovely, followed by a tempestuous storm:
So when is shoulder season? I tend to go just after high season ends, something that differs per destination. For Thailand, it’s been in mid-May to early June. For Malaysia’s east coast, late August to mid-September. For most of Europe, Spring and Fall will be your shoulder times (Easter through early June and late October to mid-November). The closer to high season, the better the chance that the weather will hold out. This Travel + Leisure slideshow of when to travel to get your shoulder on is another good resource for getting there just after the crowds and before the rain or snow.