Written by Dezza, 14 May 2019.
Just because we’re entering the wet season right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t travel to the best places in the Philippines.
There are still plenty of great places to visit during the wet season in the Philippines. All you need to do is find out where these places are and plan your travel a little more carefully.
Most people who are not familiar with the Philippines climate think that it rains all day every day during the wet season.
However, this is not necessarily the case.
For those who don’t know, the official wet season in the Philippines is from about mid-May through to about the end of November.
During the wet season, it will typically only rain in the afternoon and usually for only about 30 minutes to one hour – and when it rains, it rains hard.
This is enough to produce flash flooding that can cause significant traffic jams, brownouts (loss of electrical power) and a host of other inconveniences.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all the top Philippines destinations rain every day, so don’t fret.
Having said that, during the monsoon season, which is typically from July through to September, there are times when it can rain virtually non-stop for days at a time.
Furthermore, if there is a typhoon coming through the Philippines, it can rain almost non-stop for a few days depending on the strength of the typhoon.
Typhoons can come at any time during the wet season from May through to November. Although highly unpredictable, 70% of typhoons come between July and October.
More on typhoons a bit later.
So taking all of this into account, it’s important to remember that every cloud has a silver lining – pardon the pun.
I reckon the best time to travel during the wet season to at least avoid serious rain is either May/June or October/November.
The other benefit of travelling around the Philippines at this time of year is that these months are generally considered “low season”.
This means there are plenty of bargains on offer for accommodation and flights – if you’re prepared to take the risk on the weather.
You may save 30-50% on accommodation and flights but you might lose money on flight cancellations and other inconveniences.
Sometimes it’s simply the luck of the draw and you may end up on top, or you may lose out. However, that’s just the chance that any traveller takes.
As mentioned earlier, the monsoon season is from July through to September and originates in the southwest of the country which is the Palawan region.
The southwest monsoon is known as habagat in the local vernacular.
However, the regular weather patterns of the Philippines are influenced by the eastern side of the country with the weather coming off the Pacific Ocean.
This is where the typhoons, also known as hurricanes in the western hemisphere or cyclones in the southern hemisphere, come from.
For those that don’t know, the Philippines has about 8-9 typhoons a year, but not all of them cause massive destruction, so don’t be too alarmed.
The strength of a typhoon is measured on a scale from 1 to 5. This scale doesn’t measure the actual size of the typhoon in terms of its area size or amount of rainfall.
This scale measures the wind speed of the typhoon.
The closer the scale is to a signal 5, which is known as a super typhoon, the stronger the winds of the typhoon are and the more devastation it will potentially cause.
On average, there might be one typhoon every year or two that is signal 4 or 5, or super typhoon level. Most typhoons are usually only a signal 1 or 2.
However, if the signal is at the lower end of the scale, this means that the typhoon travels at a slower speed.
This means that the rain persists for longer, sometimes lasting for 2-3 days as there is no wind speed to blow it away.
This is even more so with a tropical storm or depression which doesn’t even have enough wind speed to make it to the 1-5 scale used for typhoons. However, these can also bring a ton of rain.
This happens when the monsoonal rains from the southwest start heading north and mix with the rains coming from the east off the Pacific Ocean that is heading westward.
When this occurs, it can result in massive amounts of rain that can last for up to a week, which in turn can lead to massive flooding and landslides.
This problem becomes a major disaster when a super typhoon hits during the monsoon season.
Driven by high wind speeds, the typhoon sucks the rains from the monsoon into it which increases the amount of rain travelling very fast across the Philippines.
This produces a double whammy effect with the wind destroying everything in its path while the copious volumes of rain cause widespread flooding and even landslides.
The real problem comes when typhoons combine with the habagat as this can cause some pretty disastrous weather.
Just to reiterate on the above, the monsoon season, and arguably the worst of the wet season in the Philippines is typically between July and September.
Taking the above into account, it’s important to take into consideration that this time of year actually coincides with the height of the northern hemisphere summer in Europe and North America.
With most people in those countries being on summer holidays during this time, this is when they are most likely to travel.
Therefore, this is when a lot of these visitors are most likely to come to the Philippines. So planning your travel during the monsoonal months of July to September can be quite tricky.
However, as I have mentioned it doesn’t necessarily rain all day every day during this time so don’t get overly concerned.
While it may rain almost daily, it usually only rains in the afternoon and only for 30 minutes to one hour.
This means that you should plan to do most of your outdoor activities in the morning so you can beat the afternoon rains when and if they come.
However, during July and September, you just need to be more mindful of the fact that you can be unlucky and get stuck during a time when it rains for days on end.
The downside of this is that flights may be delayed or cancelled so you just need to be aware of this when you’re doing your planning.
It would be advisable not to book any internal connecting flights during this time of year as any delays or cancellations can create havoc with your itinerary.
If you are short on time, it’s better to just fly to one place and stay there rather try and squeeze in multiple flights where a delay or cancellation could ruin your trip.
Naturally, if you have more time, then you have more flexibility and this might not be so critical.
It’s not all bad news as there are certain parts of the Philippines that are not as affected by typhoons and monsoons as others.
Generally speaking, most typhoons hit the northern part of the Philippines, which is the island of Luzon.
The central and southern parts of the Philippines don’t get as many typhoons as the northern parts.
In fact, on average, Davao only has about one major storm for the whole year.
However, there has been some severe typhoon damage in the central part of the Philippines, namely in Leyte with Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
That aside, my recommendation is to make sure that you book your travel during the wet season to places in central and southern Philippines.
The only other consideration is the southwest monsoon that originates in the world-renowned Palawan region.
If you are planning to visit Palawan anytime from July to September you just need to be mindful that it could get very wet.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go there during these months, and of course, your itinerary might be dictated to by your holiday schedule.
However, my advice is that if you really want to experience the best of Palawan, you should try to avoid this time of year if possible and head there during March/April.
Anyhow, the news isn’t all bad and I hope I haven’t scared you off visiting the Philippines, especially during the wet season.
Now that I have given you an overview of the wet season in the Philippines, and some basic travel tips, it’s now time to take a look at some specific places to visit.
However, you will need to wait until next week as this is worthy of another article in itself.
The main objective of this article is to prepare you for what to expect if you plan to visit the Philippines during the wet season.
By sharing these tips with you, im hoping that you will be able to visit the Philippines and have a great time, despite what the weather may bring.
So please keep an eye out for part 2 of my article about the best places to visit in the Philippines during the wet season.
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