Brutal Southeast Asia heat wave shatters all-time records across multiple countries

Scorching heat shattered temperature records across portions of Southeast Asia over the weekend as the region baked under a historic heat wave. AccuWeather forecasters say some relief is set to arrive in the coming days, but intense heat may be quick to return.

National all-time heat records were smashed in both Vietnam and Laos on Saturday as temperatures soared to levels never before observed in either country.

Thailand, Bangkok, 2023/05/08. A man eats as he sits on a bench in Lumpini Park during heat wave conditions. On May 7, 2023, Vietnam and Laos recorded their hottest temperatures ever as a heat wave gripped South East Asia.

In Vietnam, the national high-temperature record was set when the mercury in Hoi Xuan topped out at a staggering 111.4 F (44.1 C). Dozens of other Vietnamese cities also broke site-specific heat records, according to climatologist Maximiliano Herrera.

In neighboring Laos, the country's new high all-time record high of 110.3 F (43.5 C) was set in the city of Luang Prabang. The Laotian capital of Vientiane also pulverized its all-time record when the mercury hit 108.5 F (42.5 C), Herrera reported.

The history books were rewritten again on Sunday as the countries continued to sizzle under unprecedented heat.

Just one day after setting a new national heat record, Vietnam managed to get even hotter on Sunday. The high temperature in Tuong Duong soared to a record-breaking 111.6 F (44.2 C) on Sunday.

In Laos, Luang Prabang hit 110.3 F (43.5 C), tying the national record it had set the day before.

Vietnam and Laos were not the only countries in the region to set records over the weekend. Cambodia had its hottest May day on record after temperatures topped out at 106.9 F (41.6 C) on Saturday.

Thailand also sizzled over the weekend. The Thai capital of Bangkok broke its all-time high-temperature record on both Saturday and Sunday. Bangkok, home to more than 10.5 million people, soared to 105.8 F (41 C) on Sunday.

Although this part of Asia is typically rather hot in the spring, Bangkok and surrounding areas have been sweltering since temperatures first began to climb above historical average levels back in late March. For Bangkok, March ended with temperatures 2.2 F (1.2 C) above the historical average. In April, that number was 4.5 F (2.5 C), and the number is over 6 F (3.3 C) above the historical average so far in May.

Extreme temperatures have not faded away during the overnight hours either, providing almost no relief for residents suffering from the dangerous heat. Thailand recorded its highest nighttime low temperature ever when the city of Sakon Nakhon only managed to drop to 90.5 F (32.5 C) on Sunday morning.

While scorching hot weather has been the trend in recent weeks, AccuWeather forecasters say a strong area of high pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere is responsible for the record-setting temperatures this past weekend.

This area of high pressure, or "ridge," peaked in strength over the weekend, according to Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls.

For those suffering under extreme heat, there is some hope on the horizon.


Have the app? Unlock AccuWeather Alerts™ with Premium+

"A nearby front with clouds and scattered rainfall will result in an easing of heat over the next several days," Nicholls said.

However, relief may be brief.

"There is a chance for heat to build again next week," Nicholls cautioned.

As summer approaches, Nicholls and the rest of AccuWeather's international long-range team of forecasters expect temperatures and rainfall levels to be near or above historical averages across Southeastern Asia.

Want next-level safety, ad-free? Unlock advanced, hyperlocal severe weather alerts when you subscribe to Premium+ on the AccuWeather app. AccuWeather Alerts are prompted by our expert meteorologists who monitor and analyze dangerous weather risks 24/7 to keep you and your family safer.