For most people going to Thailand means a long and expensive journey. It’s not the kind of thing you just do on a whim. So it’s important to plan ahead, especially when it comes to the weather. The weather can make or break a trip for some people. If you wilt in the heat then good luck walking around Bangkok in May! Conversely, if you aren’t a fan of chilly nights then you probably don’t want to arrive in Chiang Mai in December with only t shirts.
Thankfully the weather in Thailand isn’t that complicated with only three main seasons. Each season is also fairly predictable (I said fairly) starting and ending at roughly the same time each year (I said roughly). So if you want help picking the right time of year read on to find the best time to go to Thailand.
There is no Best Time
Well, it’s the truth. There is no best time to go to Thailand. Despite there being three main seasons Thailand is a big country. The distance from Chiang Mai in the north to Phuket in the south is roughly 950 miles. That’s about the same distance as London to Barcelona. So the weather isn’t the same throughout the country at all times. When it’s pouring down in Chiang Mai other parts of the country can be dry and sunny. When the rains have stopped in the north, they continue on in the south and at the peak of the monsoon season you can still get lots of blue sky and dry days.
And then there’s personal preference. Do you love the heat and humidity or do you prefer crisp, cool weather? Maybe you love watching thunderstorms approaching in the distance while sitting on the beach. Perhaps you get irritated by crowds and like to have places to yourself so you can soak up the atmosphere in peace without pushing past people. In short, whatever time of year there is a place for you and things to do.
Let it Rain!
Most people are put off when you mention the monsoon season (May to October) and decide to wait until the rains have stopped. The truth is that there are some advantages to going to Thailand during the monsoon that you might not have considered. Firstly, it very rarely rains all day and you still get plenty of sunshine. Most of the time you get sudden downpours that last an hour or two and then the sun comes back out. Temperatures are also not as intense as other times of year with the rain taking the edge off.
Another huge advantage is that because many people avoid the monsoon season prices are often cheaper and attractions aren’t as crowded. All that said, if you can only go to Thailand between May and October and don’t like the idea of the monsoon just head to one of the gulf Islands like Koh Samui or Koh Phangan where the rains don’t usually arrive until October.
The Cool Down
You sometimes need to wrap up warm in Thailand believe it or not. After the monsoon has finished Thailand experiences its cool season. Humidity decreases and temperatures overall drop a few degrees making it less intense. This is felt much more in the north of Thailand where evening temperatures can drop down to single figures and feel decidedly chilly. Travel to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai at this time of year and expect to see locals dressed in woolly hats and scarves. Don’t worry though as days are warm (25C to 30C) with mostly blue skies.
This is a great time of year to visit Bangkok as you can explore Thailand’s amazing capital without feeling like you’re in a steam room! The temperatures in the south of Thailand aren’t really affected as much and usually stay consistent throughout the year. And remember, the rains arrive in the Gulf of Thailand at the start of the cool season so avoid the gulf islands until late January if you want to stay dry.
Hot Hot Hot!
Remember those lush green views that you saw in the north during the monsoon and cool season? Well, that’s now a browning, parched landscape. Just like the cool season sees the biggest temperature drops in the north it also sees the highest temperatures in the hot season. Daytime temperatures in the north and Isaan region can get up to 40C. Combine that with smog from crop burning and it isn’t a great time to visit. Bangkok can be equally brutal at this time of year with temperatures in the high thirties and very high humidity.
The solution – just head to the islands during the hot season. Escape from the brutal heat of the north and Bangkok and let the sea cool you down. The temperatures on the islands will usually be around 30C – 35C but feel cooler because of the surrounding sea and breeze. And let’s be honest you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to islands in Thailand.
A Season for Everyone
So there really is no best time to go to Thailand. Whatever time of year you go there will be a place for you and things to see and do. The monsoon season isn’t always rainy, prices can be cheaper and there are fewer crowds. While it’s pouring down in most of the country the gulf islands have yet to get the rain. And while you’re melting in the heat of Bangkok or the north of the country in May people are cooling-off on one of the many tropical islands.
Whatever time of year you do decide to go to Thailand you’ll have an amazing time. Just plan ahead and choose the region and season that appeals to you the most. If you’re going to be in the north from November to February remember to pack some warm clothes for the evening. If you absolutely can’t avoid Bangkok from March to May make sure you take plenty of loose-fitting, cool clothes that you don’t mind getting drenched in sweat. If you don’t like the crowds and want to save some money then brave the rains and buy an umbrella.
No matter the weather Thailand is a great country so get planning and see you there!