WHEN IS THE BEST AND WORST TIME TO VISIT THAILAND

WHEN IS THE BEST AND THE WORST TIME TO VISIT THAILAND?

Personally, I love to visit Thailand at any time of the year and I have done so many times and in all seasons.

If you’re planning a trip to Thailand then it’s worth knowing the kingdom experiences three main weather seasons.

The cool season, the hot season, and the rainy (monsoon) season.

That sounds pretty simple to navigate but did you know there are two monsoon seasons affecting Thailand?

Between June and October, the monsoon rains affect the northern, central and southwest regions of Thailand.

But, between October and December, the southeast coast and the Gulf of Thailand has a separate monsoon cycle.

In this post, I’m going to explain how the best and worst time to visit Thailand can be determined by the seasons, the monsoons, the regions, the most popular Thai holidays, and your own preferences.

So you can choose your very best Thai time to visit this fabulous country!

The best and worst time to visit Thailand can be determined by the seasons
The best and worst time to visit Thailand can be determined by the seasons

SEASONS IN THAILAND

Peak Tourist Season (December and January) While the weather is fantastic during this time, it’s also when Thailand sees the highest number of tourists.

Popular destinations can get crowded and accommodation prices tend to be at their peak so booking in advance is essential if you plan to visit during this period.

Cool Season (November to February) This is considered the most pleasant time to visit Thailand with lower humidity and cooler temperatures.

Daytime temperatures typically range from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) making this season ideal for beach holidays, water activities, and all other outdoor adventures including sightseeing.

November on Koh Kradan – The Andaman Sea Thailand

Shoulder Season #1 (February to April) This period marks the transition from the cool season to the hot season.

Temperatures are starting to rise but it’s still relatively comfortable compared to the peak of the hot season.

This is a great time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds of the cool season but still enjoy relatively pleasant weather.

Hot Season (March to May) The hot season in Thailand is characterised by high temperatures and humidity.

Daytime temperatures can soar above 30°C (86°F) and sometimes even reach 40°C (104°F) in certain areas like the central plains and northern regions.

Thailand’s hot season can be particularly uncomfortable for some travellers.

It’s advisable to seek shade and stay hydrated during this time.

Outdoor activities can be challenging in hot season and you’re likely to find yourself taking refuge in air-conditioned places.

The Backpacking Housewife on Koh Tao - Gulf of Thailand
The Backpacking Housewife on Koh Tao – Gulf of Thailand

Rainy Season (June to October) The rainy season brings heavy rainfall and occasional thunderstorms to much of Thailand.

While the rain can cool things down a bit, humidity levels remain high, and outdoor activities can be affected.

Flooding can occur in low-lying areas and certain regions like the Andaman coast and the Gulf of Thailand – especially in September and October – which are typically the wettest months.

But, of course, the rainy season also brings lush and green landscapes and fewer crowds.

This makes rainy season a good time to explore certain regions, especially the north and northeast.

It might rain a lot – it could rain every day – but it’s unlikely to rain all day!

Janice Horton in rainy season on Koh Chang
It could rain every day – but it’s unlikely to rain all day!

THAILAND IN RAINY SEASON

I’ve spent the entire month of June in rainy season on Koh Chang.

KOH CHANG IN RAINY SEASON #kohchang #thailandtravel
Koh Chang in Rainy Season in less that 1 minute!

I’ve also experienced several months of rainy season on Koh Tao – often our destination of choice for later in the year – for Christmas and New Year and for scuba diving.

Koh Tao is known as the very best place in Thailand to learn to scuba dive.

Those of you who’ve been following my travel posts will know that over the ten years that we’ve been travelling the world, the backpacking husband has become a PADI IDC Staff Instructor and now teaches scuba professionals the world over.

The backpacking husband is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor
The backpacking husband is a PADI IDC Staff Instructor

Shoulder Season #2 (Late October to Early November) Mostly, I’ve enjoyed being in Thailand during the shoulder seasons when it’s likely to be less crowded, accommodations tend to be less expensive, and conditions are not quite so uncomfortably hot as in the hot season.

In Thailand, the shoulder seasons fall over several weeks in the transition periods between the cool season and hot season and the monsoon.

Shoulder Season at Long Beach Koh Lanta – Andaman Sea Thailand

THAILAND BY SEASON AND REGION

Also, Thailand’s diverse geography and climate can result in variations in weather patterns across different regions of the country.

In the list below we take a look at the regions of Thailand with regular cyclic weather seasons and those with patterns of seasonal anomalies.

It’s certainly worth knowing about these anomalies if you are planning to visit the coastal regions and the islands of the Gulf of Thailand.

Thailand's diverse geography and climate can result in variations in weather patterns
Thailand’s diverse geography and climate can result in variations in weather patterns

NORTHERN REGION

(Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son)

Cool Season: November to February. Pleasant temperatures, low humidity, and clear skies make this the best time to visit the northern region as it is perfect for outdoor activities and exploring.

Hot Season: March to May. Temperatures rise significantly, and humidity levels increase. Can be uncomfortably hot with high temperatures and low humidity.

Smokey Season: January to March. This is infamously known as the smoky or burning season in Chiang Mai. This is a time of poor air quality in the region due to agricultural fires being lit to prepare land for farming. To make matters worse this unregulated practice is also implemented in nearby Myanmar and Laos and the smoke blows into Northern Thailand.

Rainy Season: June to October. Heavy rainfall can occur, especially in the mountainous areas, resulting in lush green landscapes.

The Backpacking Housewife in Chiang Mai
The Backpacking Housewife in Chiang Mai during January

NORTHEASTERN REGION

(Isaan)

Cool Season: November to February. Temperatures are milder, making it a comfortable time to visit. These conditions offer relief from the region’s typically hot and dry climate, making it ideal for travel.

Hot Season: March to May. High temperatures and dry conditions are typical during this time.

Rainy Season: June to October. Heavy rainfall is more pronounced in this region compared to others and flooding can occur in low-lying areas. Outdoor activities can be challenging.

Thailand's Northern Region
Thailand’s Northern Region

CENTRAL REGION

(Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai)

Cool Season: November to February. Temperatures are relatively cooler and more pleasant. This is the most comfortable time for exploring historical sites and enjoying outdoor activities.

Hot Season: March to May. High temperatures and humidity levels characterize this period. This can be an uncomfortably hot time especially in urban areas like Bangkok.

Rainy Season: June to October. Rainfall is common, especially in the latter part of the season, but it’s usually less intense compared to other regions.

Hot Season (March to May) can be uncomfortable especially in urban areas like Bangkok
Hot Season (March to May) can be uncomfortable especially in urban areas like Bangkok

EASTERN REGION

(Pattaya, Ko Samet)

Cool Season: November to February. Temperatures are comfortable, and humidity levels are lower offing pleasant weather for beach activities and island hopping.

Hot Season: March to May. High temperatures and humidity prevail, making it ideal for beach activities.

Rainy Season: June to October. Rainfall can be heavy at times making beach outings less enjoyable. But the region’s coastal areas may experience less rain compared to other parts of the country.

The Backpacking Housewife in Pattaya Thailand
The Backpacking Housewife in Pattaya Thailand

SOUTHERN REGION

(Phuket, Krabi)

Cool Season: November to February. Pleasant weather with lower humidity levels, clear skies and comfortable temperatures, making this an excellent time to visit the beaches.

Hot Season: March to May. High temperatures and humidity are common, but sea breezes provide some relief.

Rainy Season: June to October. Heavy rainfall and occasional storms are typical, especially on the west coast, affecting beach activities and water sports.

The Backpacking Housewife waiting for a longtail boat from Krabi to Railay Beach Thailand
31st October: Waiting for a longtail boat from Krabi to Railay Beach Thailand

NORTHWEST GULF OF THAILAND

(Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Surat Thani)

I mentioned previously that the specifics of weather in Thailand can vary slightly depending on the region especially on the Gulf of Thailand.

So, if your Thai destination of choice is the northwest coast on the Gulf side of Thailand, where you will find the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao – this is where the rainy season arrives much later in the year.

Here, the rainy season in the northwest starts in late October and continues into December or January.

Although, the worst of the rain is usually over by the middle of December.

The Backpacking Housewife celebrating Christmas on Koh Tao - Gulf of Thailand
Celebrating Christmas on Koh Tao – Gulf of Thailand

WEST COAST GULF OF THAILAND

(Hua Hin, Pranburi, Cha Am)

Hua Hin and the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand also experiences a slightly different rainy season than the mainland and opposite side of the peninsula with the heaviest rain falling in September and October.

Hua Hin’s dry season runs from November through March to April.

December: Janice and her husband enjoying dry season in Hua Hin Thailand
December: Enjoying the West Gulf Coast dry season in Hua Hin

EAST COAST GULF OF THAILAND

(Koh Chang, Koh Kood)

The islands of Chang and Kood on the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand are also subject to slightly different weather patterns and unusually they experience similar weather patterns to the coast and Islands of The Andaman Sea with a rainy season between May and October. 

Koh Chang in mid-June and I have the beach to myself
East Coast Gulf: Koh Chang in mid-June and I have the beach to myself

SEASONAL FESTIVALS IN THAILAND

Chinese New Year (January) While not exclusively Thai, Chinese New Year is widely celebrated in Thailand, especially in areas with large Chinese communities such as Bangkok, Phuket, and Chiang Mai. Festivities include dragon dances, fireworks, and traditional Chinese rituals.

Songkran Festival (April) If you’re interested in experiencing Thai culture and traditions, visiting during Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, can be a vibrant and exciting time. It’s celebrated with water fights and street parties and various festivities across the country. It’s one of the most energetic and fun-filled festivals in Thailand.

Rocket Festival Bun Bang Fai (May) Held in northeastern Thailand, particularly in Yasothon and Kalasin provinces, it features large bamboo rockets being launched into the sky to encourage rainfall for the upcoming planting season.

Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival (June or July) Held in the Dan Sai district of Loei Province, usually in, Phi Ta Khon features colourful masks, traditional dances, and lively processions. It’s a unique blend of Buddhist and animist beliefs.

Vegetarian Festival (September or October) Celebrated primarily by the Thai-Chinese community, particularly in Phuket, this festival usually occurs in Participants observe a strict vegetarian diet and perform various rituals to cleanse the body and mind.

Loi Krathong Festival (November) Another cultural highlight, Loi Krathong, involves floating decorative lanterns on waterways to pay respects to the water spirits. It’s a beautiful and atmospheric festival, particularly in places like Chiang Mai and Sukhothai.

King’s Birthday (Father’s Day) Celebrated on December 5th, the King’s Birthday is a national holiday and a day of reverence and celebration for the Thai people. It’s also observed as Father’s Day in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was considered the father of the nation.

Sunset over Sairee Beach on Koh Tao Thailand
Sunset over Sairee Beach on Koh Tao Thailand

THE BEST AND WORST TIME TO VISIT THAILAND

I think we’ve established now that the best time or the worst time to visit Thailand is entirely down to you and your preferences and your availability!

Have you visited Thailand?

Is Thailand on your travel wish list?

What time of year would you travel to Thailand?

Let me know?

Leave a comment or get in touch!

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