Find out what time for you is the best time to visit Thailand
There are various aspects to take in consideration to choose one’s best time to come to Thailand. Weather is an important factor but it also depends on what you want to get out of your stay here. I prefer times when it is not too crowded, all lush and green and not too hot.
You might also want to see a specific festival or eat fresh mangos once you are here or just want to enjoy the sea and the beautiful beaches. I try to give you some insights into different time frames, divided into weather seasons with their characteristics and happenings during the time.
In general, the best time to visit Thailand is at the end of the year.
Most people from western countries come to Thailand from December to January, we call this the high season. The climate during this time of the year is dry and cooler. You have the best possibility to enjoy all the attractions and won’t be distracted by heavy rain or extreme heat.
Popular places like Phuket or Ching Mai but in fact all over the country, prepare themselves for this season to get the most out of it. Thai People have their longest holiday around Christmas and New Years as well. Resorts and entertainment, restaurants and activities like boat rides, hiking, rafting, fishing, diving and so on are definitely open for the top high season.
A disadvantage though is that popular places are packed. Make sure to make reservations during this time or you will have to take potluck with resorts and transportation others didn’t book already.
During the extended high season, from 1. November till mid-March you will also find everything open and be running. The difference between the beginning and the end of the high season is, in the beginning, all the businesses are awaiting a big money income and are rather hard to bargain with. Compared to the end of the season when everybody is more relaxed and happy if there is some more business to be made.
I definitely recommend coming after the big run around new years.
The three seasons in Thailand
As you know, Thailand is a large country. As a result of this, there are many kinds of weather at the same time but different places. We have three weather seasons here in Thailand. The cool-, the hot- and the rainy season. Most of the time it is hot and humid though, no matter when or where you go.
In the south-west, means the main beach region we experience actually only two real seasons. The rainy- and the hot season. It never really gets cool around there as much as we can talk about a season.
Every season comes with its pros. and cons., some like it hot, others like the stormy and rainy sensation or others like to play in the rough sea. There is plenty to explore all around the year in Thailand and to chose a specific week or even month I find very hard.
The so-called cold season starts around the beginning of November and lasts until the end of February. Around this time most foreign visitors are in the country. It is a great time to visit Thailand too. In the countries, where most visitors come from it is cold now and here it is perfect weather to have a holiday in the sun.
I prefer to say, the not that hot season. It never gets really cold around here, although, for the people living here it might feel like that. In the morning around New Years, it might be actually comfortable to light a little fire outside and sit around it and have a chat. This is what many Thai people in the northern and central countryside do. They even might grill some egg drenched sticky rice for breakfast.
We just come out of the rainy season and the country is still quite green. A lot of vegetables can be harvested as well as the rice of course. A lot of Thais, working in big cities, then go back to their family homes to help harvest the crops.
What does it mean, cool season? The nights can be a bit fresh, in the morning, till maybe 9 am, you might want to wear a sweatshirt with your shorts and flip-flops. In the north and central parts of Thailand, we can measure morning temperatures as low as 12°-15°. During the day it will again get 30 ºC or 86 ºF with clear skies. It is the high season at the beaches and many fresh fruit and vegetables are available.
The New Years is a big happening also here in Thailand. People are moving all over around the kingdom. Families often see each other only around this time of year and celebrating is happening everywhere. To get a ride on a bus, train or a flight ticket around New Years is not easy. Be prepared and book in advance.
There are literally millions of Thais traveling to their family homes and back during 20. December to 5. January. The streets are stuffed and public transport is suffering.
The beginning of the cold season is a relief for all Thai people. After a long period of heat and rain, it finally gets a bit cooled off. The rivers carry water, what is positive if you want to enjoy rafting adventures or see rainforests and waterfalls.
Loi Krathong, a big celebration in Thailand is held annually around November. The actual date is changing every year due to the accordance to the lunar calendar. This ceremony can be very exciting and colorful, depending on where you participate.
This year, 2017 it is right now in Sukhothai from the first to the 5th November. I think to experience Loi Krathong in Sukhothai is the best choice. I was there once and hopefully will make it there tomorrow again.
At full moon, in the twelfth month of the Thai year, people all over the country create beautiful decorated handcrafted small floating baskets. They are filled with a little rice, maybe a few Bahts and for sure an incent stick and a small candle. After dark, these floats are released into a river or pond in the local temple which looks amazing.
Some places celebrate Loi Krathong over a few days and invite to happenings like traditional theater, dance, night markets and much more. It might be a reason to come visit Thailand around this time as it is a really spectacular festival if you are at the right place. 2018 it is on the 23. November.
The Monkey Banquet in Lopburi, this year at the 25-26 November is another attraction you can enjoy if you happen to be around this time of year. It is a rather new festival which is dedicated to the many monkeys living among the people of Lopburry.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a famous festival recurring annually in February, celebrating the end of the cool season. The main attraction is a parade, featuring huge flower decorated floats (on wheels) with the prospectors of being flower festival queen riding on top of them. School marching bands and dancing groups complete the traditional parade. 2018, it will be held from February 2. to February 4.
Back to Chapters
The hot season starts as early as the end of February and lasts till around June, normally. For many western visitors, it is hard to stay in the hot season, and you should really think before planning a visit to Thailand during this time of year.
When we say hot in Thailand, we talk about really hot. It can easily get over 40 °C/ 104 °F and a humidity of over 75% all day long over weeks and months and at night it does not cool down much.
It is not only hot but humid too. During the day, I start having a sweat attack, only from sitting outside and smoking a cigarette. If I want to work outside during the hot season, I have to get up early. As the daylight here is always about the same, around 12 hours, the time to do something outside in hot season is very limited.
Sunrise is around six in the morning where it is relatively cool outside, something around 30°. At about 10 to 11 am. I’m back in my air-conditioned room or under water somewhere. In my region, central Thailand the temperature then reaches a 40° plus and even to ride a moped makes you feel hotter.
My advice for visitors in the hot season is to get up early and enjoy the morning. From noon to 4 pm have an extended siesta and get out again in the evening and have an easy dinner or another swim in the sea. If you stay in the heat all day long, you will just suffer and that’s not what we need in our precious time.
If you thought you can wait until the evening and have an active, cool nightlife. Won’t happen. Too much activity in the evening is also not possible. After sunset everything is so much heated up it can only cool down a bit towards early morning. During this time I think I could not sleep without my air conditioner. Things are getting there where I think my room is really very cold, although I measure a comfortable 28° inside.
A beautiful thing about the hot season is, most trees are in blooming and the mango season starts. You don’t need more than a shirt and shorts and no one blames you when you are a bit lazy.
If you decide to come around summertime anyways, be prepared and take precautions. Drink a lot of water, wear a hat and cool off whenever you start feeling uncomfortable. I got some more tips for traveling in Thailand you can check out if you click here.
In the second half of the hot season, things start getting really harsh. Rivers have dried out and the fields lost all their color. Not the right time to enjoy inland water sports. Water, in general, gets scarce in many places and the people’s mood is coming to a yearly low. The only seasonal attraction is to watch the wildfires at night, slowly moving over the hilltops.
There are alternatives where to visit Thailand during this time though. Some places are definitely less hot than others. A big advantage for me during the hot season is, that there are much fewer tourists populating the country and many places have offseason price lists.
Click here to see some of the regions and activities actually totally acceptable also during the hot season.
Songkran a great, if not the greatest festival falls in the hot season. Every year Thais go crazy and enjoy splashing each other with water and have parties with family and friends. The official Thai New Years, Songkran starts on the 13. of April until 16. in the year 2018 and 19.
Again, during, before and after these dates there is no chance to get any train, bus or plane tickets in the last minute. Families gatherings throughout the Kingdom and the official public holiday also cause traffic jams far out of Bangkok.
The Rainy season
Also called the monsoon season, starts officially in June and lasts till October. In the southern parts of Bangkok, it is possible though, that the rain already starts in April or May. The Andaman sea is fairly wavy during the rainy season and the long tail boats are secured in inland harbors. Not ideal if you plan a fishing trip during this time
Temperatures are getting bearable again when it rains a lot but the humidity rises to up to a felt 200%.
Thai people get their good mood back in this season also due to the fact that when it rains they can’t do all the works and have a lot of days off. Things start to grow back and gardens and fields look pretty again. The air is clean and the empty water tanks can fill up.
Thailand looks great during the rainy season. It is my personal favorite. Everything is green and growing full power. Normally it doesn’t rain all day. In the afternoon or evening, we experience heavy, fast moving, real heavy rains. It is then possible, small streams and roads are temporarily flooded.
Weather situations are a bit extreme here, when it’s hot it is very hot and when it rains it rains too heavy. Only when they say it is cold, I think this is not cold.
If you explore Thai nature during rainy season be aware of flash flooding. It can easily happen, that a riverbed you cross in the morning, is not crossable after a two-hour rain in the evening. I had to sleep in a guesthouse once because the street to my home was flooded. So never leave the house without a little money during the rainy season, you never know where you get stuck.
These were the seasons throughout the year. If you want to enjoy Thailand on a limited budget make sure not to come during the high season. The saving money already starts with the plane ticket prices which are much more expensive from
Average temperatures in Bangkok
These numbers do not accrue all over Thailand. Bangkok is right in the middle of Thailand. Up north and down south there are quite different climate cones. Same but not same as Thais like to say.
Average rainfall in Bangkok
Again these numbers vary a lot in different parts of the country. It is an average and can be used as a proximate forecast though. North-east is a lot dryer and more south there are regions where rain is much more common.
Our unique guided trip to the southern Thailand