The best time to visit Thailand

Updated: 14th June 2019

Long boat and beach - Best time to visit Thailand - On The Go Tours
Thailand is best travelled during the cool season

Seasons and Weather

Thailand essentially has three seasons – rainy, cool and hot. The hot dry season starts in March and stays until May. This is followed by the rainy season from May to October. Frequent rains do occur during this time, but generally in short sharp bursts which are sometimes quite spectacular to witness – so certainly bring some waterproof clothing for this time of year. The cool season then lasts from November to February. With dry days and temperatures that are still very warm, this is considered the best time to visit.

Although Thailand broadly follows this weather pattern, there are variations between regions which are further explained below:

Climate in Northern Thailand

The more mountainous areas of northern Thailand experience the greatest range in temperatures, dropping significantly at nighttime during the cool season from November to February. Although you'll need to pack warmer evening clothing, don’t let this put you off as the days are lovely and mild and the countryside is lush and in bloom.

During the hot season from March to May, this region is often much warmer than the central plains, with the northeast in particular having to deal with dust clouds and humidity.

Climate in Southern Thailand

In contrast, temperatures are more consistent in southern Thailand. However, there are differences between the eastern and western coasts. The rainy season hits the west, or Andaman coast, harder than elsewhere in Thailand. Therefore, it's best to visit during the drier months from November to April, when there's also great snorkelling and diving.

The east, or Thailand’s Gulf coast, lies outside of the country’s general weather pattern. This part of the southern peninsula and its islands instead feel the effects of the northeast monsoon, which sees rainfall from October to January, with the highest amount in November.

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Best Time to Visit Thailand
MAP HIGHLIGHTING THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THAILAND BY REGION

Best Time to Visit by Region

Given Thailand's vast length and range of landscapes, the climate can be expected to vary between regions. Here we take a closer look at the weather patterns in five of Thailand's most popular destinations.

Best time to visit Bangkok

Bangkok is generally hot and humid throughout the year and can be considered a year-round destination. However, the cool season from November to February is thought to be the best time to visit, with cooler temperatures allowing for easy exploration of the city on foot.

March to May are the hottest months in Bangkok and see sudden bouts of rainfall. This is also the time when the Thai New Year is celebrated so Bangkok has a great festival atmosphere. May to October is then regarded as the low season, with lower prices available for accommodation and excursions. Although there is frequent rainfall, visitors can still enjoy indoor activities such as shopping and visiting Bangkok’s famous temples.

Best time to visit Chiang Mai

November to February is the best time to visit Chiang Mai, with cooler temperatures being perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities such as trekking. This is also peak season, with January seeing the highest influx of tourists.

The hot season from March to May sees very high temperatures in Chiang Mai, and you’ll most likely want to spend your afternoons relaxing by the pool. Temperatures cool again for the rainy season from June to October, however alongside the showers you can expect humidity levels to rise.

Best time to visit Chiang Rai

Likewise to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is best visited during the cool season from November to February, when you can expect clear skies and cool, refreshing temperatures perfect for outdoor activities.

Nevertheless, Chiang Rai is considered a year-round destination. Just be aware that the hottest temperatures are experienced in the month of May, during the hot season, and August and September see the most showers during Thailand’s rainy season.

Best time to visit Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok is open year-round, however it is Thailand’s wettest region as it receives rainfall from both the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand monsoons. Visitors should therefore be prepared for rainfall at any time of year, which is to be expected seeing as much of the park is covered in tropical rainforest.

Despite this, less rain is observed during the drier months of December to April. March and April are the park’s hottest months and also see the greatest humidity. May is then the best month for bird watching as this is when mating season starts. May to July and October to November see the greatest rainfall, however as these periods are outside of school holiday seasons availability is much easier to come by.

Best time to visit Koh Samui

Koh Samui is best visited during the cool season from December to February. Although temperatures are slightly lower, you can expect clear skies and you won’t have to face the sweltering midday heat of the hot season from March to May.

The wettest months are from September to November, however rainfall tends to only occur in small downpours, leaving the rest of the day fairly dry and sunny. Although this is not considered the best time to visit Koh Samui, many holiday makers still travel during this time to take advantage of the lower prices for flights and hotels.

Tropical beach Bang Por, Koh Samui's north coast
Thailand's beaches are best visited during the cool season

The Best Time for a Beach Holiday in Thailand

If you’re looking to sun yourself on Thailand’s beaches then the best time to travel is during the cool season from November to February. Although you may require a light sweater during the evenings in any destinations north of Bangkok, you can expect clear skies and much less humidity.

Despite being named the cool season, temperatures are still very warm and perfect for working on your tan. In contrast to the scorching heat of the hot season, you will enjoy a much more pleasant beach break.

High and Low Season in Thailand

Late November through December is the most popular time for travelers to visit Thailand. This is partly due to the holiday season but also for the dry days and more comfortable temperatures of the cool season.

Low season is considered to last from May to September, when flight and accommodation prices are cheaper and there are fewer crowds. Although this coincides with the rainy season, you will still experience warm temperatures and some sunshine.

Climate | Chiang Mai


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C121620232424242423221916
Temp Max °C303335363432323232313028
Rainfall (mm)33951773851261051611571571133912

Climate | Bangkok


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C222426272727272625252321
Temp Max °C323233343333323232323131
Rainfall (mm)102830711911521561883202315810

Climate | Koh Samui


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C242526262626252525242424
Temp Max °C282931323332323231302929
Rainfall (mm)41135070154127145128188254265160

Climate | Phuket


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C222223242525252524242323
Temp Max °C323334333232313130313131
Rainfall (mm)40304015020024030026040028020010
Full Moon Festival Thailand - Thailand Tours - On The Go Tours

Festivals and Events

Thailand's various festivals and events are as colourful as the people and stunning landscapes. To help plan when to visit, here's an overview of some of the biggest and best.

Children's Day

Held on the second day of January each year, Children's Day sees parents all over Thailand lavish gifts and attention on their offspring with increased travel as families take advantage of the free or reduced entry prices to many of the country's top sites.

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

On the first weekend of February at the end of the cool season the northern city of Chiang Mai comes alive with colour during a three-day festival of floral displays and horticultural competitions with incredible floats decorated with flowers and petals parade through the streets. The elaborate traditional floral art installations dates back to the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom and is of great pride to the city.

Makha Bucha Day

This day marks the event of 1,250 disciples gathering to listen to the Lord Buddha preach. Buddhist monks receive alms in the morning and spend the evening in local temples lighting candles and incense as they circumambulate the main altar of the temple. It's a public holiday in Thailand with some services closed for the day.

National Muay Thai Day

Thailand's national sport enjoys a day of celebration in honour of the legendary hero of the sport, Nai Khanom Tom. Formal ceremonies take place in Muay Thai stadiums and training camps across the country though festivities are particular grand in Ayutthaya where a week-long festival is held that attracts fans of the sport from all over the globe.

Songkran - Thai New Year Water Festival

This nationwide party and spectacle lasts several days and welcomes the arrival of the New Year with playful water fights, the lighting of firecrackers and a good spring clean in family homes. Religious ceremonies are held on the third day with specially prepared food offered to monks.

ANZAC Day

Every year the day that Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers arrived at Gallipoli in Turkey back in 1915 is commemorated around the world in honour of the countless men and women who lost their lives, not only during the battle but during WWI also. In Kanchanaburi, home to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai, a dawn parade and ceremony is held at the Allied War Cemetery.

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Phuket Yachting Race Week

For a week in July Phuket throngs with sailing fans for an action-packed event that includes sport boat displays, cat racing and a four-day regatta alongside a host of social functions that start in the afternoon and last most of the evening.

Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival

On this day offerings of cooked rice, food, incense and candles are offered to Buddhist monks as they line the streets. Devotees are also presented with the distinctive violet and yellow Dok Khao Phansa flower.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

With a history dating back to the 1820s this festival involves 10-days of strict vegetarian diet in order to spiritually cleanse the soul and bring good luck. During the festival devotees will dress in all white and join lively parades with drums played and firecrackers lit. In the evenings burning coal is placed on the grounds of temples for the brave to walk across.

Loi Krathong – Festival of Light

Celebrated nationwide this festival sees small rafts and baskets fashioned from banana leaves filled with candles, incense, flowers, coins and a small clipping of hair or nails are floated out on rivers and waterways to carry away bad luck in the hope of a new start. It takes place on the full moon of the twelfth month of the traditional Thai lunar and is a lovely time to visit.

Yi Peng Lantern Festival

Unique to northern Thailand and the city of Chiang Mai particularly with origins dating back to the ancient Lanna kingdom. Colourful lantern displays decorate the city with evening parades and sky lanterns released throughout the night. The softly glowing lights are released simultaneously from one particular spot in town and fill the darkening skies for a stunning spectacle.

Upcoming events

For a quick reference to what's taking place in Thailand this year, here's an overview of the festivals and events calendar:

2019:

July 17th-21st - Phuket Yachting Race Week (Phuket)
September 27th - October 7th - Phuket Vegetarian Festival (Phuket)
November 11th-13th - Yi Peng Festival (Chiang Mai)
November 13th - Loi Krathong (countrywide)
Dates TBC - Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival (countrywide)

2020:

January 11th - Children's Day (countrywide)
February 7th-9th - Chiang Mai Flower Festival (Chiang Mai)
February 9th-10th - Makha Bucha (countrywide)
March 17th - National Muay Thai Day (Ayuthaya)
April 13th-15th - Songkran Thai New Year (countrywide)
April 25th - ANZAC Day (Kanchanaburi)

There's also a number of national holidays in Thailand and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

See Also

To help further plan your visit to Thailand check out our handy Travel Guide resources:

Best Places to Visit - from beaches to cities, national parks to ancient ruins
Tourist Visas - the lowdown on getting into Thailand
Top Travel Tips - useful information on money, health and shopping
Traveller Reviews - see what our customers think of our Thailand tours
Thailand Video Lounge - travel videos to inspire you
Yi Peng Lantern Festival - all your frequently asked questions answered

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