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The Best Time to Visit Thailand

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“Thailand’s diverse landscapes offer endless opportunities to explore and relax amid outstanding scenery. Thailand is a fantastic destination to visit almost all months of the year, but it is worth doing a little research into the monsoons if you are hoping to avoid the rains and soak up some sunshine!”

About the Author

About the Author

I wanted to work in travel after a stint working in a lodge in Zimbabwe. Once discovering Asia I feel in love, and have kept going back for the huge range that the continent has to offer.

ASIA & AUSTRALASIA SPECIALIST

Katie

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Thailand is a beautiful and diverse country with an array of contrasting, but equally striking scenery. From the green and verdant north with hillsides hosting rice paddy fields, to the stunning beaches scattered across a multitude of islands in the south, there really is something to suit every kind of traveller. Thailand continues to have one of the world’s most respected cuisines and is a popular destination for those in search of some winter sunshine.

It is worth doing some research before you decide exactly when to visit. Depending on how you hope to spend your holiday, you are likely to want to avoid some of Thailand’s more extreme weather conditions, from high humidity levels to flash-flooding monsoons.

Generally, the best time to visit Thailand is from November to April. Not only is this the driest time of year, it is also the warmest. Temperatures are frequently greater than 30 Celcius and long days are characterised by blue skies and sunshine.  The high season attracts those looking to soak up glorious weather on the beaches in the south – it is worth noting that good weather conditions can be found across much of the country during this time.

The climate differs between the east and west coastlines. The Andaman coast is hit by the monsoon from May to October with islands such as Krabi, Phuket and Khao Lak receiving heavy rainfall. Koh Samui, along with other islands on the east coast, can be visited from January to September as they are sheltered from the worst of the tropical rains.

The north of the country is affected more considerably by the monsoon receiving greater variations in temperature, even within the popular months of travel from November to April. The cold front can cause temperatures to drop as low as zero during November, but by March temperatures can be higher than the central plains and will continue to rise all the way into May.

In general, the coolest months are December to February and the warmest months are from April to June.

Thailand draws many tourists searching for sunshine during the high season, as well as incorporating some of Thailand’s iconic temples and rice paddies. As a result, it is always advisable to book well in advance if you are hoping to travel during high season, to ensure your accommodation options are not restricted.

WHEN TO VISIT THAILAND: MONTH-BY-MONTH GUIDE

January

In January, throughout Thailand you can expect preferable conditions with little chance of rain across the country. In the north, temperatures will be cooler, enabling tourists to visit some of the infamous temples and explore the beautiful rice paddies that carve out the hillside without being punished by the heat.

In the south of the country, the west coast of the peninsula – including Khao Lak, Phuket and Krabi – receive endless sunshine. Islands on the east coast can experience some rainfall during January so islands such as Koh Samui will be less popular during this month. Having said that, rainfall tends to occur in the late afternoon and generally does not last for long with bursts of sunshine in between.

February

At the beginning of February, Bangkok will be a pleasant temperature for those wishing to explore the many cultural sights on offer in this bustling metropolis. Be aware that temperatures are rising throughout the month, so by late February you will want to avoid the heat of the day in the capital. In the north, even the characteristically cool early mornings begin to diminish.

To the south, the west coast continues to be bathed in sunshine and although the east coast can experience some rainfall at the beginning of the month, by the end of February it is a great time to visit all the southern islands.

Chiang Mai Flower Festival in the north of Thailand is a three-day festival held in the month of February, signalling the end of the ‘cool’ season. Parades are held with colourful displays including the Damask Rose, which can only be found in this region.

March

March is a popular month to visit Thailand, with good weather experienced across the country. Even the cool evenings and mornings in the north will have shifted with temperatures rising – often exceeding 30 Celcius during the heat of the day. Particularly towards the end of the month, we would recommend you beginning sightseeing earlier in the morning rather than facing uncomfortable temperatures. You can then head out again in the early evening to explore. These higher temperatures are also experienced in Bangkok and the capital can become fairly stifling. Your travel consultant and guides will accommodate this and arrange your itinerary accordingly – it is still a great month to travel to Thailand.

The southern islands are all experiencing bright, sunny and hot conditions during March, attracting tourists hoping to sunbathe and relax amid extremely beautiful surroundings.

April

April is another hot month in Thailand, with temperatures remaining high across the country and minimal chances of rain. The southern beaches remain popular as both the west and east coast experience dry, hot conditions characterised by sunshine and blue skies.

Songkran (Thai New Year) takes place from the 13th to 15th April. This is a joyful event and celebrated widely with scented water thrown over people to represent cleansing, relieving them of sins and bad luck.

Songkran is a popular time for tourists to visit Thailand and you should book accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment. It can be great fun to admire and join in the celebrations!

May

May is considered to be shoulder season and can be a great time to visit Thailand. Tourist numbers begin to diminish and for the majority of the month there is very little rain. The showers that do occur are usually short and sharp, a welcome respite combatting the humidity. May is still considered the hot season and it is worth noting that river levels will be low and activities such as kayaking and white water rafting are unlikely.

For greater chances of sunshine, you would be wise to visit the east coast of Thailand’s southern Peninsula as the west coast may begin to receive some rainfall.

There are far fewer tourists during May and this means there will be a greater variety of accommodation options available for those looking to travel more last minute.

June

June is the last month before the rainy season starts to hit much of Thailand, peaking in September and October. It is a good month to take advantage of the lower tourist numbers. You can expect a few showers at points but they tend to be short, sharp downpours and will be broken up by bursts of sunshine.

Those hoping to visit the southern coast should be aware that the Andaman coast is hardest hit by the southwest monsoon so sunshine is not guaranteed. The east coast remains bathed in sunshine as the monsoon arrives later in the year.

July

July is the beginning of the rainy season in Thailand and much of the country will be subject to heavy and persistent rainfall. However the Gulf of the southern Peninsula of Thailand, which includes islands such as Koh Samui and Kho Pha Ngan, will remain dry during this time. The southwest monsoon is yet to arrive and you can still find sunshine on the south coast. The east coast becomes popular with Europeans during the school holidays in July.

August

Rain is prevalent across Thailand during August, particularly in the north of the country. On the southern peninsula, the southwest monsoon means the west coast is usually hard hit by the rains. The east coast can be slightly more forgiving during August, with sunshine frequent although a few rain showers can also be expected. European travellers visit Thailand during the summer holidays and some islands such as Koh Samui remain popular.

September

September is the month when rains peak across much of Thailand. Of course, those wishing to explore the country can still adventure and take advantage of the lower prices during low season but it would not be advisable for beachgoers.

October

Rains continues across the country in October, diminishing throughout the month. The rains tend to occur during the late afternoon or evening and don’t last for a long time, although varying in intensity and longevity from year to year. The temperature also drops with lower humidity making sightseeing more comfortable.

November

In November, the monsoon rains are coming to an end but temperatures are yet to begin to soar. This is a good month to visit the more central regions, if you wish to spend time visiting some of the many sites and explore the capital as a destination. Temperatures remain cool enough to enjoy sightseeing in the city from November to February.

In the north of the country, winter is approaching and you can expect cooler temperatures in the early mornings and late evenings.

On the southern coast, the northeast monsoon will arrive during November. Islands on the east coast including Koh Samui, which up until now have remained relatively dry, will experience an increase in rainfall.  The sun has now returned to the west coast and Khao Lak, Phuket and Krabi will see an increase in the number of tourists. If you visit at the start of November you can expect lower tourist numbers and avoid the worst of the crowds.

Loy Krathong is a fantastic festival of lights that takes place in Phuket during November. Floating lanterns scatter the skies and rivers and you will be welcome to participate, purchasing one of your own lotus flower covered lanterns and releasing it into the river. The lanterns are meant to carry away bad luck and encourage opportunities for health and happiness.

December

Bangkok remains pleasant with temperatures low enough to enjoy sightseeing in the city. The north of the country – although experiencing cooler temperatures in the early mornings and evenings – will be dry and temperate for activities and exploration during the day.

On the west coast of southern Thailand, islands from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta are popular with fantastic snorkelling and diving conditions. The western coast will experience a substantial Christmas rush and you should book your accommodation well in advance to avoid disappointment. Travelling at the beginning of December would enable you to avoid the hotel surcharges during this time. It is worth being aware that islands on the east coast of Thailand’s southern peninsula will experience wetter conditions.

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