When is the Best Time to Visit Thailand?
Figuring out when to go, where to stay, and what to do is the holy trinity of travel planning. But without definitive answers to those questions, you’re no closer to booking a flight to your dream destination then you were six months ago. So, let’s get the party started and address one of the three major questions. Here’s what you need to know about the best time to visit Thailand.

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When is best time to visit Thailand? We break it down by regions and seasons. Map and weather charts included. | Tieland to Thailand

Everyone wants clear skies and mild temperatures while they’re on vacation. So, let’s begin by looking at Thailand’s weather, which varies based on the country’s region and the time of year.

Thailand’s Regions and Seasons

We’ve broken Thailand into five regions. There’s the North, the Northeast (Isaan), and Central Thailand. The south is split into two regions because its climate varies quite a bit depending on which coastline you’re on. The Gulf of Thailand makes the east coast and the Andaman Sea makes the west coast.

Annual Temperature and Rainfall Across 5 Regions in ThailandGenerally speaking, Thailand has three seasons: Cool Season (November to February), Hot Season (March to June), and Rainy Season (July to October).

If you look at the graphs on the map above, you can see that the temperature lines and rainfall bars dip down near the far left and far right sides. This coincides with the Cool Season. Around the middle of the year, the rainfall bars are the highest, which coincide with Rainy Season. And as far as temperature goes, it’s arguably hot year-round but it peaks between March and June.

Best Season to Visit Thailand: Cool Season (November to February)

Thailand experiences its most pleasant weather between the months of November and February. So, it should be no surprise that the Cool Season is voted by most to be the best time of year to visit Thailand. Tens of millions of travelers flock to the country and all businesses are open. It’s also the most expensive time of year because, you know, economics.

Comfortable Temperatures

With daily temperatures hovering around the low to high 80s (high 20s to low 30s), most travelers find this ideal in terms of tropical weather. You can go on outdoor excursions (hiking, biking, kayaking, mountain climbing, island hopping, and more) without breaking a sweat. You can also walk around and sightsee without getting wiped out by the heat.

Valleys below Doi Inthanon

In provinces such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Loei, and Nong Khai, there’s even a tiny window when the temperatures drop really low. In the North and some parts of the Northeast, the evening temperatures dip down into the 50sF (teens ⁰C) during the few weeks around Christmas or New Years and there’s frost on the mountains.

Little to No Rain

With little to no chance of rain during the cool season, you can count on spending lots of time outdoors soaking up the beautiful scenery. Plus, all you beachgoers can enjoy sunbathing with little to no clouds in the sky.

Railay Beach in Krabi Thailand

Without the rain, the humidity drops a bit and makes the weather even more pleasant. However, it’s not that dry. Thailand’s humidity still generally hangs around 70% to 80% year round no matter when you go.

The exception to this ‘no rain’ trend during the cool season is the southern region in the Gulf of Thailand. The popular destinations of Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui experience monsoon season in November! We’ll talk more about that in just a second.

Crystal Clear Skies

Hum Hod Cliff in Sai Thong National Park in Chaiyaphum

The cool season occurs just after the rainy season so the skies are crystal clear. Oh, the sights! You can see for DAAAYS.

Thai and International Holidays

There are several major holidays (Western, Thai, and Chinese) celebrated between November and February.

Yi Peng Festival Full Moon November Chiang Mai Thailand

  • Loy Krathong or ‘Floating Candle Festival’ (full moon in November)
  • Yi Peng or ‘Lantern Festival’ (full moon in November but celebrated primarily in the North)
  • Christmas (December 25st)
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31st)
  • Chinese New Year (new moon between January 21st and February 20th)

What if you’re not visiting Thailand during the Cool Season?

Don’t worry! If you aren’t able to visit Thailand between November and February, there is still much to experience during the rest of the year. At the very least, you’ll benefit from the lower prices offered by hotels and tourist-related businesses since it’s considered to be the low and shoulder seasons.

Rainy Season (July to October)

Don’t let the notion of Thailand’s rainy season scare you away! Some parts of Thailand are more beautiful than you can imagine and make for stunning photography. In fact, it’s our favorite time of year. Can you see why?

Rice Fields Rainy Season Thailand

If you’re traveling to Thailand during the months of July through October, your itinerary should include places in the Central, Northern, and Southern (Gulf of Thailand) regions. These cities include:

NORTH: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pai, Ayutthaya, Chiang Dao
CENTRAL: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Rayong, Koh Chang
SOUTH (GULF OF THAILAND): Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Chumphon, Surat Thani

Compared to the Northeastern and Southern Andaman Sea regions, these three regions have less overall rainfall. Plus, rain showers usually last only a few short hours rather than much of the day.

July, August, and September are also supposed to be the best time of year to go diving in Thailand’s gulf.

This is also the time when the least number of travelers visit. Reap the benefits of having the local attractions all to yourself and paying rock bottom prices for your accommodations during the rainy season.

TIP: If you visit Thailand during the Rainy Season, pack a small, collapsible umbrella and at least one pair of shoes that can get wet. Rain ponchos can be easily purchased from convenience stores (like 7-Eleven) for around 1 USD once you’re in Thailand.

Hot Season (March to June)

This is the hottest time of year to visit Thailand. Temperatures are known to reach over 100⁰F (40⁰C) during the middle of the day. However, major tourist-friendly cities have air-conditioned malls and hotels and there are hundreds of beaches calling your name.

Crystal clear waters of Koh Khai, off the coast of Chumphon, Thailand

If you’re traveling to Thailand between March and June, visit the Central, Southern (Gulf of Thailand) and Southern (Andaman Sea) regions. The skies aren’t tainted by the smoke from burning farmland, which happens in the North and Northeast. Even though it’s hot, it’s the perfect time to visit the beach and cool off with a swim in the sea.

CENTRAL: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Rayong, Koh Chang
SOUTH (GULF OF THAILAND): Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Chumphon, Surat Thani
SOUTH (ANDAMAN SEA): Phuket, Ranong, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe

The Worst Time to Visit Thailand

We don’t like telling people NOT to come to Thailand, but there are particular times of the year that we wouldn’t want to go ourselves. It’s only fair that you should know so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you’re willing to go.

Northern + Northeastern Thailand: Unhealthy Smoky Season in March and April

During the drier months, farmers in the North and Northeast burn their fields to prepare for the upcoming planting season. In March and April, the temperatures skyrocket and thousands of fires fill the air with smog. This is known as the Smoky Season.

Sadly, these noxious fumes and harmful (it’s true!) microscopic particulate matter don’t get flushed out of the air until first few heavy rainstorms in the middle of May. The visibility is also so bad that sometimes airplanes can’t land.

Thailand’s famous Songkran or ‘Water Festival’ is in mid-April. It’s true that Chiang Mai’s Old City in Northern Thailand happens to be one of the most popular places to celebrate. But if you go, we don’t recommend staying for more than a week.

TIP: If you do visit Northern Thailand or Isaan, buy an N95 face mask (which filters out the harmful PM2.5 particles) and wear it whenever you’re outside. Eat or shop indoors and keep your windows tightly closed at your hotel or guesthouse.

Southern Gulf of Thailand: Monsoon Season in October and November

Thailand has one small region that has a starkly different weather pattern than the rest of the year. While the rainy season (July through October) is tapering off in the rest of Thailand, the southern areas near the Gulf of Thailand go into full-blown monsoon season.

Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui have torrential rains during October and November. It’s the peak of the monsoon season, so rain clouds deliver everything from afternoon showers to heavy flooding. Rain often comes on suddenly and in fast, intense bursts and then lightens up, with sporadic breaks of sunshine. While you may get lucky with a few clear days here it there, it does rain most days.

TIP: If you go to these islands during the monsoon season, be flexible with your travel plans. The weather may delay or even cancel the already limited flights and boat services. Plan to spend a lot of time indoors rather than on the beach or doing outdoor excursions.

What if you need to change your travel plans?

Although you might catch a break of good weather during the monsoon or smoky season, transportation schedules can be restricted and it may be difficult to get around.

If you’ve already made plans to visit these regions during their not-so-desirable times, flights around Thailand are very affordable. If you’ve booked a vacation in Phuket during the rainy season or are spending a two-week holiday in Chiang Mai in March, you can always buy a cheap flight and be on the other end of the country in two hours or less.

The best time to visit Thailand is really based on your priorities.

Are you ok with visiting during the hot season because you’re spending all your time at the beach? Willing to deal with the rain if it means that there are fewer tourists and hotels are more affordable? Itching to come to Thailand for the sole purpose of diving? None of these options coincide with the Cool Season but in your eyes, it’s the best time to come.

So to wrap it up, make plans to travel to Thailand in:

  • the Cool Season (November to February) and go anywhere;
  • the Hot Season (March to July) and spend time in the Central, Southern Gulf of Thailand and Southern Andaman Sea;
  • and the Rainy Season (July to October) and visit towns in Central, Southern Gulf of Thailand, and Northern Thailand.

The exceptions are to avoid southern towns near the Gulf of Thailand in October and November (monsoon season) and towns in Northern Thailand in March and April (smoky season).

If you’re planning your first trip to Thailand, read these two articles, Tips for Visiting Thailand for the First Time and What to Wear in Thailand. For more help figuring out what to do in Thailand, just ask!

If you’ve been to Thailand before, what is your favorite time to visit? If you haven’t yet been, when do you plan on coming?

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