Best time to visit Thailand
Thailand is most truly the jewel of Southeast Asia. It is also known as the Land of Smiles, which you will see for yourself when you see the locals greet you ever so warmly. Thailand offers both ends of the spectrum – luxurious holidays at some of its modern cities, like Bangkok and Chaing Mai as well as the natural wildness if you wish to explore the unbeaten path. The country has brilliant beaches, mountains, islands and an exotic muddle of unusual experiences. It provides the relaxation for a family holiday and the pleasures if you have decided to go with friends. Thailand offers you much to see and enjoy.
But when is the best time to go to Thailand?
Due to the warm tropical climate, Thailand is largely a year-round destination. The best time to visit Thailand really depends on where in Thailand you plan to go. Thailand as three main seasons – wet, hot and cool. September being the wettest month, April the hottest month and December, the coolest for the country.Slight variations could affect vacation plans, especially in the south where the weather is somewhat warm throughout the year. Many of the top destinations of Thailand are located on the south-west coast. The popular islands in the Andaman Sea like Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta and Phi Phi, generally experience rains from May to October – like much of Thailand. However, over in the south-east and Gulf of Thailand, home to popular Koh Samui and other islands like Koh Tao and Phangan, the rainy season generally falls late September to late December. Whichever side of Thailand you choose, there will be guaranteed blue skies and clear seas.
Whenever you plan to visit the warm and friendly country make sure to check out the annual festivals of Thailand.
Dry and cool season – November to early March
This is the most popular and best time to visit Thailand. The country experiences fantastic weather is between November and March. The relatively dry and cool climate is the most comfortable season to travel to the country. The daytime temperatures usually stay below 95°F and since the rainy season ends by November, there are less chances of rain during this period. However, if you are in the islands of Koh Samui,Phangan Koh, Chang and Kood then you can experience the monsoonal rains well into late December. The month of December is also the year’s coolest month in Thailand with minimal rainfall and humidity. Hence, this is the best time to visit Thailand with comfortable temperatures. From mid December to end of January is possibly Thailand’s peak tourist months and the busiest time of the year. Therefore, availability of hotel rooms is low and the prices really high.
Since there is less or no rain during this period of time, it is also an ideal time to visit Thailand’s mountainous north, including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Since the weather is pleasant you can indulge in outdoor activities such as hiking, river cruises and wildlife excursions. Even though the peak season in Thailand tapers off in February, yet the weather is still perfect with sunny days and little rainfall. During this time, the southern islands have wonderful conditions for snorkeling, diving and boating.
LoiKrathong / Festival of Lights
Usually held in November each year, LoiKrathong is Thailand’s most enchanting festivals. The festival coincides with a full moon night in early November. It is to mark the end of the rainy season and is a grand celebration with parades and fireworks. The main event of the festivity is when thousands of glowing paper lanterns (khratong) are simultaneously released into the night skies and lotus-shaped mini-lanterns released onto the rivers. These lanterns results in a fantastic sight across Thailand.
Christmas & New Year’s Eve
Even though Christmas is not celebrated in Thailand owing to it being a predominantly Buddhist country, but Bangkok and mostly all the major tourist destinations have grand celebrations. Likewise, the Thai new year falls in April but the international New Year is celebrated with as much fervor and fireworks.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and the dates are determined by the lunar calendar. The Chinese New Year usually falls anytime between late January and early February. It is another favorite time to visit Thailand and the best places to visit and be part of the celebrations are Phuket’s Old Town and Bangkok’s Chinatown. The celebrations include traditional street festivities, cultural performances, dragon dances, food fairs and fireworks.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival (February)
This festival marks the end of the cool season in the North. The three-day flower festival is held in Chiang Mai over the first weekend in February. Through floating parades the regions beautiful flowers are showcased during this festival.
Hot, dry season – March to May
The dry season between March and May is also a best time to go to Thailand. The weather is still nice with very little rains. The humidity might be high during this time but you can still enjoy the best of Thailand has to offer – pristine beaches, clear blue skies and calm sea conditions. Tourist hotspots in the south are usually very vusy during this time and March is the main diving season for the Similan and Surin Islands, that are known for one of the world’s best diving sites.
The hottest month in Thailand would be April with temperatures reaching 104°F in Bangkok. The heat can be unbearable even in the northern regions of Thailand with temperatures above 95°F in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
March is also one of the best months to visit Thailand especially the Phang Nga Bay area. If you are there, make sure not to miss the releasing of the young turtle hatchlings raised at a local research center ceremoniously released into the ocean. This is generally done during the first ten days of March and is a popular tourist event.
Songkran / Thai New Year
Songkran or the Thai Buddhist New Year is celebrated in April Thailand’s most important festival. It is a centuries-old ritual which symbolizes new beginnings. You can witness traditional religious ceremonies and street processions across the country during this time. The rituals that are observed at the Buddhist templesduring this time are part of a spiritual cleansing that banishes bad luck and sins to start the New Year on a clean slate. The biggest celebrations can be enjoyed in Bangkok and Chiang Mai where local and tourists alike join in the celebrations.
Rainy / low season – May to October
Yes, it does rain for half the year in Thailand. The temperatures are also moderately high coupled with high humidity levels.
Most of the tourist places like Phuket, Krabi, Similan Islands experience the monsoons with heavy rainfall, strong winds and turbulent waves at times. Which means the the fun water activities like boating and diving are suspended during this time.
Nevertheless, you may still find it a good time to make use of the benefits of the low season. Not all places in Thailand are affected by the monsoons. The islands in the Gulf of Thailand islands are relatively well protected from the monsoonal climate and experience less rain and often have bright and sunny weather and calm waters. It may be the best time to visit Koh Samui which gets really busy during this period.
The rainy season can also be the best time of the year to visit Thailand. Due to the low season, the tourist attractions and beaches are less crowded and flights and accommodations more affordable. So you can make the most of the low season promotions that are offered during this time.
Koh Samui Regatta
Held in May, the annual Koh Samui Regatta coincides with the ocean winds providing ideal sailing conditions. This internationally renowned event is held over a period of five days in May and attracts many teams and boat lovers from around the world. The Ko Samui Regatta offers pleasure and party both on the water and on dry land.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
This unusual festival is celebrated in October by the Thai-Chinese community in Phuket. It is a nine-day vegetarian festival that believes that abstinence from meat during the ninth lunar month brings good health and serenity. The festivities are remarkable and many tourists plan their trip to Phuket to coincide with the observance of this festival.
The temperatures in Thailand, keep rising after January and peak between March and April. The temperatures can exceed 95 degrees F in places like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, or even touch 104 degrees F in some cities like Bangkok. In the south, the average temperature hovers around 90 degrees F with April being the hottest month of the year.
The long rainy season in Thailand can certainly have an impact on your travel plans. The most rainfall in Thailand is from August to October depending on which part of Thailand you are visiting. Sometimes the months of May and June will also see some extra rains as they lead into the official monsoon season.
With a tropical climate in Phuket, the weather varies between warm, cool and rainy. It never really gets too cold in Phuket. The high tourist season is from November to February when it is cool and dry.
Many countries in Southeast Asia, and especially Thailand, has become a hotspot for backpackers looking for adventure on a budget. By keeping your spending pattern frugal and not being too tight with your spending, it is easy to remain well within a daily budget of $30 per day in Thailand.
In Thailand, December is the coolest month of the year. The daily temperatures in northern Thailand can average 70 degrees F, so while visiting northern areas of Thailand during this time, remember to bring some warm clothes with you.