Wondering when the best time to visit Thailand is? Great news: there’s no right or wrong time of year to go!
As if this colorful, historically fascinating country of world-class beaches in the south and hill tribe cultures in the north weren’t good enough on its own, you can be assured that you can enjoy a great holiday in Thailand year-round!
You can, however, increase your chances of catching wonderful weather if you study up on the region you’d like to visit or time of year you’d like to go and plan accordingly. We’ll help you with this— just read on.
When planning a trip to Thailand, think of the weather as three distinct seasons: hot (March–May), wet (June–October), and cool (November–February). But these distinctions do vary from region to region, and when we say “cool,” we mean by Thai standards: ranging anywhere from 13°C to 29°C (55°F to 85°F).
Thailand is broken into three major regions: North, Central and South. The South can be divided into two coastal sub-regions, the Gulf of Thailand on the east and the Andaman Sea on the west. We let you know which regions are ideal to visit in the seasonal breakdown below:
Bring your swimsuit, because you’ll need to take a dip in the pool or the ocean in this weather!
Head to the Andaman Coast in March for the tail-end of Thailand’s glorious winter weather. You’ll also just have missed peaked season, so with some luck you’ll get pristine beaches all to yourself. If you’re traveling in April, head to Bangkok or Chiang Mai for some extreme carousing during the Songkran Water Festival.
Songkran, or Thai New Year, is the biggest holiday of the year in Thailand. Falling in April, Songkran is a time of unabated revelry and celebration. Throughout the nation, cities host city-wide water fights and elaborate parades!
Bring a light rain jacket, or poncho. It’s still quite hot, so pack your light, breathable summer clothes.
Head to any part of Thailand if you don’t mind rain. If you’d like to stay drier, go to the Gulf of Thailand in July. This is also a great time to tour North and Central Thailand. Although you’ll get better weather on the southern coasts a little later in the year, don’t let a few showers discourage you from visiting Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok, Sukhothai and other inland regions.
Asanha Bucha, or the day before Buddhist Lent, is a day of beautiful and poignant religious observances. You’ll see people offering flowers to monks, visiting temples, and lighting candles at nightfall.
There’s nothing quite as magical as seeing the night sky filled with tens of thousands of floating lamps during Loi Krathong.
Also celebrated as Yi Ping in the north, Loi Krathong takes place in late October or early November, and is a way to let go of one’s bad deeds throughout the year.
If you’re heading to Phuket in October, steel your nerves for the annual Vegetarian Festival. This fascinating religious observance pays homage to the Taoist Gods through abstinence from eating meat, setting off firecrackers, giving offerings of food and money, and parading through town with extreme (and often bloody) body piercings.
Monsoon season often brings flooding in some regions of Thailand, especially Bangkok. This can lead to businesses closing, traffic coming to a standstill and difficulty getting around town.
If you should be staying on a flooded street, it’s best to stay indoors, as drainage and sewage problems may arise. If you’re staying in a rural area during monsoon season, it’s wise to keep extra potable water and some food on hand just in case you can’t reach a market for several days!
Avoid jungle treks during monsoon season because of possible mudslides.
Your swimsuit, sunblock, and light, breathable clothing. It’s perfect beach weather, but be warned that sunblock is expensive in Thailand so purchase before you travel.
You can literally visit anywhere in Thailand during this time of year and enjoy pleasant weather. It’s an ideal time to hit the world-famous beaches of Krabi (Railay), as well as Hua Hin and the islands, including Koh Phi Phi, Koh Yao Noi, Phuket, Koh Lak and Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, Koh Kradan in the South, and Koh Kood, Koh Trang and Koh Mak off the country’s far East Coast. Koh Samui, Koh Tao and KOh Phangan may be a little wet from December – January, however the monsoon rains usually abide by February.
If you’re in Bangkok in either January or February, or even Phuket, check out the Chinese New Year Celebrations (cycle based on the Lunar Calendar). Streets are lined with lanterns, firecrackers are lit and temples are filled with locals praying for good fortune.
Temperatures start to climb—sometimes drastically—from March and max out in April and May, the hottest time of year.
June until August sees light or sporadic rains, with slightly higher humidity but mostly sunny skies otherwise.
The monsoon season begins in October and tapers off in January, bringing blue skies and a drop in humidity once again.
Monsoon season arrives a bit earlier on the western coast of Southern Thailand, with rains starting in earnest around May.
This wet season usually lasts through October, with peak rainfall occurring in September and October. By November, humidity drops, the skies clear, and you’re in for some prime beach weather.
By May, the wet season has begun, ratcheting up humidity and bringing short bursts of rain roughly once a day.
But the consistent rains of monsoon season don’t begin until June, hitting its peak in August and September.
After October, the next six months see drier and cooler weather and make for more comfortable travel.
With lower temperatures and humidity than Central Thailand, the north enjoys more temperate weather from March to June. However, once the rains start, every day can be quite soggy.
The cool season from November to February can be chilly, especially at higher altitudes, sometimes getting down to 10 °C (50 °F).
April: Songkran, or Thai New Year, is the biggest holiday of the year and is a time for weeklong celebrations. Songkran rituals focus on making offerings to earn karmic merit and blessing loved ones with water to purify their souls for the new year. In many cities across Thailand, especially Bangkok and Chiang Mai, this water blessing has turned into raucous, citywide water fights. There’s nothing else like it in the world, we promise you!
May or June: Bun Bung Fai is Northern Thailand’s famed Rocket Festival. Celebrated especially in the region of Isaan, the holiday sees communities come together to build and set off homemade rockets that can be three-stories high!
July or August: During the first full moon of the eighth lunar month, Buddhists all over Asia celebrate Asanha Bucha. This religious observance commemorates Buddha’s first sermon. At nightfall, people go to their local shrine, light candles, and walk around the shrine clockwise to create karmic merit. In Chiang Mai, thousands of people travel 13 kilometers on foot to the mountain temple of Doi Suthep.
October: Brought to Phuket by Chinese immigrants, the Vegetarian Festival is a region-specific holiday that pays homage to Taoist Gods. Throughout Phuket, it will be hard to find meat because the entire city goes vegetarian for roughly a week. You’ll also see a massive parade with constant firecrackers and some extreme, fascinating—and often bloody—body piercings.
October or November: Loi Krathong, also known as Yi Ping in the north, is a magical holiday celebrating the release of bad deeds, memories, and events that have accumulated throughout the year. People release lit lanterns into the night sky and float elaborately decorated boats on rivers and other bodies of water.
Even if there’s no right or wrong time of year to go, the best time to explore Thailand is the Cool Season (December to end of February) when temperatures are cooler and the rain almost absent. But be aware that this period is also the most touristy in Thailand, so expect higher prices.
If you prefer remote and unseen places, avoiding the crowds and to getting immersed in Thai culture, you should consider visiting Thailand in Hot Season in the North or Rainy Season in the Gulf of Thailand.
What would be your best time to discover Thailand?