What is the best time to visit Thailand?
People often ask me when they should visit Thailand. Generally speaking, it’s always a good time! Every season has its own set of cultural events and you can hardly get bored with all the available activities. But since weather conditions will affect your level of comfort and your travel plans, I recommend to make a trip during the “cold” and dry season.
Thailand’s seasons and general weather conditions
There are three different seasons in Thailand. During the cold season from November to February temperatures in the central region, which encompasses Bangkok, are around 27°C (81°F). This period sees little rain and relatively low humidity levels making it the most comfortable season to travel in Thailand. Due to a peak in visitor numbers, you should expect high airfares, especially around Christmas and the days leading up to New Year’s Eve.
My advice: If you want to visit Thailand during the cold season, you can find cheap flights (for the high season) in November to beginning December. Be sure to look out for flight tickets at least three months in advance.
During the hot season from March to May temperatures can reach 35 to 40°C (95 to 104°F). Given the high temperatures, it is very common to feel sluggish when doing sightseeing outside. Most Thai people avoid the burning sun at this time of the year. Remember to drink plenty of water and keep cool. Luckily, the hot season is also the period where Songkran takes place. The traditional Thai New Year’s festival is held in April and will lower the heat in a lucid way.
Finally, the rainy season occupies the months from June through October. While temperatures drop to an average of 30°C (86°F), it still feels hot because of elevated humidity levels. This is usually not the best time to travel in Thailand in regard to weather conditions and some resorts may be closed during the monsoon period.
Advantages of traveling in the rainy season
But unlike a common misconception, it doesn’t rain all day during the rainy season. Usually, it’s a short but intense downpour. Moreover, it will likely start raining in the afternoon or in the evening, which makes outdoor activities possible in the morning. So if you don’t mind “working around” the rain and making compromises due to weather conditions, you can benefit from very low prices. Flights and hotels are often very cheap in June, but more expensive in July and August because of the holiday season for Western tourists.
There’s something appealing about the rainy season. A heavy monsoon rain is pretty impressive to watch. It is also refreshening and cleans the air which Bangkokians highly appreciate. Furthermore, the vegetation comes to a peak. The rice fields in the central region and even in the dry plains of Isaan turn lush. As already mentioned, it’s possible to find beautiful aspects in Thailand at any given time of the year!
Lush vegetation in Khao Yai National Park. One of my favorite retreats in the rainy season.
When to visit Thailand’s islands
The information above regarding the seasons applies to Thailand overall. However, weather conditions on the southern beaches and islands which are popular tourist destinations follow a slightly different pattern. The islands to the West coast, such as Phuket, receive most of the rain from May through October. The best time to travel in the Andaman Sea is therefore from November to April. On the east coast the rainy season starts in September and lasts until December. The recommended period to visit the Gulf of Thailand is therefore from January to August.
For current weather information and a reliable 7-day forecast, I recommend the website of the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD).