Tantalising Thailand: The Best Time To Visit
Thailand is definitely best experienced with sunny skies and cocktails, not monsoons and umbrellas. Because the country has so many different climates, we decided to make a go-to guide on when – and where – to go. Here’s our break down of the best times to visit the most popular tourist areas. We’ve also included shoulder seasons because they’re a great compromise in terms of price; you’re still likely to get good weather with a shower or two, but much cheaper deals at even the most reputable resorts.
Koh Samui is part of an archipelago off the eastern coast of Thailand. The weather is almost always warm but like most tropical climates, it isn’t always dry! If you’re going there for beaches and relaxation, you’ll want to pick a time during the dry season.
Peak Season: Mid-December to March. These months are warm, with very little rain and nice calm seas so are perfect for visiting Koh Samui’s legendary beaches. The sea stays at around 27 degrees this time of year, so is lovely for snorkelling and swimming.
Warmest Months: April to August. With April comes hot weather, where temperatures regularly reach the mid-30s. There are often afternoon showers (think of a Highveld thunderstorm really) but they are typically brief and the sun comes back fairly quickly.
Shoulder Season: May and September. May is a great bet for cheaper rates and good weather, with some afternoon rain, especially since the Easter crowds have normally disappeared. While September officially marks the start of the monsoon season, the heavy rain doesn’t typically start in earnest until October. Your best option is to try and aim for very late August or very early September to beat the crowds but still get sunshine.
Months to avoid: mid-October to early December. Though it’s still hot at this time of year, November is particularly wet and should not be on your holiday radar!
Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations thanks to it’s warm, clear waters and soft, sandy beaches. You’ll still want to avoid the rainy season and may find that in true off-peak, many resorts and restaurants are closed. Here’s the lowdown on when to go to Phuket.
Peak Season: November to February. The weather is warm, the skies are blue and you’ll definitely get to see Phuket as it is in the brochures. The only downside of travelling during peak season is, of course, the fact that it gets very busy and can be more expensive. January is the busiest month.
Warmest Months: March to mid-May. As is common in tropical climates, the hottest months mean temperatures that soar into the mid-30’s complete with high humidity and some afternoon rainfalls. These months are the lead up to the monsoon season. If you go in April you’ll catch Songkran festival, which can be good fun!
Shoulder Season: April and November are the best options for hot weather with fewer crowds as long as you don’t mind a bit of rain here and there. November is also particularly good for diving with excellent visibility and calm seas.
Months to avoid: May, September and October are the wettest months and come with serious humidity to boot. Even then, you don’t normally get days upon days of continual, non-stop rain – but it isn’t exactly beach weather.
Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand is renowned for its history and cultural significance and provides a nice change from the usual beach hotspots of Thailand. Instead, it’s surrounded by mist, rainforests and mountains and travellers will be treated to temples, pagodas and leafy avenues.
Peak time: December-Feb. Late December and early to mid-January are particularly busy times of year in Chiang Mai where the cooler weather means that temperatures hover around 25 degrees
Warmest months: March to June
Shoulder season: Late February to early March as well as November. During the hot months Chiang Mai reaches temperatures above 40 degrees and is uncomfortably hot. During late February or ealy March you will begin to see a rise in temperatures as the hot season approaches but it is still bearable. It’s also a great season for mangoes and thus, sticky rice!
Months to avoid: May and September. May is extremely hot and doesn’t have the fun of Songkran (unlike April). September is the rainiest month of the year in Chiang Mai and floods are common, making it quite difficult to enjoy the surrounds!
The bustling capital of Thailand, Bangkok is the place to go for food, culture, markets and a truly authentic experience. Though you don’t need to worry about beach weather and if the rain will ruin your pina colada, there are still pros and cons to each season in Bangkok. Seasons are similar to Chiang Mai, as both are in the northern region of the country.
Peak season: December to February. As with the other areas of Thailand, peak season typically falls over the cool and dry season where temperatures are pleasantly warm and you don’t have any monsoons to contend with. Late December through to mid-January are very busy with tourists descending upon the city.
Rainy season: July to October
Warmest months: March to mid-June
Shoulder Season: October is a great time to visit Bangkok, where hotels often mark prices down by as much as 75%. While you’ll likely encounter some rain, it’s probably going to be a case of scattered thunderstorms mixed with overcast days. It’s not likely that you’ll experience days and days of heavy rain, so October is an excellent time to explore the sights and sounds of Bangkok without the crowds and the heavy prices. Early March is also a good time to visit as there’s very little rain and temperatures haven’t reached their peak yet - but it is still humid.
Months to avoid: April and September. April is Bangkok’s hottest month by far, and because the nights don’t bring any relief it can be really had to get any kind of break from the heat and humidity and for most people, it is too hot to really explore and make the most of the city. September is the rainiest month and averages around 21 days of rain and only 150 hours of sunshine – unless you’re from drought-stricken Cape Town and yearning to see rain again, avoid!