When is the Best Time to Visit Thailand?

One of the most common questions we get asked by our readers is “when is the best time to visit Thailand?” Truth be told, there is no straight-forward answer to this question. It really depends on where you are going and what your priorities are, whether it be the best weather, the least crowds or a particular festival you want to attend. The short answer – if you are looking for moderate temperatures for trekking or pristine, turquoise beaches – November through February is your safest bet country-wide. But also note that this is considered high season and with that comes an increase in crowds and accommodation prices. If you are looking to escape the crowds or have a tighter budget, then looking outside of high season may be preferable. However, with low season comes heat, humidity and generally a lot of rain that could put a damper on your plans. Not only is weather an issue, but there are other things you should be aware of and take into account when planning your trip to Thailand. We will cover all of these in our short guide that will hopefully help you determine the best time for you to visit, as well as help you pack your suitcase for Thailand!

Best Time to Visit Thailand

Central to Northern Thailand

thailand haze

Thailand Hazy Season

Dry season in the north usually runs November – April, seeing little to no rain and a dramatic drop in humidity. November through January is the most ideal time to visit, as temperatures cool down quite a bit with average highs in the 80’s and average low’s in the 60’s. This makes for comfortable days and often chilly nights, especially in higher elevations. This is also when the crowds pick up tremendously and accommodation prices peak. However, by March and April temperatures spike and the crowds seem to vanish. But the lack of rain and extreme heat makes it difficult to spend much time outdoors. Additionally, this is the time that farmers start burning their fields, filling the north with a thick, smokey haze. This is often referred to as the “hazy season” and rightly so. The air pollution during this time has been an on-going problem without  much resolution. In fact, many residents claim it is still getting worse each year. After living in Chiang Mai through this season, we highly recommend avoiding it if you can. This period begins in mid to late February and lasts through April, but March seems to be the worst (see video below). Rainy season usually arrives with light showers in May, progressively getting heavier and peaking in August and September. The clouds help to fight the heat but the humidity picks up, making June – October very sticky and uncomfortable with temperatures averaging between 75 – 90.

Hottest months: April – May | Wettest Months: August – September | Hazy Months: February – April | Peak Months: November – January

Southern Thailand

 

 

 Like northern Thailand, southern Thailand’s seasons are split between wet and dry months. To make things more complicated, the east (Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Koh Chang) and west coast (Krabi, Phuket, Ko Yao Yai) schedules are slightly different. Rainy season on the east coast takes place between June and November, but endures the heaviest rains October and November. On the other hand, the west coast experiences rainy season between April and November, peaking in September and October. Between December and February is the most popular time to visit the beaches in southern Thailand when rain and humidity are lacking and the temperatures are average in the upper 70’s and low 80’s.  But, again, great weather brings more crowds and higher prices. March through May tend to be the hottest months, with average temperatures soaring into the upper 80’s and 90’s. Many people find visiting the beaches in June/July ideal when the crowds and prices have dwindled, yet the rains are fairly light. However, keep in mind during the low season many ferries that travel in between the islands are forced to cancel trips due to unpredictable seas. Additionally, some of the less developed, smaller islands that are flooded with tourists in high season almost completely shut down and/or become inaccessible during low season. For example, we visited one of Thailand’s most raved about island destinations, Koh Lanta, in August and barely lasted 24 hours. We were sad to discover the beaches were not maintained and heavily polluted. Restaurants and bars were boarded up and all the resorts were vacant. After surviving the most terrifying ferry experience getting to the island, we opted for a 5 hour bus ride straight back to Phuket where things were still in [almost] full swing.

Hottest Months: March – May | Wettest Months: September – November | Peak Months: December – February

Holidays & Festivals in Thailand

 

 

 Weather is not the only thing you should bear in mind when planning your trip to Thailand. You should also be aware of any holidays or festivals that may overlap with your trip. Unless you are purposely planning your trip to Thailand to partake in one of their many festivals, such as Yi Peng or Songkran, be aware that they could possibly hinder your travel plans. Many of these events will have accommodations booked up well in advance with prices often higher than normal. Additionally, you may find that many businesses will be closed or flight/bus tickets sold out as many locals will often travel back home to celebrate with family. Songkran, the Thai New Year which takes place in April, is especially one you want to be aware of. During this time, much of the country completely shuts down for 3-4 days and it is nearly impossible to leave your hotel without getting buckets of water thrown on you. That being said, the festivals in Thailand are some of the best I’ve ever experienced and if they aren’t part of your travel plans, maybe they should be.

National Holidays for the Remainder of 2014

May 1 Labor Day
May 5 Coronation Day
May 9 Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day
May 13 Visakha Bucha
Jul 11 Asalha Bucha
Aug 12 The Queen’s Birthday / Mother’s Day
Oct 23 Chulalongkorn Day
Dec 5 The King’s Birthday / Father’s Day
Dec 10 Constitution Day
Dec 31 New Year’s Eve

Click here for more information about Thailand’s amazing festivals. For additional observances and holidays, please click here.

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  1. Love this article chickie, looks like lots of work went into compiling this info. Seems I’ll get a bit of everything this year with about 3 or so months of my trip being in Thailand! Hope to see you again soon 😀

  2. Great explanation, I loved visiting in December when it was very comfortable weather wise

  3. Slick post and great guide! I wish I would have come across this when I first arrived, I had no clue when festivals were taking place. Glad I made it to the Western New Year celebration in Chiang Mai since I missed the lantern festival!

  4. Thanks for this interesting post. Last year we only had holidays on July-August, when we visited beautiful Thailand: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Pangan, Chiang Mai, … In our blog some of the experiences: http://www.travelthelife.com/search/label/Thailand (we will publish more)

    • Charlie and Brittany July 27, 2015 at 8:04 am · · Reply

      Yeah sometimes you don’t really have a choice I suppose, but in our opinion its always a good time to visit 🙂 Looks like you had a great time!

  5. Hi guys – great post and I’m so jealous of your bravery and sense of adventure!! We can’t wait for our first trip to Thailand in December a will be visiting Krabi, Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. Will we need air con do you think? Any tips for these 3 places would be greatly appreciated! x

    • Charlie and Brittany October 28, 2015 at 6:53 pm · · Reply

      Hey Jodie! How exciting! You’ve picked some great spots and a great time to travel. In my opinion you always need aircon in Thailand haha but many others would disagree 😉 December is the coolest month so its probably the best time of year to go without it. We haven’t spent much time in Koh Lanta or Phi Phi, but Railay Beach is one of our favorites and definitely worth a visit depending where you are staying in Krabi. It’s a 5 min boat ride away from the pier at Ao Nang. We have a few posts and videos on it if you want to check it out. Hope you have a fantastic trip!!

  6. Thanks, Charlie and Brittany,
    I found your website by searching “Chaing Mai vs. Phuket”. We are a family of five (kids ages 12,13,14) traveling to Thailand April 1 – 14, 2016. We are visiting Bangkok, Siem Reap, and somewhere else (undecided). We considered trekking in Chaing Mai, but after considering the heat and smoke haze, perhaps another destination would be appropriate. Do you have any advice?

    Congratulations on your traveling decisions, and thank you very much for your time.

    Doug (Louisville, KY)

    • Charlie and Brittany October 5, 2016 at 1:18 am · · Reply

      Hey Doug – apologies for the delayed reply! The haze is always an issue for Chiang Mai around that time but I definitely wouldn’t pass up Chiang Mai just because of it. I think it should probably come down to more what you want to do – the beach or the mountains. Chiang Mai has tons of great temples, markets, thai cooking classes, trekking, the elephant nature park, etc. Yet, Thailand’s beaches are amazing as well. I would recommend Krabi over Phuket though 😉 Another thing to note is that Songkran (the Thai New Year) is in April and is a once in a lifetime experience. We’ve participated in Chiang Mai and it is insane but so much fun. Your kids would probably love it. If you can work it in your schedule, I would definitely recommend it. Hope this helps!!

  7. This is the same Doug mentioned above. I failed to click the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” (below).
    Clicking now. Thanks a lot!

  8. Thanks for this post. We are hoping to make a trip to Thailand sometime soon, and this will help us decide when to go. I think we will be visiting Northern Thailand. Do you have any recommendations for cities to stay for a foodie trip? Thanks!

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