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Best Time to Visit Thailand. Weather in Thailand

When is the best time to go to Thailand to hit the best weather? Which island to choose during the rainy season? Does it make sense to arrive in the low season? Will it rain in July?

With my post and all weather insights, you will be able to choose the right timing for your holiday in Thailand. You will find temperature and rainfall charts for popular tourist destinations at the end of the article.

 

All you should know about weather and climate in Thailand

  • Thailand is large so there is no such thing as same weather pattern for the whole country.
  • There are three seasons in Thailand and Thailand is located in two climate zones.
  • The end of the rainy season does not mean that the rain stops across the country. In a number of provinces, real downpours are just beginning.

All weather and climate information provided in this post is based on data from the Thai Insitute of Meteorology website, TMD 
I recommend the TMD website for tracking weather and weather alerts.

How many seasons are in Thailand?

Contrary to the common belief that Thailand has only a dry and a wet season, there are actually 3 seasons as follows:

  • rainy season
  • winter, or the cold season 
  • summer, or the hot season

 which are formed by the following monsoons:

  • Southwest starting mid-May and lasting until mid-October
  • Northeast starting mid-October, ending mid-February.

Rainy season in Thailand

The rainy season lasts five months from mid-May to mid-October. Statistically, August and September are considered the wettest months nationwide. Unfortunately, not all of Thailand's rain season ends at the same time. The exception is the South-Eastern region, where heavy rains occur in November and may even last until December.

What the rainy season looks like in Thailand

The rainy season is the most varied season of the year. During its duration, everything is to be expected. From beautiful sunny weather to downpours causing localised flooding.

The variability of the weather from sunny to evening thunderstorms is well illustrated by the gallery below, for which I have chosen images taken a few hours apart one day in June.

During the rainy season it is usually very warm, even humid. Depending on the day it can be cloudy, or very sunny. The weather can change in minutes, so it's a good idea to take a rain coat with you (you can cheap buy one in Thailand).

When it comes to rainfall, it really varies:

  • It may not rain for several days,
  • Sometimes it rains mostly at night,
  • It can rain shortly but intensively during the day (rain showers)
  • Sometimes it pours continuously for days and nights - fortunately this happens relatively rare. 

Statistically at this time of year, it is August and September that are the wettest across most of the country.

Below you can find a gallery of photos from Bangkok taken over 3 years in different months of the rainy season to illustrate how different the weather can be. 

What to expect during the rainy season in Thailand

During the rainy season, the following difficulties are to be expected:

  • worse sea conditions caused by winds, currents and precipitation

    Unfortunately, during the rainy season there are occasionally poor swimming conditions, like rip currents and big waves.

  • closed national parks
    Some national parks periodically close or limit the availability of certain attractions during selected months of the rainy season. Always check before planning the trip. For example, Mu Ko Similan National Park is closed during the entire rainy season.

  • local flooding in Bangkok
    Almost every heavier downpour ends up with flooded Bangkok streets and difficulties getting around the city.
  • local flooding and landslides
    During the period of the most intense rainfall, regional flooding and even mudslides may occur.
  •  mosquito breeding
    The rainy season facilitates the breeding of mosquitoes and therefore an increase in the number of cases of certain tropical diseases.
  • occurrence of jellyfish
    The wet season is when jellyfish warnings appear on many beaches. Beware of the extremely dangerous box jellyfish
  • the most stunning sunsets
    I enjoy the rainy season for its incredible diversity, lush greenery, clean air, and gorgeous, colourful sunsets.

Cool season in Thailand

The cold season stretches from mid-October to mid-February

Thai winter, or the cool-dry season, corresponds temporally to the autumn-winter period in Poland and Europe. However, unlike in Poland, winter in Thailand is still very hot and relatively dry.

Be aware that the beginning of winter (October-November and even December) in the south-eastern region in Thailand is extremely wet. Therefore, the holiday destination should be chosen carefully. 

High season in Thailand

Thai winter is the tourist season in Thailand because it's the time of year when weather conditions are very good. It is warm, but not too hot, it rains occasionally, and there are generally very good sea conditions.

Due to the weather in different parts of the country, cool season can be divided into two periods: 

  • A cooler end to the year

    At the end of the year (November-December), the north of the country can be quite cool, while the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia can be very rainy. Scroll to the bottom of this article to find a hint on the right destination for each season.

  • A sunny start to the year

    The most reliable and weather-safe period is January-March. During these months, the weather is stable and generally good almost all over the country. A great time for a holiday.

    However, it is during the first quarter that many areas of Thailand, including Bangkok and Chiang Mai, experience significant air pollution. Fortunately, the presence of smog is a temporary situation related mainly to agricultural activities.

Summer in Thailand

Summer lasts from mid-February to mid-May

The tourist season ends in February, thus many people think that there is no reason to come to Thailand in March and April because the rains start then. Nothing could be further from the truth. March is the month when very hot, Thai summers begin with temperatures peaking in April.

However, it is not the right time for everyone. Those who can't stand the heat very well should avoid visiting Thailand in summer, as temperatures can reach 40 C and it is unbearably hot and the sun burns the skin. 

Thai residents at this time are seeking respite from the heat and public schools are closed for the holiday.

Climate in Thailand

With regard to climatic conditions, 5 different regions of weather in Thailand have been distinguished (source: TMD.go.th). The division into climatic regions is slightly different from the geographical division. 

The weather can vary in each region, so when you ask about the weather in Thailand, be sure to specify which destination you are considering. 

  • Northern region it covers 16 provinces, of which those more familiar to tourists are: Chiang Rai, Chiang, Mai, Nan and Sukhothai
  • Central region covers 18 provinces, including but not limited to:  Lop Buri, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi and Bangkok.
  • Wschodni region located by the Gulf of Thailand, comprised of 8 provinces. In this region you will find the province of Trat with the islands of Koh Chang, Koh Mak and Koh Kut, and Rayong with the island of Koh Samet, as well as Pattaya.
  • Southern region:
    south-east covering the provinces and islands along the Gulf of Thailand. This region includes Surat Thani, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Hua Hin, among others. In this region, after the rainy season ends, it can still rain very heavily until the end of the year. The highest rainfall is in November.

    south-west located by the Andaman Sea covering provinces well known to tourists: Ranong, Phang Nga, Krabi, Phuket, Trang and Satun. This part of Thailand is especially experiencing rain in September.

Choose the best time for each destination to visit Thailand

Check below rainfall and temperature charts for popular destinations in Thailand*. Of course, no chart can guarantee good weather, but they can help deciding when to go to Thailand.

Based on few years of experience, if you are looking for sunny conditions throughout your stay, it is better to avoid the months with the highest rainfall..

I recommend checking the 3-monthly weather forecasts available at TMD. Forecasts include rainfall and temperature maps for each month.

*) The values for the graphs are taken from statistics over the last 30 years, which were made available on the previous version of the Thai TMD website.

Best time to visit Phuket

Phuket is both a province and an island in the south-west region.
Between August to October you may expect highest rainfall. In addition, this is a time when conditions for swimming are not the best and there may be rip currents on the west coast.
The best time to arrive is is December - April.

We have been to Phuket twice. The first time we were 10 days in July, which was the rainy season. The second time we were a week in the summer, in April. During our entire stay in July (the rainy season), 3 days it poured day and night, practically non-stop. The other days were partly cloudy and partly very sunny, with brief rain showers. The sea was rather rough. 

In April we were luckier with the weather, it was very hot and sunny with some occasional summer thunderstorm once every couple of days. The conditions for swimming were very good.

Best time to visit Krabi

The province of Krabi includes: Ao Nang, Railay and the islands of Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Poda, Koh Pu (Koh Jum), Koh Ngai.

Krabi, just like Phuket, is in the south-west region therefore, the weather in this province is quite similar to Phuket.

As you can see from the chart, October is the month with the highest rainfall in the province and it was October when we went to Railay.

Unfortunately, in this case the forecasts came true and we had very poor weather. It was cloudy for practically the whole stay (4 days), including from the afternoon until the morning it was downpouring. 

Despite the weather conditions, we managed to have a pleasant time, enjoyed the beach during the day and explored the area. We even took an excursion to Koh Poda. However, the sea conditions weren't good and the waves were high. 

But in April we were on Koh Phi Phi and, like a typical Thai summer, it was very, very hot with summer evening thunderstorms.

For this province, I was able to find data separately for the island of Koh Lanta.

Best time to go to Phang Nga

Phang Nga province is a large province in the Southwest region that covers part of the mainland and islands in Phanga Bay in the Andaman Sea, including the more famous Koh Yao Yai, Koh Yao Noi, as well as Similan islands and Surin islands. 

Due to weather conditions, the islands of Similan and Surin are inaccessible to visitors during the rainy season.

Best time to visit Trang

Trang, is another province in the South West region. The islands of Koh Kradan, Koh Muk and Koh Libong are located in this province.

Best time to visit Satun

Satun is a province that is perhaps not very well known, but the island of Koh Lipe, called the Thai Maldives, is certainly familiar to many.

Best time to visit Ranong

Ranong is the northernmost province in the South West region. Some may associate it with the peaceful and a paradise island of Koh Phayam.

Best time to visit Surat Thani

Surat Thani is a province in the south-eastern region that is very popular amongst tourists, not only because of the beautiful islands located in the Gulf of Thailand, but also because of the Khao Sok National Park. 

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the rainy season that gets you the most wet here. The most rainy time is the end of the year with the peak in November. Just by looking at the chart for Koh Samui, you can see that there can be even more rain on the islands than on the mainland. 

We were on Koh Samui for over a week at the end of December, which was still the rainy season. Just before we arrived, there were very heavy downpours and local floods throughout the province. However, we were lucky with fantastic and sunny weather throughout our stay.

This year (2022) in April, we went to Koh Tao, Koh Nang Yuan and Koh Phangan. April is a month with almost guaranteed summer weather. Unfortunately, we hit a weather anomaly that happens once every few years and the first few days of our stay were very rainy and cloudy with terrible sea conditions. 

Thankfully, on the third day it cleared up completely and by the end of our stay we had perfect, typically summer, weather.

Best time to visit Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin

Prachuap Khiri Khan is a province in the south-eastern region where I currently live. Thus, I have a very good comparison to Bangkok, where the weather was slightly different.

In this province, it rains more at the end of the year than during the rainy season. October and November are noticeably wetter than the other months. There are even periods when it rains continuously for several days. Sunny days also occur from time to time.

During the rainy season, from May to October, it is very nice and sunny with occasional showers.
 

Best time to visit Trat

Trat is an easterly province popular because of the much-loved Koh Chang Island. It is characterised by very high rainfall totals throughout the year.
It will be better to visit Trat definitely during the dry season

Best time to visit Rayong (Koh Samet)

Rayong, where Koh Samet island is located, is a province in the eastern region. Statistically, the wettest months are May, September and October.

We have been to Koh Samet twice, once in February and once in April. On both occasions we had awesome sunny weather and calm seas, ideal for swimming. 

On another occasion we were in Rayong in October. It was a time of rapidly changing weather, from full sun to heavy rains within just a few minutes. The sea was quite rough. 

Best time to visit Pattaya

Pattaya is a province and town also in the eastern region, hence the weather is similar to Rayong. We visited Pattaya in July and could not complain about the weather. It only drizzled for one day.

Best time to visit Bangkok

Bangkok is part of the Central Province. Due to the city's dense construction, I would say that the heat is felt much more intensely in Bangkok than on the islands, for example. The rainy season, on the other hand, is not especially unpleasant, as long as a downpour does not paralyse the city.

The best time to visit Bangkok is in November and December. In January-March you can hit heavy smog and poor air clarity.

Best to visit Kanchanaburi

Kanachanaburi is located in the central region. Tourists may know the province for its famous Erawan Falls and the River Kwai.

We traveled to Kanchanaburi in July, which is in the middle of the rainy season. We had great and sunny weather with short downpours during the day or at night. 

Best time to visit Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are cities in the north of the country, where the temperature, due to the hilly landscape, may be lower especially during cold season. As for the rainy season, it runs at the same time as most of the country.

We visited Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in December and had fantastic weather for touring, but the nights were chilly with temperatures around 12-17 C. 

Ze względu na bardzo duży smog, odradzam podróż na północ Tajlandii w okresie od lutego do kwietnia. 

plan podróży Chiang Mai Tajlandia z dzieckiem
Chiang Mai

Read a summary of our week-long trip to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Summary

The rainy season is not as bad as they say it is, but if you are looking for sunny conditions most of the time you stay in Thailand, it is better to avoid months with the highest precipitation.

According to all the data and my observations, the first quarter of the year is the most favourable. As for the end of the year, it depends on the region and provinceThe hottest is the month of April, while the coldest is around the beginning of the year. 

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