The Best Time to Visit Bangkok

Boat floating along Amphawa riverside market, Bangkok, Thailand.

Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

The best time to visit Bangkok is in November when monsoon season is ending, but busy season and temperatures haven’t yet peaked. Also during November, you’ll get to see Loi Krathong, one of Thailand’s most loved festivals.

Although Bangkok can be enjoyed at any time of year, factors such as monsoon season, busy festivals, and heat with high humidity can affect your time there. Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year celebration, is the wildest and most festive time to visit Bangkok. But to participate in the world’s largest water fight, you’ll have to deal with extreme heat in April that precedes monsoon season.

Key Events and Festivals

Although not as disruptive as they are in Chiang Mai, Songkran and Loi Krathong (Thailand’s two busiest holidays) bring even more chaos than usual to Bangkok’s streets.

From April 12-15, neighborhoods such as the Khao San Road area in Banglumphu will be in the throes of the largest water fight in the world. Unless you happen to be a monk or hide indoors for four days, you’re going to get drenched during Songkran. Protect your passport and electronics!

Lunar New Year (January or February) is another exceptionally busy time to be in Bangkok. Both airports become inundated with Chinese travelers taking advantage of the holiday. Although Suvarnabhumi becomes clogged, the older Don Mueang Airport gets hit the hardest. Wait times at immigration can be more than two hours as queues snake throughout the airport.

Thailand is one of the few countries in the world where travelers should pay attention to the moon phases. If you’re traveling to islands in the Samui Archipelago, know that transportation from Bangkok will be affected just before a full moon. Tens of thousands of travelers head south to Haad Rin on the island of Koh Phangan to dance on the beach during Full Moon Parties. Afterward, there is a mass migration north to Bangkok.

The Weather in Bangkok

Unless extreme air conditioning in massive mega-malls is the cause, you’ll never be chilly in Bangkok. Middle-of-the-night lows in January, often the coolest month, are still in the mid-70s F. Temperatures feel warmer and the air thicker due to urban humidity trapped by pollution.

Daytime averages usually range between 82-89 degrees F. Highs during the “hot season” from March to May can surpass 100 degrees F with more than 70 percent humidity.

Monsoon Season

Monsoon season gives Bangkok a much-needed cleaning from May to October. The finale in September and October is usually the rainiest time to travel in Thailand. September receives 12.3 inches of rain on average. Even during the peak of the rainy season, you’ll still have plenty of days without rain to explore Bangkok. Enjoy, but be ready for pop-up downpours on most afternoons.

The Chao Phraya River is subject to flooding during monsoon season (especially in August and September). Although engineering measures have been taken since the record-breaking floods in 2011, parts of the city remain inundated every year. Closed streets and halted taxi-boat service on the river exasperate traffic problems.

Peak Season in Bangkok

First, prepare yourself: Bangkok is always busy. In fact, Thailand’s capital often lures in more annual travelers than any other city in the world, including London and New York! Over 38 million people visited Thailand in 2018, and most of them passed through Bangkok. You’re going to have to share the delights, especially at top tourist attractions such as the Grand Palace and floating markets.

As mentioned, Lunar New Year and big Thai festivals cause the number of travelers passing through Bangkok to surge. If your plan is to get out of Bangkok quickly, try flying into another port of entry (e.g., Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, or Koh Samui) instead to avoid congestion.

January

With an average temperature of 82 degrees F, January is one of the coolest months in Bangkok. It’s also one of the busiest. Practically no rain and tolerable temperatures draw more travelers than ever, especially during Chinese New Year. If you don’t mind entering the fray of peak season, January is one of the best times to visit Bangkok.

Events to check out:

February

February is also a peak, high-season month to visit Bangkok. Temperatures average a toasty 85 degrees F, and humidity can reach 70 percent. Although that doesn’t sound very “cool,” February is the last cool month before Mother Nature really turns up the heat.

Lunar New Year sometimes occurs in February. Check dates if you’ll be visiting Bangkok in February!

March

March is the start of hot season in Bangkok. Although rainy days are still rare, temperatures and humidity climb. Highs average in the 90s F but can top 100 degrees F during the afternoon. Nights are warm and muggy.

Pack plenty of extra tops; you’ll need at least two a day. Use the heat as an excuse to take advantage of the excellent shopping in Bangkok.

April

April is the hottest month in Bangkok and the last month of dry season. High temperatures hover between the mid-90s F and 101 degrees F.

At this point, locals and tourists alike are ready for monsoon season to bring some relief next month. Fortunately, the Songkran celebration gives everyone a great excuse to dump ice water on each other for a few days.

Events to check out:

  • Songkran (April 12-15) is hands down the largest, rowdiest celebration in the country. Expect to get wet every time you walk out of the hotel. Arm yourself, and splash some strangers!

May

May is the first month of monsoon season. Although at least 15 of May’s 31 days are rainy, precipitation isn’t overly disruptive. Temperatures barely budge. The air is (thankfully) much cleaner but remains stubbornly hot and humid.

Events to check out:

  • Coronation Day on May 4 is a public holiday celebrating the crowning of King Vajiralongkorn. Tourists won’t see much of the action.
  • The Royal Ploughing Ceremony (dates change) kicks off the rainy season. Rituals and formal ceremonies are held at Sanam Luang, the parade ground next to the Grand Palace.

June

As rain continues in June, temperatures finally begin to dip slightly. Despite the rain, tourist arrivals remain relatively high. Backpacking students take advantage of summer break to travel. Winter in Australia sends residents north to Southeast Asia.

July

July temperatures are in the mid-80s F as monsoon season continues. At least one out of every two days will be rainy.

King Vajiralongkorn’s birthday is observed on July 28.

August

Temperatures remain consistently in the mid-80s F throughout August. Average rainfall dips a little, perhaps gathering for a final deluge in September and October.

August 12 is the Queen Mother’s Birthday and Mother’s Day in Thailand.

September

With an average of 21 rainy days, September is the peak of the monsoon season. Rain nearly tops 13 inches, triggering flooding in low areas.

September is arguably the worst month to travel to Bangkok in terms of weather. But far fewer tourists will be clogging up popular temples and attractions.

The Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival usually occurs in September. You’ll see mooncakes for sale throughout the city.

October

October is usually the second rainiest month in Bangkok. It’s also the last month of monsoon season. At this point, most people are ready for drier weather and busy season to begin. Temperatures average 85–90 degrees F.

Events to check out:

  • October 13 is observed as King Bumibol’s Memorial Day.
  • The Phuket Vegetarian Festival (dates vary in October) is a week of chaotic processions and bodily mutilation.
  • For some quirky fun, go check out the creative costumes shown off by locals in the Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri area on Halloween.

November

November marks the start of dry season and buildup to high season. Temperatures climb a little as rain (usually) begins to subside around mid-month. The number of wet days plummets to five or six for the month.

Events to check out:

  • Loy Krathong is the second largest holiday in Thailand. Colorful, candlelit floats are placed on the Chao Phraya River for blessings. Cultural performances can be enjoyed throughout the city. The famous sky lanterns often seen in photos are prohibited in Bangkok. They are actually a part of Yi Peng in Northern Thailand.

December

The tourist floodgates really open in December as high season feels official. Many European travelers take their Christmas holidays in Thailand. The "winter" weather is enjoyable with temperatures and humidity among the lowest felt all year.

Events to check out:

  • December 5 is the anniversary of King Bhumibol’s birthday. Although Thailand’s longest-reigning monarch passed away in 2016, he’ll still be remembered with candlelit vigils and memorials.
  • Thailand has only been observing Gregorian New Year since 1942, but New Year’s Eve is a public holiday. Many of the nightlife venues and rooftop bars will host countdown parties to lure in expats and holiday travelers.
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