Phuket is arguably Thailand’s best all-around destination, as it’s chock-full of amazing beaches, fun waterparks, natural landscapes, and cultural connections (including some amazing food experiences). But not all of these attractions will be accessible year-round, as the island’s three seasons impact on what visitors can see and do. The best time to visit is from mid-October to mid-February—the “winter” season that enjoys a cool, dry climate caused by northeast monsoon winds blowing in from Siberia.
Weather in Phuket
Thanks to Southern Thailand’s tropical monsoon climate, Phuket experiences weather effects from two opposing winds, which switch up annually to create three distinct seasons (if you include the sunny transitional period between monsoons):
- Rainy season: The hot, wet southwest monsoon brings in moisture-saturated air from the Indian Ocean, causing torrential rains from mid-May to mid-October
- Winter: The cool, dry northeast monsoon blows southward from Siberia, causing cooler, sunny and rain-free days from mid-October to mid-February
- Summer: A transitional period with hotter days but relatively rain-free weather from mid-February to mid-May
The three seasons determine what you can see (and how much they cost) at the time you visit Phuket. High season in the “winter” months brings you great weather, but plenty of crowds and high prices to boot. Low season during the monsoon season brings low prices, but some attractions are simply inaccessible because of the rain.
For a more detailed look at the local climate from month to month, read our overview of Phuket, Thailand’s weather.
Crowds in Phuket
Phuket tends to be busier during the peak season between November and March, covering the winter months and a few weeks before and after. The crowds peak in December and January, as droves of tourists escape the bitter cold of the wintry northern hemisphere to take in the sun on Phuket’s beaches.
Plan ahead if you intend to take your chances with Phuket’s peak season. Booking hotel rooms, rides and park tickets can be more of a slog in the peak season, as you’ll have plenty of competition from other tourists.
There are two ways to avoid Phuket’s crowds. If you're unavoidably visiting in the peak season, go to your chosen destinations early in the morning. Or simply visit during the low season from May to October, when rains and humidity scare away most of Phuket’s crowds.
Tourist Attraction Availability
Phuket’s beaches tend to be safe and accessible during the peak season, but can be dangerous to swim in when the rainy season hits. High winds in the rainy season create dangerous undercurrents; Karon and Patong beaches are particularly notorious for their dangerous, unpredictable “flash rip” tides in these months. You don't have to be swimming to get caught up. When visiting Phuket's beaches, mind the red flags on the beach that signal dangerous currents; if the flags are flying, don’t go swimming.
The monsoon weather also forces authorities to close the Similan and Surin Islands between May 1 and October 15 every year. Choppy waters make travel to islands, or going diving, an iffy proposition in the rainy months.
Certain Thai holidays may limit access to certain attractions. On the Buddhist festivals of Makha Bucha Day (February) and Awk Phansa (October), for example, bars will not serve alcohol, enforcing (at least for a day) the Buddhist precept against drinking potent liquids.
Prices in Phuket
While Phuket is a year-round destination, travel to the island during high season can get expensive, with resorts, rides, and attractions jacking up prices to compensate for the surge in demand. The absolute peak occurs in January, with prices everywhere rising to an all-year high.
Flight fares to Phuket rise during high season, and also during non-peak high holidays like Loy Krathong and Hungry Ghost Festival. To snag the lowest fares on Phuket flights, most tourists purchase tickets 10 months before the target dates.
Shopping prices drop between July and August during the Amazing Grand Sale, with discounts from 10 to 80 percent on most goods in participating retail outlets.
During Phuket’s rainy season between mid-May and mid-October, tourism rides out its low season, which officially starts when the Songkran festival ends on April 15.
Rainfall gradually increases, with short showers in April and May evolving to torrential downpours in September and October. Prices for hotels and transportation can hit rock-bottom lows during the rainy season; April and May offer an ideal time to visit if you’re chasing the full Phuket experience at a discount.
The island’s beaches should be avoided during rainy season, because of dangerous riptides. Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue are also increasing risks during the rainy season, so bring DEET or other anti-mosquito measures.
Events to check out:
- Por Tor Festival (Hungry Ghost Festival) in August, centers around Por Tor Kong Shrine.
- Phuket Vegetarian Festival in October is a showcase for feats of strength and vegetarian food around Saphan Hin Park.
- October's Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional Chinese festival drowning in mooncakes
Outside of Phuket Old Town, visitors can take part in:
- The Phuket Gay Pride festival at the end of April
- The Amazing Grand Sale that brings discounts in participating stores for a month starting in Mid-June
The sunny but cool weather from October to February draws crowds to Phuket, marking the island’s high season. The weather is just perfect in the winter. The climate is marked by brilliant blue skies, with cream sands glittering in high relief against the gently lapping sea.
The tourist peak in December to January brings crowds to Phuket’s most popular beaches and to the neon-lit streets near Patong Beach after dark. Prices everywhere are higher.
Events to check out:
- During Loi Krathong Festival in November, locals build candlelit floats (krathong) and release them in honor of the water goddess Phra Mae Khongkha
- Phuket King's Cup Regatta is held in December to honor the King
- Chinese Lunar New Year in January or February, is a highly important festival date for the Peranakan and Chinese living in Phuket Old Town
The two monsoon winds begin to switch over between mid-February and mid-May, heralding a transitional period that combines sunny weather with increasing heat and humidity that peaks between March and April.
Prices will start to come down from their peak, letting travelers enjoy a sunny Phuket vacation without the high winter prices. The overall Phuket experience (from beaches to nightlife) remains just as fun as in peak season, but with noticeably fewer tourists to share it with.
Events to check out:
- Makha Bucha in February is celebrated in Phuket with candlelit processions to major Buddhist temples—head over to the Phuket Big Buddha or Wat Chalong to see these unfold
- Songkran from April 13 to 16 is Thailand’s biggest festival. The Thai New Year renowned for its good-natured water battles on the street (and the more respectful washing of elders' hands in homes and temples).