Thailand in Fall

Weather and Festivals for Thailand in September, October, and November

Loi Krathong During Fall in Thailand
••• Loi Krathong is one of the most spectacular festivals during fall in Thailand. Suttipong Sutiratanachai / Getty Images

Visiting Thailand in Fall has some advantages, but there are a few caveats to consider. As the monsoon season peaks in September then begins to taper out in November, crowds rush in to take advantage of sunny days and big holidays such as Loi Krathong.

Traditionally, November marks the beginning of the busy season in Thailand, although things don’t become really busy until around Christmas. As backpacking travelers from Australia and New Zealand head back to school, plenty of Europeans and Scandinavians looking to escape winter in their home countries arrive in the islands.

September and October are usually the wettest months in Thailand, however, there are a few places to escape the daily downpours. With a little luck and cooperation from Mother Nature, you could enjoy uncrowded, gorgeous beaches on islands during Thailand’s low season — consecutive sunny days during the rainy season aren’t uncommon.

The Weather for Thailand in Fall

The fall months of September, October, and November bring comfortable temperatures, however, they are a transition time for the monsoon. The difference in rainy days versus sunny days can be very pronounced from region to region. Some islands in Thailand such as Koh Chang will experience flooding and torrential rain, meanwhile the islands a little farther to the south such as Koh Samui receive a fifth of the rainfall. The island of Koh Lanta has it's own unique weather patterns.

In the case of Koh Chang, waiting until November to visit the island rather than arriving in October could mean missing close to 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of average precipitation!

On the other hand, Koh Samui’s average rainfall jumps to 490 millimeters (19.3 inches) during November when Bangkok and other places are much drier than before.

Temperatures in the north of Thailand (Chiang Mai, Pai, and Mae Hong Son) can dip low enough to feel chilly at night, particularly after sweating all afternoon.

Skies are often overcast, but overall, the north receives far less rain than Bangkok or the islands in the south.

Of course, Mother Nature does as she wants; November is considered a “shoulder season.” On any given year, the monsoon can linger a few additional weeks or dry up earlier than expected.

Thailand Weather in September

September can be a very rainy month in Thailand, although temperatures are mild and pleasant.

Places with the most rain:

Places with less rain:

Thailand Weather in October

October sometimes causes the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok to flood, worsening traffic and causing disruptions.

Places with the most rain:

  • Bangkok
  • Ayutthaya
  • Koh Chang
  • Koh Samui and nearby islands
  • Phuket and nearby islands
  • Ao Nang / Railay

Places with less rain:

  • Chiang Mai
  • Pai
  • Mae Hong Son
  • Northern provinces

Thailand Weather in November

November is a great choice for visiting Thailand because rain begins to slow, but temperatures are mild compared to the scorching spring months.

November is the start of the high season, however, things don’t become very busy until December.

Places with the most rain:

  • Koh Samui (very heavy rain)
  • Koh Phangan
  • Koh Tao

Places with less rain:

  • Bangkok
  • Ayutthaya
  • Chiang Mai
  • Pai
  • Koh Chang
  • Hua Hin
  • Phuket and nearby islands (mix of rainy and sunny days)

Loi Krathong and Yi Peng in Thailand

Loi Krathong and Yi Peng, combined into one beautiful event in Thailand, are celebrated every year in November; the festival is a favorite for many travelers and locals alike. A dazzling number of fire-powered lanterns are released throughout the event, causing the sky to appear full of flickering stars. Meanwhile, thousands of small boats containing candles are floated on rivers as part of the Loi Krathong celebration.

Standing on Narawat Bridge in Chiang Mai during Loi Krathong is an unforgettable experience, although you’ll be jostling to hold your position and maybe dodging lots of illegal fireworks shot from all directions.

From the vantage point of the bridge, you’ll be able to see candlelit krathongs floating beneath you, lanterns in the sky above you, and fireworks — both permitted and rogue — in a full panorama around you.

Yi Peng, also known as the Lantern Festival, is a Lanna holiday; get to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, or one of the smaller villages between for the most action. As with many of the festivals in Thailand, dates change annually due to the lunar calendar.

Other Fall Festivals in Thailand

The chaotic-and-bizarre Phuket Vegetarian Festival held between September and October certainly isn’t all about tofu and tempeh. Volunteers perform amazing feats of self mutilation such as piercing their faces with swords and skewers. Participants claim to be in a trance-like state and feel little pain.

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is actually a part of the Taoist Nine Emperor Gods Festival and is celebrated in various ways throughout other parts of Southeast Asia. But in Thailand, unsurprisingly, the place to be for the madness is Phuket. Some smaller celebrations are held by the ethnic Chinese population in Bangkok.

Dates for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival change annually; the event begins on the eve of the ninth lunar month on Chinese calendars (usually between late August and the beginning of October).

Halloween is celebrated to some degree in Bangkok with costume parties and festive displays. If nothing else, take a stroll down Khao San Road to see some interesting costumes mixed throughout the diverse crowd.

More About Traveling Thailand in Fall

Traveling Thailand in fall just before the busy season winds up has advantages and disadvantages. You’ll have to deal with less crowds (many backpackers and families with children will be back to school), so finding discounts for accommodation is a little easier.

One downside of traveling during or just after the rainy season is the increased nuisance from mosquitoes. Learn some tricks for protecting yourself from the ravenous biters in Southeast Asia.

Another downside of traveling during the rainy season is that the diving in many areas may not be as enjoyable as usual due to runoff and sediment that reduces visibility. Fortunately, the dive shops in Southeast Asia are typically honest with customers and will warn you ahead of time.

Construction may be more of an issue during fall in Thailand as resorts race to finish projects before the busy season begins in December. Read reviews for complaints, or consider booking only one night in a place and then extending if noise from construction isn’t an issue. Large stretches of coast on islands such as Koh Lanta are practically rebuilt every season; thatch roofs and bamboo structures often don’t survive the seasonal storms.