Fall in Thailand: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

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

A family releasing a lantern for Loi Krathong during fall in Thailand

Patrick Foto / Getty Images

 

Fall in Thailand is often wet — September and October are typically the rainiest months in Bangkok. But you can still have a great time! There are some advantages of traveling during the "off" season: way thinner crowds being the most obvious one. Travelers can also take advantage of low-season discounts and slightly cooler temperatures.

As the monsoon season peaks in September then begins to taper out in November, crowds rush in to take advantage of sunnier 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 jammed until around Christmas.

Urgent Fall Information

In October 2011, Bangkok experienced catastrophic flooding. Since then, flooding has pretty well become an annual problem in fall as water from Ayutthaya and points farther north cause the Chao Praya River to overflow.

Although Bangkok is slightly more prepared for fall flooding these days (it happens often), the water still causes major traffic disruptions all over the city. Check conditions before arriving, and allow extra time to make flight connections.

Thailand Weather in September

September is usually the peak of the monsoon in Thailand — expect heavy showers!

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

Average High / Low Temperatures

  • Bangkok: 91F (37.2C) / 77F (25C)
  • Chiang Mai: 89.1F (31.7C) / 73.8F (23.2C)
  • Phuket: 88.7F (31.5C) / 76.3F (24.6C)
  • Koh Samui: 89.1F (31.7C) / 76.6F (24.8C)

Rainfall in September

  • Bangkok: 13.16 inches (average of 21.2 rainy days)
  • Chiang Mai: 8.32 inches (average of 17.8 rainy days)
  • Phuket: 14.22 inches (average of 22.1 rainy days)
  • Koh Samui: 4.79 inches (average of 16.2 rainy days)

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.

Thailand Weather in October

Sometimes runoff from heavy rains in the north causes the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok to flood in October, worsening traffic and causing delays.

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.

Average High / Low Temperatures

  • Bangkok: 90.7F (32.6C) / 76.6F (24.8C)
  • Chiang Mai: 88.5F (31.4C) / 72F (22.2C)
  • Phuket: 88.8F (31.5C) / 76.1F (24.5C)
  • Koh Samui: 86.9F (30.5C) / 75.7F (24.3C)

Rainfall in October

  • Bangkok: 11.5 inches (average of 17.7 rainy days)
  • Chiang Mai: 4.63 inches (average of 11.7 rainy days)
  • Phuket: 12.6 inches (average of 22.5 rainy days)
  • Koh Samui: 12.2 inches (average of 19.6 rainy days)

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 considered a "shoulder" season, however, things don’t become really busy until December.

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

Average High / Low Temperatures

  • Bangkok: 90.3F (32.4C) / 75F (23.9C)
  • Chiang Mai: 86.2F (30.1C) / 66.6F (19.2C)
  • Phuket: 89.1F (31.7C) / 76.1F (24.5C)
  • Koh Samui: 85.3F (29.6C) / 75.7F (24.3C)

Rainfall in November

  • Bangkok: 1.95 inches (average of 5.8 rainy days)
  • Chiang Mai: 2.12 inches (average of 4.9 rainy days)
  • Phuket: 6.98 inches (average of 15.4 rainy days)
  • Koh Samui: 19.95 inches (average of 19.2 rainy days)

On any given year, the monsoon can linger a few additional weeks or dry up earlier than expected.

What to Pack

Your packing list for fall in Thailand won't really differ much from other seasons. You could include a rain jacket, however, cheap ponchos and umbrellas will be for sale from carts everywhere. Remember to include one warm item to counter the vicious air conditioning on public transportation — it will feel even more chilly if you're damp!

Events

Travelers brave enough to arrive during Thailand's shoulder season in November are rewarded with the most beautiful of all the festivals in Thailand: Loi Krathong and Yi Peng. You've seen the photos: thousands of glowing lanterns drift skyward as an equal number of small, candlelit boats (krathongs) float on the river.

Aside from Halloween, dates for these fall festivals are based on the lunisolar calendar and change annually.

  • Loi Krathong and Yi Peng: Combined into one beautiful event in Thailand, both are celebrated every year in November. The festival is regarded by many as the most spectacular fall festival in Asia. 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 (krathongs) glow on the rivers as part of the Loi Krathong celebration. Yi Peng, also known as the Lantern Festival, is a Lanna holiday; get to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, or one of the other destinations in Northern Thailand for the most action.
  • Phuket Vegetarian Festival: 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 event is actually a part of the Taoist Nine Emperor Gods Festival and is celebrated in various ways throughout other parts of Southeast Asia. In Thailand, the place to be for the madness is Phuket. Some smaller celebrations are held by the ethnic Chinese population in Bangkok.
  • Halloween: Much like Christmas in Thailand, Halloween has spread from the West and is celebrated with theme parties and special events, especially along Bangkok's Khao San Road. The many expats living in Chiang Mai also celebrate with costume parties. As usual, start looking for a costume sometime before October 31.

Fall Travel Tips

Traveling Thailand in fall just before the busy season begins 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. Take extra measures 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 about conditions 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. Check recent 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.