The best time to visit Thailand is also unsurprisingly the busiest time as masses of visitors arrive to take advantage of dry weather between monsoon seasons.
Although the world's weather has changed and seasons are not quite as clearly defined as they once were, parts of Thailand are best visited in specific months. Rain pops up unexpectedly even during Thailand's dry season, and you'll still find plenty of places to visit during the monsoon months.
Depending on where you happen to be, rain during Thailand's monsoon season can be as nondisruptive as an afternoon shower to cool things down. On the other hand, some storms can rage for days and cause flooding in some areas.
A benefit of traveling during Thailand's low season is that you'll have to fight fewer crowds and can get better deals on accommodation in popular destinations.
- Read about how monsoons affect the weather in Southeast Asia.
Best Time of Year to Visit Thailand
The best time to go to Thailand is during the dry season that stretches roughly from November until April.
Temperatures in January and February are pleasantly warm but then climb to scorching hot around the end of April just before the monsoon begins. The monsoon rains start around May or the beginning of June and runs until November.
Traveling during the monsoon season is hit or miss, however, you'll be able to enjoy some places in Thailand with little rain or only occasional thunderstorms.
The north of Thailand typically receives less rain than the south during the monsoon season.
The Best Time to Visit Bangkok
Thunderstorms pop up in afternoons during the wet season, sometimes flooding the streets.
September is typically the wettest month in Bangkok. Low areas around Bangkok near the Chao Phraya River are prone to flooding during very wet monsoon seasons.
The pollution in Bangkok keeps humidity very high year round.
The Best Time to Visit Chiang Mai
Although Chiang Mai is relatively cooler and milder than the rest of the country thanks to the elevation, pollution from the city's traffic traps humidity during the hot months of March and April. Temperatures can dip into the 60s Fahrenheit at night in Chiang Mai during fall.
Dust and uncontrolled fires cause poor air quality in March and April around Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand. The fires are an annual event that the government has not been able to control. People with asthma or allergies to smoke or dust will be better off visiting at a different time of year, perhaps during the rainy season when the air is cleaner.
Weather in the Thai Islands
The weather in the Thai islands is affected by more than just the time of year; storms at sea can bring rain even during the dry months.
Rain begins around April and tapers off in October on the west coast for islands in the Andaman Sea such as Koh Lanta and Phuket. The islands such as Koh Tao and Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand see the most rain between October and January.
Some islands such as Koh Lanta practically close down during the monsoon season. While you'll still be able to arrange transportation there, your eating and accommodation choices could be very limited. Read about Koh Lanta weather to better understand the distinct seasons there.
Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand is hit hardest by monsoon rain between June and September; many guesthouses close down for the season.
Busy Season and Festivals in Thailand
The Christmas and New Year holidays tend to attract large crowds to Bangkok, then the busy season climbs steadily from January onward.
Chinese New Year (dates change; in January or February) is another busy time as many people travel to Thailand for the 15-day holiday.
An unofficial busy season hits the islands in Thailand around June as many university students from Europe and Australia head out to party on islands such as Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and Koh Phi Phi. The islands quiet down again slightly after the students finish their summer breaks.
The largest festivals in Thailand tend to make accommodation prices skyrocket and transportation fills up before and after the celebration.
Chiang Mai is the epicenter for Songkran, the Thai new year and water festival, a big event celebrated April 13 to 15. Accommodation and transportation are completely booked both before and immediately following the festival.
The Haad Rin area of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand attracts enormous crowds of revelers each month bound for the famous Full Moon Party; accommodation around Haad Rin hits maximum capacity. See a list of Full Moon Party dates to plan your visit accordingly.
The Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals (dates change; usually in November) attract huge crowds to Chiang Mai; transportation gets completely bogged down.