The tropical monsoon climate of Southern Thailand puts Phuket at the mercy of two opposing winds: the hot, wet southwest monsoon and the cool, dry northeast monsoon. When you add the sunny transitional period between monsoons, you get Southern Thailand’s three distinct seasons:
- Rainy season from mid-May to mid-October, when the southwest monsoon blows hot, moisture-saturated air from the Indian Ocean over Phuket.
- Winter lasts from mid-October to mid-February. It's a milder, cooler season caused by dry, cold winds blown south by the northeast monsoon from Siberia.
- Summer stretches from mid-February to mid-May. This is a transitional period between the northeast to southwest monsoons when the weather heats up just before the tropical rains hit.
"Winter" and "summer" labels aside, Phuket’s temperatures and daylight hours actually show very little variance, due to the island’s close proximity to the equator. The island’s position also places it beyond the range of most typhoons that bother the region, enhancing Phuket’s standing as a popular all-year tropical tourist destination.
Fast Climate Facts:
- Hottest Month: March (86 F/ 30 C)
- Coldest Month: October (83 F / 28 C)
- Wettest Month: September (14.2 inches)
- Windiest Month: July (3 mph)
- Best Month for Swimming: January (81 F / 27 C)
Best Seasons for Sea Activities in Phuket
Phuket’s beaches draw different types of activities depending on the monsoon in action. Divers and windsurfers benefit from the winter and summer months’ calmer waters, while the strong waves brought by the rainy season are all to the surfing community’s benefit.
- Surfing: During the rainy season, the prevailing winds increase the speed and force of waves hitting Phuket’s west coast. Bad for swimmers but great for surfers, who converge on Kata, Kata Noi, Nai Harn, Surin and Kamala Beaches between April and October.
- Diving: The relatively rain-free winter to summer months bring peak visibility to Phuket’s surrounding waters. The height of diving season takes place between November to April.
- Windsurfing: The northeast monsoon between November to February comes with flatter waves and steadier winds. While experienced windsurfers might be able to handle the rainy season’s unpredictable conditions, first-time windsurfers should stick to doing their thing in the winter months.
Rainy Season in Phuket
Between mid-May and mid-October, increased rain and strong sea currents on Phuket’s west coast lead to a significant drop in tourism. Low season in Phuket can still be a blessing if you like overcast weather, little to no competition for loungers on the beach, and greener natural surroundings.
From June to August, days tend to be sunny, briefly interrupted with intense showers that vanish as abruptly as they arrive. September is the wettest month of the year, with 23 rainy days and 14.22 inches of rainfall. From September to October, heavy rains cause flooding and landslides across the island, complicating transportation around Phuket.
During the rainy season, Phuket’s beaches suffer from stronger-than-usual waves and treacherous undercurrents that can drag swimmers out to sea. Authorities put up red flags on Phuket’s beaches to warn would-be swimmers from going in. When you see these flags flying, avoid the water.
Phuket Town sees a few festivals in this time despite the rains: Por Tor, or the Hungry Ghost Festival, occurs in August, and the Vegetarian (Nine Emperor Gods) Festival in October.
What to pack: Prepare for the rains and humidity, with an umbrella and moisture-wicking or linen shirts to beat the sweaty days. Leave the raincoat at home; they’ll feel hellish when humidity hits a sweltering high of 82 percent. DEET Insect repellent should be on your packing list, too, as the rains breed more mosquitoes.
Winter in Phuket
As the north-east monsoon takes over between mid-October to mid-February, its cool and dry winds bring sunnier skies, receding rains, and calmer seas. This also signals the arrival of peak tourist season in Phuket; prices at most Phuket establishments will be at their highest at this time of the year.
“Winter” aside, temperatures don’t get cold, only cooler. The thermometer hits an absolute low of about 80 degrees F (27 degrees C) between November and December—not freezing by any means.
February brings an appealing collection of lows and highs: the most sunlight (10 hours a day), lowest relative humidity (69 percent), and lowest rainfall (under one inch). It’s the perfect time for swimming in Phuket’s beaches, and for festivals like the Bay Regatta race and Chinese New Year.
What to pack: January, February, and March are very sunny months in Phuket, thus high SPF sunscreen should be a high priority. Hats and sunglasses will come in handy when you’re on the beach,or hopping on a boat.
Summer in Phuket
From mid-February to mid-May, Phuket enters a transitional period between monsoon winds. The heat reaches a peak between March and April, with average temperatures hitting around 83 degrees F (28 degrees C). Humidity begins to crescendo, too, rising from 71 percent in March to 79 perceny in May—intensifying the hothouse feeling of Phuket in the summertime.
That’s why the New Year festival of Songkran (held over three days, from April 13 to 15) offers so much relief to Phuket residents and visitors. Next to soaking in sweat from the sun and humidity, getting splashed on the street feels like a welcome break!
What to pack: Bring a Super Soaker or similar water sprayer if you’re coming in time for Songkran. Moisture-wicking clothes will help you deal with the constant sweat, as will a water bottle to help rehydrate you as you go.
|January||84 F / 29 C||1.19 inches||12 hours|
|February||85 F / 29 C||0.94 inches||12 hours|
|March||86 F / 30 C||2.89 inches||12 hours|
|April||86 F / 29 C||5.63 inches||12 hours|
|May||85 F / 29 C||10.22 inches||12.5 hours|
|June||85 F / 29 C||8.4 inches||13 hours|
|July||84 F / 29 C||10.16 inches||12.5 hours|
|August||84 F / 29 C||11.29 inches||12 hours|
|September||83 F / 28 C||14.22 inches||12 hours|
|October||83 F / 28 C||12.6 inches||12 hours|
|November||83 F / 28 C||6.98 inches||12 hours|
|December||84 F / 29 C||2.85 inches||12 hours|