I live in Thailand, so many people ask me, “When is the best time to visit Thailand?” Thailand has three seasons, hot, hotter and hottest, which means coming at the wrong time can be a miserable experience for some.
Thailand also has spectacular holidays and festivals at different times of the year, so taking a vacation in Thailand during these periods can be good or bad, depending on what you’re looking for. If you are planning on booking a vacation (known in the UK as a holiday) to Thailand, make sure you take these things into consideration so you have the best vacation you could possibly have.
The Heat in Thailand – Thais always joke, Thailand has three seasons. Hot, hotter and hottest. It’s hot in Thailand all the time, but can get to such a high temperature (102 degrees plus), that it’s extremely uncomfortable for many westerners. Especially when you factor in the almost 100% humidity.
If you want to come to Thailand when it’s hot, but not too hot, then consider booking your vacation between the middle of October and the middle of March. These months have some of the coolest weather in Thailand (if you consider 85 degrees plus, cool), with northern cities like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai being even cooler than Bangkok.
If you like very hot weather, then the best time to visit Thailand is between the end of March and the end of September, as these months are always the absolute hottest. The average temperature during the day is between 93 and 100 degrees, with 90%-plus humidity most of the time. This, however, is also the rainy season, so you’ll need to like rain to visit Thailand from April till September.
The Rainy Season in Thailand – If you like rain, then the best time to visit Thailand is between April and September as this is Thailand’s rainy season. Be warned, rainy season in Thailand is monsoon season, so expect to see rain like you’ve never seen it before. But, the wonderful thing about rainy season is, even if the heavens open and it comes down in buckets, it will only rain for 15-30 minutes and then the rest of the day is sunny and beautiful. A bit humid though!
Festivals in Thailand – If you want to come to Thailand during the best time to experience a true Thai holiday or festival, the best times to come are the beginning of April, the beginning of November and over Christmas and New Year. From April 13th to 15th is the Thai water festival, Songkran, also known as the Thai New Year. During Songkran, expect to be soaked with water wherever you are in Thailand as kids clutch water pistols and shoot at you, cars drive by with barrels of water which they’ll throw on you, and shops have hose pipes hooked up, which they’ll turn in your direction as you walk by. During Songkran, you will be literally soaked from head to foot if you spend any time out of doors. Thais believe the water gives you good luck, plus it’s incredibly fun to participate in the huge water fights you’ll see all over Thailand. It’s incredibly hot too. So the water cools you down. If you don’t like crowds and you don’t like getting wet, then during Songkran is not the best time to visit Thailand.
On the full moon of the 12th month (November in the Thai calendar) is Loy Krathong. Loy Krathong is the big Thai festival, held all over Thailand, where people make ‘krathongs’ (small boats made out of banana leaves and stuffed wtih candles, incense, food and coins) and then float them (‘loy means to float’ – so Loy Krathong, means to ‘float boats’) down any body of water in Thailand – the ocean, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and canals.
Krathongs are floated at night and, as each small krathong has a candle and incense that’s lit before the krathong is placed into the water, you’ll see incredible sights of thousands of little lit-up boats floating down the river or on the surface of the ocean. This is believed to give praise to one of the Thai gods and, the longer your krathong stays afloat without sinking, the better your luck will be for the coming year. As Loy Krathong is only for one day, it’s one of the best times to visit Thailand as, even if you don’t like crowds, you can just avoid areas with water and you won’t even see one.
Christmas and New Year is a fabulous time to visit Thailand, which is weird as Thais are Buddhist so don’t believe in the premise of Christmas. Plus, the Thai New Year is Songkran, so New Year isn’t technically the Thai New Year either. Yet, because Thais love to celebrate, every shopping mall and store will be loaded with Christmas lights and Christmas trees, you’ll see carollers getting on and off the sky train and underground to serenade the passengers and, at New Year, there are live outdoor concerts and parties the length and breadth of Thailand. I love spending Christmas in Thailand because, even if it’s boiling hot and doesn’t feel like Christmas, the Thais make it feel exciting and fun.
The best times to come to Thailand are in the cooler months of October through March and these are also the times of two of the three Thai holidays. If you want to experience Songkran (I think everybody should at least once in their lives!) then April is the best time to visit Thailand, and if you hate spending Christmas at home, you’ll love it in Thailand.