Breathtaking landscapes, wondrous white sandy beaches, sensational cuisine, a rich and flourishing culture and warm hospitality are among just some of the many attributes that have captivated and drawn travelers from around the world to Thailand. The ‘Land of Smiles’ is unquestionably a destination that offers the full package to seasoned travelers and new comers alike.
Getting to know a little more about the general climate and weather patterns will help you plan and get the most out of your trip. Generally speaking, Thailand has a fairly forgiving climate, but it’s always good to know what to expect so you can prepare accordingly.
Thailand’s climate has three distinct seasons; hot, rainy and relatively cool. Although this is the case nationwide, the time in which these seasons occur varies depending on the region. By splitting the country into five major zones, we can get a better sense of the climate. So, let’s take a closer look one by one.
1 The North
The north is mountain country with evergreen forests separated by creeks and rivers. The northern inland plains are hot for most of the year, with March and April being the hottest, winter is still quite hot but cooler at night, especially in December and January, where temperatures can reach 5°C (41°F) in some cases. The rainy season tends to follow the hot season, usually spanning from May through to October.
If you’re an adventurer that enjoys outdoor frolics like camping, hiking and river rafting, then you’ll definitely want to trek up here!
2 Central – Bangkok & surrounding areas
The central region is comprised mostly of flatlands with a coastline along the lower boarders. The climate is generally hot and humid all year round, especially in the capital, Bangkok. The peak of the hot season is from mid-February to June (sunscreen, sunscreen, and sunscreen!).
As we know, the rainy season usually follows the heat, starting in June all the way to October. Prior to the rainy season, between March and mid-May, the heat intensifies, often reaching 37-38°C (99-100°F).
Although Bangkok is not as hot as the northern central areas, in return it is a lot more humid because of its proximity to the sea. On top of that, you have to take into account what is known as ‘urban heat island effect’ where heat gets trapped within a big built up city. So pack some loose fitting comfortable clothes and take refuge in air-conditioning when you can!
The best time to visit would be mid-November to January, as its least hot and outside of the rainy season so you can explore the many sights, temples, shopping & incredible food that Bangkok has to offer.
If you’re thinking of making a short trip south-east of the capital to Pattaya, the climate is much the same but with the added bonus of being located in a stretch of coast.
3 The East
This region experiences similar climates to the central, however during the hottest months, March and April; temperatures can reach a soaring 40°C (104°F). Post to the intense heat, comes the rainy season, kicking in around May, but usually doesn’t get heavy until late October with showers lasting anywhere from half an hour to an hour.
Rain tends to be more abundant in the south-east region of Pattaya, starting from Rayong and areas bordering Cambodia. Summer rains are plentiful in the most eastern part of Rayong, including Chantaburi, Trat, Koh Chang and Koh Samet.
A good time to visit would again be around December to February, avoiding the brutal heat during March and April. Oh, and remember to pack a lightweight raincoat with you – better safe than sorry.
4 The South Peninsula
Here we combine two zones, the east and west coast, making up the southern peninsula. Much like the rest of Thailand, the climate is hot all year round, with the highest temperatures in the summer, from March to May. You can expect to experience an average temperature of 32°C (90°F) but with the additional advantage of being right next to the beach – nothing to help you cool off like a dip in the ocean.
The rainy season occurs at different times in the peninsula depending on the side. The east coast which overlooks the Gulf of Thailand, stretching from Chumpon to the Malaysian border experiences a monsoon season from early October to December, with heavy rainfall, sometimes torrential.
A beautiful destination just off the each coast is the island of Koh Samui with average temperatures of 32°C (90°F) and slightly cooler from November to January. The cooler months make it a popular time to visit, however the hotter summer season does little to stop visitors. Being fairly close to the equator, Koh Samui has consistent warm weather all year round, and for the most part, remains uninterrupted by the rainy season, which usually arrives in October and lasts just a couple of months. Although the rain can be heavy, downpours don’t tend to last very long and temperatures remain warm.
Along the west coast which overlooks the Andaman Sea, including the Similan Islands, Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe, has rainy summers as the monsoon hits the coast directly from the sea. Conversely there’s little rain from December to March making it a popular time to visit as it’s a little cooler and rain is scarce.
5 The Mountains
With peaks exceeding 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) are stunning mountain ranges in the western portion of the country, bordering Myanmar. The climate is cool in winter with mild days and cold nights and comfortably warm weather outside of winter. The mountainous areas are subject to more intense monsoons, creating flourishing rainforests. Major rivers such as the Mekong and Salween flow through before reaching the plain.
So to recap, overall the best time to visit Thailand will depend on what you’re looking for – generally the summer, March and April, are the hottest across the country. Rain and humidity are subject to the region so make sure you check the weather, especially if you don’t want a wet beach trip! Unless you’re looking to go white water rafting in the north – then aim to go during monsoon season when the creeks and rivers will be flourishing!
Thinking of Thailand as your next destination?
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