Shimmering modern cities, bustling colourful markets and legendary street food. Enchanting historical sites and golden Buddhist temples. Lush mountain landscapes, steamy rainforests and stunning white-sand beaches. With so much on offer, the main question is: when is the best time to visit Thailand?
When is the best time to visit Thailand?
Perhaps the greatest factor affecting your trip is the climate: not only are there months of rain during the monsoon season, but temperatures can swing from comfortably warm to swelteringly hot.
With this in mind, broadly speaking, the best time to visit Thailand is during the cool and dry season, from November to early April. As well as more manageable temperatures and less rain, waterfalls are in full flow, the upland flowers are in full bloom and most activities are on offer. This is also when the bulk of Thailand’s myriad festivals are staged.
The climate of most of Thailand is governed by three seasons: rainy (the least predictable, but roughly May–Oct), caused by the southwest monsoon dumping moisture gathered from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand; cool (Nov–Feb; felt most distinctly in the far north, but hardly at all in the south); and hot (March–May).
Note that there are variations from region to region. The upland, less humid north, experiences the greatest range of temperatures: at night in the cool season the thermometer dips markedly, occasionally approaching zero on the higher slopes, and this region is often hotter than the central plains between March and May.
The northeast experiences the very worst of the hot season, with clouds of dust gathering above the parched fields, and humid air too. In southern Thailand, temperatures are more consistent throughout the year, with less variation the closer you get to the equator.
Best time to visit Thailand by month
It's not always possible to travel in the best months, so you might be interested in the weather month by month. Therefore, we created a brief overview of the best time to visit Thailand month by month. Click on the links for more details.
Weather in Thailand in January
January is one of the best months to visit Thailand, with cool and dry weather prevailing across most of the country. It's an ideal time for beach holidays, exploring cities, and outdoor activities. In the north, temperatures are relatively mild, while the south enjoys plenty of sunshine. Learn more about what to expect and how to prepare for your trip in January here.
Weather in Thailand in February
February continues the dry season in Thailand, offering pleasant temperatures and minimal rainfall. This is peak tourist season, especially in popular beach destinations. The weather is generally sunny, making it perfect for island hopping, cultural festivals, and exploring the outdoors. Discover detailed insights and travel tips for visiting Thailand in February here.
Weather in Thailand in March
March marks the beginning of the hot season in Thailand, with temperatures rising significantly. While it's still a good month to visit, especially for sun-seekers, it's advisable to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. Northern and central regions get particularly hot, but the islands remain more temperate. Find out more about visiting Thailand in March here.
Weather in Thailand in April
April is the hottest month in Thailand, with high humidity and temperatures. It's also the month of the Thai New Year (Songkran), celebrated with water festivals. Despite the heat, April offers unique cultural experiences. Coastal regions and islands may provide some respite from the heat. Get detailed information about April weather and activities here.
Weather in Thailand in May
May brings the start of the monsoon season to Thailand, particularly in the southwest. The weather is hot and humid with sporadic rainfall, which can be heavy at times. This is a less crowded time to visit, and the rain brings lush greenery in rural areas. Learn about the pros and cons of traveling to Thailand in May here.
Weather in Thailand in June
June sees the continuation of the monsoon season, with frequent showers interspersed with sunny spells. The rain is usually short and intense, rarely hindering travel plans significantly. It's a good time for visiting northern Thailand, where the rain is less severe. Explore what June has to offer for travelers in Thailand here.
Weather in Thailand in July
July is similar to June, with the monsoon season in full swing. Expect warm temperatures and regular rainfall, though there are still many sunny days. This is a great month for enjoying the green landscapes and waterfalls at their best. Discover more about the weather and activities in Thailand in July here.
Weather in Thailand in August
August in Thailand is marked by the monsoon's peak, with high humidity and frequent rain. The showers can be heavy but are usually short-lived. It's a good time for visiting the eastern Gulf islands, where the weather is better. Find out all you need to know about traveling to Thailand in August here.
Weather in Thailand in September
September is one of the wettest months in Thailand, particularly in the northern and central regions. However, it's also a period with fewer tourists and lower prices. The weather can be unpredictable, but there are still many dry spells. Learn more about the advantages and challenges of visiting in September here.
Weather in Thailand in October
October sees the end of the monsoon season, with decreasing rainfall. The weather starts to cool down slightly, making it more comfortable for travel. It's a transitional month, so weather patterns can be varied. Read more about the weather and what to expect in Thailand in October here.
Weather in Thailand in November
November marks the beginning of the cool and dry season in Thailand, offering some of the best weather conditions of the year. It's an excellent time for beach holidays, cultural exploration, and outdoor activities. The north and northeast see cooler temperatures, ideal for trekking. Find detailed information on November travel here.
Weather in Thailand in December
December is one of the coolest and driest months in Thailand, making it a peak time for tourism. The weather is ideal for all types of activities, from exploring temples to relaxing on beaches. The comfortable temperatures and low humidity levels make it a festive and popular month to visit. Learn more about December travel in Thailand here.
When to go to Thailand in winter
Winter, which spans the cool and dry season, is the best time to visit Thailand to tick off the broadest range of activities. You’ll find the heat to be at its least oppressive, although temperatures can still reach a fierce 30°C in the middle of the day in some parts, and most of the country is spared the rain.
The rainy season, which hits the Andaman coast of the southern peninsula harder than anywhere else, usually ends by November, making way for the driest time and coolest time of year, with temperatures ranging from 22°C to 29°C – time to hit those famed white-sand beaches. Krabi is a hopping off point for the region’s islands and beaches, including Ko Phi Phi, Ao Nang, Ko Lanta and Laem Phra Nang (Railay), and snorkelers and divers are enticed by the reefs of the island chains of Ko Surin and Ko Similan.
The best time to visit Thailand for the Gulf Coast’s string of sheltered sandy beaches, and for the idyllic islands of the Samui archipelago is from late December – after the northeast monsoon has done its worst.
If you’re looking for adventure involving mountain trekking and jungle exploring, the dry season is also (inevitably) the best time to travel to Thailand. However, the north sees temperatures fluctuate the most: nights can be chilly, leaving a nip in the air in the mornings, and higher altitudes can be pretty cold at night, even dropping to freezing – something to bear in mind when camping on a multi-day hill tribe trek, such as around Chiang Mai.
For city buzz in Thailand's capital, the (relatively) cool season gives you Bangkok at its least hot and humid – although with average temperatures at 28°C that's pretty sizzling by western standards. From here, it's only 120km to World Heritage Site, the Khao Yai National Park, in the densely forested Phanom Dangkrek mountains.
When to go to Thailand in spring
Visit Thailand in spring and you’ll find yourself squarely in the hot season, regularly reaching 35°C in central Bangkok. So most Thailand travel guides will tell you that the best thing to do is head for the beaches down south, where you can regularly cool off in the sea.
It’s worth noting that temperatures in southern Thailand are more consistent throughout the year, with less variation the closer you get to the equator. But bear in mind that many rivers run too low to go kayaking or white water rafting.
The major benefit of a trip this time of year is that fewer people have the same idea, which means you’re more likely to be able to book accommodation and activities last minute.
When to go to Thailand in summer
The weather in summer, during the rainy season, is known to be the hardest to forecast. Rainfall doesn’t peak until September and October in southern parts, so many are happy to visit Thailand in June when there’ll be rain most days, but often only for a few hours in the afternoon or at night, and there’s still plenty of sunshine.
In fact, there's a case to be made for visiting Thailand during the rainy season: it's quieter for a start and the rain keeps the air fresh. You'll probably want to avoid the monsoon drenchings on the Andaman Coast, but you can hop over to the Gulf of Thailand and enjoy the lovely beaches and islands there instead.
July and August are generally wet, particularly in the north, central Thailand, and on the west coast, and you can expect high humidity.
When to go to Thailand in autumn
The rains typically peak between September and October over most of Thailand. It can be harder to travel around, as unpaved roads are reduced to mud troughs, which often give way by November. These conditions can put off all but the hardiest of travellers, but if you’re looking for a cheap getaway, September is the best month to travel to Thailand for the lowest prices on flights.
Lying outside this general weather pattern is the Gulf coast of the southern peninsula. With the sea immediately to the east, this coast and its offshore islands feel the effects of the northeast monsoon, which brings rain between October and January, especially in November, but suffers less than the Andaman coast from the southwest monsoon.
Festivals in Thailand
Nearly all Thai festivals have a religious aspect. The most theatrical are generally Brahmin (Hindu) or animistic in origin, honouring elemental spirits and deities with ancient rites and ceremonial costumed parades. Buddhist celebrations usually revolve round the local temple, and while merit-making is a significant feature, a light-hearted atmosphere prevails, as the wat grounds are swamped with food and trinket vendors and makeshift stages are set up to show likay folk theatre, singing stars and beauty contests.
Few of the dates for religious festivals are fixed, so check with TAT for specifics.
Thailand festival calendar
Chinese New Year, Nakhon Sawan (Truut Jiin; three days between mid-Jan and late Feb). In Nakhon Sawan, the new Chinese year is welcomed in with particularly exuberant parades of dragons and lion dancers, Chinese opera performances, an international lion-dance competition and a fireworks display. Also celebrated in Chinatowns across the country, especially in Bangkok and Phuket.
Flower Festival, Chiang Mai (usually first weekend in Feb). Enormous floral sculptures are paraded through the streets.
Makha Puja, Nationwide (particularly Wat Benjamabophit in Bangkok, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and Wat Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat; full-moon day usually in Feb). A day of merit-making marks the occasion when 1250 disciples gathered spontaneously to hear the Buddha preach, and culminates with a candlelit procession round the local temple’s bot.
Ngan Phrabat Phra Phutthabat, near Lopburi (early Feb and early March). Pilgrimages to the Holy Footprint attract food and handicraft vendors and travelling players.
King Narai Reign Fair, Lopburi (Feb). Costumed processions and a son et lumière show at Narai’s palace.
Ngan Phra That Phanom, That Phanom (Feb). Thousands come to pay homage at the holiest shrine in Isaan, which houses relics of the Buddha.
Kite fights and flying contests, Nationwide (particularly Sanam Luang, Bangkok; late Feb to mid-April).
April and May
Poy Sang Long, Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai (early April). Young Thai Yai boys precede their ordination into monkhood by parading the streets in floral headdresses and festive garb.
Songkran, Nationwide (particularly Chiang Mai, and Bangkok’s Thanon Khao San; usually April 13–15). The most exuberant of the national festivals welcomes the Thai New Year with massive waterfights, sandcastle building in temple compounds and the inevitable parades and “Miss Songkran” beauty contests.
Ngan Phanom Rung, Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung (usually April). The three-day period when the sunrise is perfectly aligned through fifteen doorways at these magnificent eleventh-century Khmer ruins is celebrated with daytime processions and nightly son et lumière.
Visakha Puja, Nationwide (particularly Bangkok’s Wat Benjamabophit, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Wat Mahathat; full-moon day usually in May). The holiest day of the Buddhist year, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha all in one go; the most public and photogenic part is the candlelit evening procession around the wat.
Raek Na Sanam Luang, Bangkok (early May). The royal ploughing ceremony to mark the beginning of the rice-planting season; ceremonially clad Brahmin leaders parade sacred oxen and the royal plough, and interpret omens to forecast the year’s rice yield.
Rocket Festival (Bun Bang Fai), Yasothon (weekend in mid-May). Beautifully crafted, painted wooden rockets are paraded and fired to ensure plentiful rains; celebrated all over Isaan, but especially raucous and raunchy in Yasothon.
Phi Ta Khon Dan Sai, near Loei (end June or beginning July). A re-enactment of the Buddha’s penultimate incarnation provides the excuse for bawdy, masked merry-making.
Candle Festival (Asanha Puja), Ubon Ratchathani (usually July, three days around the full moon). This nationwide festival marking the Buddha’s first sermon and the subsequent beginning of the annual Buddhist retreat period (Khao Pansa) is celebrated across the northeast with parades of enormous wax sculptures, most spectacularly in Ubon Ratchathani.
Tamboon Deuan Sip, Nakhon Si Thammarat (Sept or Oct). Merit-making ceremonies to honour dead relatives accompanied by a ten-day fair.
Bang Fai Phaya Nak, Nong Khai and around (usually Oct). The strange appearance of pink balls of fire above the Mekong River draws sightseers from all over Thailand.
Tak Bat Devo and Awk Pansa, Nationwide (especially Ubon Ratchathani and Nakhon Phanom; full-moon day usually in Oct). Offerings to monks and general merrymaking to celebrate the Buddha’s descent to earth from Tavatimsa heaven and the end of the Khao Pansa retreat. Celebrated in Ubon with a procession of illuminated boats along the rivers, and in Nakhon Phanom with another illuminated boat procession and Thailand–Laos dragon-boat races along the Mekong.
Thawt Kathin, Nationwide (the month between Awk Pansa and Loy Krathong, generally Oct–Nov). During the month following the end of the monks’ rainy-season retreat, it’s traditional for the laity to donate new robes to the monkhood and this is celebrated in most towns with parades and a festival, and occasionally, when it coincides with a kingly anniversary, with a spectacular Royal Barge Procession down the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.
Loy Krathong, Nationwide (particularly Sukhothai and Chiang Mai; full moon in Nov). Baskets (krathong) of flowers and lighted candles are floated on any available body of water (such as ponds, rivers, lakes, canals and seashores) to honour water spirits and celebrate the end of the rainy season, and paper hot-air balloons are released into the night sky. Nearly every town puts on a big show, with bazaars, public entertainments and fireworks; in Sukhothai it is the climax of a son et lumière festival that’s held over several nights.
Ngan Wat Saket Wat Saket, Bangkok (first week of Nov). Probably Thailand’s biggest temple fair, held around the Golden Mount, with all the usual festival trappings.
River Kwai Bridge Festival, Kanchanaburi (ten nights from the last week of Nov into the first week of Dec). Spectacular son et lumière at the infamous bridge.
World Heritage Site Festival, Ayutthaya (mid-Dec). Week-long celebration, including a nightly historical son et lumière romp, to commemorate the town’s UNESCO designation.
New Year’s Eve Countdown, Nationwide (Dec 31). Most cities and tourist destinations welcome in the new year with fireworks, often backed up by food festivals, beauty contests and outdoor performances.