When is the best time to visit Thailand? It very much depends on each individual traveller’s priorities. Some might want nothing but sunshine and beaches with little worry for cost and head there during the high season.
Others on a tighter budget or simply wishing to avoid the crowds might prefer to go during the “rainy” season. With lots of hotel dealson offer its possible to get luxury accommodation at very low prices.
If you are looking to visit Thailand in the next 12 months, you’re going to want to pick exactly the right time of year. Nobody wants to make that 14-hour flight over, planning to pop the question, only to realise that two weeks of monsoon showers or hefty prices await them. Here is a handy guide covering all the factors you need to consider when planning your trip – weather, prices, crowds, the big events – to ensure you make the most of the limited time you have.
Much of Thailand’s climate is governed by three main seasons: the rainy (May to October), the cool (November to February) and the hot (March to May).
The monsoon period is probably the most unpredictable of the three, as rain can come in the form of a quick afternoon shower or major flooding. During stormy weather, some islands may completely shut down, so travellers will have to be flexible with their plans. Caused by the southwest monsoon bringing moisture gathered from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, the rain tends to be worse in September and October.
On the other end of the spectrum, the hot season sees temperatures rise to about 35 degrees C, but there can be variations depending on which region you are in. The less humid north will see the central plains getting extremely hot, even if the thermometer actually dips below zero at night, while the north-east gets it the worst, with humidity and masses of dust collecting in the air.
The most pleasant time to visit is the cool season. Don’t believe its name, as temperatures still reach 30 degrees Celcius in the middle of the day. Lush landscapes after the rain, stunning waterfalls, less humidity, comfortable atmospheres and busy hotels – what more could you ask for?
Do note, there are no guarantees when it comes to Thai weather – rain or sun may rear its head whenever. Either way, temperatures tend to be most consistent in the south.
During the cool peak season, crowds will be commonplace wherever you go, whether it be the nightlife venues, the shopping streets or tourist attractions, such as the Grand Palace and the Floating Market. In some cases, the traffic on the roads will be so bad that you might even find crossing the road a chore.
If you are not bothered by this, then make the most out of the weather, but if you are, you may want to avoid the crowds altogether either in the rainy season or check out the moderate numbers in the hot period.
As expected, the prices are at their highest during the peak cool period. Rates can increase by as much as 50 per cent, while flights around Christmas and New Year will be at their highest all year around. It is therefore recommended that you book your flights and accommodation at least three months in advance if you want to get the widest choice of rooms or lowest fares. As a rule of thumb, the most expensive month to visit Thailand is January, so you may want to look at going either in November or March.
The rainy season sure has its benefits – accommodation rates are slashed by half and great flight package deals are on, if you can handle the weather. Even the markets will be haggling down to rock-bottom prices, so your entire trip won’t set you back too much.
The great thing about the Thai calendar is that there is always something on, regardless of when you go, so this should not dictate your decision too much. However, it is still worth being aware of the big festivals if you want to be there for one of them.
Songkran and the Thai Water Festival occur in April, which may be in the height of the hot season, but the cold water thrown around in both events are sure to cool you down. Loi Krathong, on the other hand, is usually around November every year, making it the perfect festival to attend as you will be travelling in the cool period, but the hotel rates and crowds won’t have increased too much.
So, when is the best time to go?
Generally, the cool season is a peak period for a reason, but you may want to avoid December and January if you are on a budget or can’t stand large crowds. November is ideal as the rain will be clearing up, humidity is falling, and you can be guaranteed good patches of sunshine – add to this the lower flight and hotel prices, the Loi Krathong celebrations and all the landscape in full bloom, and you’re pretty set for a winning holiday with your loved one.