These are the Best Times to Visit Thailand

Thailand is one of the most accessible and well-loved travel destinations in Southeast Asia. It’s a great place to visit any time of year, but there are better times than others for specific activities like scuba diving and island-hopping.

“Thailand is a tropical country with two distinct seasons,” says Jack Tydeman, a Travel + Leisure A-List travel advisor and Southeast Asia specialist for Audley Travel. “It is typically warm all year round. However, the winter months from November through March are the peak dry season and are considered the best time to travel to the majority of the country. April is the hottest month in Thailand before the country moves into the wetter season from May through October.”

Here’s a breakdown of Thailand’s main travel seasons:

  • High Season: November to March
  • Shoulder Seasons: April to June and the month of October
  • Low Season: July to September

Railay beach near Krabi, Thailand.
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Before you book your jungle tree house and island boat tour, learn about the best times to visit Thailand.

Michela Buttignol/Travel + Leisure

The Best Times to Visit Thailand for Smaller Crowds

Thailand’s low season coincides with monsoon season. With the exception of the Thai islands, which draw students from Australia and Europe during their college breaks, the wet and muggy climate keeps many tourists away between July and September. Going during this quiet time has its perks: you’ll get cheaper accommodations, better access to restaurants and activities typically inundated by vacationers, and potentially more of a local experience. At the same time, there are limitations. Rains could come in brief cloudbursts, or they could come in days-long downpours that affect boat service and island access. Tours are less abundant, and some hotels even close during the off-season, so be sure to plan ahead if you’re considering a trip in the summer.

The Best Times to Visit Thailand for Great Weather

For ideal weather, visit Thailand during the dry season, which runs from November through March in most of the country, sometimes even lasting until April or May. A major exception is the Lower Gulf — home to the islands of Koh Samui, Ko Pha-ngan, and Koh Tao — which is rainiest from September through December.

On the Andaman coast, the coolest, most comfortable weather is around November to February, with average temperatures in the 80s and little chance of rain. This means clear, blue waters and gorgeous vegetation quenched from monsoon season.

As for the low season, it’s best to temper your expectations. “It is possible to travel over the summer months. However, you may see some short, sharp showers,” Tydeman says. “As the east coast of Thailand has its own unique weather patterns, summer is actually the drier season there.”

The Best Times to Visit Thailand for Lower Prices

Thailand is a relatively affordable destination throughout the year, though travelers may find the steepest discounts on flights, accommodations, and tours during the low season, July to September.

“The low season does have its advantages, as it’s quieter and the rates are typically lower. This makes Thailand a great-value destination during the summer,” says Tydeman. While this time of year is generally wetter, you might even get better natural scenery. “Summer is now commonly referred to as ‘green season’ due to the rains turning the countryside green and filling the rivers and waterfalls.”

The Best Times to Visit Thailand for Festivals

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Travelers should try to experience at least one of Thailand’s many festivals, which celebrate everything from flowers and fruit to monkeys and elephants. Two of the most beloved are the late-November lantern festivals: Yi Peng, during which participants release thousands of rice-paper lanterns into the sky; and Loy Krathong, when banana-leaf baskets are filled with flowers and burning candles and released onto lakes, rivers, and canals. Chiang Mai is the Yi Peng epicenter, and Loy Krathong is celebrated across the country.

The Chinese New Year in January or February turns Bangkok’s Chinatown into a sea of dragons, drummers, worshippers, and visitors, all under the glow of firecrackers and red lanterns. Also in February is the three-day Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, which features a parade of elaborately decorated floats.

Songkran (aka the Water Splashing Festival) ushers in the Thai New Year in mid-April with parades, parties, and performances across the country. Songkran turns Thailand into “one big water fight,” Tydeman says. “It also coincides with the hottest month of the year, so it’s a perfect excuse to get wet.”

The Vegetarian Festival takes place in late September or early October and commemorates a nine-day abstinence from meat in honor of the Nine Emperor Gods of Taoism.

The Best Times to Visit Thailand for Scuba Diving

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Divers from all over the world flock to Thailand to explore the country’s famous underwater sites and stunning marine parks. Thailand’s east coast is largely dive-friendly throughout the year. If you plan an excursion to the Andaman Sea, home to the extraordinary Similan and Surin Islands, time the trip between November and April, when the seas are calm and visibility is clearest. Also keep in mind that Similan and Surin marine parks close from mid-May to mid-October.

The Best Times to Visit Thailand for Island-hopping

Boating from one jungle-topped limestone island to another is a great way to explore Thailand, but downpours between May and October can put the kibosh on nautical fun. Some southern Andaman resorts even close for the rainy season.

“The islands off the west coast, like Phuket, are best to visit in the winter months, whereas the islands off the east coast, like Koh Samui, are great to visit in the summer,” says Tydeman.

This means you should time your bouncing around Phuket, the Phi Phi Islands, Ko Lanta, and other Andaman isles between late October (when the rains taper off) and May or June. Conversely, Gulf of Thailand idylls Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Ko Pha-ngan are at their rainiest and windiest between October and December.

The Best Times to Visit Thailand for Shopping

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No matter what time of year you visit Thailand, try to fit in at least one weekend in Bangkok so you can experience the vast Chatuchak Weekend Market. Many of the stalls are covered, so you can visit even on a rainy day. Tydeman also recommends visiting Bangkok’s night markets, which offer “everything from original artwork and designer bags to kitschy souvenirs and secondhand books.”

Chiang Mai ‘s weekend markets deserve a look as well. Every Saturday night, Wua Lai Road (just south of the Old City) closes to traffic and hosts silversmiths, wood carvers, clothing purveyors, sketch artists, and performing musicians. On Sundays, the scene essentially repeats itself along the length of Ratchadamnoen Road, which bustles with artists, food vendors, and massage stations.

Worst Times to Visit Thailand

There is no objectively bad time to visit Thailand. Each season has its benefits, but most people avoid traveling during the heaviest monsoons, which can disrupt public transportation and make exploring Thailand’s stunning natural sites wildly uncomfortable (if not impossible). Forget renting a motorbike or riding ferries during the wet season. Though you’re more likely to snag accommodations for cheap, you’re liable to spend more time at your hotel than you bargained for, waiting for the downpours to pass. If you’re averse to heavy rains and thick humidity on vacation, avoid planning a trip to Thailand in August and September.


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