A Guide Through The Seasons And Festivals
So, you made the first step and decided to pack your bag and visit the beautiful country of Thailand? That’s awesome! Now, one of the first questions you may ask yourself is: “Are ladyboys a real thing?”* Nah, just joking, the question usually is: “When is the best time to visit Thailand?”
We will give you a breakdown of the different seasons and weather conditions in the various areas of Thailand. Although, in the end it all depends on your personal preferences as well. Also, very important to keep in mind is that the seasons are not on a fixed schedule. Meaning that, in one year the rain season could last longer, whereas in the next year we might have more sunny days. It’s not an exact science, so take our post as a general guide line and not as fact.
The wet season (aka rainy or low season)
Let’s start this post with the rainy season. This period officially starts around June until October. Although in the southern part of Thailand, it sometimes starts a little earlier like May and goes well into November.
You can expect the most rainfall during the months of September and October. It still is fairly warm with temperatures around 26°C (79°F for you ‘Muricans) in South Thailand for example. Or Bangkok with even 30°C (86°F), since it is known to be one of the hottest cities in the world . The same applies for the North of Thailand like Chiang Mai with temperatures reaching up to approximately 27°C (80°F).
“Why should I travel to a country that is known for its sunny weather and beaches, when it’s raining a lot?” A fair question! A big advantage for us backpackers is that the prices in hostels and restaurants tend to be quiet low. If you are willing to take the risk of potential rain showers, you could save a lot of money. All the while exploring the beauty of Thailand with a rain jacket or a poncho.
A few other things to know:
- Many of the smaller hostels and restaurants are closed down due to a lack of demand.
- Some of the boats to Koh Phi Phi or Lanta for example are either not running at all or less frequently.
Basically, you need to be very flexible when it comes to traveling during this season. You will still find like-minded backpackers, but tourists generally try to steer clear from the rainy months. Which essentially means that places will be less crowded and your group can travel without any crying babies nearby. If you prefer an overall more relaxed and serene atmosphere, then the wet season is for you.
The cool season
Now, let’s focus on a warmer season. The cool season starts around November all the way through February. This is when the clouds begin to disperse and the Instagram-worthy beach scenery shows itself in all its glory. It will definitely get busier especially in December, for a lot of people like to celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve in a tropical climate. Therefore all the restaurants, shops and hostels are open again and the prices are higher now as well.
Occasional rain showers may still happen, but generally you can expect the weather to be dry and moderately warm. In a coastal area like Krabi or Phuket, the nice breezes coming from the ocean will be a welcome addition to the warmer weather. In big cities like Bangkok or Chiang Mai the temperatures reach their lowest point at the end of the year to about 24°C (75°F), but they pick up soon after the beginning of the new year. Speaking of Chiang Mai – if you happen to be around there in November, you will get to experience the breathtaking “Festival of Lights” called Loy Krathong. It is celebrated nationwide, but Chiang Mai is supposed to be the place to be. The reason is that it coincides with another northern Thai festival called Yi Peng.
Loy Krathong roughly translated means “to float a basket”, which is the essence of this tradition. As a way to thank the Goddess of Water and to carry away your troubles, you send a basket out into the ocean or a river. The basket is made out of banana leaves or bread. You will see some made out of Styrofoam, but they are more frowned upon and in some regions even banned. People put flowers, candles or incense on those little boats, or even a small coin as an offering to the river spirits.
This year Loy Krathong falls on the 3rd November, but it changes each year. The Thai lunar calendar determines the exact date.
Only North Thailand celebrates Yi Peng Day and as mentioned above, takes place on the same day as Loy Krathong. Instead of floating baskets, people release floating lanterns up into the sky as a way to pay respect to Buddha. The light of a lantern also represents a brighter future, in which we distance ourselves from darkness.
There are different kinds of lanterns, but the one that is the closest related to Yi Peng are the “khom loy” or “floating lanterns”. Those are the ones you see during the evening lighting up the sky and creating a most magical picture you are able to add to your travel experiences.
If you plan on traveling during this period, you definitely want to make sure to book a hostel way in advance, something that we wrote an extensive guide on how to pick a hostel. During the wet season you could walk into a hostel and still find an open bed, but now most of the good hostels will be booked out days or even weeks in advance.
So, do your homework, find out which hostel suits your preferences and make a booking. Don’t be f*cking lazy, as one of our old housemaids would say.
The hot season
Last, but certainly not least, we have the remaining months from March to the end of June. The hottest month of all is definitely April. Make sure to bring some sunscreen with you – it will be needed. At an average the temperatures range from 35°C (95°F) to a staggering 40°C (104°F). If you are coming from a country that tends to be colder, then this transition can be quite difficult.
The Thai New Year festival called Songkran is a good reason to visit Thailand during April. It’s a festival that takes place on the 13th April until 15th, but the festivities could last a whole week if you are in a bigger city. Besides the joyful festivities, Songkran has an important cultural significance as well. The Thais traditionally start their day by visiting a local temple. Here they offer food to the monks and pour water on Buddha statues as part of a ritual.
But it’s definitely a lot of fun for us “farangs”(= foreigners) and the locals alike. Everyone is out on the streets with water guns and buckets filled with water in a sort of “fun state of emergency”. Getting splashed with water every few seconds most certainly helps you with the sweltering heat. You will also be exposed to a lot of chalk or baby powder, which originally was a mark left by monks as a blessing. Essentially you will be “blessed” quite a lot throughout Songkran.
Once Songkran officially rings in the end of the dry season, the temperatures during May hand become more bearable. Then we slowly transition into the beginning of the wet season in June and we come full circle.
Which season the best time to visit Thailand?
Still unsure when to go? A lot of people would suggest to come during the period from November to March. This is within the cool season, as we mentioned above. But we would include April as well, so you can experience the famous Songkran Festival. We still experienced some occasional rain fall in November in the last few years, but Loy Krathong is a fascinating sight. You really don’t want to miss out on these two unique experiences.
And there you have it! Now that you are well-informed about the different seasons and weather conditions you can decide which one you prefer and then book your flight to the “Land of a Thousand Smiles”.
*They totally are.