For those impatient to escape to Thailand’s famed beauty, there is no worst time to visit. The best time to visit Thailand is now. However, if you wish to maximise the potential of your trip, it’s important to take into consideration the influence of Thailand’s seasons and peak visitation periods. Having been to Thailand three times, twice as a volunteer and once for travel, I know a thing or two about when you should book that ticket.
Thailand is fed by three seasons: hot, cool and wet. Disregard concepts of spring, summer, autumn and winter; they are largely irrelevant. The seasons themselves are self-explanatory. Between March and June, you’ll be greeted by the hot season. Beware April and May, unless you’ll be glued to Thailand’s lagoons or islands, as these are the most sizzling months. Between July and October is the magnificent monsoon season when intense shed loads of water plummets the land and help it obtain that verdant, tropical feel. The cool season begins in November and carries through until February. Basically, Europe’s coldest months are Thailand’s coolest and the cool season is the best time to visit Thailand; the weather is pleasant, warm but not uncomfortable.
High and Low Seasons
Backpackers and tourists tend to seek out the high-season as the weather tends to be more manageable and there are more foreign faces to meet. Those who wish to abandon the beaten path and enjoy a more tranquil side of Thailand are well advised to plan a voyage during the low season when tourism slows.
Thailand’s shores are swarmed during the cool season, between November and February. Bangkok, Phuket, Phi Phi, Tao, Koh Samui and Samet are the most crowded of all. Don’t forget Koh Phangnan which draws droves of backpackers due to its notorious full, half and black moon parties. You can escape the madness on lesser visited islands such as Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe or by voyaging into Thailand’s rural east Surin.
Cheapest Time to Travel
If you want to travel to Thailand without upsetting your bank balance, it’s best to head there during the off-peak season which typically falls between May and September. Both air fares, hostel and hotel prices are considerably cheaper during these times. As Thailand is hot as hell during these months, it’s advisable to head to the shore and avoid the mainland.
Where to go?
If you’re venturing to Thailand during the hot months, you’ll want to be by the beach. Prime spots include Phuket (Thailand’s largest island), Koh Phi Phi, Koh Phangnan, Koh Samet and Koh Samui. Tranquil locations presently off the beaten path include Koh Lipe and Lanta. Chiang Mai is a pleasant town renowned for its markets, wildlife and trekking opportunities located in the north. Bangkok is always booming (avoid during the hot season) and the Phetchaburi Province boasts many volunteering opportunities and a more authentic taste of traditional Thai living.
What to pack?
During the hot season, sun tan lotion, flip flops, a wide brimmed hand, sunglasses and cool, loose-fitting clothes are essential. During the monsoon season, temperatures are still hot (I still burnt even in shade!) but you’ll need greater cover and to arm yourself against mosquitoes with a 50% deet repellent. Prioritise a raincoat and a waterproof covering for luggage. During the cool season, bring plenty of shorts, sandals, tank tops and of course, your swimming gear!
If you take one thing from this article — having seen all of Thailand’s seasons — the cool season which falls between November and February remains my favourite time to visit Thailand.
By Kayleigh Parker