WHEN TO VISIT THAILAND
Governed by the northeastern monsoon, Thailand’s dry season (November to April) is split into two distinct periods: the cool season and the hot season. The cool season (November or December to February) is the best time to visit Thailand. Bangkok’s climate is comfortable, it’s a good time to go trekking in the north (evenings in Chiang Mai can actually get quite chilly at this time of year), and the beaches along the Andaman Coast, on the western side of Thailand, see a lot of sunshine; conversely, rain hits the Gulf of Thailand, on the country’s east coast, between October and December, peaking in November (though this part of Thailand does not feature in our Big Trip). As you’d probably expect, the cool season is Thailand’s high season, with Christmas and New Year particularly busy, meaning prices are higher and you’ll need to book accommodation in advance.
Easter is still a good time to visit Thailand, though the heat in Bangkok can be oppressive during the hot season (March & April), when temperatures regularly reach 35 degrees Celcius; if you’re coming to Thailand at this time of year, schedule your days accordingly and try and limit your activities to early mornings and late afternoons. Temperatures peak in mid-April, when the country cools off with a nationwide water fight to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year.
The southwest monsoon brings the rainy season (May to October) to Thailand. The weather is generally muggy, and there’ll be rain most days, though it often only comes in short, sharp bursts of a few hours or so in the afternoon and/or overnight. The rain picks up at the end of July, particularly in northern Thailand and the Andaman Coast – summer holidays are the time to hit the beaches on the Gulf of Thailand – but getting around is not really an issue until September, the wettest month of the year, when dirt roads can turn to mud. The rainy season is also the peak season for jellyfish, who are washed towards the shoreline by seasonal storms.