It’s important to pick the right time to visit Thailand, or any part of Southeast Asia. The varied seasons can drastically affect your travel plans. Tourists can choose the right time to travel. Business travelers may not be able to choose a better date, but it will help you to know what to expect on arrival. There are 3 Seasons in Thailand: the cool season, hot season, and the rainy season. Here is a quick guide to choosing the right time for your next vacation, or handling your business trip to Thailand.
The cool season runs from October until February. This is the best time to take a vacation to any part of Thailand, especially the central region (Bangkok, Pattaya) and Southern regions (Phuket). During these months you’ll find the most beautiful weather on the planet. No cloud in the sky, and sunshine every day. Sunny warm days make this great beach weather, or any kind of touring weather. Without a drop of rain to threaten your plans, you can plan just about anything outdoors. The temperatures reach about 75 or 80 during the day, and drop a little bit at night with some cool, comfortable breezes. This is also the high season for tourists, so hotels get booked and beaches get crowded. Make your reservations well in advance, if you’re coming in the cool “high” season.
The hot season starts in early March and extends until late July. The temperature reaches about 99 every day, and doesn’t get much cooler at night. This is still great swimming and beach weather, but makes a lot of other outdoor activities difficult. Even an outdoor market can be too hot to endure for more than an hour. Air conditioned malls and movie theaters suddenly become popular. The Thais are used to the heat, but you won’t be. Take care, and drink lots of water. There’s plenty of sunshine, and still not much rain in this season, but umbrellas are sold to provide shade. Northern cities, such as Chiangmai and Chianrai, are still pleasant during these months. Sites in the higher elevations and hills stay moderate.
The rainy season usually starts in August (sometimes late July), and runs until the first week of October. This is the only season to avoid, but the name is misleading. It doesn’t rain constantly, it just rains for 20 minutes to 2 hours every day. Most of the days in the rainy season are still sunny and hot, and you can plan for the beach or any outdoor activity. The rain kicks up suddenly, but doesn’t last long. If you’re lucky it will rain lightly for 2 hours. The shorter rains are stronger, come with thunderstorms, and last an hour. The mini-monsoons only last 30 minutes, but are brutal. I’ve seen it rain several inches in just a few minutes. The storms kick up suddenly, from sunny to dark skies in seconds; then 30 mile an hour winds that bend palm trees like reeds. The rain comes fast and floods every sidewalk and street. You’ll have to wait an hour after the storm for the flood waters to drain. Most local Thais just roll up their pants wade through it. I’ve seen water as high as three feet.
Try to avoid the rainy season. The cool and hot seasons are best for tourists. If you’re a business traveler with a meeting in Bangkok during the rainy season, be prepared for delays. Don’t bother carrying an umbrella or rain coat – these won’t help you. You need to seek cover during the heavy rains. Plan to stay in your hotel or meeting venue until the storm completely stops. I’ve never seen more than 1 storm per day, so you’re safe after the storm ends. If you’re lucky it will rain early in the morning, and you’ll be safe for the rest of the day. However, most days the heavy storms seem to hit late in the afternoon or early evening.
Don’t waste time checking the local weather forecasts. They can’t predict when the storms will hit each neighborhood. It may be sunny in one area of the city, while another area is being hammered by rain. Just go with the flow, and seek cover when trouble hits.