Thailand is a long country, with mountains in the north and beautiful beaches in the south. It's almost uniformly hot, but some times of year are much hotter (and wetter) than others. Thailand is busiest (unsurprisingly) when the weather is at its best, from November to March. During low season, you should expect heavy rain, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good time—you just need to know where to go. Here are some tips to know about the best time of year to visit Thailand.

Seasonal Planning for Thailand Travel

There's a lot of regional variation throughout Thailand—from the mountains of the north to the tropical beaches of the south—but in general, Thailand has two main seasons: the wet and the dry, or the hot and the cool. Temperatures tend to be cooler when it's dry, and hotter when it's wet. It's important for potential visitors to understand that it doesn't have spring, summer, fall, and winter as they may be used to.

Complicating matters is the fact that these seasons don't neatly align in different parts of the country. So, when planning your travels in Thailand, it's important to take into consideration the regional variation. You wouldn't want to have your beach vacation washed out because you misjudged the seasons!

On paper, there's actually very little temperature difference between destinations throughout the country and throughout the year. Average highs during the cool/dry season are 84° F (29° C), and in the hot/wet season up to 96° (36° C). Most places sit somewhere in the middle of these temperatures, most of the time. Traveling to Thailand in the cool season, for example, doesn't usually mean you'll get cold. But, the amount of rain varies enormously between the seasons, even if the temperatures are quite stable, and can totally change your comfort levels and quality of experience.

Peak tourism season in Thailand is in the cool/dry season, but the earlier and later months in this long period between November and March are better classified as shoulder seasons.

Season
Months
Average Highs
Pros
Cons
Best for 
Where to Visit
Hot/Wet
April-October
96°F/36°C
Fewer tourists, lush countryside
Rainy, not ideal for beach destinations
Cultural and city sightseeing
Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai
Cool/Dry
Nov-March
84°F/29°C
Ideal beach weather
Influx of tourists
Beach time, outdoor activities
Southern Thailand

Cool/Dry Season (November-March): Best for Beach Vacations

Dry season in Phuket

The cool/dry season brings pleasant and reliable weather throughout Thailand, and although it's called the 'cool' season, that's only in comparison to the wet season, which is a few degrees hotter on average. Temperatures in Thailand are never very cool (unless you climb to the top of a mountain!), and this season is ideal for the quintessential Thai beach vacation.

November to February is the peak season in Thailand. Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, so 'peak season' really means peak season. But, very many tourists go to the same handful of places that are now extensively developed. If you're looking for a more peaceful destination and are willing to take a bit more time to get there, it's not so hard to find beach, island, or mountain destinations that aren't overrun with tourists. Ask your local specialist for their suggestions that meet your interests and needs.

Temperatures start to pick up by March, and can be very hot in central and southern areas, but rainfall remains low. Later in the cool/dry season isn't a great time to travel in Northern Thailand because of smoke from fires in the countryside, which unfortunately is an annual occurrence.

Southern Thailand is especially famous and popular for its gorgeous beaches and islands. If lounging on a quiet beach is your idea of heaven, you can still find places that aren't overrun with travelers. But lazing on a beach isn't the only option in this idyllic part of the country. If you prefer more active pursuits, you can go sea kayaking between islands, into caves, and through mangrove forests. Consider this five-day Taste of Southern Thailand tour—you'll kayak through the jungle, unwind on pristine beaches, and eat authentic cuisine during a homestay in a small fishing village.

A great alternative to the popular islands of the south-west coast/Andaman Sea (such as Phuket) is the south-eastern coast and islands in the Gulf of Thailand (such as Koh Samui, Koh Tao, and Koh Phangan). However, it's important to note that this part of the country gets more rain between October and January than the southwest. 

If beach vacations aren't your thing, the cool/dry season is also a great time for jungle and mountain trekking in Northern Thailand. Read more in this Northern Thailand Village-to-Village Trekking itinerary.

Cool/Dry Season Events

Loi Krathong/Yi Peng (November). Celebrated around the country but especially in Chiang Mai in the north, people send floating candles down rivers and into the sky. It's a beautiful festival, but Chiang Mai, in particular, is very busy at this time.

Lunar New Year (January/February). Also called Chinese New Year, this festival is especially colorful in Bangkok. It also sees a peak within the peak season, as many people travel to Thailand from other parts of Asia at this time.

Hot/Wet Season (April-October): Best for Cities & Culture

Wet season in rural Thailand

Rains can come earlier and later in the season, but in general, the heaviest rains hit from July until the end of October. April to June are hot, but not usually as wet as July onwards. 

Thailand's hot/wet season is not universally a bad time to visit, but it is the low season for good reason. If you want a picture-perfect beach vacation, don't come to Thailand at this time of year. However, if you're interested in more cultural attractions, general sightseeing, or would like to spend time in the cities, then this isn't such a bad time to be in Thailand. Just bring an umbrella and be prepared to duck inside to a restaurant, museum, or temple when it starts to rain.

Rainfall at this time of year really is very high (it's not called the wet season for nothing), but this can range from short and sharp showers to prolonged rainstorms that cause flooding. Even in Bangkok (which sees the heaviest rainfall in September), there can be flooding through the areas closest to the Chao Phraya River.

Because the hot/wet season is the low season, it's generally a cheaper time to travel to Thailand, and you can get good accommodation deals. While lounging on the beach isn't ideal at this time of year, many beach-side resorts have beautiful pools and other attractive features, and you can often stay at such places for hugely discounted rates. If good, attractive accommodation is important to you, you can stay in gorgeous places for a bargain this season. Plus, it tends not to rain all day, every day, so you may even be able to squeeze in some beach time. 

With all the rainfall, the wet season is also a good time to visit some of Thailand's more accessible forests and national parks. There are many waterfalls in these places, which are at their best when the rivers and streams are running full. However, be aware that the heavy rainfall can cause landslides and flash floods in the jungles of the north.

Hot/Wet Season Events

Songkran (April). The Thai New Year, or water festival, is held around the country, but Chiang Mai is the epicenter of celebrations. The water represents cleansing and fresh starts, and water fights are often welcome at the start of the hot weather. This is Thailand's largest festival.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival (September). Not quite the healthy eating food festival that its name suggests, this religious festival involves devotees piercing their cheeks with swords, walking over hot coals, or climbing ladders of knives. Not for the faint of heart.

Long-boat races (September). Held on rivers across the country, these boat races combine a sporting atmosphere with local food, carnival games, and traditional culture.