In Bangkok and Chiang Mai, the average number of rainy days for the whole month is only five days. This is more rain than you see in December or January during the peak dry season but it's still negligible enough to affect your vacation. Even on the days that it does rain, the showers are usually brief (albeit strong). They occur mostly in the afternoons and evenings. Normally, mornings are clear with short, forceful storms that roll in later and blow over quickly.
Temperature-wise, Chiang Mai averages 86 degrees Fahrenheit while Bangkok is roughly 90 degrees. The evening temps drop to lows of 66 to 73 degrees. This is significantly cooler than the previous months, marking a welcome shift from the stifling, muggy heat earlier in the year.
In the southern peninsula, both coasts are still subject to monsoons. On the western Andaman Sea, Phuket averages 14 rainy days while the eastern coast around Hua Hin and Koh Samui get about 20 wet days. This region, in fact, ties with October as the rainiest month of the year down there. Temperatures range from 75 degrees at night to 88 in the hottest part of the day.
Crowds and Costs
People begin arriving to Thailand in November, particularly the north and central parts of the country so it doesn't have the ghost town feel that the wet season sometimes does. However, it's nothing like the months that follow. November is more of a shoulder season where crowds start filling in at the major tourist centers but you can still find places to break away. The earlier part of the month is much less crowded while the end of the month tends to bring in more tourists.
The costs are a mixed bag this time of year, too. Depending on where you are and what type of hotel you're staying in, you might find they've already switched to higher, peak season rates while other places will still be offering low season deals, or perhaps a combination of the two.
Where to Go
Except for Koh Samui and certain areas along the Gulf of Thailand on the southern peninsula, most of Thailand is great in November. This is especially true after the first or second week of the month when any lingering rain mostly turns off.
Head to Bangkok where the markets will be bustling again and you can walk along the beautiful Chao Phraya River. It's a great time of year to wander through the markets or people-watch along the pier. Farmers haven't started burning crops yet so it's not too hazy, and the sunsets are beautiful. Plus, if you encounter any scattered showers, the capital is an easy place to find quick cover.
Chiang Mai is also great in November. The Loi Krathong festival takes place in the middle of the month and you can walk from the Old City's east gate (Pratu Tha Pae) to the Mae Ping River where people will be lighting decorative lanterns and sending off glowing flower boats. It's also an excellent time to explore the night bazaars or check out the nightlife which starts buzzing again this time of year.
The west coast beaches can be good vacation spots, too. Although still rainy, the storms are intermittent and if you head to Phuket or Krabi, you'll likely have plenty of sunshine interspersed. Best of all, the huge crowds haven't yet arrived, especially earlier in the month. The resorts may be back to charging full price deals are still out there to be found and there won't be as many people on the beaches or hanging out by the pools.
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What to Do
November is a great month to check out one of Bangkok's many rooftop bars for sunset. Vertigo, Sirocco, and Scarlett are all great options. During the day, take a visit to Wat Pho (the "Temple of the Reclining Buddha") where the massive gold-plated figure stretches 150 feet. Nearby is the Grand Palace where you can learn about the history of the old Kings of Siam who lived and reigned in the complex.
In Chiang Mai, wander through the colorful Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, where vendors will be hawking handmade trinkets, or head to the gorgeous Doi Suthep temple for a sunrise tour. In Chiang Rai, just a few hours north, visit Elephant Valley Thailand where you can watch rescued animals roam in a natural habitat.
At you make your way south, Phuket offers things like snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, and other water activities when the sun is out.Take a trip to Phi Phi Island or explore the beautiful Phang Nga Bay. if you don't feel like planning a bunch of logistics, try this 5-day "A Taste Of Southern Thailand" tour. It includes hiking on nature trails and kayaking through scenic mangroves.
Events in November
Loi Krathong: On the full moon day during November, people throughout Thailand gather for one of the biggest and most beautiful festivals of the year. At sunset, people congregate on bridges and rivers where they light decorative lanterns (called khom loy) and send flower floats into the water (called krathong). Others light oil lamps outside temples. The biggest celebrations occur in Chiang Mai, although Bangkok and other locations have notable events, too.
Lopburi Monkey Festival: Also called the "Monkey Banquet," this unique festival takes place in the town of Lopburi, north of Bangkok. During the event, villagers pay homage to the monkeys of the town by throwing them a giant feast, complete with music and dancing. The monkeys are allowed to roam the long tables of food freely, devouring sticky rice and platters of fruit while the people around them celebrate.
Surin Elephant Round-Up: Another festival honoring animals, this one takes place in the northeastern province of Surin during the third weekend of November. As the name suggests, participants round up the elephants of the village for a variety of activities including an elephant parade, elephant breakfast, and various talent competitions.
Traveling to Thailand in November? Check out this great itinerary
A Taste of Culture In Northern Thailand – 8 Days. This original tour of northern Thailand is perfect for a November excursion because it skips the rainier destinations like Koh Samui in favor of the drier northern areas. Some of the highlights from the trip include bicycling through ancient ruins in Sukhothai, tracking a wild elephant herd, and climbing a calcified waterfall in Si Lanna National Park.