In October, rainfall starts dropping off in the northern region around Chiang Mai, falling to roughly 12 days, making less than half of the month rainy. Bangkok meanwhile receives about 14 rainy days. In contrast, the southern part of the country along the Kra Isthmus remains battered by monsoons with roughly 20 wet days in October.
On days that it rains, the precipitation typically holds off in the mornings, offering bright, sunny skies, with showers arriving in the afternoons or early evenings. The storms can be fierce but they're usually quick, often accompanied by thunder and lightning. The temperatures begin dropping and Thailand transitions into its "cool" season. Highs range from 88 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit with nighttime lows about 72 to 75 degrees.
Crowds and Costs
Given the large amount of rain, Thailand sees very few crowds in October. Although Bangkok will still experience lines at major attractions like Wat Pho or the Grand Palace, overall things are far more mellow than they are in the months to come. It's a great time to go sightseeing without having to nudge people out of your way all day.
Costs are lower, too. Especially along the coasts, hotels slash their prices dramatically and you can find amazing discounts on rooms. Lodges that have multi-tier pricing structures use their "low season" rates during this month. The combination of reduced crowds and discounted lodging makes it a great time to visit if you can tolerate the afternoon rain showers.
Where to Go
Although October sees consistent rain, it's usually only in the afternoons and it doesn't last long. That makes it a good time to visit large parts of the country, providing you have a good rain jacket and a flexible attitude.
In Bangkok and Chiang Mai, the number of rainy days begins decreasing significantly in October so it's a good time to visit both of these cities. On top of being far less rainy than the southern coasts, these destinations offer a number of indoor activities. Both feature great wine bars, restaurants, and fine dining. There's excellent nightlife and plenty of shopping opportunities, too. Additionally, both cities have a number of sacred temples that are largely indoors. That makes the afternoon rainstorms less likely to ruin your day.
The northern part of the country near Chiang Rai, or over by Pai by the Myanmar border, can both be fun too, as long as you're OK with getting wet. The scenery is beautiful in these mountain locations in October so it's a good time to enjoy the natural beauty without the crowds, and at much lower prices.
Given how rainy both coasts are, the beaches aren't the best place to be this time of year. However, it can still be a positive experience if you're the adventurous type since so many sunny days are mixed in. As long as the roads aren't washed out and no flooding is expected (check before you go), both Phuket on the west coast and Ko Samui in the east can make good options. When it's raining you can check out the temples and day spas, and when the sun comes out, take advantage of the crystal blue oceans without as many people.
What to Do
In Bangkok, check out the impressive 150-foot-long reclining Buddha at the famous Wat Pho temple (also called the "Temple of the Reclining Buddha"), or stroll through Thailand's royal history at the Grand Palace where centuries of kings, dating back to the Kings of Siam in the 1700s, lived and held court. Once you've had enough history, try out a trendy restaurant in Ekamai or Thonglor, or go shopping at the famous MBK Center (Ma Boon Khrong) mall. Head up to Chiang Mai and stroll through the Night Bazaar or visit the Doi Suthep temple where you can soak up beautiful sunrise views.
If you head north to Chiang Rai you can watch a pack of magnificent elephants roaming in a natural setting at the Elephant Valley Thailand sanctuary which rehabilitates the abused animals. In the town of Pai farther west, walk through the picturesque Pai Canyon or check out the Pam Bok Waterfall. Nearby, there are enormous stalactites in the Tham Lod Cave (which consists of Column Cave, Doll Cave, and Coffin Cave). Just be sure to check the reports first because occasionally the caves become inaccessible if there's heavy rain and mud.
On the southern peninsula, conditions will be wet but during the breaks in the storms, you'll have perfect weather for snorkeling, scuba diving, and sea kayaking. The latter is extra special this time of year because the mangroves are lush and full of color. If it's raining, check out the Wat Chalong temple or see the Phuket FantaSea variety show. On the east coast side, Ko Samui offers blue water for swimming and surfing, as well as places to get massages or take cooking classes.
Events in October
King Chulalongkorn Day: This public holiday, which is also called "Wan Piyamaharaj Day," falls on Oct, 23 every year. It's a memorial day that marks the death of King Chulalongkorn. Thai people lay wreaths at the Equestrian Statue in the Royal Plaza which is in a district partly constructed during his reign.
Wan Ok Phansa: In the northeastern part of Thailand known as Isan, where Laotian traditions are strong, villagers celebrate the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent (known locally as "Vassa") with spectacularly illuminated boat processions. These occur all throughout Isan, specifically on the Mekong River in the Nakhon Phanom Province and on the Mun River in Ubon Ratchathani.
Traveling to Thailand in October? Check out this great itinerary
Ultimate Highlights of Thailand – 10 Days. Created specifically to give tourists a taste of multiple Thai experiences, this 10-day itinerary takes you throughout the country with stops in and around Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Koh Samui. Highlights include a trip to the southern peninsula's scenic Angthong Marine Park, an ethical elephant experience at the Patara Elephant Farm, and a culinary food tour in Bang Rak.