There's a reason Thailand is one of the most in-demand destinations for travelers right now. With favorable exchange rates, an unfussy tourist visa policy, idyllic beaches, and world-renowned cuisine, the number of foreign visitors to the country has doubled over the past decade.
Travelers can spend their trip to Thailand lazing on a beach on Koh Samui, rooftop bar hopping in Bangkok, and even mingling with elephants in Chiang Mai. But before you book your tickets, use this guide to determine the right time of year for your dream Thai vacation.
The Best Weather in Thailand
Don’t be deceived by the shockingly blue skies in nearly every photo of Thai beaches you’ve seen — there is such thing as a gloomy day in the Land of Smiles, and the time of year you visit can make or break your beach vacation (though we’d argue that there’s nothing particularly bad about watching a tropical downpour from your private jungle villa).
To step into that cloudless postcard image of Thailand (you know the one: long tailed boats, limestone islands) plan your trip sometime between the end of November and the end of April. While Thailand's rainy season typically begins after July and runs through October, it isn’t unlikely for major storms to arrive as early as May.
The Best Time to Visit Thailand's Beaches
But don’t be put off with the idea of booking your Thailand beach vacation during the height of the country's winter. Though weather anywhere north of Bangkok may require a light sweater come evening, clear skies grace almost the entire country between December and the end of February. Besides, sweater-weather in Thailand is still shorts and tank weather for most of the rest of the world.
For beach and island goers, this is the best time to plan your trip, as the air will be less humid and the sun won't be scorching (meaning you can actually lay out in the sun without getting drenched in sweat after just five minutes). Add in the light evening breeze, and you won't want for anything during your Thailand vacation.
The Worst Time to Visit Thailand
There really isn’t a bad time to visit Thailand because, despite torrential downpours and overcrowded markets, there will always be coconuts, zesty noodles, and Thai massages. If you are traveling to the country in hopes of returning home with any sort of sun tan, however, avoid planning your trip between July and the end of October. That's when monsoon season is in full swing, and the whole country is impacted, from Chiang Mai (where weather can be chilly and wet), to Bangkok, where the air is stuffy and streets become flooded with rain water.
Travelers should also be wary of booking stays in April and early May. This is what is considered the “hottest” season in the hot, hotter, and hottest classification of Thai climate. Temperatures can surpass 104 degrees, so if you can’t handle the heat, plan your trip for a few months earlier.
But with ideal weather inevitably comes hordes of people. Late November through December is popular with travelers, given the holiday season and drier, more comfortable Southeast Asian air. To avoid temples packed with tourists (they really get in the way for that perfect Instagram shot), go in January or February. Cities and beaches are less crowded and still offer sunny, bearably hot weather.
The Cheapest Times to Visit Thailand
While just about everything — transportation, food, activities, souvenirs — can be purchased for a song once you’re actually in the country, getting there is a whole different story. Flights to Thailand are unsurprisingly high during the holiday season because of expats returning home, the influx of families taking advantage of school holidays, and people using up the last of their vacation days before the New Year.
Generally, flight prices and accommodations will be cheaper during low season (between March and October), though June and early July see another spike because of summer break. According to the airfare prediction app Hopper, the cheapest flights to Bangkok are in September and April, when travelers can find savings of up to $500.