Weather in Thailand
The hot and humid country of Thailand in the heart of south-east Asia is bordered by Burma and Laos in the north, Laos and Cambodia in the east, the Andaman Sea to the west, and the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia in the south.
Famed for its tropical weather, scenically beautiful offshore islands, crystal clear waters and magnificent beaches, Thailand is a popular exotic tourist destination for Westerners who come to bake on the beaches in resorts like Phuket, experience the oriental hustle and bustle of the capital, Bangkok, and explore the northern hills of Chiang Mai.
Thailand is close to the equator, stretching up from 6° to 20° North, and thus has a typical tropical climate with almost constant heat and humidity year round. The country experiences two monsoon seasons: the rainy, sweltering southwest monsoon brings abundant rain from the Indian Ocean in May, June, July, August, September and October, while the drier, cooler northeast monsoon occurs during November, December, January, February, March and April.
There is little variation in temperature all year round in central and southern Thailand – the weather is constantly hot, with the mercury fluctuating only a couple of degrees each way off of the average daytime temperature of 32°C (89.6°F). The hills in the north of the country are somewhat cooler during the “winter” (November, December, January, February and March), dropping as low as 20°C (68°F) on occasion.
The most oppressively hot months in Thailand are April and May, just before the onslaught of the southwest monsoon season which brings in some cloud and intermittent heavy rain, this weather pattern continuing through until October.
From November the winds change direction and the northeast monsoon blows in from Indo-China, bringing far less rain (except on the Peninsula which makes up the extreme south of the country where rain blows in from the Pacific Ocean). During this period, which lasts until April, the north of the country is virtually completely dry while the central area (Bangkok) is sunny and fresh with plenty of blue sky, although it is still scorching hot and there are still occasional wet days.
When is the best time to visit Thailand for a holiday?
Thailand may be hot all year round, but it certainly does not have pleasant year-round weather! The best months to visit Thailand are January, February and March when the humidity reaches its lowest levels and blue skies with plenty of sunshine can be guaranteed. Because of the fine weather these are the peak season months for tourism, so be prepared to pay for the pleasure!
What to pack for a holiday in Thailand
Pack light for a trip to Thailand any time of year. Essentials are a bathing suit, wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen. Light, loose, cool clothing will see you through – no jacket required (unless you are visiting the north of Thailand between November and February when it can be chilly at night). A few sets of clothing will be sufficient no matter how long your stay, because laundry services are very cheap. Many visitors prefer to take the bare minimum and shop for cool clothing on arrival, for clothing is extremely inexpensive in Thailand (although large sizes are hard to come by). A good pair of sandals for walking, and flip-flops for the beach, is all you’ll need in the way of footwear, and add a waterproof poncho or umbrella if you are travelling during the rainy season. Respect Thai culture and dress modestly when out and about, especially in the countryside.