Thailand Culture & Koh Samui Holiday
Unearth this culture rich itinerary that visits both Thailand's most historic destinations and its luxury island paradise, Koh Samui.
With two long coastlines and a generous helping of mountains in the north, Thailand is a wonderful destination all year round. If you want to avoid the rain and look for guaranteed sun then avoid the raining season from June to early October. Similarly, if you are looking to avoid the crowds then the best time to visit Thailand is February to March, just after the high season when their is little rain and hot weather of summer is yet to come.
The best time to visit Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi and the north of Thailand is between late-October and February; Thailand’s winter season. During this season, the temperatures are cooler and there is no rain. Blue cloudless skies and lush green vegetation awaits across the central, northern and Andaman region, and daily temperatures are around 28°c. Bangkok is hot all year round, with average temperatures between 27- 37°c, and a rainy season from late-May until September. During the rainy season, humidity and temperatures are higher, but it’s still easy to travel through Thailand. Usually, there is rain for only 2-3 hours a day, and the rest of the time you are free to explore without the high season crowds.
Along the coast of the Andaman Sea, Phuket and Krabi have their dry season from November until February, with heavy monsoon rains starting in May and lasting until October. The shoulder season of March and April can get very hot and humid along the Andaman coast. The Gulf of Thailand has an opposite weather pattern, with the best time to visit Koh Samui being between February and May. Koh Samui has two months of heavy rainfall in October and November.
This is the best month to explore Thailand, as the weather is amazing across the country and the Christmas and New Year crowds have left. Bangkok will have blue skies and average daily temperatures between 22-27°c, which is good for exploring the seemingly endless Chatuchak Market, visiting temples or the Grand Palace. January is also the best month to explore northern Thailand, with Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai temperatures hovering around 20-23°c. At night it can get cooler, so pack a warm jumper and long trousers.
The south are is perfect for idyllic getaways, with blue skies and temperatures across the south around 26-29°c. Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak should be rain free and during this time, diving and snorkeling visibility is great. On the other coast, Koh Samui’s rainy season has just finished so there may be a few showers, but these freshen the air and cool the temperatures. Khao Sok National Park should, in theory, be dry, but being a tropical rainforest there is always a chance of downpours, even in the dry season.
Like January, February is a great month to visit Thailand. Every city and island should have clear blue skies and while temperatures are a little hotter than December and January, they are still comfortable. Northern Thailand will have temperatures around 23-26°c and Bangkok will be in the high 20°c’s. It’s worth noting that Chinese New Year usually falls in February, and this can make most Thai cities very busy with Chinese tourists.
February is also a good time to visit the beaches and islands of southern Thailand. The Andaman sea region (Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak) has great underwater visibility during February, as well as clear blue skies. Temperatures on both coastlines will hover around 28-33°c, but there will be ocean breezes to cool you down.
March signals the start of Thailand’s ‘hot’ season. Across the country, temperatures rise to highs of 35°c and central and northern Thailand become dry and dusty. Northern Thailand faces high pollution levels and smog from burning the rice fields in preparation for the rains. Bangkok also reaches highs of 35°c, so its best to plan morning and late afternoon excursions, to avoid being out in the sweltering afternoon sun.
In the south temperatures are a little cooler, although Khao Sok National Park can reach up to 33°c with high humidity. With ocean winds, the beaches are a little lower and mostly empty, so March is a great time to visit Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi. Choose from countless beautiful beaches or explore both coasts. March is also a good time to visit the southern islands of Koh Yao Noi or Koh Phi Phi, as there will be fewer tourists on these small island but there still great visibility underwater.
April is the hottest month in Thailand, with temperatures across the country hovering in the 30°c’s both day and night. Humidity is low, and the temperatures are manageable in the shade, but it’s wise to plan to sightsee in the early mornings or late afternoon and hide away in air-conditioning around midday. Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Sukhothai and northern Thailand are particularly hot, but in the south, the weather is more manageable. Towards the end of April, Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi are likely to receive some rain as the monsoon season approaches. If you are looking to have the least interruption from rain, then Koh Samui is your best choice, and diving around Koh Tao means that you have good visibility (and even a chance to spot whale sharks).
Despite the high temperatures, April is a popular month to travel to Thailand because of the Songkran festival. Songkran is Thailand's new year festival and usually falls from 13th -15th April. The whole country comes to a standstill and participates in a 3-day water fight. The festival is a great way to cool yourself down and is best experienced in smaller cities like Chiang Mai, Koh Chang or Kanchanaburi. However, it's the busiest time of year and there is no escaping the water throwing, so always dress for the occasion.
May is classed as low season in Thailand, but it is still a good time to travel to the Gulf of Thailand. It’s almost guaranteed that Koh Samui will have sunshine or head to Hua Hin - a small beach town an hour from Bangkok. While there is rain in the central and northern areas, the downpours usually only last a few hours and can be quite refreshing. Temperatures across the country will hover just about 30°c but humidity will be quite high, so it will feel hot and sticky. However there are far fewer tourists in May, and so hotels are likely to offer discounts.
Along the Andaman coast, expect daily downpours and a few thunderstorms. Phuket, Khao Lak and Krabi province are entering into their rainy season and so will have a few hours of warm rain every day. Luckily you can usually see the clouds building up so you can plan your beach time around the rain, and it's rare to be caught off guard. Khao Sok National Park will be quite hot, humid and muddy in May.
Welcome to the rainy season. June is officially the first month of the rainy season in central, northern and the Andaman coast. Expect heavy downpours daily for a few hours and high humidity. The rain cools the temperatures down and makes the northern regions mountains a deep shade of green again. And when it’s not raining, Thailand reverts back to blue skies and sunshine.
Some national parks and treks can be muddy and forests tend to be quite humid. This is the worst season for mosquitos, so remember to spray deet mornings and evenings before you head out to explore. The Andaman coast and the islands around Koh Chang also experience daily monsoons and higher humidity, but the east coast of Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan are sunny with great diving conditions. Hua Hin, near Bangkok, can also be found dry and sunny.
Expect daily rainstorms in July across northern, central and the Andaman coast, but there are some great reasons to visit Thailand in July. First, the rains make everything flourish, so the rolling mountains of northern Thailand look amazing. Waterfalls, like the Erawan waterfall near Kanchanaburi, are in full flow and are most impressive in July. Between the downpours, you are likely to get blue skies and sunshine.
Rainy season continues along the Andaman coast, with Krabi, Phuket and Khao Lak experiencing more prolonged downpours than the north. Temperatures are around 30°c and there is quite high humidity just before the rain starts. Koh Chang and Koh Kood are also hit by daily rains, but Koh Samui and other spots in the Gulf of Thailand are dry and sunny. Koh Tao is popular for diving in July and the small island can feel crowded.
There is no escaping the rain in August, this is Thailand’s wettest month. Northern Thailand and Bangkok receive most of their monsoon rains during August and treks or visits to hilltribes are difficult during this month. While travel is still possible to all major cities, some activities might not be available and a few businesses even close down during August.
The south is no drier, and while you might find some relief in the Gulf of Thailand area (with only occasional showers on Koh Samui and Koh Phan Ngan), or in Hua Hin, Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak will be experiencing daily downpours too. Temperatures across the country are around 26-32°c with high humidity. It is still possible to travel through Thailand during August and since the rains never last all day long, you can still enjoy Thailand’s sunshine between the showers.
As the rains slow, September still isn’t the best time to visit as the monthly rainfall can be very unpredictable across the country. Some years the heavy rains of August continue, and other years there are blue skies and very little rain. In Bangkok, central and northern Thailand prepare for rain, and occasionally a little flooding as the rivers are full from the last few months. The upside to travelling through Thailand in September is that the natural scenery is amazing - the jungle and national parks are at their best thanks to the months of rain. September is a great time to visit Doi Inthanon, both to see the native forest and to experience an escape from the heat on Thailand’s highest mountain.
The beaches in the south aren’t any better, and now every region is experiencing some form of rain. As Phuket and the Andaman sea region is still experiencing heavy rains, Koh Samui and the Gulf of Thailand’s rainy season is beginning. The best place in terms of sunny beaches is Hua Hin and Cha Am, but there is no guarantee that they will be rain free. Khao Sok National Park will be wet and humid, but the rain is warm and so if you prepare yourself with waterproof clothing, then you have a great chance of spotting wildlife in the lush, green rainforest.
October officially signals the end of the rains, and the temperatures are starting to drop. If you travel in October, then you will still run into some rain, but it won’t be as frequent or heavy as previous months. This is a good time to travel to Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Sukhothai and Kanchanaburi as it won’t be as crowded as November and December. Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak will still receive some rain, but not as much as Koh Samui or Koh Chang areas. This isn’t a good time for diving as visibility underwater isn’t good.
Temperatures across the country will hover around 27-30°c, but if you decide to head to Khao Sok National Park, the temperature might be a little cooler there (but with higher humidity) and you have a good chance of spotting wildlife. If you don’t mind a little rain, this is a good month to explore Thailand’s jungles and waterfalls, since both are flourishing from the last few months of rain.
November is the most popular month to visit Thailand. Temperatures are dropping and there is little chance of rain so it’s a good month to visit most places. In the north the average temperature is around 25- 27°c, with central and southern Thailand a little warmer at 27-30°c. The best region to visit is northern Thailand and experience some of its outdoor activities, such as ziplining and trekking. If you time it right, visiting Chiang Mai for the Lantern Festival and Loy Krathong (‘the Festival of Lights’) is magical. Both festivals happen around the full moon, and are Thailand’s most popular festivals, with thousands of tourists descending into Chiang Mai.
This is also a good month to visit Central Thailand, including Sukhothai, Kanchanaburi and Ayutthaya, as temperatures are more manageable in the daytime. The islands of Koh Chang and Koh Kood are sunny and dry, with daily temperatures of 28°c, while Phuket, Krabi and Khao Lak are also starting to move out of the rain cycle. It’s only the Gulf of Thailand that has its own rainy season, with Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phan Ngan receiving daily downpours and high humidity.
December is high season in Thailand and a great month to travel. Most of the country is dry and sunny, with endless blue skies and cool temperatures. In the north, warm days and cool nights (16- 25°c) make the region perfect to travel in, and is great for trekking and outdoor activities. This is also the best month to visit the ancient ruins of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. The only downside to December is that it is quite busy over Christmas and New Year period.
In the south only Koh Samui and its nearby island neighbours experience rainfall. On the Andaman sea coast (Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak and Koh Phi Phi) have sunshine all day - the perfect beach weather - and great underwater visibility for diving and water sports. December is a great time to visit Khao Sok as the jungle is lush from the rains, but there is very little chance of rainfall in December. The temperatures are great in the jungle, with daily highs of 30°c and lows of 22°c.