Located midway between India and China, Thailand is nestled in a fertile monsoon belt. The monsoon season in Thailand gives rise to its incredible lush forests, while the tropical warmth makes its beaches delightful for anyone tired of cold, grey skies. Here's a closer look at Thailand's climate, so you can judge for yourself when the best time to visit this Southeast Asian paradise would be.
The northern part of Thailand is mountainous, with its highest point reaching 2,565 metres, or 8,415 feet. This is easily as high as some of the famous skiing mountains in the western United States. Thanks to the higher elevation, the climate is more agreeable for most Brits than central and southern Thailand. During the cool season, which lasts from October to February, daytime temperatures average around 21 degrees Celsius, with nights that are much cooler. December and January are the coolest months. March through May is the hot season, with average temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius. The rain starts to pour down in early June, with the highest rainfall in September.
Central Thailand is the country's heartland. Very fertile, and lined with irrigation networks to make it even more fertile, central Thailand is one of the biggest producers of rice in the world. Bangkok is located within central Thailand. Flat, and dominated by the Chao Phraya river valley, central Thailand is significantly warmer than the mountainous north. During the second half of March, the temperature rises dramatically, sometimes reaching 40 degrees Celsius by mid-April. Monsoons begin to arrive between May and July, and the rains last into October. During this period of time, the temperature cools down somewhat, but the humidity rises even higher. From November through December, it can get cool enough at night to even frost. By January, the temperature starts to climb once again.
In the far south and the eastern tip of Thailand, the dry season is shorter because of the areas' proximity to the sea. May and January are the driest months, with only 1 or 2 days of rain out of 31. In the afternoons in January, temperatures in the south typically reach 33 degrees Celsius, while average temperatures in May are just slightly cooler.
In Bangkok itself, morning temperatures average about 24 degrees Celsius, reaching an average of 33 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. December and January are the coolest months, April and May are the hottest, while May through October are the wettest.
In general, no matter where you go in Thailand, no matter what time of year, expect the climate to be hot and humid. At any time of year, you'll want to have some sort of loose-fitting hat to protect your head from the sun, and you'll want to bring loose-fitting clothing that breathes. At night, even though you might get hot, you'll need to remember that the mosquitoes carrying malaria might be looking for dinner. Sleep in clothes with sleeves and pant-legs, or else invest in a mosquito net.
Living in cold climates, most travellers to Thailand are naturally worried about visiting Thailand when there is rain. It's true that in the monsoon season there is lots of rain, however like most tropical countries it is rare for the weather to remain wet all day long - in fact, with the high temperature often a short, heavy shower is very welcome.
It's also common in tropical countries to find various microclimates - little pockets of land that escape the brunt of the wet weather leaving you with dry days.
Finally there are two very good reasons to visit Thailand during the monsoon - first of all since there are far fewer tourists so your trip will feel more of an adventure, and secondly because many places are far more beautiful during the wet season. If you're a fan of national parks, jungles and waterfalls there is no better time to visit, as the greenery will be at its most luscious and the falls at their most impressive.