For the expat living in Thailand, the words “hot and rainy” pretty much sum up Thailand weather. However, this is a simplification. In the southern parts it is hot year-round and the northern parts in the Chiang Mai vicinity experience cool temperatures in December and January. By knowing what to expect with the weather in this country, you will be prepared for taking advantage of low tourist seasons and for battling occasional torrential rain and street flooding. Here is a quick look at the weather in this country.
Southern Thailand Weather
You have your choice in the southern part of Thailand with two options: hot with rain or without. However, the times of these two seasons differ depending on if you are on the east or west coast of the southern peninsula. On the west coast of the southern peninsula, you will find it rains heaviest from April until October.
In November, things on the peninsula’s west coast begin to dry up with little or no rainfall. This dry season lasts until March along with cooler temperatures (still hot though). Come March, temperatures begin to rise with April being the hottest month. Also in April, the rainfall begins to increase with September and October as the peak months for it.
The east coast of the peninsula is different with regard to rainfall. The most rainfall typically happens between the months of September and December. Rainfall will peak around November and taper off during the months of December and January. Then, just like the west coast, the weather will get drier and hotter with April being the peak month as far as temperatures are concerned.
Northern Thailand Weather
In the northern part of Thailand, northeastern winds cause cooler and drier conditions between the months of November and February. Then, between March and May, temperatures begin to get hot and peak during the month of April. Rainfall also begins to increase with a sharp spike in May and peaking around August. The higher elevations in this region such as the mountains have been known to drop down to freezing temperatures.
Central Thailand Weather
Bangkok is the main population center in the central region of Thailand. Pattaya and Koh Chang (Elephant Island) are two other popular getaways in this region. In this region, you will find that the rainy months occur between April and November with the most rainfall occurring from May until the first couple of weeks in November. The two months with the heaviest rainfall are September and October. December through March is typically dry but still hot. However, Bangkok has been known to experience some relatively cooler nighttime temperatures during December and January although not cool enough for a jacket.
Seasons to Watch
Across the board, April is the hottest month in Thailand. It’s no surprise that April is also the month of Songkhran (Thai New Year, April 13). This is when everyone takes to the streets and celebrates by dousing each other with water either from big buckets or high-capacity water guns. It’s a way to deal with the incredible heat and it’s a celebration that you don’t want to miss. If you live in big cities such as Bangkok, Pattaya, or Chiang Mai, it’s difficult to avoid getting wet as locals indiscriminately soak anyone with water.
Another season to watch with regard to Thailand weather is the period between September and November when run-off from the northern regions floods Bangkok and Pattaya as it attempts to reach the Gulf of Thailand. Bangkok has an elaborate canal system but sometimes the Chao Phraya River, which runs through the center of the city, swells and overflows to include the canals or “klongs” as they are called in Thai. 2011 saw extreme flooding with the northern part of the city around the old Don Muang Airport submerged for months. Many development projects are in the works to divert this run-off so that the same disaster will not occur in the future.
In summary, you will find that the best time for the expat to invite friends to Thailand will be December, January, and February. These are also the peak tourist seasons and prices tend to be higher however your guests will be able to enjoy sunshine and cool breezes and the best of Thailand weather.