There is no bad time to visit Thailand. But of course, some months, because of the weather, are better than the others. Thailand has four types of tourist seasons. The Peak Season, The Summer Vacation Time, The Rainy Season, and everything in-between.
The Peak Season
The peak season is the three months of “winter” from November to January. This is not winter in the true sense because unless you are the Northern part of Thailand, you will still be wearing your summer clothes. The added benefit of this season is that humidity will be less and you will not sweat a lot while walking. In the North, say in Chiang Mai, the evening / night temperature may dip to 15 or even 10 degrees Celsius, so you may need to bring a jacket if you are outdoors after sundown. In Bangkok, and in the popular resort towns of Pattaya, Phuket, and Krabi, these months are really pleasant. Possibility of rains is the least and the time is relatively safer for those island tours – Coral Island in Pattaya or James Bond Island in Krabi.
Cost of Travel in Peak Season
For travel during the peak season, your air tickets to Thailand may cost a little more, travel withing Thailand may become a little more expensive, and travel agents may not offer much discount on their prices. Hotel tariffs also increase during this period but you will still get discounts on the published tariff. Another thing, I have not seen any time of the year in Thailand when all hotels get sold out in the places I mentioned above. No matter how late you book, you will still get a hotel and within your price range. If the month or dates are not an issue and you can afford to spend about 20% extra on your Thai holiday, it is best to plan for this period only.
Summer Vacation Months
Tourists go to Thailand throughout the year but during the time of summer vacation for kids – May and June – there will be some additional tourist arrivals. The weather is not so kind during this period. Temperature usually remains between 26 and 33 degrees Celsius, which, coupled with humidity above 70%, can be a tough time for a tourist in Thailand. There is also the possibility of rainfall on 18 out of 30/31 days of a month. And you do not save much money on a vacation during this time because the prices of everything are almost the same as the peak season, or may be 5-10% less. So, unless you have school going children travelling with you, you can avoid this period.
The official rainy season / off-season in Thailand lasts for four months from July to October. These four months see maximum rainfall with the possibility of rainfall on 22 out of 30 days in Jul-Aug-Sep and 16 days in October. Temperature remains between 25 and 33 degrees and there is usually no respite from the heat unless it is raining. Humidity remains above 70%, so you can be sure that your shirt will be sticking to your back all the time, particularly in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, and Krabi.
Cost of Thailand Holiday in Rainy Season
Rainy season is also known as the ‘budget’ season for travel to Thailand. Both air tickets and hotels become cheap, and conducted tours are available for less. Because of this reason, the number of tourists visiting Thailand during the rainy season has been increasing over the past few years. I have personally experienced this. In the September of 2015, I went to a massage shop in Patong (Phuket) at 7.00pm, and I was told that I was only the 5th customer the shop had received that day. It was shocking. Perhaps there was some special reason for the low tourist arrivals – political instability or something. However, in the September of 2017 massage shops in the same area of Patong seemed to be doing brisk business. In Pattaya too, there was a decent crowd of tourists in September 2017. This is significant if a solo traveler is concerned about being lonely in Thailand during the rainy season. If there are crowds, all the tourism-related services/businesses will be up and running too.
One additional tip here: The days of the week matter too. If you are travelling during off-season, plan your dates carefully. Crowds will be more during weekends particularly in Pattaya and Phuket. So, if you want more crowd, go during Saturday and Sunday. If you do not want too much crowd, go during weekdays. When the crowds are thin, businesses in the resort towns of Thailand are more courteous to tourists and sometimes are even willing to drop prices further. So one gets better quality service at lower prices.
February – March – April
These three months are hot and humid as usual but receive less rainfall as compared to May and June. February deserves a special mention because for many hotels in Thailand, February is a part of the peak season. They keep room tariffs high for February but from 1st March onwards, summer prices apply. This means that if you are planning to go in the second half of February, may be you can postpone the trip to the first half of March and save some money. Other than the prices of hotels and flight tickets, everything else will be the same. Do some research on the booking sites for prices and decide.