The Best Time to Visit Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai by Seasons
Chiang Mai’s raised elevation gives it the advantage of being cooler and less humid than Bangkok and the islands, and makes a refreshing change from the stickiness of southern Thailand. Although the city can be visited all year round, the cool season is the most popular time to visit, but even the wet season brings refreshing breezes and lush green landscapes.
November to February
Pleasantly warm days and plenty of sunshine make the cool season the most popular time to visit Chiang Mai. Days still hit the high 30s, but this is a great time to explore Chiang Mai’s temples and admire the gorgeous colours of the cherry blossom that come out in late-January, turning everything a vivid shade of pink. In the evenings, it can even get a little chilly, so do bring a jumper, especially if you’re heading into the hills or jungles.
Bo Sang Umbrella Festival: on the third weekend of January, celebrate Chiang Mai’s many umbrellas at this quirky festival involving parades, umbrella-making and umbrella displays.
Flower Festival: February’s cooler temperatures allow the flowers including orchids, roses and lilies, to bloom. Join the celebrations at the floral parade, involving floats covered in flowers.
March to May
The tropical heat sweeps into Chiang Mai in March, bringing hot, humid days and warm nights. Daytime temperatures regularly reach 40°C, and a misty heat haze descends over the city, obscuring the mountain views. If you love the heat, this is a great time to visit, and even if you don’t head into the hills for cooler temperatures and some welcome shady spots.
Inthakhin Festival: in late May (sometimes early June) get down to Wat Chedi Luang where the locals come to worship and make offerings as a blessing to their beloved city.
Songkran: in April, celebrate Thai New Year and cool off from the heat in this city-wide water fight. The water symbolises the washing away of sins; prepare to get wet!
June to October
At the end of May, the monsoon rains arrive from India, bringing daily short, sharp downpours that last for an hour or so before the sun comes out again. The rain cools down the temperature, turning the landscape a gorgeous shade of emerald green. This is rice planting season, so head out into the countryside to see the rice farmers at work.
Loy Krathong: to celebrate the end of the rainy season, Thais make krathongs, like floating rafts, decorated with banana leaves, flowers and candles, and float them on the rivers and canals.
Rocket Festival: come and watch this offbeat festival, as locals make rockets from bamboo and gunpowder and compete for whose can fly the furthest and the highest.