When to Visit Northern Thailand
Northern Thailand & Bangkok by season
Being a hilly, forested region, northern Thailand is generally cooler than lower lying-Bangkok, where it can be pretty humid at times. While the names of Thailand’s three seasons, hot, cool and wet, speak for themselves, the cool season between November and February is the most popular time to travel, especially for Europeans and Americans escaping the cold northern hemisphere winter.
March – May
At the start of the hot season, northern Thailand takes a little longer to warm up than the southern beaches, but it soon catches them up. It stays dry too, making this the ideal time for temple touring and jungle trekking. The mountains in the far north make the best escape from the heat, while April’s Songkran is a wonderful time to visit if you’re into Thai culture and tradition.
National Muay Thai Day: on March 17th, get yourself to Ayutthaya for a festival of martial arts and Thai boxing, attracting participants from all over the globe.
Thai New Year: also known as Songkran, Thailand’s New Year celebrations in April bring wild celebrations as people take to the streets to wash away their sins with scented water.
June – October
As the wet season commences, humidity levels start to rise and temperatures increase. Daytime temperatures remain at a constant 35°C in Bangkok, although they are cooler in Chiang Mai and even cooler in the mountains. Hot, sticky days pass by in a cycle of sun, building clouds and dramatic rainstorms, which don’t usually last longer than an hour or two.
Good value: despite the frequent sun, the wet season’s rains reduce visitor numbers to Thailand, prompting hotels and shops to slash their prices.
Hungry Ghost Festival: in late August, head for Chiang Mai and Bangkok to witness the residents making offerings to the ghosts of their ancestors, who return for one day every year.
November – February
As the rains pass, the humidity levels fall and temperatures follow suit, although the average in Bangkok still hovers around 30°C. In Chiang Mai, the skies are blue and the forests are lush, making it a great time for trekking in the jungles. You might even need a jacket in the evening, or if you’re off to the mountains, where ice is not unheard of around Doi Inthanon National Park.
Bo Sang Umbrella Festival: for something a little different, head for Chiang Mai on the third weekend in January. The streets are decorated with lanterns and umbrellas, with food, music and dancing too.
Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival: around 100 miles north of Bangkok, the town of Lopburi celebrates their resident monkey population on the last Sunday in November; come join the fun!