Last Updated on June 2, 2023 by asoulwindow
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Why (and How) to Travel During Thailand’s Green Season
Many travelers research the Thailand rainy season in order to avoid it. For one reason or another, they’re convinced travel in Thailand during the wetter months will be a miserable affair, not to mention utterly lacking in sunshine.
The truth is more complicated. While Thailand gets plenty of rain between June and October, it’s not a total washout. You’re likely to enjoy at least a couple blue-sky hours on even the gloomiest day; even the heaviest rain will only rarely disrupt the logistics of your travel, even down in the islands.
Although travel during Thailand’s rainy season isn’t for everyone, it is more appealing than most people imagine it will be. I hope you’ll hear me out, even if you’re already on the cusp of booking a trip during cool, dry December.
When is Thailand’s Rainy Season?
Although the Thailand rainy season has been somewhat erratic in recent years due to climate change, it usually starts in late May or early June and lasts until sometime in October. Southern regions of the Kingdom tend to stay wetter longer than the north, although this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Indeed, nothing about Thailand’s so-called “green” season is really set in stone.
In some years, you can start experiencing more rain than sun as early as April, after the annual Songkran festival. In other years, even the early part of November can be rainy, depending on where in the country you travel. This is to say nothing of the fact that downpours can occur almost any day of the year in Thailand, although I’ll have more to say about the peculiarities of Thai weather in a few more paragraphs.
It is a well-known fact that during peak travel seasons, crowds increase not only at the most well-known tourist destinations but also in lesser-known locations, which are typically the hidden jewels that add the greatest value to a trip. Traveling out of season also gives you a better chance to interact with locals and have more authentic experiences. By learning Thai and engaging in interactions with Thai people whenever you have the chance to expand your opportunities for seeing the country even more deeply.
Where to Go During Thailand’s Rainy Season
Northern Thailand transforms the most during the rainy season, on account of all the crops grown here. Landing in Chiang Mai, for example, the verdant rice fields are absolutely hypnotizing, particularly if the rain has only just abated, and you can see mist rising above them. This is to say nothing of the province’s famous waterfalls, which are positively overflowing during the rainy months.
Want to spend the rainy season in Thailand in the country’s north, but don’t want to visit Chiang Mai again? Chiang Rai, which is further north and is the gateway to the culturally eclectic Golden Triangle region, makes for a great alternative. This is particularly true if you make a visit to local tea or coffee plantations, which become almost indescribably beautiful thanks to daily rain.
Phuket or Krabi
The bad news? Some of Thailand’s best islands become all but inaccessible during the rainy season, due to a combination of rough seas and light ferry and long-tail boat services. The good news? More popular ones, namely those in Phuket and Krabi province, feel more forlorn than they are due to an utter lack of crowds. In particular, I find that Krabi’s Railay Beach is especially delightful during the rainy months.
Another place you can visit during the Thailand wet season is Koh Samui, whose year-round air service means it’s accessible even on the rainiest days. Some travelers will stay exclusively on this island, whether in popular Chaweng and Lamai on the east coast, or in less-known areas like Bo Phut in the north and Nathon in the west. Another option is to make excursions to nearby Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Tao, keeping in mind that ferries are less frequent during the wet months.
Last but not least is Bangkok, which on account of the wide variety of indoor activities is perfect to visit 365 days per year. Indeed, one of the reasons I love visiting Bangkok during the rainy season is that it’s cooler. While you might not get that perfect sunny day in Lumphini Park, or be able to photograph the Grand Palace under a pristine blue sky, you will be more comfortable and less sweaty as you move about. Plus, hotels will be cheaper!
What is Thailand’s Rainy Season Like?
Thailand’s rainy season is anything but a washout. Unlike in certain parts of the Indian subcontinent, it’s not a matter of rain lasting days or even weeks on end. In fact, while rain will generally fall for a few hours every day of Thailand’s wet season, you’re just as likely to experience sunshine and blue skies, even if when and how long this will last is unpredictable.
Overhead conditions notwithstanding, you should keep in mind there’s a reason they call this the Thailand green season. Especially (but not exclusively) in northern provinces like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Lampang, the lushness of the hillsides and rice paddies is truly gorgeous—they’re deep green and almost iridescent, as if the leaves are made of emeralds.
Other FAQ About Thailand Monsoon Travel
Should I go to Thailand during rainy season?
If you’re curious about visiting Thailand during the rainy season, I’d recommend going. In addition to the lower prices and lighter crowds, many destinations in the Kingdom take on a different character, whether that’s because formerly bustling beaches seem forlorn and castaway, or because the jungles of the north are just so lush.
How rainy is the rainy season in Thailand?
While you’ll probably see rain every day during Thailand’s rainy season, it will almost never last the entire day. In fact, many travelers are surprised by how much sun there is during Thailand’s rainy season, particularly if you come near the beginning in June or toward the end in October. It’s nothing like the monsoon in India, for example, which is far more relentless.
What is the rainiest month in Thailand?
The rainiest month in Thailand, in most years, is August. During this time of the year, rain falls basically everywhere in the Kingdom, often for the better part of each day. This is also when Thailand experiences floods, in the years it has very bad ones such as it did in 2011. With this being said, it’s still possible to enjoy some sunshine when you visit Thailand in August, so don’t feel discouraged if this is the only month you can come.
The Bottom Line
I hope I’ve changed your mind about Thailand rainy season travel. Whether you explore northern Thailand amid mist and lush greenery, or explore the beaches of Phuket, Krabi and beyond when almost no one else is there, the potential benefits of Thailand during the low season are at least as numerous as the well-advertised drawbacks. All of which is to say that you shouldn’t despair if you plan to visit Thailand between about June and October, but have previously read that the country isn’t worth visiting during that time. It is—and it may well be a trip you never forget.
Robert Schrader is a writer and photographer who’s been traveling (and, on a couple of occasions, living) in Thailand since 2010. It was his stints residing in Thailand that opened him up to the charms of exploring Thailand during the rainy season, a time most travelers write off. Follow Thailand Starts Here on Instagram for inspiring visual updates.
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