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Best Time of Year to Visit Thailand
Wat Phra Kaew, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, on the grounds of the Grand Palace, photo courtesy Jorge Lascar on Flickr.
Thailand is one of Southeast Asia's most popular destinations, with over 16 million foreign visitors in the last year. It is easy to see why, Thailand has beautiful countryside, sunny beaches and bustling modern cities to choose between.
Weather in Thailand
Thailand has three distinct times of year for weather but overall it is a tropical climate that can be very humid, especially in the South. The Cool season is November to February and generally considered the best time to visit. It can still get warm though with highs up to 85F. The Hot season from March to May can get very hot with highs over 95F--perfect for those who want to visit Thailand's beaches.
The rainy season is from May to November and can vary widely in amount of rain. Southern Thailand also gets substantially more rain compared to the dryer North.
Bangkok skyline, at night, photo courtesy Evo Flash on Flickr.
Things to See and Do
There are many beautiful places and attractions in Thailand but there are three specific cities that offer very different views of Thailand. Bangkok is the bustling capital of Thailand and has a population of over 8 million people. The Grand Palace is a must see for grand, traditional Thai architecture.
If you plan to rent a car or motorcycle, note that in Thailand they drive on the left hand side of the road, unlike most of the rest of southeast Asia. And you'll find that the left side vs. the right side of the road is treated pretty flexibly: the lanes each direction adjust on-the-fly as drivers adapt to whichever direction has the most vehicles at any given time. I'm pretty sure that the lines painted on the road are just to comfort the tourists--the locals don't seem to pay any attention to them.
The Reclining Buddha, photo courtesy Dennis Jarvis on Flickr.
Right next door is Wat Pho, the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in Thailand, which also houses the spectacular Reclining Buddha which is 46 metres long. The National Museum, huge weekend markets, and centuries old Chinatown are other fun places to visit.
Buddhas at Wat Suthat, photo courtesy Mikel Iturbe Urretxa on Flickr.
For a more tropical experience head to the southern island of Phuket, the largest Thai island.
Renowned for its beaches and coastline soak in the sun or explore the various lagoons and caves.
Beach, Raya Island, near Phuket, photo courtesy Nicolas Vollmer on Flickr.
Chiang Mai is considered by some as the northern capital of Thailand, a thriving city full of temples and with a sleepier atmosphere than Bangkok. There are 36 temples within city limits alone.
Sampling the local cuisine in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, photo courtesy Patty Ho on Flickr.
It is a great place to sample some Thailand's famous dishes from curry and Pad Thai to more quirky options like insects. Other fun options include getting a Thai massage or seeing a Thai boxing match.
To compare all resorts in Thailand, click here.
Typical airfares from LAX to Bangkok, Thailand
Airfares vary by season, but also day of week, and are definitely affected by holidays. The chart above shows the typical average fares for a economy class ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Bangkok (BKK), by month. We gathered this data in March 2017 from FareCompare.com.
Floating market in Bangkok, photo courtesy Anthony Spratt on Flickr.
One interesting experience in Thailand is the floating markets. The most famous is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is outside of Bangkok but there are markets within Bangkok city limits as well. All the goods are sold from boats and it is a cool way to experience history while supporting the local economy. Another unique experience is visiting a Hill Tribe Village, the Padaung are native to Thailand. They are known for long-necked women who use brass rings as a form of beautification. Visiting a hill tribe is an insight into their way of life, if taking the tour make sure to see if the company gives money to the tribe and is respectful. Another fun experience if done ethically is visiting an elephant sanctuary. At many of these refuges visitors can bathe and feed the elephants. By supporting sanctuaries tourists can make sure the elephants aren't being abused.
Water temperature and SCUBA diving in Thailand
Leopard shark near Khaolak, photo courtesy Tanaka Juuyoh on Flickr.
Water temperatures range from about 82F to 86F all year long. You'll typically find great visibility, too, at around 100 feet. There's diving on both coasts of the Thai peninsula. Best time to dive the Andaman Sea (the west side) is October through April. Sea life includes the usual Pacific reef fish like Moorish idols and pufferfish, plus morays, manta rays, and leopard sharks. If you're really lucky, you'll see a whale shark. Phuket on the west side is a great place to base your dive trip from, as there are dive sites a short boat ride away. When I was there a few years back, I did an all-day boat dive trip that started in the morning with a grand lunch buffet on the boat, an afternoon dive, and then a night dive.
For a ton more details on dive sites and dive shops in Thailand, check out PADI's page.
Map of all resorts in Thailand