Well well well, so you’re heading off to explore Southeast Asia are you and wondering what the best time to visit Bangkok is?
Good for you!
It is, after all, one of those classic destinations, everyone should experience at least once in their lives.
A veritable mecca for backpackers, culture vultures, temple traipses and food market lovers, there’s no question this region ranks high in many people’s travel books and unsurprisingly, it’s still a big crowd-puller!
And at the heart of the region – or at least a city that you’re likely to stay in at least once – is the mighty Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.
Generally acknowledged as the international hub of the region (save Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, which are further south), Bangkok offers some of the most reasonable flight fares from Europe and North America, which is why many people find themselves starting their SE Asia adventures here.
Plus of course, the fact that it’s BANGKOK!
The infamous, fabled, stuff of legends mega-city that refuses to judge and be judged in return, if you’re heading there soon, then here’s my guide for the best time to visit Bangkok…
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When to Visit Bangkok?
Ok, so let me start off this article by saying there is both a short and long answer as to when the best time to visit Bangkok is!
Because the high season, or the best weather season, or the festival season, may seem like the obvious answers on the face of it, but dig a little deeper and they might just not be the answers you are looking for!
So let’s keep it simple in the beginning by exploring when the best time to visit Bangkok is weather-wise.
And the answer is, during this city’s coolest and less humid months of course!
And when I say less, I mean it’s still hot and humid af compared to many places on the planet, but just not as much as other times of the year in this sweltering tropical region – a region in which you can literally sweat out of places you didn’t even know you had!
Sorry, went slightly off-piste there, but getting back on track, the time to visit Bangkok when you’ll be the least hot and sweaty (note least, instead of not) is during the cooler season which runs from November to February.
This is Bangkok’s high season, the time when most tourists choose to visit thanks to the nearing-reasonably weather situation and, let’s not forget the fact that the northern hemisphere is cold at this time and many people there have some time off work thanks to Christmas.
So in general yes, November to February is the best time to visit Bangkok, as well as the other destinations in Central Thailand such as Ayutthaya.
But as I’ll explain as this article goes on, with this being the most popular time, it’s also the time when the prices are highest and the crowds thickest – a situation not helped by the fact that many of the country’s holidays fall within these months too.
At festival / holiday times the country pretty much comes to a standstill and travelling around can become impossible for several days at a time.
There’s also the climate in other areas of Thailand (if you’re travelling beyond the capital), as well as other countries in Southeast Asia (if you’re travelling the region) to contend with too.
This means that the best time to visit Bangkok for you, may also involve taking into account other destinations that may have different climatic patterns.
So you see what I mean when I say it’s not straightforward!
To explain more, I’ve firstly going to give you a rough breakdown of the Bangkok climate so that you’re armed with as much info as possible.
Let’s jump in…
Here’s a short breakdown of the annual climate patterns you’re likely to experience in Bangkok and other factors that might influence when in the year you decide to visit.
November – February: Technically the winter season, this is when Bangkok is at its coolest and least humid. Rainfall is low during these months, making it high season for northern hemisphere tourists especially. The highest prices can be found at this time, and the major holiday of Chinese New Year usually falls within this time period, so be sure to research that.
March – May: The shoulder season months are good for visiting Bangkok if you don’t mind heat and humidity and are keen to dodge the heavy crowds! Mid-range prices makes things attractive at this time, as do blue sky days, but burn-off season at the end of this period can really drag down the air quality. Songkran, the Thai New Year, usually takes place within these months too, when the whole country comes to a standstill. If you’re visiting at this time, be sure to research when it falls and plan accordingly. This can be a really fun festival to witness, but you’ll need to book everything in advance and be prepared not to move during this time.
June – October: Low season to travel in Bangkok (and Thailand more generally) with prices at their cheapest and crowds at their thickest. This is due to the high rainfall levels during these months, which marks Thailand’s rainy season. Being in the tropics, it doesn’t generally rain here all day, but with heavy downpours in the afternoon a regular occurrence and flooding sometimes common, the weather can still hamper your plans. If you plan to scuba dive from the islands too, the underwater visibility can be dramatically reduced at this time.
Best Time to Visit the Thai Islands
Which leads me nicely onto the next sub-topic, namely, when is the best time to visit Thailand’s islands – after all, most people who venture to Bangkok usually enjoy a few days elsewhere in the country too.
And with their paradisical appearance, relaxed vibes and great outdoor activities, it’s no surprise the Thai islands tend to be a hot choice.
Thankfully, the islands, which are in Southern Thailand, below Bangkok, tend to largely follow a similar weather pattern to the capital, making it easy to combine these 2 destinations into a great trip at the same time of year.
The only nuances however are that, being close to the Equator (and the further south you go, the closer you get), the islands have more of a 2 seasonal climate rather than 3.
Loosely this means there’s a dry season, which usually runs from November to May, and a wet season, which generally runs from May to October.
And I say generally, because this can also be affected by whether you’re staying on an island on the east or west sides of the Thai peninsula.
This is down to the monsoon cycles which operate slightly differently on either side (as they also do in Malaysia), but without going into too much detail here, the basic essential info is that high season to visit the Thai Islands, like Bangkok, is November through April.
The beginning half of this period around Christmas and New Year will also be the busiest with the highest prices and crowds, while the tail end here will be the optimal time for spotting some of the best marine life – namely mantas and whale sharks.
Depending whether you want to snorkel and scuba, or simply sunbathe and party, will likely have the biggest bearing on when the best time to visit the Thai Islands is for you.
Best Time to Visit Northern Thailand
But this is where things start to get interesting because, if you’re wanting to really explore the diversity of Thailand, then moving beyond the islands of the south and central area of Bangkok, to the northern highlands of the country is a must.
Up here you’re at a much higher elevation, which means things can be cooler… and also hotter…. great!
In general, the range in temperatures is bigger, which means if you don’t have warmer clothes packed with you, you might need to think more carefully about when you head up here… or at least buy a few additional items!
The main thing to know however is the rainfall and thankfully this does come mostly at the same time as the rain in Bangkok – namely June through October.
Honestly, I’d avoid the mountain region at this time as many spots can be cold, damp and impassable – not a lot of fun!
Just before that season is the mega-hot season in the north of Thailand, which runs from February through May – this is when I visited the north of Thailand and can certainly attest to it being a sweltering affair.
However, even towards the tail-end of this, I still managed to get out hiking, which means it’s not so stifling here you can’t do anything.
In contrast, the main problem was the burn-off.
This is when farmers use slash and burn techniques to rejuvenate the land after the harvest. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but the smoke created from so many fires is catastrophic for the environment and the air pollution.
Honestly, some days I was in northern Thailand in May, the air pollution was too bad to even go outside and mask-wearing was a necessity.
Not very pleasant or happy to travel in I can tell you!
Between November and January is therefore the best time to travel in the north of Thailand in my opinion.
And this fits well with expanding your trip beyond Bangkok if you wish.
Best Time to Visit Southeast Asia in General
And this season also fits well with many other parts of Southeast Asia too – a welcome message if you plan to travel beyond Bangkok and other parts of Thailand into neighbouring countries.
Yes generally across many places in the region including Cambodia, Laos, South Vietnam and the Malay peninsula, the best time to visit weather-wise is also during the months of November through to March.
This means that covering quite a lot of ground in Southeast Asia is generally easy as, during these times, you’ll experience a dry, cooler climate with blue sky days and plenty of opportunities to get out for activities and sightseeing.
The countries in Southeast Asia that don’t conform so well to this weather pattern are the central and northern parts of Vietnam, as well as the Malaysian Islands – if you plan to travel to these destinations, but don’t presume November through March is the best time!
Cheapest Time to Travel to Thailand
But now that we’ve established November to March is probably the best time to visit Bangkok, as well as the islands and north of the country as a whole, and even to other countries in Southeast Asia too, we do need to consider the cons to travelling at this time as well as the pros.
Well we know the pros are the weather, but the cons (as I’ve outlined before) are the number of other tourists, the festivals that can make getting around during certain weeks difficult and, most crucially for us budget travellers, the price!
Yes given this is high season and both the Christmas and Easter holidays fall within this period, prices are definitely the highest at this time of year and things need to be booked in advance too.
It therefore pays to be organised during this season as you’ll certainly want to reserve accommodation and book flights ahead of time too.
If you tend to be more disorganised, or if your budget is tight, then the shoulder season of April through May might suit you better.
Best Overall Time to Visit Bangkok
Overall then, it’s the shoulder months of April and May or September and October that gets my vote as the best time to visit Bangkok.
During these months, the prices are good, the number of other tourists bearable and the temperatures across the country are manageable.
Bangkok Mini Travel Guide
How to Get to Bangkok?
Now it’s time to move on to discussing how to get to Bangkok.
First up flying, which is probably the preferred option for most travellers, especially those who are coming from further away.
The main international airport in Thailand is handily situated in Bangkok, and it is clean, well-serviced and easy to access – transport from the suburbs of the city can be easily arranged through ridesharing apps.
As always, I recommend you check out Skyscanner to get the best deals on your flights to Thailand no matter where you’re heading in from.
Alternatively, if you’re arriving into Bangkok from any nearby countries i.e. those within the Southeast Asia region, then it’s true that travelling overland i.e. by bus, might be the easier (and will certainly be the cheaper) option for you.
Common routes include between Siem Reap and Bangkok, and Thailand also has several open land borders with Myanmar, as well as Laos and Malaysia too.
When to comes to booking your bus transport for travel to Bangkok or anywhere in Southeast Asia, I highly recommend 12Go.
Their secure online booking platform allows you to compare and book buses easily across the region in English – hoorah!
And finally, if you’re not totally comfortable with travelling this country independently, then a small group or guided tour is a great option that will have you seeing the best of Thailand safely, securely and easily.
Check out these top picks for some super ideas and prices.
How Long to Spend There?
I think 3-6 days is a good amount of time in Bangkok.
It’s a big city, with a lot to see and do, but can be quite hectic and tiring after all while!
Travel Insurance for Thailand
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Top 5 Packing Items for Your Bangkok Trip
#1 Lonely Planet Guidebook – The Bangkok Lonely Planet is excellent and very helpful for any trip to this city with lots of top tips and good practical information.
#2 Walking Shoes – There’s likely to be a lot of walking in Bangkok especially as the traffic here can be so bad. As such, I advise packing a pair of good runners, like these New Balance trainers, which are perfect for city strolling.
#3 European & British Power Adapters – Bangkok has a mix of power outlets, but generally opts for a combination of the European and British ones, so make sure you come prepared with a Skross world adapter.
#4 Camera and Lens – I love my Sony A6000 mirrorless, which was ideal for capturing this crazy capital at its best.
#5 Travel Scarf – A great multi-purpose travel item that can be used to safely store valuables and cover your shoulders while you explore Bangkok’s temples.
Best Place to Stay in Bangkok
As opposed to staying on or near the Khao San Road, which is honestly one of the worst places I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending a full 3 minutes before I turned on my heels and fled, can I suggest you stay in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok instead.
Having stayed there myself as a solo female, I can definitely say I felt a lot safer there walking around at night by myself than anywhere else, and there’s an excellent choice of accommodation in this bustling part of the city too.
And when it comes to my recommendations, especially if you want to treat yourself, then look no further than the Mercure Bangkok Sukhumvit 11.
Ideally located, with huge, clean and comfortable rooms (some of which include a bath!) and some of the most helpful staff I’ve ever encountered, this place is an absolute haven amongst the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
The gorgeous pool and daybeds are a dream when you need to relax away from the sweat and urban chaos of the city, and the bar and several restaurants onsite here will make your stay easy, convenient and stress-free.
Where to Travel After Bangkok?
If you want to stay within Thailand, then the southern destination of Krabi or the northern cites of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai were my favourites.
Otherwise, it’s an easy hop, skip and a jump across the border to Cambodia and the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat.
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