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By Andrew Thompson
Bangkok, Thailand is a year-round destination, provided you’re comfortable with consistently high temperatures. Highs throughout the year tend to hang around the low-to-mid 30 degree mark, even in winter, and the lows seldom dip below 20 degrees. The peak rainy months, between May and November, can see as many as 15 days of rain each, but even so it’s possible to experience the best of the city regardless of when you visit. The city is also busy throughout the year, though some months are more chaotic than others. As such, the best time to visit Bangkok if you’re set on sightseeing with slightly fewer crowds may just be the few weeks between the end of November and early December as it’s drying off from the wet season. The best time to visit Bangkok weather wise is between November and February, when days are warm and rain is uncommon.
Bangkok summers are hot and wet, and if you’re concerned about getting caught in the monsoons this may be the worst time to visit Bangkok. Many visitors still brave the city at this time of year, but if you’re determined to be one of them it’s important to pack plenty of waterproof gear. On the plus side, if you’re looking for the cheapest time to visit Bangkok, this may also be it. Many hotels lower their prices in anticipation of the declining tourist numbers, and the added bonus is that the typically chaotic city may be slightly less busy. July and August are particularly wet, though there are enough indoor activities to keep visitors busy so as not to interfere with the holiday too much. If all you have is three days in Bangkok, then be prepared to don your rain jacket and do a bit of dashing between attractions.
Bangkok weather in summer is unsurprisingly hot, and with the arrival of the monsoon rains in June you can expect a spike in humidity. As such, it pays to be indoors with the comfort of air-conditioning on the hottest days, which is great news for the shoppers - because many consider this to be the best time to visit Bangkok for shopping. The famous Grand Sale runs from mid-June to mid-August, and most stores in the city offer steep discounts on their items. Aside from the Grand Sale there are also several noteworthy events that take place over the summer months, including street food and film festivals, Pattaya Marathon, and even the Chinese Ghost Festival that usually takes place in August. The hot summer months are also the perfect time to visit the Grand Palace - at other times of the year it’s unbearably crowded, but between June and September an early arrival can mean relative peace and calm at the famous attraction.
Autumn is a wet season in Bangkok, with September and October easily the city’s rainiest months. Towards the end of November Bangkok weather is still hot, but the rainy days start to ease off. As a result, many believe November is the best month to visit Bangkok - it’s hot, dry, and towards the end of the month quieter than other times of the year. Even though autumn is the start of the city’s cold months, don’t expect the heat to ease off too much - typically the maximum temperatures drop off just a few degrees into the high 20s as winter approaches.
The autumn months of September to November are packed full of fantastic traditional festivals and events, and the possibility of easing crowds makes it a good time to tick off the best things to do in Bangkok. In September you can attend the Moon Festival. Though it originated in China, Thailand’s residents have made it their own, and you can expect Bangkok’s Chinatown to be the epicentre for activity. Buddhist Lent also falls in October, and to celebrate there are several events throughout the country. Later on in the month is Chulalongkorn Day, an annual event on October 23 that celebrates the life of King Chulalongkorn. It’s a public holiday and an important day filled with prayer and offerings. November is also fill of activity, with food and drink festivals taking place in the first weeks of the month. But it’s Loy Krathong Festival, one of the city’s most vibrant festivals, that is particularly worth diarising. It takes place on the first day of the full moon in November on lakes and rivers around the city, and for fans of traditional festivals this is the best month to visit Bangkok.
Don’t expect Bangkok weather in winter to ease off much. You’re still looking at highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s. But if you’re looking for little to no rain interruptions, this might be the best time to visit Bangkok. Unfortunately, the slightly cooler temperatures and fewer rain days mean the crowd numbers often peak over this time, resulting in queues at many of the best things to do in Bangkok. This is particularly true around Christmas and New Year, when bars and restaurants fill to capacity with visitors from out of town.
Early December might be the best time to visit Bangkok, weather wise and crowd wise. The days are hot, but they are rain free, and the main crush of holidaying crowds have yet to arrive. This makes it a good time to tick off some of Bangkok’s major attractions. Whether it’s your first visit or your fifth, there are several things to do in Bangkok that you can’t miss, but once you’ve done these you might look towards some of the various festivals and holidays over this period. Many of these centre around the King’s Birthday, held annually on December 5th, but Constitution Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve are also big days in Bangkok calendar. In January you can attend the Bangkok Fringe Festival, or celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, which takes place in late January or February each year.
Bangkok weather in spring is already hot, and as the months progress so the rain increases. March is also the end of the high season, so it’s likely that the city will be busy but starting to ease off slightly when it comes to crowds. April is usually the hottest month in Bangkok, with highs of 35 and lows of 27 degrees Celsius, and as such most people retreat to air-conditioned comfort whenever possible. Although by the time May arrives you may be willing on some rain, the start of the monsoon season doesn’t bring with it much relief, and instead can result in more than two weeks of rain days in the month. Even so, there’s a lot to see and do during the months of spring, and if you plan adequately you can have an eventful trip.
March is a fun time to be in Bangkok. In recent years the Bangkok International Fashion Week, National Book Fair, and St Patrick’s Day have kept the city alive and kicking. April is a month of more traditional festivals, however. Chakri Day, on April 6th, is a public holiday to commemorate the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty in 1782. It’s an important national day and not a rowdy holiday, but the various shows of respect are interesting to observe for first time visitors to the country. Thai New Year, on the other hand, is a raucous celebration that involves nationwide water fights. It usually takes place in mid-April each year and is a remarkable spectacle to witness. If you’re there outside of the main events and holidays, but still want an authentic taste of local culture, then a trip aboard the floating market - a sight that very few visitors see.
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