Best Time to Visit Bangkok

The best time to visit Bangkok is highly dependent on the seasons. Like the rest of the country, Bangkok is mostly a tropical destination year-round. It enjoys warm-to-hot temperatures, dry and wet seasons, year-round festivals, humidity, and even monsoons. Prices fluctuate, as do the number of tourists, depending on the season. So when determining the best time to visit Bangkok, the question then becomes, what is it you're looking for?

Thailand's capital offers a fascinating mix of temples, skyscrapers, one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world, and some of the best shopping you'll find in Asia. It's also one of your best chances to experience a true marriage of tradition-meets-innovation, a city where there's always something exciting happening. If you're in the early stages of planning a visit to Bangkok, here's an in-depth guide to help you choose the best time to visit.

Best Time of Year to Visit Bangkok

The Marble Temple in Bangkok at sunset

Bangkok's weather is tropical all year-round, which translates to long, hot days no matter what time of the year you arrive. If you'd like a bit of a break in temperatures (high 20s instead of high 30s Celsius), December and January are the best time to visit Bangkok weather-wise. But overall, you will not be disappointed with the weather if you visit Bangkok between November and March. Because Bangkok is still very much a tropical destination, the weather can often have a mind of its own. The heavy monsoon rains taper down in early November, and the holiday crowds don't arrive till late December, so you'll see slightly cooler, drier weather and smaller crowds. Bear in mind, however, that the time between November and January is high season, so hotel rates and airfare will be at their highest.

If your plan is to head south to the islands after a stop in Bangkok, arriving between November and April guarantees the best beach and water conditions. In Bangkok, where everything's air-conditioned, and many of the attractions are at least partially indoors, there's no such thing as "the worst time to visit." For example, arriving during the wettest months might seem inconvenient, but it guarantees shorter lines at the main attractions and lower prices almost everywhere.

If you want a peek into local culture, the two major Thai festivals occur in April and November. April is the Songkran festival, which is Thailand's most famous festival. It's the traditional Thai New Year festival, and it's a time when the entire country erupts with celebration. November hosts the Loi Krathong, which is the time to thank the Water Goddess for her abundance, as well as ask forgiveness for the human pollution of the bodies of water. It's a beautiful festival held all over the country, marked by thousands of lanterns that are released into the night sky. In December, all the major shopping areas in Bangkok get decked for Christmas, even though it's not traditionally celebrated in Thailand.

Best Month to Visit Bangkok

Sunset over Bangkok

Most of Bangkok's main attractions – such as the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the Jim Thompson House and Museum – remain open year-round, so you won't miss out no matter when you visit. But depending on the season and the weather, some months are more convenient and comfortable than others. Still, Thailand is home to many beautiful festivals and special events throughout the year, so you might want to consider these when planning a visit.

January: The Chinese New Year (which usually falls in late January or early February) is celebrated in full force in Bangkok-with festivities mainly concentrating around the Chinatown area but also spilling into the rest of Bangkok in one form or another. Expect dragon parades, lanterns, and firecrackers, and plenty of food stalls lining up the markets. The average high in January is 32 degrees Celsius, while the average precipitation is 8.8 millimeters. This means it is one of the coolest and driest months to visit Bangkok.

February: With no major holidays in February (except the Chinese New Year sometimes) the best way to spend this month is to explore the outdoors before the temperatures start increasing. The average high is still around 32 degrees Celsius. January and February are "kite season" in Bangkok, with many locals heading to Lumphini Park to take advantage of the stronger winds-where you can either watch the many kites taking to the skies or buy your own and try your luck. The 57-hectare Lumphini park is a great place to sit down for a picnic, rent a canoe, or look out for the giant three-meter-long Komodo dragons that inhabit the park.

March: March is a dry month, ideal for island-hopping and burying your toes in the sand. You'll find temperatures are starting to climb, with the average high around 34 degrees Celsius, but precipitation is still low, at less than three centimeters. While Thailand's main island destinations are several hours away, there are still beaches you can visit on a quick day trip from Bangkok. Less than 90 minutes away from the capital, Bang Saen is a quiet beach getaway that offers a four-kilometer-long, palm-fringed coastline and great dining choices. If you're up for a longer drive, the town of Hua Hin, about 2.5 hours south of Bangkok, offers several beaches and lots of water sports.

April: April is the hottest month in Bangkok. The average high is almost 35 degrees Celsius, so if extreme heat is a deterrent, April is not the best time to visit Bangkok. April in Thailand can only mean one thing: Songkran festivities. Songkran is the Thai New Year celebration, which officially happens between April 13-15th, but in reality extends to a full week. During this time, locals are off work, many shops and city buildings are closed, and Bangkok is the quietest and most deserted you'll ever see it.

Songkran is a time for cleansing, both spiritually and physically (it's the equivalent to "spring cleaning" in Thai households), which also means massive water fights on the streets. As a tourist, you'll be a primary target, so if you're around during this time, expect to be hit with high-velocity water guns, buckets, and hoses several times a day as you walk around Bangkok. If you don't mind the "attacks" and are willing to stay out, there are plenty of street festivities, parades, and food stalls all over Bangkok to keep you entertained. Keep in mind that April is often the hottest month of the year in Bangkok, so be ready to schedule lots of air-conditioned indoor fun as well.

May: Visakha Bucha is the holiest Buddhist celebration in Thailand, a day dedicated to celebrating the teachings of the Buddha. Since the holiday is based on the lunar calendar, the exact date of celebration varies from year to year-but keep in mind that on this day (and sometimes the day before and after), clubs, many restaurants, and even shops will be closed, and the city in general will be quieter, as silence and time for reflection are recommended. If you're planning on visiting one of Bangkok's temples on this day, you'll find lots of candles, incense burning, and other quiet celebrations taking place. May is a very humid month, with high temperatures and, with rainfall averaging about 22 centimeters in the month. It is better spent indoors discovering museums and restaurants.

June: There's a lot of rain and no major festivals in Bangkok during the month of June, making it a good month for indoor fun, including visiting the covered Chatuchak market (Bangkok's biggest market with over 8,000 stalls) and the many temples around the city.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok

July: Starting in mid-June, Bangkok has an extended sale period known as the Amazing Grand Sale-and by July, most shopping centers, markets, and even small mom-and-pop stores are offering discounts of up to 80 percent on everything from high-end clothing to electronics to household products and even jewelry. This is the best time to visit if you're after great shopping deals or want to take home an expensive piece of art or traditional items you couldn't afford otherwise.

August: On the Chinese calendar, the 15th night of the seventh lunar month (which usually means August) is dedicated to the Hungry Ghost Festival-a sort of Hallow's Eve day in which restless spirits are free to roam the Earth in search of food, relief, and sometimes revenge. Heading to Bangkok's Chinatown during this festival means lots of colorful festivities, including the burning of incense and Joss paper (sheets of paper also known as "ghost money") and food offerings left on the side of the road to appease the spirits.

The yearly International Thai Film Festival (ITFF) also happens in Bangkok in August, and it's a great way to discover indie films and shorts from around the world-but also a great way to escape the heat and monsoon rains and spend some time indoors.

September: September is usually the wettest month of the year. You can expect an average of 34 centimeters of rain through the month of September in Bangkok. While this means it's not a good time to visit the islands or the beaches, it's still great to head to Bangkok: the rains are intense but short, the crowds less crazy, and the prices lower.

The Moon Festival is another Chinese festival that is widely celebrated in Thailand-a good thing, since this is probably the best festival for dessert lovers. In addition to mooncakes, you can find all kinds of sweet delicacies being sold around the city during this festival, including roasted chestnuts and ginseng and green tea ice cream. Traditional long wooden boat races happen all around Thailand during the month of September-including in Samut Prakan and Nonthaburi, both less than 30 minutes from central Bangkok.

October: For nine days in October (sometimes starting in late September depending on how the date falls on the Chinese lunar calendar), the Kin Jay Vegetarian Festival turns Bangkok into veggie paradise. Meant to be a cleansing time, restaurants all over the city offer vegetarian dishes, with some converting completely into meat-free for the duration of the festival. Watch for the yellow flags announcing a particular restaurant is participating. October is when temperatures start to cool down and the rains begin to dissipate, as well.

November: Thailand's most beautiful festival, Loi Krathong, falls in November-to be exact, on the first day of the full November moon. Loi Krathong is a celebration full of light, where Thais make merits (good deeds) and pay respect to water spirits by releasing tiny floats into the river. The tiny boats (krathongs) contain candles, coins, or sweets and are traditionally made of banana leaves. In Bangkok, hundreds of thousands of floats are usually released into the Chao Phraya River and surrounding canals, and the flickering lights make for an impressive display.

Visitors can also head to Wat Arun on the same day to see the floating of sky lanterns, released to make merits during Yi Peng festival (which falls on the same day as Loi Krathong).

November hardly sees any rain, and temperatures come way down, averaging a high of 31 degrees Celsius.

December: December is not only the driest month in Bangkok, next to January, but also one of the coolest, with daytime temperatures under 30 degrees Celsius and evening temperatures that can get into the low-20s Celsius. This is the best month to walk around the city and discover outdoor markets, explore the waterfront along the Chao Praya River, and enjoy all the street food you could ever want.

Best Season to Visit Bangkok

Traditional Thai dancer

If you're staying in Bangkok for your entire Thailand holiday, you basically get to choose between three seasons: hot season, rainy season, and cool season.

Hot Season (March to June): The hot season is part of the shoulder season, which extends from April to June. This is a time where crowds are not as thick; you won't see a lot of rain; and prices, although not as their lowest, are still affordable. The downside, of course, is that Bangkok gets really hot during this period, with temperatures regularly reaching into the 40s Celsius. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hotel with a pool are a must during this season.

Rainy Season (June/July to October): In Bangkok, the monsoon rains arrive as early as May, but the heaviest rainfall is usually in September, when parts of the city sometimes get flooded, and the humidity index skyrockets. Monsoon showers are usually in the form of short afternoon downpours, rather than continuous rain, so it's still very possible to explore the city for most of the day-just hide inside one of Bangkok's many spectacular shopping centers (including the luxury megamall Siam Paragon and the themed Terminal 21, where every floor is decorated to represent a world-famous city) when it starts to rain for some window shopping or a quick bite.

Cool Season (November to February): The cool season is also Thailand's high season, which means prices go up, hotels get fully booked, and the crowds get bigger. Don't let the word "cool" fool you, though-temperatures during the day still reach into the 30s, but mornings and nights are more comfortable, and the cool breeze alongside the Chao Praya riverfront is truly pleasant for walks. In fact, this is the best season for night markets, tasting street food, and discovering Bangkok's colonial heritage.

Cheapest Time to Visit Bangkok

Long-tail boat in Bangkok

Bangkok's low season is slightly different from the rest of the country (especially the islands in the south). As a general rule, the months between May and October are the best for budget-conscious travelers heading straight to the Thai capital. These are Bangkok's hottest and rainiest months, which means the crowds thin out, and the prices go down. The high tourist season starts in November, so booking a visit in late October will get you similar weather at much better prices.

Visiting during the cheapest time offers additional benefits-not only do hotels and airlines offer the best deals during these months, but smaller crowds mean more room to explore Bangkok's main attractions, such as the Grand Palace, without bumping into thousands of other tourists. Low season is also the best time to go to Bangkok for shopping, as the biggest sales and discounts occur between June and August.

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