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When is the best time to visit Thailand and Laos?

| Words by Rachel McCombie | , ,

Plan your trip to Thailand and Laos with this guide to what to expect from the weather at different times of year.

Overview: Best time to visit Laos and Thailand

There’s never really a bad time to visit Thailand and Laos - unless you don’t cope well with intense heat - but the time of year you go will influence your experience of these two countries. If you’re planning a jaunt around Thailand and Laos, have a read of this guide to find out when to travel for weather that will suit you.

Map: When is the best time to visit Laos and Thailand
Map: When is the best time to visit Laos and Thailand

Laos and Thailand’s Seasons

Thailand and Laos have a monsoonal climate that gives them two main seasons, differentiated by rainfall and temperature. However, the picture is a little more complicated than dry versus wet, as Thailand in particular is a large country; as you might expect, temperatures in the north of Thailand are cooler than the south, and different parts of the country experience the seasons at slightly different times. So what follows is a broad overview; once you’ve planned exactly where you’re going, it’s worth looking at average temperatures and rainfall for specific locations in more detail if you’re concerned about the weather.

Key Highlights

  • November to February: the most popular time of year to visit Thailand and Laos, with pleasant temperatures and little rainfall
  • April: New Year celebrations see water throwing in the streets
  • March to May: unpleasantly hot temperatures of up to 38°C (100°F) and high humidity mark the hot season
  • May to October: rainy season; peak rainfall varies in different parts of the two countries
  • July and August: the wettest months in Luang Prabang and Chiang Mai
  • September: the rainiest month in Bangkok
  • October/November: the wettest time to visit Hua Hin

Dry/Cool Season - October/November to March/April

Dry season sees plenty of blue skies in both Thailand and Laos, like this sunny day at the golden Pagoda in Vientiane, Laos.

Also known as the Cool Season, the Dry Season sees clear skies and comfortable temperatures, making this the most popular time to visit Thailand and Laos. If you’re planning to travel during this season, bear in mind that plenty of other people will have had the same idea, meaning that accommodation rates are higher and attractions are more crowded.

With pleasant temperatures of up to 31C (88°F), this is the best time to visit Bangkok, while the Laotian capital, Vientiane, sees a temperature range of 17°C (63°F) to around 30°C (86°F). However, it’s not called the ‘cool season’ for nothing; while daytime temperatures rise to a balmy 30°C (86°F), night-time temperatures in northern Thailand can dip to 13°C (55°F) - not exactly freezing, but enough to warrant packing a sweater.

Hot Season - March/April to May/June

Hot season can be a good time to head to the cooler climes of Chiang Mai in the mountainous north of Thailand.

While the two predominant seasons are dry and rainy, a third may be distinguished, and it’s known as the hot season. This is when temperatures in both Laos and Thailand become uncomfortably hot and humid, typically between March or April and May. Temperatures in Thailand reach 35°C (95°F); in some parts of Laos and Thailand (such as Kanchanaburi in Thailand), they can get as high as 38°C (100°F).

In Thailand, many people escape Bangkok and head to the beaches during hot season. If you plan your trip for mid-April, you’ll experience the Thai and Laos New Year celebrations, which see people take to the streets for the tradition of water throwing. It’ll be so hot that you won’t mind getting wet!

Rainy/Green Season - May/July to October

Despite the name, it is common for afternoon showers to clear quickly leaving plenty of sunshine hours to enjoy Thailand’s beaches at their least crowded.

Rainy season in Laos runs roughly from May to October, while Thailand’s is from July to October - though it varies across the country, and even across the country’s southern beaches, meaning that it might be wet in Phuket but sunny in Koh Samui. Characterised by brief, refreshing afternoon showers, rainy season is also low season, so there are fewer tourists around and hotel room rates will be lower.

As its alternative name - the Green Season - suggests, this is also the time of year when vegetation is lush and flowers are in bloom. The rain tends to fall in short afternoon showers, but there’s usually plenty of sunshine the rest of the time, so it’s not at all a bad time to visit. It’s warm, too, but not unpleasantly so; in Bangkok, for example, top temperatures are still around 31°C (88°F).

The wettest months vary according to where you go; in Luang Prabang in Laos, there’s most rain from June to August; for Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, it’s wettest in July and August. In Bangkok, September and sees most rain, while Hua Hin experiences most rainfall in October and November.

If you’re considering taking a river cruise to discover Paske and the 4000 Islands in southern Laos, it’s best to do it in rainy season, when water levels are better suited to waterborne exploration. Elsewhere, the rainy season could spell problems; if you’re travelling to Vang Vieng, for example, take extra care, because the Nam Song River flows four times as fast, and conditions under foot can be slippery.