Thailand lies between 6 degrees North and 20 degrees North in the South East of Asia. Sitting West of Laos
and Cambodia and East of the Andam Sea and Burma,
Thailand is home to a fairly typical tropical climate in the far south and
weather dominated by monsoons in the north.
In recent years focus on Thailand
weather has been brought to the forefront after large parts of the country were
ravaged by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. In the wake of the tsunami it has been
reported that 8, 457 people were confirmed dead with a further 4, 499 missing
and close to 8500 injured. One of Thailand's most popular tourist destinations, Phuket, was hit particularly badly by the tsunami and still today is
repairing and rebuilding the worst hit areas.
Phuket, fortunately, sits at a slightly higher elevation that other
areas in Thailand so it wasn’t as badly hit as other areas which consists of low
build bungalows and sit slightly closer to sea level. Phuket is made up largely
of sturdy, high rise concrete hotels which survived the hit more than the
smaller shanty towns on the coast.
Khao Lak, for example, is a coast side resort which has increased in
popularity in recent years was hit extremely badly, with 3950 people confirmed
dead in the wake of the tsunami however, four years later, present day
undoubtedly would have seen thousands more die from the extent of their
injuries or from illness caused by spread of disease.
When you move away from the coast and head into northern Thailand
the terrain is largely mountainous so wasn’t affected by the tsunami. In
addition to this, the higher elevation as expected has a major affect on the
climate. Altitude affects the weather in the sense that at higher elevation
rainfall is higher and temperature extremes are more likely. The highest point
in northern Thailand sits at 8415 feet above sea level.
While the majority of the north is made up of mountain ranges, the
far north east of Thailand consists of lower lying plains and only slight hills.
Moving down into the centre of the country the flat Chao Phraya River valley dominates the land, making this region one of the more
fertile regions in the country. The Chao
Phraya river flows from here into the Gulf of Thailand.
The south of Thailand is where the tropical conditions are felt the most, before moving
into a very typical equatorial climate in the very extreme south- in and around
the popular Phuket area.
Central and southern Thailand doesn’t experience much temperature variation year round and the
conditions vary mainly due to the local prevailing monsoon systems. So while
the year may be split into ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons there is very little
variation in temperature. In the north however, when the North Eastern monsoon
passes through the temperatures drop slightly more than they do in the south.
Basically Thailand weather is determined by the two monsoon systems which pass through
the country- the North Eastern monsoon and the South Western monsoon.
MONSOON- MAY – OCTOBER
From May through until late September/ early October the south
western monsoon system is what is determining Thailand’s weather patterns. The SW monsoon blows from the Indian Ocean and
brings with it warm, humid and cloudy air and is what is associated with the wet
During this period is when all of the country sees most of its annual
rainfall, particularly when you reach the higher points of northern Thailand.
During the rainy season the daily hours of sunshine decrease to
about 6 or 7 hours a day as the cloud cover increases and the days become
someone muggy and overcast. As temperatures don’t exactly fall significantly in
the ‘winter’ months, particularly not the centre and southern parts of the
country, conditions can become somewhat difficult to endure, and packing light
cotton clothes is a must as the humidity can be quite intense at times when
combined with the high temperatures.
See here for conditions of CHIENG MAI in the north.
MONSOON- NOVEMBER –
The north eastern monsoon brings with it much drier air than the
south western monsoon, and as a result humidity is much lower during these
months and rainfall declines significantly, and temperatures are just slightly
lower- particularly in the north
During this period the north of Thailand sees its coolest months. For example, in Chiang Mai in the north
west of the country January is the coldest month which is when the minimum falls
to 13 degrees and the maximum sits at about 29 degrees (so not EXACTLY the
In the north of the country the area stays virtually rainfall for
two to three months, however the south of Thailand sees a small amount of rainfall during this period as the winds
that are blowing off the Pacific
Ocean bring with them a small
amount of precipitation.
To best sum up Thailand, the understanding of the differences as you head from north to
south is imperative. Basically, the north sees a monsoonal climate with slight
variations in temperatures across the year, and the south sees an equatorial
tropical climate with very minimal range in temperatures across the year. As
you head further toward the equator this becomes more so the case.
Bangkok is Thailand’s capital city and lies in the south central region of the country.
If you compare the conditions here with the conditions in the north, you will
see the affects that the decreases longitude have on the weather conditions.
Bangkok is an
interesting place, climatically and also geographically. It lies a mere two
metres above sea level which means it is at a constant risk of being flooded.
The city is essentially built upon a giant swamp and an intricate system of
canals weave through the city and areas surrounding the city. With the rising
water levels across the globe, combined with the fear that Bangkok is in fact sinking several centimeters a year, the worry is that
the capital city will be swimming in 50 to 100 cm of water by 2025.
See here for a more detailed overview of Bangkok’s weather.
Koh Samui, off the east coast of the country and Phuket off
the west coast of Thailand are two popular tourist destinations. Koh Samui lies in the Gulf of Thailand and Phuket lies in the Andamen Sea, south west of the mainland.
Phuket is Thailand’s biggest island and is comprised of mainly mountainous terrain,
the mountain range on the west side of the island spreads from north to south
across the island. The west coast is home to some of the worlds most beautiful
beaches, whereas the east coast is slightly muddier and not as picturesque.
On the central west coast of Phuket you will find the busy and
popular beach, Patong beach which is where Phukets tourism is centered around.
On Patong Beach you will find most of the nightlife and the busiest and cheapest
If you venture off the coast you can visit
the amazing islands of Phi Phi, which you may recognise from the film 'The
Beach' which was filmed on and around this mind blowingly beatiful area. Phi Phi
island was ravaged by he 2006 Boxing Day tsunami but has since been rebuilt
back to its original best. The island is home to some of the most amazing white
sandy beaches in the world, not to mention the crystal clear water and amazing
See here for average conditions in Phuket
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