Weather in Chiang Mai

It took me a year – one complete cycle of the seasons – to adapt to the weather in Thailand, after living in the cool, dry Northern California mountains. Now I really enjoy it. So do the Thais. Because Thai weather is so dramatic, it’s is a daily source of interest, speculation, and amusement.

One of the most common reasons expatriates give when asked why they retired to Thailand is, “the weather”. But they usually don’t tell you which ’weather’ they’re talking about. Thailand has five weather zones and retirees, who can choose where they want to settle, usually find that Thailand has a weather zone to suit their preference.

Some like it hot, and Thai summers oblige. Some like it wet, and Thailand’s wet season provides spectacular, daily, tropical downpours complete with lightning and thunder. Some like cool, cloudless, dry days and cold nights. For them, Thai winters are ideal and inland provinces like Isaan are perfect. Some like it cool year-round: Thailand has hundreds of misty mountain villages. And some can’t live without sea breezes, so Thailand obliges with 3,000 km of white, sandy beaches.

In Chiang Mai, we’re 1,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of Doi Pui, a 5,500 ft. mountain. Our average annual temperature is a pleasant 25º C (77º F). Bangkok, almost at sea level and 600 km. closer to the equator, is hotter and wetter.

The Hot Season

Our hot, dry months run from March through May. This is the season for Songkran, the annual nationwide water-fight. After weeks of dry heat it’s time to get out the water cannons, pistols, buckets, and hoses. We spend days preparing for the big event. (Truthfully, once we’ve got the hose ready, our ’preparation’ consists of sitting in the carport drinking beer served over ice).

The Rainy Season

Summers are hot enough to complain about but short enough that they don’t get you down. Then the rainy season arrives, to the relief of Thailand’s millions of rice farmers. It starts in June and goes through October-long enough to deliver 40″ of rain. Thai rain is warm. It feels nice on you. Thais don’t bother to carry umbrellas or raincoats. So when rain pelts down, Thais who have to get around improvise with a handbag, or newspaper and dash across the street. It’s fun and they enjoy it.

weather in thailand
Weather Thailand: Sunny

The Cold Season

Winter arrives in November. Balmy breezes, cloudless skies. Everyone’s in a good mood, the trees bloom and suck up the rich nutrients from the receding floods.

If the conventional seasons are not enough, there’s always Thailand’s cool mountain climate for those who feel that life without a sweater is not worth living. Some of the world’s most exotic villages nestle in the hills – and retirees nestle in with them.

Finally, Thailand provides another wonderful year-round beach weather at the breeze-blessed, white beaches and their sapphire waters. If your idea of heaven is to be fanned by trade winds and watch waves dancing while eating seafood washed down with cold beer then the Thai beach climate is one you should sample before you make up your mind.

Whichever one of the five ‘weathers’ you choose, you’ll still be in Thailand. So how can you possibly go wrong?

Some More Reading About Thailand’s Weather: