Visiting a country during its low season can be a tempting prospect. There are many reasons why you might want to visit a country during its months of ‘downtime’ and Thailand is no exception to this. Some popular reasons why people choose to visit during a low season include:
- Cheaper flights and accommodation
- More choices of accommodation
- Less tourists and other visitors
- Chance of seeing the ‘real’ destination as opposed to during the tourist-centric peak season
- Possible to avoid the heat and humidity of the summer season
While there are many advantages of visiting Thailand during the quieter, low season months, which partly coincide with the rainy season, there are also a few disadvantages to be aware of.
Thailand’s Rainy Season
The rainy season in Thailand tends to run from May to October, once Songkran has finished and until the Loy Kratong festival. However, it changes on a yearly basis and affects different parts of the country very differently. While the ‘term rainy’ season conjures up images of all-day monsoons, that isn’t the case in Thailand.
On days when it rains, there will typically be a build-up of uncomfortable humidity before the weather breaks in the afternoon or evening, and there is an intensely impressive downpour accompanied by a tropical storm. This isn’t your typical European rain; this is Thai rain which is warm, hard and heavy. Once the rain does begin to fall, it is usually a welcome sight as at this point, it means the humidity subsides for a very brief period after the downpour making the climate almost pleasant. These storms are normally accompanied by powerful thunder and lightning shows will are great to watch.
However, these storms don’t occur every day, even at the height of the rainy season, which changes according to which part of the country you are in. This can be good for getting out and about without getting soaked but it also increases the long humid build up periods, making life pretty hot and sweaty.
If you choose to come to Thailand during the low season when rain is more common you should prepare yourself for a few of the negative aspects of the country during this time of year:
Lack of Direct Sunlight
One is a lack of direct sunlight. This means if you have come for a suntan, you might be disappointed, as while it is still hot, the sky is generally overcast, preventing the rays from reaching you. This can also be a plus of coming at this time of year as it can make the climate a little more comfortable in terms of protecting you from the direct heat of the sun.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
As the amount of rain increases, the seas become more disturbed, which can make scuba diving and snorkelling, something which Thailand is famed for, not a good idea. Underwater visibility levels become very low during the low season thanks to the extra rainfall. This means that diving activities are usually put on hold until the peak months due to the often disappointing lack of visibly.
While it doesn’t does often flood on a national scale, apart from in 2011, the downpours during the rainy season often overpower the drains that serve the roads. This is usually temporary and the water levels subside after an hour or so.
However for those trying to get somewhere, finding an available or mobile taxi can be difficult, and most motorcycle taxis tend to avoid travelling during these street floods. If you plan on travelling by road during the rainy season in Thailand, such as by bus or minivan, make sure you allow for some disruption to your itinerary as it is highly likely to occur.
These mini-floods can also bring out a whole host of wildlife including monitor lizards and large snakes which can be exciting but also dangerous. For this reason it is good to keep your wits about you while wading through the floodwater. The dirty water from the drains and struggling sewer system is another very good reason not to go barefoot exploring during the floods if at all possible.
Should I Visit Thailand During the Low Season?
There are just as many good reasons for choosing to travel to Thailand during the low season as there are bad ones. When planning your trip it is up to you to weigh up the pros and cons of each of the three main seasons and decide which are more important to you.
It is certainly cheaper to come during the off-peak months but you might miss out on some of the main attractions of the country which make this such as popular destination.
Thailand can often struggle with the amount of backpackers and travellers who arrive on its shores each year. Especially during the peak months of November to February, as well as April during the Songkran festival and the Thai New Year.
Popular beaches such as those on Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi can become uncomfortably crowded during the peak months around Christmas, making this a good time to avoid if a lack of rain and lots of sun isn’t the most important thing for you.
Overall Thailand is still very much an excellent travel destination during the low season months. However it is important to be aware of the differences before making your trip so you know what you might be missing out on and letting yourself in for.