Weather and climate in the north of Thailand


Northern Thailand

Joanna Horanin

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Weather in Northern Thailand

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Last updated at 21/06/2024, 17:00

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

The north of Thailand is a unique and special region of the country, where not only the food and culture are different, but also the climate and weather. If you are traveling to that area, be prepared for surprises, as the temperatures can be not what you normally get in Thailand. In this article, I will tell you everything you should know about the weather and climate in northern Thailand.

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    The northern region of Thailand

    Thailand’s north is a pair of provinces that adjoin the border with Laos and Burma. There are 17 in total, but the most important are:

    They all have a very similar climate.

    The north is distinguished by the presence of mountains. The highest peak is Doi Inthanon and there we have the lowest temperatures throughout the year. In addition, the Ping, Wang and Yom rivers flow through the region, further enhancing the cooler climate.

    Both the mountains and rivers create ideal conditions for growing crops. In the north, you’ll find many rice fields, farms where strawberries, for example, are grown, and orchards with fruits and vegetables.

    In the north, around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, there is also a rain shadow phenomenon, which is characteristic of mountainous areas. As a result, the north has less rainfall than the rest of the country. This does not mean that it does not rain here at all, but compared to the south, for example, the rainfall is not as intense and not as frequent.

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    What is the weather like in the north of Thailand?

    What makes the north of the country different from the rest? Certainly the fact that the weather there is not the same. The climate is cooler, the temperatures are lower. In Thai culture, it is said that women from the north are more beautiful because their skin is whiter due to less sunlight.

    True, in Chiang Mai and nearby provinces you can sometimes get cold. The sun in some months is not as strong. However, this is still Thailand, so despite the small chill, it is always warmer than in Europe.

    The cold season, or December to March, is the most popular time to come to Thailand in this region as well. Temperatures then settle around 27 degrees during the day. At night it is cool, sometimes as low as 10 degrees. In the mountains, such as on Doi Inthanon, frost can occur.

    The hot season is March-June. The northern part of the country is extremely hot then. I experienced temperatures of 47 degrees there. It was not pleasant and I certainly would not want to repeat it. In addition to being extremely hot, there is thick smog over the entire south. This is the burning season for rice fields not only in Thailand, but also in Burma, Laos and Indonesia. A large number of expats, and some locals, leave for the south of the country then.

    The rainy season brings relief. It starts between June and December. Days are cloudy then, and it sometimes rains, but major rains and thunderstorms are common overnight and in the evenings. It is reckoned that about 100 mm of rain falls during this time. Temperatures are about 30 degrees during the day. It is humid and the air is quite heavy.

    The climate change and the weather in the north of Thailand

    Everything I wrote above is generic information and until recently it worked. The weather in the north was fairly regular. However, climate change contributes to the fact that surprises can happen.

    This is not to say that it rains every year during the winter, or that the hot season now is the cool season. It’s just that sometimes it can happen that it rains a lot more than the average shows, or that suddenly during the rainy season it doesn’t rain at all.

    I think nowadays you always have to be prepared for the fact that the weather can be either better or worse.

    The north of Thailand is amazing and really worth a visit. Even if you come to Thailand during the rainy season, at least take a look at Chiang Mai. The only time that is unfavorable is the hot season. Then it’s definitely better to go to the south, where the weather is much more bearable.