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Advice about Holidays in Thailand

The name of this website - Smiling in Thailand - was not an accident. It was an instant of inspiration after my first visit to the country.

The title typifies the holiday and tourism scene in this gem which is Thailand - situated at the centre of South East Asia.

Whatever you want from a tropical holiday, you are sure to find in this varied country.

Thailand is conveniently spread over several quite distinct areas – North; North East (Isan); East Coat; Central; Gulf Coast; Andaman Coast; The Deep South. All of these areas make up the evocative country of Thailand.

They are each, very different holiday destinations with their own distinctive way of life and enjoyment.

One thing that binds them together is their cultures – individually so different, yet as they say ‘same same’ and of course the famous Thai Smile.

Your preference for holiday activity will reflect your choice of region in the Kingdom. For instance, if the beach scene is yours, your choices will be many – both on the mainland coasts and the islands.

Much of Thailand to the south and east is served by one of several seas – The Gulf of Thailand – upper and lower, and the Andaman coast.

Rocky Island Coastline of ThallandWith these tropical seas and gorgeous beaches there is a wealth of islands offshore.

If luxurious hotels and spas are your choice with a good coastal atmosphere, then Phuket will feature on your list.

The island is legendary for its sumptuous luxury by way of hotels, resorts and spas.

But backpackers also find a temporary home there as well.

Northern Thailand, and Chiang Mai in particular, will give you a more insightful look into many aspects of Thai culture, as well as access to many beautiful mountainous country parks, and activities such as white water rafting and elephant trekking.

The central Thailand area is as you would expect, home to one of the great cities of the world – Bangkok.

As well as being the financial, governmental and commercial hub of Thailand, Bangkok has endless opportunities for good holiday making – providing you can do without lying under an umbrella on a beach.

Most parts of the city are reached by the amazing Skytrain, and lesser known underground rail network. Pattaya - to the east of Bangkok - and the fun hub of Chonburi Province - has much to offer in the way of beach holidays - other than the bar scene for which it is famous.

Figurehead at National Royal Barge Museum ThailandBut Pattaya is a varied city with many attractions within short distance, and in the neighboring areas - most accessible by public transport or hire taxi or motorcycle.

As you carry out your own research into holidays in Thailand, you will have many different holiday options from which to choose. Take your time, and don’t try to do everything in a week or so.

Make sure that you have enough time to fully explore whichever region you decide upon. There is so much to see – and do – wherever you choose to go.

The main differences between the areas are as a result of the varied geographic and resultant climatic conditions.

Thailand has been a long time in the making, with input and influence from most other South East Asian countries over the centuries.

But, now Thailand has its very own identity, cemented by the similarities of the different cultural backgrounds of its population.

Thailand is a great place for a holiday!

Weather in Thailand: 3 Hot Seasons

Thailand is a long country running from north to south. It covers several different weather and climate regions. This is a guide to weather forecasts for Thai provinces.

The weather changes quite suddenly in many parts of Thailand.

These forecasts - although professionally sourced - should be taken as a general guide only.

The four main travel destinations for Thailand are conveniently situated - North (Chiang Mai); Central (Bangkok); East (Pattaya); South (Phuket).

Those are the areas we will cover for weather forecasts and history in detail.

There are basically three different weather patterns and seasons in Thailand. They can be broadly categorised as:

Hot Season in Thailand

March, April and May are generally considered to be the months of the Hot Season - though towards the end of February it can warm up considerably on odd days. We are talking here of HOT season, not just pleasantly warm.

January through to March often sees the longest hours of sunshine - but not the hottest! These are reserved for the following three months.

The tropical sun is at its fiercest and the day temperatures very hot - 30deg is about the norm, with frequent forays into 35deg. It will possibly feel a little cooler in the breezes at coastal destinations, but that will not be any excuse for stupid sunbathing, or walking about semi-naked.

A wide brimmed hat - even fashionable (sometimes) - will be essential and loads of good sun cream. Better still, avoid the hottest parts of the day, which will start at 11.00am and carry on through until 4.00pm. Humidity is at its highest during this time. City life will be uncomfortable - even for Thais.

This is not the season for tourism, and many resident ex-pats 'go home' to cooler climates at the start of this season.

Cool Season in Thailand

The Cool Season is warm - sometimes very warm. Just not quite as hot as the other seasons! December, January and the early part of February sometime, are classed as the cool season. For Thais, this can mean cold.

We are still talking of daytime temperatures in Bangkok of around 24-25deg. You will see Thais scurrying round with coats on in this season.

In Northern parts of Thailand, there will be severe hardship for many as temperatures generally lower.

Pattaya is generally very pleasant, because whilst relatively hot, there are normally sea breezes to keep things bearable. The South of Thailand will be warmer - though again blessed with welcome breezes.

Rainy Season in Thailand

The rainy season in Thailand is not all doom and gloom. Rain here is not like rain in the UK for instance which seems to plunge most of the population into 'can't do anything' moods.

Rain in Thailand is generally quick; to the point; shoots its load, then moves on. It will have given you plenty of warning that it is about to happen.

Sometimes - in the Northern areas - it rains all day, for several days, but normally just the mornings and evenings. Much depends upon which area of Thailand you are staying at the time.

The rainy season is important - and welcome - to those who earn their meagre living from the land.

Ploughing is possible as the parched dust or concreted earth soaks up most of the rain and becomes the rich farming soil upon which, many important crops can be grown.

Rice for instance - without the rainy season - is no-go.

The countryside springs back into life, taking on a fresh look and attitude. The cities get their very welcome 'spring-clean' and dusting down - or off. Most of the accumulated dust and smaller debris is whisked off into the nearest drain - and then to the sea via a river. The drains themselves are generally in need of the washing down.

So generally, everyone is pleased of the respite from the heat, come the rainy season. However, if you drive a motorbike, and have either ignored the twenty-minute warning, or perhaps thought that you could make it to your destination - racing the rain - you will probably be 'not pleased'.

Regional Differences for Rainfall

The North, South and Central regions of Thailand all have their own individual variations of the rainy season. It can best be summed up by the statistics for annual rainfall.

The Northern regions of Thailand gets around 1.5m of rain annually, with the Southern regions getting up to 2.5m of rain each year. (USA average of all states = 0.7m: UK = 0.8m average and Australia = 0.5m. these are averages just to show a comparison).

The Northern part of Thailand is host to the Southwest Monsoons. The rain is heavy and prolonged.

The South of Thailand gets most rain - twice as much as the North! West coast and east coasts of the south have two different rainfall periods. West coast sees most of its rain between April and October. Then it is the turn of the East coast from late September through 'till December.

Central regions fall between the two - as they would - with shorter bursts of rain. My own personal experience is that Bangkok seems to get most of its rain in the day, whilst Pattaya conveniently gets the soaking in the nights.

Inconvenient for both, as Bangkok is a 'Daytime' activity time (exceptions there are) whilst Pattaya of course is a 'Night-time' place (exceptions there are!).

This is not a holiday plug, but Pattaya seems to be blessed with the more 'user-friendly' aspects of the Rainy Season in Thailand.
Here, when it is not raining in the rainy season - most of the time - it is either light cloud or clear blue skies, with the resultant hike in daytime temperatures.

In Bangkok - rainy season or not - the months of March through to September generally have the highest temperatures - 35deg not uncommon.

Natural Beauty from Rain in Thailand

Greenery, waterfalls, rural activities, and national parks - are all beneficiaries of the storms. But, many places are closed to the public because of possibility of danger, the concerns about erosion, or in the case of many island, their sheer inaccessibility.

Everything else just carries on as normal between the showers. Rainy season it may be, but at the same time as the six months - May to October - gets around 90% of the annual rainfall, it also sees many of its hottest temperatures!

Welcome to Thailand in the Rainy Season. Sometimes wet, sometimes grey, most times hot. Grey it might sometimes be, but gloomy, never! This is Thailand.

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