Chiang Mai is stunning all year but there are some months that are better than others. We share the best time to visit Chiang Mai to help!
Best time to go to Chiang Mai
When is the typhoon season in Chiang Mai?
Heavy rain in Chiang usually runs from May to November. Since this city is known for hiking trails, the ground gets really soft and muddy. It can be dangerous to hike when the soil is this slippery, and the weather is unpredictable.
The wettest months here are from July to October. Try to avoid traveling to Chiang during this time. This means that you can still come to Chiang Mai in May or June and then again in November. It will rain but not as intense. Hiking can still be an option during those pre and post-typhoon months.
This season would be incredible to see the waterfalls, though. However, there’s a high chance that hiking to the forest where the waterfalls are located won’t be permitted, especially when there’s a typhoon.
If you arrive in Chiang Mai during this time, carry an umbrella and raincoat with you all the time. You should also wear shoes or walking sandals with a good grip on them. It’s crucial to avoid motorbiking in the mountain. Because of soil erosion, the roads can be very slippery. It will also be foggy, offering little to no visibility.
Is summer the best time to visit Chiang Mai?
Summer in Chiang Mai can be hot and humid. If you plan to trek around, it will be ideal because the ground will be sturdy and dry while the towering trees will provide shade. Make sure that you carry lots of water and snack with you and put on sunscreen.
Although located in the mountains of Thailand, Chiang Mai still offers water activities that many visitors love, such as Grand Canyon Water Park, where you ca do thrilling cliff jumping. You can do horseback riding, ATV, and shooting ranges in the same area.
The downside of visiting Chiang Mai in the summer (March-May) is the number of visitors. During this time, it’s very crowded. Since it’s also the school’s summer break, locals are also traveling all over the country.
The temperature can also be off-putting. The average temperatures range from 30-35 degrees Celsius (86-95 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and 22-28 degrees Celsius (72-82 degrees Fahrenheit) at night.
If you really have to visit Chiang Mai in summer, make sure to book your flights and hotel in advance as those get sold out fast, or the price goes up even 3 months in advance.
Does Chiang Mai have fall and spring seasons?
Chiang Mai, in general, doesn’t have four seasons. Instead, it has three seasons; hot, wet, and cool/dry season. Hot weather is from March to May, the wet season is from May to November, and the dry or cool season is from December to January.
There is a transition phase between these seasons. But if you want to see the flowers and trees bloom, it’s often between late February and early March. You should visit Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden, Huai Kaeo Arboretum, and Tweechol Botanical Garden to see some cool and unique flowers and trees.
Spring season is also an ideal time to go waterfall hopping before it all dries up for the summer. The best waterfalls in Chiang Mai are Mae Wang, Huai Kaeo, Mae Sa, and Tat Mok.
From August to October, Chiang Mai receives a lot of rain. This makes the “fall” season hard to notice.
Is winter the best time to visit Chiang Mai?
The winter season in Chiang Mai is from November to January. It’s an excellent time to visit because the ground has started to dry up, and trekking will be permitted again. The temperature here is also fantastic, ranging from 22-28 degrees Celsius (72-82 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and 14-22 degrees Celsius (57-72 degrees Fahrenheit) at night.
This temperature is unusual for a place in Southeast Asia, making it such a big attraction. Many locals and foreign visitors come here just for the weather. Apart from the cool temperature, the sky is also clearer, and the wind is refreshing – easily the ideal time to go trekking in the forest. For winter visitors, travel around Chiang Mai in November or after New Year.
Why visit Chiang Mai during Loy Krathong?
Loy Krathong, also known as the “Festival of Lights”, is when the locals of Chiang Mai or Thailand celebrate the 12th Lunar Month, which often happens in November. Expect some rain, but it’s minimal compared to October.
Loy Krathong literally translates to “to float a basket”. During this celebration, the locals make a paper basket, place a candle or light on it, and then send it to bodies of water – be it in a river, lake, or even the ocean. The “baskets” are also filled with flowers and incense.
As the “basket” floats away, locals offer some prayer, representing a time of forgiveness and renewal. People use this occasion to let go of grudges and negative emotions. Apart from the floating basket, there are also other activities such as contests, parades, dance performances, and showcases of traditional music.
Loy Krathong is an annual celebration. Unlike Full Moon parties, it’s rarer, many people visit Thailand just for this festival since it’s a once-a-year event.
When is the best time to visit Chiang Mai?
Since Chiang Mai is a mountainous city, don’t come here to cool off during the summer since there are few water activities. Visit Chiang Mai in winter when the weather is cool. However, although Thais don’t celebrate Christmas, many foreign visitors travel here from late December until early January.
To avoid the big crowd, it’s best to go to Chiang Mai in early December or late January until February. The temperature is still cool, and the weather is dry. You can avoid the peak season, high prices, and huge waves of people.
It will also be ideal if you plan your trip around November. you can join the celebration of the “Festival of Lights”. You can get your own “floating boat” and be part of the traditional event. Arrive in Chiang to celebrate Loy Krathong first, a perfect way to start your trip before you go hiking and visit temples.
Things to know before you go to Chiang Mai
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favourite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel to, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.
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