Chiang Mai Weather Overview
Chiang Mai has a tropical savanna climate, tempered by the low latitude and moderate elevation, with warm to hot weather all year round. Nighttime conditions during the dry season can be cool though. Chiang Mai has a particularly chronic problem with burning (and resulting haze) in March. The mountain views disappear as the Ping River valley chokes under a dusty haze that can often be a health hazard.
Generally speaking, the weather of northern Thailand is far more temperate than that of central or southern Thailand. Northern Thailand, with its mountainous terrain and location in the Asian interior, brings cooler temperatures and less humidity. However, there is still quite a bit of precipitation during the rainy season and the weather gets very chilly once you head up into the nearby mountains.
Check the below table for the general idea of Chiang Mai weather throughout the year.
|Month||Avg. High (°C)||Avg. Mean (°C)||Avg. Low (°C)|
Best time to go to Chiang Mai
The ideal time to visit Chiang Mai is between October and April. Weather during this period is mostly cool and pleasant with light breeze, which is also why it’s peak tourist season. Another good time to visit Chiang Mai is during the festivals when the city is at its vibrant best. Here's a monthly break up of season and events so that you can plan your trip better?
Below is the best time to visit Chiang Mai for some special occasions or activities.
- Honeymoon. During the cool dry season from November until mid-February is ideal. The lantern festival is on in November which makes for a romantic experience.
- Wedding. November until mid-February is seasonally cool and dry with a warm and comfortable temperature. Rain showers are unlikely, so outdoor weddings won’t be threatened by bad weather.
- Elephant sanctuary. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, the rainy season of late April until late October is ideal. Elephant sanctuaries are extremely popular in Chiang Mai and visiting during this season means less crowds and more time with the animals.
- Lantern festival. Yi Peng, also known as the Lantern Festival, involves releasing lanterns into the sky that symbolises letting go of ills and misfortunes. It’s held on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month which is typically mid-November.
- Water festival. Songkran is a famous festival in Thailand which celebrates the New Year and brings in the most tourists. The official date of the New Year is April 13th but the water activities last until the 15th. Splashing water onto loved ones acts as a wish for a year of blessings, but recently the festival has turned into a giant water fight with water guns and all.
- Flower festival. The first weekend of every February Chiang Mai hosts a three-day Flower Festival. There are ceremonies, beauty pageants and gardens are filled with flowers found only in the Chiang Mai area.
Chiang Mai Seasonal Weather Guide
Cool season in Chiang Mai
This is the best time to go and explore Chiang Mai (weather wise). From November to February the temperatures are lower, during the day it is around 25°C and during the night it can be as cold as 13°C. If you travel up to the mountains, for example, Doi Inthanon, you might experience temperatures as low as 3°C.
During this season rain is rare, so humidity is low. You will find it very comfortable when walking around the city, but you may feel really chilly if you decide to ride a motorbike and you may need a jacket. The sky is blue, without clouds. Another good thing is that you don't need to turn on the air conditioning at night.
It is wise to bring all-weather gear along; particularly if you intend hiring a motorcycle to get around, or if going on a mountain trek. However, don’t leave out your summer clothes, as midday temperatures can climb up to 30°C.
Bring your photography gear if you love taking pictures; this is the best season to get stunning photos of Chiang Mai. It is recommended to go early in the morning if you are going to tourist spots because it will be crowded.
Festivals and Events
If you plan a trip in November, you will catch the Loy Krathong festivities, and in February you will see the Chiang Mai flower festival.
Loi Krathong Festival: Thai people launch their Krathong (traditionally a small container made of leaves which holds a small portion of food, like a traditional Thai dish or dessert and a candle) on a river, canal or a pond, making a wish as they do so.
This festival takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, hence, the exact date of the festival changes every year. In the western calendar, this usually falls in the month of November.
Chiang Mai flower festival: It takes place on the first weekend of February. Displays of yellow and white chrysanthemums and damask roses, a variety found only in Chiang Mai, abound. The focus of this Chiang Mai festival is at the public garden of Suan Buak Haad.
Hot season in Chiang Mai
March to June is the hottest and driest time in Chiang Mai. Tourists still visit Chiang Mai during this period; it's a good time to look for deals on hotels and flights. Even if the temperature during the day is high you can spend the afternoon in the pool and head out after sunset.
Temperatures can rise up to 40°C and rain is rare. The main problem at this time of year is smoke and dust in the air from burning fields. Nights during the hot season don’t bring much relief either. Remember to rent a room with air conditioning if you are planning to stay during those months.
It is very important to drink lots of water and bring bottles of water while you are traveling. Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses are also important for you to bring as the weather can be very hot in the middle of the day. Cotton shirts, shorts, and flip flops are the gear you might wear during this season.
Festivals and Events
Songkran (Thai New Year): The Songkran festival lasts for three days in April, and the roads around the old part of the ancient city become one giant water party for that time. Songkran in Chiang Mai is probably the most fun, compared to any other city in Thailand.
Inthakhin Festival: The Inthakhin takes place mainly at Wat Chedi Luang. Every year, citizens of Chiang Mai convene for a week-long worship ritual, believed to be the annual blessing for the city. Go after sunset to witness a magnificent offering ceremony or wait until the last day, when this festival culminates in a procession around the Old City moat.
Rainy season in Chiang Mai
July to October is the wettest season in Chiang Mai. Rainy season does not necessarily mean it rains all day; precipitation often comes as a quick, short blast of nature. Temperatures are slightly lower than in the preceding months but it is seriously humid.
The rainy season is otherwise a pleasant time to visit the north. The rains bring respite from the heat, and the landscape returns to its strikingly gorgeous shade of green. Rainfall is usually heaviest in September, with an average precipitation of 250mm.
Umbrella and raincoat should be in your luggage if you are planning to visit during the rainy season. It is also recommended to have mosquito repellant handy. Don’t risk going into rural areas, as there may be flooding; it is better to stay in or near the city.
Learn about how to plan your trip well during Thailand rainy season.
Festivals and Events
Rocket Festival: The rocket festival usually falls in July. The main purpose of the rocket festival is to pray for rain at the beginning of a new planting season. The fun part is the rocket contest, in which the scores are awarded based on how high and straight the rockets fly.
Elephant sanctuary: If you don’t mind getting a little wet, the rainy season from July to October is ideal for a visit. Elephant sanctuaries are extremely popular in Chiang Mai and visiting during this season means less crowds and more time with the animals. Find out the best elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai.