The weather in most areas of Thailand is excellent during December making it an ideal month for family trips, relaxing beach breaks or active holidays. With visitors from Europe and the West heading to the country in search of winter sunshine, December is the tourist high season in Thailand. The peak of the high season usually kicks in from mid-December and if you’re heading to the Thai islands or beach resorts for the Christmas and New Year period be sure to book your accommodation in advance.
Visitors to most areas of Thailand in December can expect to see blue skies and extended hours of sunshine. The added bonus of low humidity levels during the cool season makes this an excellent time to travel. Whether you want to get out and about and explore the country or simply want to relax on the beach or by the pool, December is a great month to visit Thailand.
Although conditions in Thailand are near perfect for most holidaymakers during December, there is one small blip on the weather radar. The southern Gulf Coast of Thailand can still feel the effects of the north-east monsoon during December. This means that the Gulf Coast islands (e.g. Ko Samui) and parts of the mainland (e.g. Chumphon) can experience higher amounts of rainfall at this time of year compared to other parts of Thailand. The weather on the southern Gulf Coast is usually more settled from mid-December onwards.
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Where to go in December
If you are visiting Thailand for a beach holiday, you should experience good weather at most destinations. The Andaman Coast usually enjoys lovely conditions during December making it the perfect time to go island hopping. Thailand’s east coast also sees settled weather with warm temperatures and calm seas during December. As mentioned above, the notable exception is Ko Samui and the nearby islands on Thailand’s lower Gulf Coast (e.g. Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao) where the weather can be more unsettled, particularly in the first half of the month. There will still be plenty of sunshine on these islands, but there is the potential for tropical downpours.
Elsewhere in Thailand, warm sunshine, lower humidity and cooler evening temperatures make it a wonderful month to explore cities including Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It’s also the perfect month to venture out into the gorgeous Thai countryside in the north and north-east of the country. In mountainous Mae Hong Son province, golden sunflowers spring into bloom during the cool season months and locations including Chiang Rai and Nan are ideal to visit in December. Evening temperatures in north and north-east Thailand can get low by Thai standards, especially in the countryside, and a lightweight top can prove useful.
December events and festivals
December 5 is a public holiday in Thailand for Bhumibol Memorial Day with Thais paying tribute to the late king. December 10 is also a public holiday in Thailand for Constitution Day.
From mid-December through to February, visitors to Bangkok can enjoy the outdoor concert season. The free ‘Concert in the Park’ events are hosted by the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra on most Sundays at Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park.
If you’re visiting Thailand for Christmas and New Year, you may be surprised to see giant Christmas trees at various shopping malls around the country. Although Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, the country has embraced some of the more colourful aspects of the festive season. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are normal working days in Thailand, but many hotels put on special events for guests and host Christmas dinners for those that want it. If you’re in Thailand for Christmas don’t be surprised to see hotel staff, tuk-tuk drivers and Thai children wearing Santa hats.
The New Year celebrations are a big event in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the various seaside resorts around the country. Firework displays take place in many areas and in Chiang Mai and parts of north Thailand, ‘khom loy’ sky lanterns are also released. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are public holidays in Thailand and the extended break makes this one of the busiest travel periods of the year with extra demand on internal flights, trains and buses. As with hotels, it’s advisable to book your travel in advance for the New Year period.
Many Thai Buddhists welcome in the New Year by attending religious ceremonies at their local temple. If you want to get away from the excesses of the New Year celebrations, a visit to a Thai temple to either watch or take part in one of the merit-making ceremonies can be an uplifting experience.
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