Thailand’s climate differs between the north and the south. In northern and central Thailand, it’s hot from March to May, rainy from June to October and cool from November to February. In the south it rains intermittently all year long with temperatures around 26 degrees Celsius. It rains every day in the rainy season. The monsoon season lasts from July to November.
Getting around Thailand
Thailand’s trains are comfortable, frequent, and on time; although a bit slow, it’s a great way to see the country. Thailand’s buses are very fast (don’t watch the road!), well serviced, and air conditioned. If you’re pressed for time, catch a flight. Thailand has regional airports, and convenient domestic Thailand flights are easy to find.
Transportation in a city or resort is typically a taxi, tuk-tuk, rickshaw, pickup, or hired car and driver. Taxis are usually metered in a city; make sure the meter is turned on. Always negotiate the fare for a tuk-tuk or rickshaw before you set out.
Bangkok’s public transportation can get you around town. Chiang Mai doesn’t have buses or taxis, but has lots of covered pickups (songtaos) and tuk-tuks. You can hail a songtao and their fares are reasonable. Many travellers rent motorcycles and bikes in Chiang Mai, but make sure to drive defensively.
Avoid driving in Thailand, both cars and motor bikes. Thais drive on the left side of the road, usually at breakneck speeds even around blind corners, and aren’t fussy about driving laws.
The following chart gives approximate journey times from
(In hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in Thailand.
Air Road Rail
Chiang Mai 1.10 10.00 11.15
Hua Hin - 3.30 3.30
Pattaya - 3.00 3.25
Phuket 1.20 11.30 -
Samui 1.15 - -
Thailand insider information
Thailand's capital mixes the old with the new while maintaining its position as a modern, international city. Bangkok is perfectly attuned with its modern skyscrapers, ancient palaces and temples, infamous nightlife and Bangkok hotels fit for any traveller's budget and lifestyle. A shopper’s paradise, there’s the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market and shops with everything from handcrafts to luxury items. And the excellent cuisine is a result of Bangkok’s rich ethnic history.
The cultures and ethnic groups in Chiang Mai reflect Thailand’s diversity: skyscrapers surrounding the Old City, monks chanting, hill tribes selling their wares, carved teak houses, modern markets, and a modern blend of Chiang Mai hotels condominiums. This is the place to shop for high-quality handcrafts, fine antiques, huge Buddhas, and even furniture. The nightlife is equally diverse, offering the Night Bazaar, discos, lounges, and small bars.
Phuket (pronounced "Poo-ket") is Thailand's largest and most popular island, and where you'll find many Phuket hotels catering to beach-going travellers. The topology alone is fascinating: rocky peninsulas, limestone cliffs, tropical forests, tranquil bays, and white-sand beaches. There’s a beach for every budget, from luxury resorts to bungalows, and Phuket is well-known for its fine seafood. The Patong nightlife is wild and has something for all tastes and inclinations.
Ko Samui is an international resort with the attendant comforts, nightlife, and crowds. Most visitors come to have fun and the island offers plenty of it: basking on the beaches, trekking in the hills and forests, scuba diving, parasailing, Thai boxing and sightseeing. The nightlife reverberates with discos, open-air bars, and dance parties.
Near Samui, Ko Pha-ngan is famous for its monthly full-moon beach party—a free party hosted by DJs. The morning after you can recuperate in a herbal sauna and relax on the beach. Popular with international travelers, Pha-ngan offers a full complement of activities from sightseeing to jungle trekking. For a more peaceful vacation, the island also has laid-back resorts.