Best Time to Visit Chiang Mai: Month-by-Month Ultimate Guide

Best Time to Visit Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a beautiful city with stunning natural scenery. Perfect weather is important to fully enjoy its rich culture, history, and amazing nature. Let us help you find the best time to experience it all.

  • November to February is the best time to visit Chiang Mai. During the winter season in Northern Thailand, you can expect pleasant weather with cool temperatures and dry and clear skies. This is the ideal time for outdoor activities. If you travel to Chiang Mai in November, you might experience the Loy Krathong festival, or you can enjoy the great weather in January. However, it's worth noting that attractions can be crowded during this season, and accommodation and tours may sell out quickly.
  • May and October are considered shoulder season months with occasional rainfall. These months may not be the best time to travel, as some natural attractions may be closed due to the wet weather. However, if you are looking for affordable deals, you may want to consider traveling during these months.
  • March and April are the two months with the peak impact of the burning season in Northern Thailand. The weather gets hot, and the air quality is poor. We do not recommend traveling to Chiang Mai during this time.
  • June to September is the rainy season, so we don't recommend traveling to Chiang Mai during this time, as Chiang Mai is a destination packed with outdoor activities.

Month-by-month Guide

Chiang Mai in January

  • Average Temperature: 15°C (59°F) to 28°C (82°F)
  • Highlights: Mild and dry weather, busy, high season in Chiang Mai
  • Festivals: New Year's Day

Chiang Mai in January offers the best of both worlds: comfortable weather and a vibrant atmosphere. January is ideal for outdoor adventures with pleasant average temperatures of 24°C (75°F), cool evenings, and some midday warmth.

However, it falls within Chiang Mai's peak season, so booking your accommodation 1-2 months in advance is crucial.

January's fantastic weather makes it perfect for exploring hidden gems like Chiang Rai and Nan or embarking on the adventurous Mae Hong Son loop.

Read more: The detail guide of traveling to Chiang Mai in January

Chiang Mai in February

  • Average Temperature: 16°C (61°F) to 32°C (90°F)
  • Highlights: Mild and dry weather, less busy, high season in Chiang Mai
  • Festivals: Lunar New Year

February offers a sweet spot for visiting Chiang Mai. It's the tail end of the high season, so expect pleasant weather (think cool mornings and afternoons reaching 32°C/90°F) with less crowded attractions.

However, this coincides with the start of the burning season in Northern Thailand, which can cause air quality issues. Aim for the first half of February to achieve the best balance.

Immerse yourself in the city's vibrant energy during Lunar New Year festivities. While not as grand as other celebrations, it offers a unique cultural experience. Consider extending your trip to explore nearby gems like Pai or Lam Pang before the burning season picks up.

Read more: The detail guide of traveling to Chiang Mai in February

Chiang Mai in March

  • Average Temperature: 19°C (66°F) to 35°C (95°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, burning season
  • Festivals: N/A

Chiang Mai's allure takes a smoky turn in March. Despite the tempting dry skies and warm temperatures, this month signals the peak of the burning season in Northern Thailand. Picture exchanging stunning mountain views for a hazy horizon - not exactly the postcard-perfect experience you were looking for.

Local farmers burn leftover crops, leading to a thick layer of smog that significantly reduces air quality. This translates to limited outdoor activities, a scratchy throat, and, unfortunately, obscured views of Chiang Mai's stunning natural beauty.

This is why we strongly advise against traveling to Chiang Mai in March. However, if you must go for any reason, please read our guide for essential preparations.

Alternative options for traveling to Thailand in March:

Thailand's southern islands, like Phuket or Koh Lanta, boast crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches, perfect for soaking up the sunshine the way it was meant to be.

Chiang Mai in April

  • Average Temperature: 23°C (73°F) to 36°C (97°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, shoulder season
  • Festivals: Songkran Festival

Chiang Mai can be challenging in April due to the lingering burning season, which reduces visibility and creates hazy air. This situation may improve in the latter half of the month, but it is still not ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.

April is filled with the vibrant Songkran festival, Thailand's New Year celebration. Picture bustling streets, water fights, colorful parades, and a festive spirit. It's undeniably a lively time to visit! So, we don't blame you if you still want to travel to Chiang Mai during this time. We even cover your back with a guide to help you maximize your April Chiang Mai trip.

But here's the catch: while Chiang Mai offers a taste of Songkran, Bangkok truly steals the show. The Thai capital transforms into a massive water battleground, with epic celebrations that last for days. So, if experiencing Songkran is your top priority, consider swapping Chiang Mai for Bangkok. You'll get a front-row seat to the most incredible Songkran festivities in Thailand while still avoiding the peak burning season in Chiang Mai. Remember, you can add Chiang Mai to your itinerary later when the skies are clear and the mountains beckon.

Chiang Mai in May

  • Average Temperature: 24°C (75°F) to 34°C (93°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, shoulder season, occasional rainfalls
  • Festivals: N/A

In May, Chiang Mai's rainy season begins, turning the city into a lush paradise. The frequent rain showers bring the landscapes to life and provide a refreshing break from the usual hot and humid weather. While some people might be hesitant about the rain, it actually offers relief from the midday sun, making sightseeing and temple visits more enjoyable.

However, be prepared for occasional heavy rain and thunderstorms.

On the bright side, May sees significantly fewer crowds compared to peak season, making it perfect for budget-conscious travelers who don't mind carrying a light rain jacket and appreciating the beauty of a rain-washed Chiang Mai.

Read our guide to maximize your travel to Chiang Mai in May here.

Chiang Mai in June

  • Average Temperature: 24°C (75°F) to 33°C (91°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, rainy season
  • Festivals: N/A

June in Chiang Mai unfolds as the rainy season reaches its peak. While the emerald landscapes burst with vibrant life under frequent downpours, outdoor activities become challenging. The heavy rainfall can lead to temporary closures of some outdoor attractions. Disappointing, right?

June is definitely not a good time to travel to Chiang Mai.

However, if your travel plans are set in stone, fear not! We understand that sometimes flexibility isn't an option. With some planning and our detailed guide (wink, wink), you can still navigate Chiang Mai in June.

We'll equip you with tips on navigating the downpours and exploring indoor attractions that shine during this time.

Chiang Mai in July

  • Average Temperature: 24°C (75°F) to 32°C (90°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, rainy season
  • Festivals: N/A

July is not a good month to travel to Chiang Mai for the same reason as June - rain.

July in Chiang Mai is a tropical wonderland but with a catch. The rainy season peaks this month, bringing frequent downpours and high humidity. While the lush landscapes and waterfalls are stunning, outdoor activities are limited.

The heavy rain can also temporarily close outdoor attractions, disrupting your plans. So, the best plan is to find somewhere else to travel.

But, if you really need to go to Chiang Mai in July. We can provide some insights about the weather and travel tips for you to deal with the weather. Check the Chiang Mai in July guide here.

Chiang Mai in August

  • Average Temperature: 24°C (75°F) to 31°C (88°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, rainy season
  • Festivals: N/A

August in Chiang Mai can be challenging for outdoor enthusiasts. Despite some sources suggesting a break from the rainy season, it's actually the peak month for downpours. The relentless rain can also lead to temporary closures or make outdoor attractions muddy and inaccessible.

As a result, we don't recommend anyone to travel to Chiang Mai this month.

However, if you must travel to Chiang Mai in August for any reason, please read our guide for detailed information on the weather and tips to enhance your stay in Chiang Mai in August.

Alternative options to travel to Thailand in August:

The southern islands, such as Phuket, Koh Lanta, Krabi, and Phi Phi, are at their best in August. These islands provide ample opportunities for snorkeling, diving, boating, and sunbathing with their crystal-clear turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and vibrant coral reefs.

Chiang Mai in September

  • Average Temperature: 23°C (73°F) to 32°C (90°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, rainy season
  • Festivals: N/A

September in Chiang Mai brings less frequent and shorter rain showers, with occasional lingering monsoon showers in the first half of the month. Some trails or attractions might remain temporarily inaccessible due to earlier heavy rains or muddy conditions.

This is why September is still not a good time to travel to Chiang Mai.

The good news is that September marks the beginning of the shoulder season, you can challenge your luck to get there. Some places might open, and you can still enjoy the lush vibe of nature in Chiang Mai.

However, if you crave uninterrupted sunshine and prioritize outdoor activities, consider waiting until October or November when the dry season kicks in fully.

Read more: Chiang Mai in September - weather and travel tips

Chiang Mai in October

  • Average Temperature: 22°C (71°F) to 31°C (88°F)
  • Highlights: Not busy, shoulder season
  • Festivals: N/A

October in Chiang Mai brings a sigh of relief as the true dry season arrives. The relentless monsoon rains finally subside, giving way to pleasant sunny days and comfortable temperatures.

This delightful weather makes October a good time for outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike through lush jungles, embark on exhilarating elephant treks, or cycle through the scenic countryside. The humidity also drops significantly, making sightseeing and exploring the city a breeze.

October marks the beginning of the peak tourist season in Chiang Mai. As the weather becomes more favorable, visitor numbers start to rise. Accommodation prices might increase, and popular attractions could experience larger crowds.

The good news is that October offers a wonderful balance between delightful weather and manageable crowds compared to the peak months of December and January.

Tip: Book your ticket and accommodation in advance to get a good deal during the shoulder season in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai in November

  • Average Temperature: 19°C (66°F) to 30°C (86°F)
  • Highlights: Busy, high season, flower blooming season
  • Festivals: Loy Krathong, Yee Peng

November in Chiang Mai paints a picture of paradise. The dry season reigns supreme, offering clear blue skies, comfortable temperatures averaging around 22°C (71°F), and delightfully low humidity.

This ideal weather makes November a dream come true for traveling. The crisp air and comfortable temperatures ensure a truly enjoyable experience for any outdoor activity.

November is not just about outdoor adventures; it's also a fantastic time to immerse yourself in Chiang Mai's rich culture. November is the time of the biggest festival in Northern Thailand - Yee Peng - and the Loy Krathong festival. These two festivals happen at the same time, making Chiang Mai in November a lively and festive place.

Here's the catch: As November's charm becomes undeniable, so does its popularity. Tourist numbers begin to rise, and prices might increase. You must book everything in advance, as the accommodation and tours will run out fast.

Read our guide to traveling to Chiang Mai in November to maximize your trip during this peak month.

Chiang Mai in December

  • Average Temperature: 16°C (61°F) to 28°C (82°F)
  • Highlights: Busy, high season, flower blooming season
  • Festivals: Chiang Mai Winter Fair, Christmas, New Year's Eve

December is one of the best months to visit Chiang Mai.

The dry season reaches its peak, blanketing the city in endless blue skies and comfortable temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). It's an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and white water rafting.

The city also prepares for the holidays with festive decorations and bustling Christmas markets. It's less crowded than in November, which is the month of Loy Krathong and Yee Peng, but it doesn't lose the festive and lively vibe in the air.

December offers the ultimate combination of perfect weather, festive celebrations, and cultural immersion. If you're willing to navigate slightly larger crowds and potentially higher prices, you'll be rewarded with an unforgettable and magical experience in Chiang Mai. Remember to book your flights and accommodation well in advance, especially if you're traveling during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Festivals In Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai isn't just a haven for nature lovers and history buffs; it's also a vibrant city that pulsates with cultural celebrations throughout the year. To truly immerse yourself in the heart of Chiang Mai, consider aligning your visit with one of its many festivals.

Yi Peng & Loy Krathong (Lantern Festival) - November

Yi Peng & Loy Krathong festival is known as "The Festival of Light" or "The Lantern Festival" in Chiang Mai. The two festivals happen at the same time, and the magical visual feast is one of the reasons why so many people come to Chiang Mai in November (it varies by year but usually occurs in November).

Loy Krathong: A Reverence for Water's Bounty

Loy Krathong is a beautiful Thai festival held on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, usually in November. It originated in the Sukhothai period and honors the Goddess of Water, symbolizing the release of anger and making wishes for the future. People float decorated baskets, or krathongs, on rivers, lit with candles and incense. Celebrations include traditional music, dance, and fireworks.

Chiang Mai is a spectacular place to experience Loy Krathong, as it coincides with the Yi Peng festival, where thousands of sky lanterns are released. The sight of floating krathongs and glowing lanterns creates a magical atmosphere. Visiting Chiang Mai during this time offers a unique and unforgettable cultural experience.

Yi Peng: Embracing Light and Hope

Yi Peng is a traditional Lanna festival celebrated in northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. It coincides with Loy Krathong and is known for the release of thousands of sky lanterns, or khom loi, creating a breathtaking spectacle as the night sky fills with floating lights.

The festival has its roots in the Lanna Kingdom, which is why Chiang Mai, the old capital of this era, is so famous for this event. It takes place on the full moon of the second month in the Lanna lunar calendar, typically in November. Releasing lanterns symbolizes letting go of misfortune and making wishes for the future, bringing good luck and fulfilling personal desires.

Visiting Chiang Mai during Yi Peng offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The simultaneous release of thousands of lanterns is mesmerizing and spiritual, immersing visitors in traditional Lanna culture with local music, dance, and food. The event also provides stunning photographic opportunities with the illuminated sky and festive cityscape, making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Songkran (Thai New Year) - April

Songkran, which marks the Thai New Year, is celebrated from April 13th to 15th. It is one of Thailand's most important holidays and is known for its lively water fights, which symbolize purification and renewal. Traditional activities include visiting temples, making merit, and family gatherings where water is gently poured over elders' hands for blessings.

Chiang Mai hosts some of the most elaborate Songkran celebrations, which extend the festivities to a full week. The old city moat is the epicenter of water fights, while parades and cultural performances fill the streets. However, you should be aware that April is also the burning season in northern Thailand, which can cause air quality issues.

Chinese New Year Festival - January or February

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is widely celebrated in Thailand due to the significant Chinese-Thai population.

The festival typically occurs between late January and mid-February, signifying the beginning of the lunar new year. It is a time for family gatherings, honoring ancestors, and participating in festive customs and traditions.

Compared to Bangkok's Chinatown or Phuket's celebrations, the Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai is more modest, as the Chinese-Thai community here is smaller.

Christmas and New Year - December

While Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, Christmas and New Year are celebrated with enthusiasm, especially in larger cities like Chiang Mai. The festive season here blends traditional Western elements with local customs, creating a unique and vibrant atmosphere.

What To Do In Chiang Mai During Christmas and New Year:

  • Countdown Events: Chiang Mai celebrates New Year’s Eve with lively countdown events at Tha Phae Gate and various hotels and bars. Tha Phae Gate is popular for its live music and vibrant street party atmosphere.
  • Fireworks: Fireworks displays light up the sky at midnight, with many people gathering along the Ping River or at rooftop bars to enjoy the spectacle.
  • Sky Lanterns: A unique tradition in Chiang Mai for New Year’s Eve is the release of sky lanterns. People gather to release lanterns into the sky, creating a beautiful, illuminated display symbolizing wishes for the new year.