Chiang Mai in April: Weather & Travel Tips

Is April A Good Time To Visit Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai in April offers a unique experience with two contrasting events: the exciting chaos of Songkran and the scorching heat, which might be accompanied by the remaining smoke from the burning season. Songkran is Thailand's famous water festival that turns the city into a wet frenzy of joy. However, the scorching heat might dampen the mood of some visitors, especially with the burning season's tail-end.

Usually, my personal choice for Songkran is not Chiang Mai, as I don't like the heat at all. However, if you are still interested in experiencing the festivities in this charming city, I can give you some tips to make your April adventure in Chiang Mai perfect. With a little planning, you can immerse yourself in the culture, enjoy exhilarating water fights, and bask in the breathtaking sunshine.

Weather in Chiang Mai in April

Chiang Mai in April -Weather

April in Chiang Mai? Buckle up for a weather rollercoaster!

The days are like being stuck in a giant hair dryer – seriously hot and ready to whisk away any winter chills (and maybe your patience). Evenings cool down a touch, but the air can still feel like a big, warm hug.

Also, the first half of the month can also be a bit hazy thanks to leftover smoke from the burning season. Think "slightly smoky campfire" vibes, rather than a clear blue sky. So, while April isn't a complete travel washout, the second half offers clearer skies and fresher air

Average Temperature in Chiang Mai in April

  • Average high temperature in Chiang Mai in April: 37°C (99 ℉)
  • Average low temperature in Chiang Mai in April: 24°C (75 ℉)

(I got the temperature from AccuWeather, but it can be varied time by time, you should double check for the most accuracy number.)

Does It Rain in Chiang Mai in April?

April in Chiang Mai is a dry season with very little rainfall. Occasionally, there may be a light shower, but it is more like a friendly greeting from the clouds than a heavy downpour. This makes April an excellent time to explore the city and its surroundings without worrying about getting caught in a monsoon.

So, be sure to pack your walking shoes and sunhat because Chiang Mai is ready to show you a great time with guaranteed sunshine!

Is It Hot in Chiang Mai in April?

April in Chiang Mai cranks the heat up to "sunshine sauna." Daytime highs regularly sizzle past 40°C (104°F), so be prepared to feel like you're walking into a preheated oven (especially midday).  

The good news? The skies are usually clear, and the humidity stays low, making it a dry heat that some travelers find more bearable than the steamy months later in the year. Just remember to pack your sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat – this sunshine isn't messing around!

The Burning Season in Chiang Mai

What Is "Burning Season" in Northern Thailand?

Northern Thailand has a not-so-fun party guest that crashes the scene from February to April burning season (also known as smoky or fire season). This is when farmers use a traditional method called slash-and-burn agriculture, basically lighting leftover crops on fire to clear the land.

The problem? All that smoke creates a thick haze that hangs around, making the air quality yucky and visibility a guessing game. It's not great for your lungs either, especially for folks with asthma or other breathing issues.

The good news: the Thai government is working on ways to chill out this fiery situation, encouraging farmers to use alternative methods. But for now, burning season is still a big issue.

How Bad Is The Burning Season in Chiang Mai in April?

In short, it's terrible.

The good news? This fiery fiesta usually wraps up by early April. So, by mid to late April, things (hopefully) get back to normal. The air quality improves, and you can ditch the mask and breathe easy while exploring Chiang Mai's awesome outdoors.

Tips To Survive The Burning Season in Chiang Mai

Even though April's burning season in Chiang Mai is better than February and March, protective measures are still necessary.

If the weather and air quality are still bad when you are in Chiang Mai, remember to:

  • Limit your outdoor activities
  • Wear N95 masks when getting outside
  • Try indoor activities around the city if they open (getting to some coffee shops is a good idea)
  • If possible, get out of the city and go to the south of Thailand

Tips For Traveling To Chiang Mai in April

April in Chiang Mai means Songkran festival and the end of burning season. You can enjoy both with a few tips!

What To Wear

Chiang Mai in April means Songkran and sweltering heat. Here's your guide to conquering both with a practical and playful wardrobe.

  • Quick-drying clothes: This is your battle cry for Songkran. Opt for lightweight, water-wicking fabrics like nylon or moisture-wicking synthetics. Think board shorts, tank tops, or light, flowy dresses for ultimate splash-and-go ease.
  • Waterproof essentials: Protect your valuables from the Songkran deluge! Pack a waterproof phone case, a dry bag for your backpack, and maybe even a waterproof watch if you're feeling adventurous.
  • Water shoes:  Songkran streets can get slick. Avoid slip-ups (literally) with water shoes that offer good traction.
  • Breathable fabrics: Natural fabrics like cotton or linen are your best friends. They allow air to circulate, keeping you cool and (hopefully) sweat-free.
  • Loose-fitting clothes: Ditch the bodycon styles! Opt for loose-fitting shirts, pants, and dresses that won't cling to you in the heat.
  • Sun protection: A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are non-negotiables.
  • Bonus Tip: Pack a light rain jacket just in case – April can see occasional showers, and it might double as a makeshift shield during particularly intense Songkran water battles!

Embrace the Songkran Event

Experiencing the Thai New Year, also known as Songkran, anywhere in Thailand is always an amazing experience. It's the most joyful and lively festival I've ever attended. So, if you have the chance, I strongly recommend that you join in on the celebration. However, like any other event, it requires some preparation in order to be fully enjoyed.

  • Gear Up: Pack a light, quick-drying outfit (think board shorts and a tank top) and waterproof essentials like a phone case and a backpack cover. Don't forget a playful water gun – it's all about joining the fun!
  • Strategize Your Water Battle: While the entire city becomes a free-for-all water fight zone, some areas are particularly lively. Head to Thapae Gate or the moat near the Old City for the ultimate soaking experience. Pro tip: Respect the temples – they're designated "peaceful zones" with minimal splashing.
  • Embrace the Spirit: Songkran is more than just a water fight; it's a time for cleansing and renewal. Participate in merit-making ceremonies at temples, offer blessings to elders by pouring water on their hands, and soak up the positive vibes.

Outsmart the Smoky Season

  • Choose The Better Time: Aim for the later half of April. Burning season usually tapers off by then, offering clearer skies and better air quality.
  • Monitor The Air Quality: Download air quality monitoring apps like AirVisual or AQICN. These will give you real-time updates on Chiang Mai's air quality and help you plan your outdoor activities accordingly.
  • Mask Up: If the air quality dips, pack a good quality mask (think N95) to protect your lungs, especially during peak smoke hours (usually mornings and evenings).
  • Embrace Indoor Activities: Schedule museum visits, indulge in a traditional Thai massage, or take a cooking class during smoky periods. Chiang Mai offers a wealth of indoor experiences to keep you entertained.

Book Your Accommodation Beforehand

If you are planning to visit Chiang Mai during April, especially during the Songkran festival, it is highly recommended to book your accommodation and tours in advance. Songkran is one of the busiest times of the year in Chiang Mai, with a large number of both local and international tourists coming to the city to take part in the festivities.

During this time, accommodation options can fill up quickly and prices may increase closer to the festival dates. By booking in advance, you can secure your preferred accommodation and potentially save money. Similarly, popular tours and activities during Songkran, such as temple visits and water fights, may also get fully booked. Therefore, it is advisable to plan and book ahead to ensure availability and avoid disappointment.

Some insider tips to choose a good accommodation during Songkran:

  • Consider a Songkran-Friendly Stay: Some hotels offer Songkran packages with water guns, waterproof pouches, and access to water fights within their grounds – perfect for jumping into the fun!
  • Research the Location: If you want to fully enjoy the main event, it's best to choose accommodation near the hosting place for convenience. However, if you don't want to constantly be involved in the water fight, it's best to stay away from those hotels. You might never be dry if you stay at those places.

Best Things To Do in Chiang Mai in April

April is an exciting month in Chiang Mai as it hosts the Songkran festival, which is Thailand's New Year celebration. This festival adds vibrancy to the city with its cultural and traditional practices, as well as friendly water warfare.

Below are some of the top things to do in Chiang Mai that I recommend for April.

Temple Merit-Making and Songkran Blessings

In Thailand, the celebration of Songkran is a very important and much-anticipated event that marks the beginning of the Thai New Year. It is a time for renewal, reflection, and gratitude. One of the highlights of the festival is the merit-making ceremony, which is held at local temples across the country.

I recommend that we allocate some time to participate in the ceremony, alongside the water battle.

During the ceremony, participants offer food, flowers, and other offerings to the monks, who then lead the congregation in chanting and meditation. After the ceremony, you can also offer blessings to the elderly by pouring water over their hands, which is a sign of respect and a way to show gratitude.

This tradition is deeply rooted in Thai culture and symbolizes the importance of community and the bonds between generations. By participating in the merit-making ceremony, you can connect with the local culture, learn about Thai traditions, and experience the warmth and hospitality of the Thai people.

You can come to Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang to attend the ceremony.

Embrace The Joyful Chaos Of Songkran Water Battle

Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year, celebrated annually from April 13 to 15. It is a time for family reunions, temple visits, merit-making, and of course, water fights! The water fights are a way to wash away the old year's bad luck and welcome the new year with a fresh start.

During the festival, locals and tourists alike take to the streets armed with water guns, buckets, and hoses, and douse each other with water. It's a great way to cool off in the hot April weather, especially after the burning season in Northern Thailand. And, more importantly, it's also a lot of fun! You'll see people of all ages joining in the festivities, from young children to elderly grandparents.

Thapae Gate and the Old City moat are popular spots for Songkran celebrations in Chiang Mai. These locations are known for their lively atmosphere and are a great place to experience the festival. But it also means the whole area will always be packed. Trust me, sometimes you don't want to be always in the middle of the chaos.

While it's a time for fun and games, it's important to remember to be respectful of others. Ask for permission before dousing someone with water, and avoid splashing water on monks or people who are not participating in the festival. With a bit of respect and consideration, everyone can enjoy the festival together.

Museum Explorations To Deal With The Air Quality

Chiang Mai boasts a wealth of fascinating museums, offering a window into the city's rich history and cultural heritage. Here are a couple of must-visits to add to your April itinerary:

  • Chiang Mai National Museum: Nestled within the Old City walls, this museum is a treasure trove of artifacts. Explore exhibits showcasing Lanna (former northern Thai kingdom) art, ceramics, and ancient weaponry. Gain insights into the region's fascinating past and artistic traditions.
  • Lanna Folklife Museum: Delve deeper into the everyday lives of the Lanna people at this charming museum. Traditional wooden houses house displays of agricultural tools, textiles, and everyday objects used by local communities. Learn about their customs, beliefs, and how they've adapted to their environment over time.

These museums provide a welcome respite from the April heat and a fascinating cultural counterpoint to the vibrant Songkran festivities. Remember, several museums in Chiang Mai offer air conditioning, making them a perfect afternoon escape.

Don't miss these Chiang Mai highlights in April, but for more ideas, check out my article "best things to do in Chiang Mai".

If Chiang Mai in April isn't for you...

I understand that you may not feel comfortable traveling to Chiang Mai in April, even though the Songkran festival is amazing.

The burning season can be a big problem for everyone. However, you can check out my month-by-month guide to learn more about Chiang Mai in other months and find the perfect time to visit.

Month-by-month Guide

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