Does Thailand Ever Get Cold

If you visit Southern Thailand then the answer to the post question ‘Does Thailand Ever Get Cold‘ is probably not too much, but the further you travel northwards the cooler and colder Thailand’s winter months become. Between November and towards the end of February in cities like Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and Loei you can at times in the evening find yourself sat outside a restaurant or stood at a food stall wishing you hadn’t left your jacket in your hotel room or home.

During my latest Thailand vacation Wonderful Wi and I travelled from Udon Thani to Loei for a three night stay between Christmas and New Year.

Our purpose in the province was to visit the annual Phu Rua Flower Festival and also to explore Loei city a little further than we had on our previous two stays there. The weather we saw was cold mornings, hot afternoons and cool evenings. There was also proof out on the city streets that for the Thais this time of year could be very cold indeed.

Almost everywhere we went in the city, hats, scarves and jackets were on sale. Every food stall seemed to have acquired a ‘winter woolies’ stand next to them and the local night market near our hotel had everything needed to keep an Eskimo warm.

As you can see from the photo on the right the colours were rather loud. Entry to Loei’s knitting club must come with a membership card, two sharp needles and polarized ski goggles to eliminate glare.

Loei’s temperatures during our stay in the city danced between 15°C in the morning to around 30°C by mid afternoon and by late evening the mercury had fallen to the low twenties as it waited to dip further during the night. Temperatures of 15°C may seem warm compared to someone reading this is in a European or North American wintry climate, but the heat of the afternoon makes the mornings a bit of a shock.

The photograph above shows two dogs patiently waiting for their owner to return and in the background is a thick heavy fog. You can see an approaching truck with its headlights full on against the heavy mist. There was a definite nip to the air when I took this photo at about eight in the morning, but two hours later the sun had all but burnt away the thick haze and its depleted mass sat with a picturesque charm atop the surrounding mountains.

The above graphics show the current 5 day weather outlook for Loei this week. Sunday and Monday show temperatures forecast to drop to a minimum of 13°C. That’s quite cold after experiencing sunny afternoons in the mid to high twenties and proof parts of Thailand really does experience low temperature drops during its winter months.

I’m often asked by people here in the UK whether Thailand has a cool season. There are a lot of travel hungry souls out there in the world who are actually put off visiting Thailand because they believe its oppressive heat and humidity are an all year round thing. I hope this post helps a few of them understand that Thailand does get cooler and even cold sometimes and the Christmas period is an ideal time to visit the country for those tourists who dislike extremely high temperatures.

To finish off I’d like to include two short extracts from an article in the The Nation newspaper published just over a week ago under the following headlines.

The Public Health Ministry confirmed yesterday that at least two people had died in the cold weather – one in Loei and the other in Chiang Rai.

“Victims in this category are people who died because they lacked warm clothes and lived in areas declared as being hit by a cold spell,” Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said…………..In the Northeast, the minimum temperature fluctuated between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius.

Sadly the colder weather can be a killer for some of Thailand’s more elderly, weak, sick and homeless citizens.

© 2011, Martyn. All rights reserved.

21 thoughts on “Does Thailand Ever Get Cold

  1. Peter I’ve never been to Chiang Mai although I’m hoping to go there in May, not finalised my plans yet. It’s a city I want to see this year or in 2012 at the latest.

    I’m used to the cooler climates of Udon Thani and Loei this time of year. The afternoons are great but the mornings can be a bit fresh.


    opps hit caps oh well
    Malcolm recently posted..The pain of it all by KrisMy Profile

  3. Malcolm I think you’ve just got the prize for the first comment in capitals and it looks pretty neat.

    I like the warmer weather but the heat and humidity of April is too much for me but the cooler season I can handle especially those afternoons when it’s about 30 degrees C.

  4. Martyn, where I live which for the technically minded is 11.75 degrees North of the Equator just outside the area known as the Doldrums we do see a change in weather conditions between November and the end of January each year.

    This year 2010/2011 has seen lows of around 20C but daytime highs are 30-32C. The big difference is that because of the NE Monsoon the wind direction is from China and the relative humidity is much lower.

    So yes 330km South of BKK we do usually have a cool season. But cool is blue skies and low humidity rather than really cold.

    Incidentally when I was in Bangkok two weeks ago I really did feel cold as I sat outside in the early morning sipping a hot coffee in the shade my guess would be around 18C.

    Both Duen and Doy were clad in jackets 😉
    Mike recently posted..Health Issues Visitors To ThailandMy Profile

  5. Mike after the heat of the summer I’m sure a drop in temperature to the low twenties does make you feel cold. Add in a breeze and the chill kicks in. I think your winter weather would be ideal for me all year round.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever been up north during winter but believe me a few years back in Wilai’s village on one New Years Eve the wind whipped up and it was bitterly cold. I haven’t experienced that kind of cold in Thailand since.

  6. Martyn, I know Mukdahan can get cold. My first trip there I was confused as to why the hotel had real heaters in the room…went down to 48 degrees that night.

    I’m heading to Chiang Mai next weekend so I am hoping to enjoy some of those cool mornings with a hot cup of tea.
    Talen recently posted..Bangkok Motorbike Festival 2011My Profile

  7. Talen I’ve never been to Mukdahan but like Chiang Mai it’s on my list of places to see. I can’t imagine it’ll get cold enough to skate across the Mekong River but I’ll play safe and visit it in the warmer months.

    Have a great time in Chiang Mai.

  8. Paul I remember you commenting a week or so back (maybe longer) that you knew Loei quite well. You’ll know exactly how cold the province can feel and understand why some Thais can suffer from hypothermia at this time of year.

    Loei is one pretty province and I read somewhere on the net it’s rated as the most beautiful province in Thailand. That mountain scenery does take some beating I must say.

  9. Martyn, I spent one freezing Xmas in Chiang Mai. Coming from tropical Borneo I didn’t even own a pair of socks or a sweater. To keep warm I filled the bathtub at the hotel with hot water and soaked my bones. Then the hotel ran out of hot water (I guess everyone was doing the same).

    Many old people died that Christmas, making it a somber holiday.
    Catherine recently posted..Thai Sunflowers Resist the SunMy Profile

  10. Catherine for my Thailand Christmas trip I took over a real good hoodie, it was cosy to wear to Heathrow with the weather the UK was having but it came in handy in Loei and early mornings in Udon.

    I remember a fairly top hotel in Udon Thani (won’t name it) where I put the bath plug in went off for a smoke and when I returned the bath was full of mud coloured water. Yuk. Nowadays I check the colour first out of habit and memory.

  11. Martyn, when I’m headed to the UK I have an ankle length black leather jacket I wear. It combats all UK weather, rain or snow. But I didn’t think to take it with me to Thailand that Christmas.

    So you passed on a lovely mud bath? Hah! A shocker 😀

    It’s nice and cool this morning. I like. This week we’ve been researching where I need to visit before the hot weather sets in and I burrow into my cool condo like a hibernating bear. Road trips out of town are roughly 2-3.5 hours long one way, putting us into the heat of the day (easy when summer heat starts at 8!). I want to do as many of the long trips as I can before April.
    Catherine recently posted..Thai Sunflowers Resist the SunMy Profile

  12. Catherine your ankle length black coat probably earns you a few restaurant spaces that aren’t there for ordinary customers. Mafia springs to mind. I hope you order the best Italian dishes and the finest wines.

    I got the photo you emailed me and look forward to your post. The picture looks like it was taken right out in the sticks.


  13. Catherine sorry about the delay in answering, I meant to reply yesterday but…..the problems I’ve had with my latest post you wouldn’t believe. I was trying to put on the post a simple poll plugin but no matter which one I tried it wouldn’t work. They loaded up but didn’t show on the homepage or when they did show pressing the vote button did nothing. In the end I had to settle for a tacky free version outside of wordpress.

    I hope you enjoyed your meal, that was good foresight by mean. It’s a pity I can’t see the lottery numbers as easily.

    I take it by bit you mean bugs.

  14. Catherine sorry to hear you’re not feeling well, it’s probably a winter cold at worst. You’ll perk up soon guaranteed.

    Where does the expression ‘hurts like the Dickens’ come from. Did Charles suffer from a lot of pain.

    I spent four hours trying to load a poll on my post.

  15. Catherine thanks for the information, I thought it might be because he kept dropping books on his feet.

    The four hours seem to be worth it, the latest post is really getting some hits from StumbleUpon. I’ve had 90 direct hits on it so far and I can still taste the toothpaste in my mouth. That’s a lot of hits early in the day for The Juice.

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