As the Land of Smiles ushers in November, Thailand’s temperatures increase steadily and with that begins a season of festivities with tourists returning after the monsoon and locals celebrating the rice harvest. Beautiful beaches in the Andaman Sea beckon, as do hikes through the rice fields and mountains of the North.
In addition to the accessibility of these natural wonders, the country hosts fabulous festivals which the Thai people enthusiastically celebrate. Rest assured, there’s no shortage of places to go and things to see in Thailand in November.
Weather in Thailand
Thailand’s an outdoor destination for most travellers: beaches and jungles are top natural phenomena. As such, weather is an important factor in deciding when and where to visit.
The lowest average temperature during November is a reasonable 19°C; the maximum to be expected is 32°C, meaning the weather is hot enough for beach days but cool enough to keep you sane as you navigate crowded streets.
Chiang Mai’s cool with temperatures ranging from 19 °C to 30°C, while Bangkok’s warmer with 23 °C to 32°C. Out on the islands, temperatures are warm. Phuket ranges from 23°C to 31 °C and Koh Samui’s at 24 °C to 30°C. But don’t be deceived by higher temperatures; rainfall is key when deciding where to go!
The rainy season is considered to be at a close in November but rainfall can still vary across the country. It’s highest in the islands, including popular Koh Samui (an average of 490mm), while mainland Bangkok largely escapes the downpour with 46mm.
Best Destinations to visit
The Islands in Thailand
The Andaman Sea Islands are where the best beaches in November are located. West of the mainland, they’re generally free of the storms that plague the lower gulf islands like Koh Samui and Koh Tao.
Popular islands such as Koh Phi Phi and Phuket are in the midst of shoulder season, meaning they’re more affordable than in the height of the dry season.
In Phuket, late November’s improved weather means more bars open and the island remains uncrowded but not deserted. The diving season also begins. Catch a special full moon party at Paradise Beach Club in Phuket as the entire country celebrates Loy Krathong.
The North and North-East Thailand
The north is cool and bustling in the midst of rice harvest. Though still cold at night, the mountains around Chiang Mai are popular for hiking in November. An already spectacular landscape is transformed into the mystical as the mists descend over the mountain tops. Adding to this beauty are the blooming flowers dotting the landscape.
Rice is Thailand’s staple food. Most farmers do not use modern machinery, instead, harvesting their crops with traditional methods. November, harvest season, is a good time to visit the rice paddies.
Bangkok and the Central South of Thailand
November is a good time to visit Bangkok. You’ll avoid the claustrophobic heat of other months, meaning more comfort when zipping around town on a scooter or wandering the vast rooms of the Grand Palace. However, the tourist crowds are high (they always are) so there’s plenty of queueing. With the city’s popularity, prices for accommodation and meals are steep. This isn’t the time for spontaneity, either: book ahead.
Remember to factor in the locations of some of Thailand’s great festivals, listed below. These towns come alive during the celebrations and offer amazing glimpses into local life.
Events and festivals in November
In November Thailand celebrates the approach of the drier season and the country turns grateful, dedicating festivals to river spirits and monkeys, as well as celebrating its rich cultural and artisanal heritage.
These are just a few of the many festivities taking place in the month:
According to the Thai calendar, the 12th full moon of the year falls in early November. On this night, the moon lights up all of Thailand, the signal for the country’s Festival of Lights, Loy Krathong, to commence.
Locals decorate floats with banana leaves and spider fly plants before filling them with food, incense, candles and other tokens. The glowing lanterns are then placed on the rivers, creating a flickering spectacle in honour of the river spirits. In releasing the floats, people are symbolically letting go of old grudges and making wishes for the new year.
The festival is practised all over the country but for a special variation, head to Chiang Mai. There it takes on a different name, Yee Pheng, and locals release lanterns into the sky instead of onto the rivers.
Boat Race Festival in Phimai
Though the main drawcard of the festival is the boat races, the rich cultural and crafting displays are equally attractive. There’s a display of traditional techniques and products, art shows in the ancient archaeological park, contests and a large, bustling market.
Phimai is a part of north-east Thailand.
Silk Festival and Phuk Phoen Ceremony
Thailand’s one of the largest silk producers in the world. It’s an age-old trade in the ancient kingdom that’s celebrated in Khon Kaen in late November. There’s an exciting street parade, demonstrations of weaving techniques, folklore events and, yes, stalls full of silk!
Khon Kaen is located in the north-east of the country.
Monkey Banquet Festival
On the last Sunday of November, the people of Lopburi gather to pay their respects and express their gratitude to the monkeys of the town who attract many tourists, providing incomes for locals. There are hundreds of monkeys and sitting down to a banquet with the animals is a unique experience. Street parades and food markets (this time for humans) also take place during the festival.
Lopburi is situated in central Thailand.
November’s definitely an exciting time to visit Thailand. The country shows off its history, art and culture with unusual and tourist-friendly festivals. The natural beauty of Thailand also comes to the fore with breathtaking scenery in the lofty peaks of the north and the turquoise, clear waters of the southern islands. With so much on offer during the month, November is an ideal time to visit Thailand.