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Visiting Thailand in January – A complete guide

shows an image of long tail boats lined up in Railay beach, Thailand

If you’re reading this article, you might have already planned a trip to Thailand in January, or maybe you’re thinking about paying this wonderful country a visit? The simple answer to the question, ‘is Thailand a good place to visit in January?’ is YES, absolutely! In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to know about the weather in January, pool and sea temperatures, how busy Thailand is in January, and some helpful tips and tricks. We hope you find it useful and be sure to leave a comment down below, as we’d love to hear from fellow travellers 😊

Is Thailand a good place to visit in January?

January is one of the most, if not the most popular time to travel to Thailand. Tourists from across the world escape their colder climates and flock to all areas of Thailand at this time of year for the excellent weather and endless activities. If you love lots going on with an upbeat atmosphere, January is the best time for you!

Whilst popular tourist areas Bangkok, Phuket and Krabi at their busiest, there are plenty of events going on at this time of the year and all bars, restaurants and attractions are buzzing. If you’re planning a visit in January, be sure to be as organised as possible and monitor flights closely. Flights can be expensive at this time of the year, so be sure you’re getting a good deal by booking in advance. Hotels are also a little more expensive in January due to high demand, so again, it’s worth booking everything well in advance of arrival.

Positives of visiting Thailand in January:

  • Excellent weather throughout the country. It’s not too hot, nor too cold and rainy.
  • A lively atmosphere with lots going on.
  • Everything is open and you have the freedom to explore the whole country.

Negatives of visiting Thailand in January:

  • Higher prices for accommodation, flights and some activities.
  • High crowd levels
shows an image of a beach cove behind the trees in Krabi  Thailand - visiting Thailand in January

How is Thailand’s weather in January?

January is one of the best months for consistent dry weather throughout Thailand. The country has different climates throughout the year, depending on whether you’re visiting the north, south, Andaman Coast or Gulf of Thailand. January is one of the few months of the year you can visit anywhere in the country and expect little rain and temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius plus.

Whilst the weather remains consistent throughout Thailand in January, it can be a few degrees warmer/cooler in certain areas. If you visit the southern islands, destination such as Krabi, Koh Lanta and Phuket have warmer temperatures and higher humidity. Places in the north of the country, such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, are slightly cooler. This is especially the case if you visit mountainous areas.

Thailand’s weather in January is hot, but not too hot. It’s perfect for those that enjoy warmer climates, though some people may still find it too hot.

Kayaking in Koh Talabeng - Visiting Thailand in January

What’s the average temperature in Thailand in January?

If you love hot weather, you’re in luck as you’ll get plenty of sun in January! Let’s take a look at the temperatures in some of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations.

Bangkok – high 32° /  low 22°

Chiang Mai – high 29° / low 14°

Chiang Rai – high 28° / low 13°

Phuket – high 33° / low 24°

Krabi – 32° / low 21°

As you can see from the above temperatures, places in Northern Thailand such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai see slightly cooler temperatures during the day, dropping considerably during the night. Places down south like Phuket and Krabi are only a few degrees warmer during the day, but temperatures are much higher on an evening compared to the north. Bangkok and Central Thailand enjoy some of the most comfortable temperatures of the year.

Does it rain in Thailand in January?

During the months of November – March, Thailand experiences its ‘dry season.’ There’s little to no rainfall at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t rain. Thailand has a tropical climate, which means it can rain at any time. If it does rain, it’s usually in short outbursts for no more than an hour at a time. We experienced some heavy rainfall during our recent visit to Krabi in January, but it only lasted 30-minutes.

Top tip: if you’re planning on visiting different areas in Thailand, make sure you pack the right clothing. A rain jacket is always advisable, even when visiting Thailand in January.

shows an image of a temple in Bangkok - visiting Thailand in January

What’s the water temperature like in January?

If you’re planning on swimming in the hotel pool, or even taking a dip in the crystal-clear sea, you’re in luck. The water temperatures are a very pleasant 26-28 degrees  during the month of January, perfect for you to take a dip and cool off.

Water temperature in the south is a couple of degrees warmer than the north. Just be aware that pool temperatures if visiting the north of Thailand will be cooler in the morning, but they generally warm up in the afternoon.

What clothing should I pack?

Weather aside, the perfect things to pack for a Thailand January trip will depend on what activities you plan on doing. Thailand is a wonderful country that offers so much more than stunning beaches and delicious street food. It’s a great place for a spot of exploring, hiking and getting up close and personal to its lush countryside and vast jungles. If you’re visiting Thailand for a beach holiday, stick to your usual summer clothes. If you plan on exploring rural areas and hiking, you’ll need a few extra items.

Thailand January packing list:

  • Tops (t-shirts and vests)
  • Shorts (ideally cotton and not denim)
  • Dresses and skirts for women
  • Flip flops (you’ll practically live in flip flops during your time in Thailand)
  • Swimwear
  • A thin waterproof rain jacket (as it could rain anywhere in the country at any time)
  • A shawl (if you plan on visiting Thailand’s temples, you’ll need to cover up)

If you’re planning on visiting the capital, or venturing out and walking a lot, we recommend also packing:

  • A pair of sturdy walking shoes/ trainers
  • A pair of hiking socks to ensure your ankle don’t rub and are supported.

Additional items to consider that aren’t clothing but we absolutely recommend taking:

  • A camera or Go Pro
  • A hat
  • Sunscreen
  • After sun
  • Mosquito spray (and lots of it!)
  • Charcoal tablets (in-case you consume food with bad bacteria)
  • Vitamins
  • Snorkel
  • Water shoes
  • Compact beach towel
shows an image of a man-made lake in Bangkok city centre

Is Thailand busy in January?

As we mentioned earlier, January is the busiest month of the year in Thailand. Tourists from all over the world fly in for the idyllic weather and affordable prices compared to many home countries. We visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Lanta and Krabi in January, and the only place where we felt the mass crowds was in Krabi. As long as you’re prepared to wait a little longer in restaurants and are aware that there’ll be more people on beach islands and tours, you’ll still have a fantastic time.

Top tip: if crowds aren’t your thing, we recommend taking note of the following:

  • Eat out earlier in the evening, around 6pm. That way, you’ll dine before most tourists and guaranteed to get a table.
  • Explore the sights first thing on a morning. If you can, get breakfast and head out straight away, before the tour groups arrive.
  • Avoid going to popular places during the weekend. Locals enjoy taking their families for a long weekend break, so it will be slightly busier Friday – Sunday.
  • Travel outside of the Christmas – New Year and Chinese New Year periods for less crowds.

Is everything open in January?

As it’s Thailand’s peak season in January, everything is open and at full capacity in January. Different places in Thailand have different opening hours. For example, on the tranquil island of Koh Lanta, local businesses may have reduced opening times or days off. In the thriving city metropolis of Bangkok, shops, bars and restaurants may be open around the clock. Be sure to check Google Maps for attraction and restaurant opening times. In general, expect everything to be open as usual in Thailand in January.

Where are the best places to visit in Thailand in January?

With so many wonderful places to choose from in Thailand, it can be hard to decide on where to visit. Some areas are more beautiful than others, but those areas generally attract more tourists, making them much more crowded. We’ve put together a list of areas that are well worth adding to your list.

shows an image of Hong island from above in Krabi Thailand

Koh Lanta

Hotel recommendation: Lanta Sand Resort & Spa | TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, either as a couple, family or solo backpacker, Koh Lanta is the place for you. An island district in the Krabi province, Koh Lanta has some of the most stunning beaches and untouched island nature you’ll ever see. It’s a great place to wind down, swim in the sea, snorkel and head out on a kayaking adventure. We did a tour to Koh Talabeng and it was the best thing we did in Thailand. Check out our full review and guide here.

shows an image of a girl sitting in a kayak in Koh Lanta, Thailand

Krabi

Hotel recommendation: Panan Krabi Resort | TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

Another great place to visit in Thailand is the highly popular province of Krabi. Krabi offers incredible beaches, towering limestone cliff scenery, and idyllic white-sand islands. It’s popular amongst any travellers that enjoy hot sunny weather and lots of beach and adventure activities, though it’s less cultural than other areas of Thailand. We stayed in the bustling town of Ao Nang. Yes it’s busy. Yes it’s touristy, but its central location is a great base for seeing Krabi. Expect more crowds than the likes of Koh Lanta.

shows an image of a beach cove in Krabi Thailand - visiting Thailand in January

Bangkok

Hotel recommendation: Siam @ Siam Design Hotel | TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

You can’t visit Thailand without spending at least a few days exploring its capital, Bangkok. It’s a sprawling melting pot that sees over 20 million visitors every year. With its quirky floating markets, excellent night life and magnificent temples, it’s definitely a destination to add to January itinerary. January is one of the best times of the year to explore the city due to comfortable temperatures and low humidity.

Chiang Mai

Hotel recommendation: BED Chiang Mai Gate | TripAdvisor rating: 5

Last but not least is one for the foodies out there; Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is known as the cultural hub of Thailand, and for good reason! With its delicious food (in particular, the northern dish, Khao Soi) bustling night markets and rural nature activities, it remains our favourite place in the country. Here, you can still expect lots of tourists, especially early January, but it isn’t as packed as the likes of Krabi and Phuket.

shows an image of a temple in Chiang Mai - visiting Thailand in January

You’ll see that we haven’t included the likes of Koh Samui, Phuket and Phi Phi islands. Even though these places have their merit and deserve a place on the Thai tourism map, they can be quite touristic in January and have much higher prices than other destinations.

Our top tips for visiting Thailand in January

  • Ensure you’ve packed all your travel essentials. That includes clothing, medication supplies and any other items you can’t live without. Some items you can find in Thailand, but others you won’t. Be prepared and pack extra just to be on the safe side.
  • Plan ahead. If you’re visiting multiple places in the country, especially by plane, be sure to book your internal flights ahead of time. January is an expensive time of year to travel, so save your pennies and book in advance!
  • Book your accommodation at least one month in advance. You don’t want to be paying over the odds for a hotel. In other months of the year you can turn up to hotels in Thailand and pay on the day. That’s more difficult to do in January.
  • Crowd levels are high in places such as Phuket and Koh Samui. Choose a less visited beach resort or island if you want to avoid the crowds. We recommend the islands of Koh Lanta, Koh Samet or Ko Chang.
  • Local services such as taxis, shops and travel agents may charge more during high season. Compare prices online between companies and negotiate if possible.
  • Unlike many months of the year, January is the month of the year where is excellent across the whole country. Take advantage of this and visit as many places as possible, from north to south.
  • Visit towards the end of the month for less crowds and cheaper prices.
  • Avoid travelling around Chinese New Year if you want to avoid the crowds. That being said, it’s a good time to visit to experience the festivities.
  • If visiting around the start of the month, try to visit after Christmas and before New Year. Chiang Mai and Bangkok have some excellent NYE celebrations that can’t be missed.

FAQs

Thank you for reading our guide on visiting Thailand in January. In our opinion, you can visit the country year-round and still have a great time. However, January is a particularly excellent month for all of the reasons we’ve mentioned. It’s one of our favourite times of year to visit, and even though the country is packed full of tourists, it never feels overly busy. We hope you enjoyed reading! Be sure to let us know your thoughts on visiting Thailand in January in the comment section below.

by susie

Author bio:

I’m a passionate traveller that loves a sunny beach holiday, but also appreciate the cultural side to a trip and checking out undiscovered destinations. I’m the go-to Toucan Traveller for great holiday stories, cool photos and foodie recommendations.

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