’Tis the season: When is the best time to visit Phuket?
Many things are factored in when you’re planning a trip: your company’s calendar, your family’s schedule, flight and hotel deals, the high season of your destination, and so on. What’s equally, if not more, important, though, is the weather.
While forecasts are not a hundred percent reliable, it’s useful to have a general idea of what you’re in for. So when exactly is the best time to visit Phuket? It depends what you’re looking for, really. We have put the possibilities into three groups and with them we hope we answer your question!
The bandwagon time (November-February)
Generally the “best” time to visit would be from late November to February, when the temperature is cooler (but not necessarily cool) and less humid. You may find drizzles here and there in December (as one always do during “winter” in southern Thailand) but they won’t hang around long enough to disrupt your tanning session and other outdoor undertakings.
When regarded as the best, this period is naturally the high season of Phuket: travellers from all over the world begin arriving in the island in late November and increasingly so until the end of January, which is the most popular month. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year breaks certainly add to the number of visitors. So if you’re looking to celebrate these festive holidays with your loved ones, it’s best to plan ahead of time and explore as many options as possible in terms of flights and accommodation because their prices will be at their highest.
Shops, restaurants, and nightlife hotspots usually offer holiday promotions and extended hours during this time so no worries there about running out of activity ideas to do with your family after a quality time together in the sun.
Cultural exploration time (April and October)
The may not be the most popular weather-wise, but April and October are the months to be in Phuket for those wanting to experience colourful cultural celebrations like a local. Travellers may want to stick around through the blazing heat and peak mugginess of Thai summer once they’ve learned of the this is when the real fun begins. The world-famous Thai New Year’s or Songkran Festival is on April 13-15 of every year. Major streets are shut down for water fights and merrymaking. But foreign celebrants shouldn’t forget about significant traditions like merit-making, building sand pagoda, wai phra (paying respect to Buddha) and song nam phra (pouring water on Buddha images). One can observe these practices done at any local temples but travellers may want to tie in and visit Phuket’s must-see temples like Wat Chalong or Wat Khao Rang in one go.
Another equally worthy reason to stay during less popular period is Phuket Vegetarian Festival, which falls on late September or October, two of the wettest months. In 2017, the festival will be October 19-29. While the Thai-Chinese communities celebrate the festival throughout Thailand, the kin che festival is at its height in Phuket. Every year, visitors throng to Phuket Town or Amphoe Thalang to see the procession of devotees performing the most bizarre religious rituals for the Nine Emperor Gods in Taoism, involving various forms of body mutilations. Tasting and shopping meatless delicacies in the opposite street corner may be the best alternative for the faint of heart.
I can’t be bothered with time
If you’re hands are tied by your own schedule and can only afford to visit Phuket during western spring break or summer (March, June-August) or any other months unmentioned, no fret. You can take the advantage of these periods being the low season months, especially college students who wish to travel on a budget. And although Phuket is hit with southwest monsoon from June to August, gusty winds and downpours rarely come back-to-back. You may need some luck and plan something to do indoors – like visiting an aquarium and Phuket Fantasy, taking a Thai cooking class or having good conversations over one of Thailand’s finest craft beers – but those sporadic sunny days will be worth the wait.