Thailand in May: The Complete Explorers Guide

Thailand in May: The Complete Explorer's Guide

Want to escape the gray and travel to sunny regions? Thailand stands out as a destination of choice in May. Although marking the start of the rainy season, the climate remains mild for discovering the wonders of the country. Between majestic temples, tropical islands, traditional festivals and gastronomy with a thousand flavors, this country is full of treasures to explore. Follow the guide, we reveal all the charms of a trip to Thailand in May.

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Written by Hung DAO (Local Expert) Updated on 24-05-2024
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1. Thailand in May: Unveiling the Country's Diverse Climates

Thailand in May marks the start of the rainy season in some areas, but the good news is the climate varies depending on the region, offering something for every traveler.

  • Central Thailand (around Bangkok): Expect high temperatures (25°C to 34°C) and high humidity. Afternoon showers are common, making it a good time to explore cultural sites or bustling markets.
  • North-Eastern Thailand: Brace yourself for potential scorching days (up to 38°C) with frequent thunderstorms. This region might appeal to those who love extreme heat and don't mind seeking shelter during downpours.
  • Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai): While rain arrives in May, temperatures remain pleasant (28°C to 35°C). Pack some waterproof gear if you plan on exploring the lush landscapes.
  • Eastern & South-Eastern Coasts: Rainfall is moderate in these areas during May. Temperatures range from 26°C to 33°C, with inviting sea temperatures (28-30°C). This could be the perfect time for a relaxing beach getaway.
  • Phuket & Krabi (Southwest): Don't let a few passing showers deter you! Phuket and Krabi in May boast beautiful sunny days with comfortable temperatures (25°C to 33°C).

Thailand in May weather

In short, with a little rain but summer temperatures, Thailand in May is worth the detour for lovers of heat and authenticity out of season!

Summary of Thailand in May

  • May marks the start of the rainy season in Thailand. However, the climate remains pleasant for traveling.
  • If showers occur regularly, they are generally brief and give way to nice clearings. It is still possible to enjoy outdoor activities and discover the tourist sites on good weather days.
  • It is also the low tourist season. Crowds are lower, especially in seaside resorts. Airfare and accommodation prices are more attractive.

Thailand May Day

2. Unforgettable Festivals in Thailand in May:

Thailand comes alive with vibrant festivals throughout the year, and May is no exception. Here are some of the most interesting festivals you might encounter during your trip:

  • Royal Ploughing Ceremony (Bangkok): 

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, which will take place this year on May 10 in Bangkok, is an ancient agricultural tradition aimed at blessing future harvests. During this colorful event taking place in Sanam Luang, sacred oxen harnessed to a wooden plow symbolically trace a furrow in the ground, while grains of rice are sown. A typical popular festival not to be missed when discovering Thailand in May! 

Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Worth knowing:
Royalty often attends and the ceremony is broadcast on national television.
Royal Plowing Day is a public holiday for civil servants and employees of state-owned enterprises.
Post offices are closed for half a day.

  • Rocket Festival (Isan Region):

The festival which takes place in the Isan region, in the provinces of Ubon Ratchathani, Yasothon and Nong Khai. The Bun Bang Fai festival in Yasothon is one of the loudest events in Thailand! Every year in May, huge homemade rockets are launched with a deafening noise at Phaya Thaen Park, as a propitiatory symbol for good rains and rice harvests. For two days, colorful parades, street theater, traditional brass bands and Miss election also enliven this unforgettable authentic festival.

Traditional dancing in the Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival.
Traditional dancing in the Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival.

The rockets are propelled using powder compressed in bamboo. A trip in May to this region of Isan would be incomplete without witnessing this impressive fireworks show!

  • Thai Buddhist Festival (Visakha Bucha - Nationwide)

Visakha Bucha, one of the major Buddhist holidays in Thailand, commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha on May 22, 2024. Celebrated on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, this sacred day honors the founder of Buddhism and his teachings. Thai people go to temples and offer food and donations to the less fortunate.

Light the candle on the feast of Visakha Bucha.
Light the candle on the feast of Visakha Bucha.

Worth knowing:

Sale of alcohol banned for Visakha Bucha Day

Although schools are closing, most businesses remain open. Living the Visakha Bucha is a unique cultural and spiritual experience to discover an essential part of Thai culture.

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Outdoor activities:

  • You can visit the islands of the Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan), go snorkeling, explore brilliant coral reefs and colorful fish.
  • Don't miss the opportunity to visit national parks like Khao Sok or Doi Inthanon, home to magnificent waterfalls, diverse wildlife and captivating hiking trails.
Boat in Khao Sok Park.
Boat in Khao Sok Park.

3. Finding Sunshine: Best Destinations in Thailand in May

In May in Thailand, it rains almost all over the country. However, some areas are even less affected by the monsoon and are often much drier than other parts of the country. That doesn't mean it doesn't rain at all. In fact, some days can be very sunny. 

Below is a summary of must-see attractions in Thailand in May:

Bangkok, is a bustling city whatever the weather

Even in the middle of the rainy season, Bangkok remains a captivating destination in May. Its many attractions are often indoors and the sunny weather in the morning and afternoon allows you to enjoy the outdoor sites. Between museums, theaters, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and shopping, the capital is full of activities. Not to mention a vibrant nightlife! Rain or not, Bangkok retains all its charm.

Explore Bangkok's vibrant nightlife with our guide to the best rooftop bars, offering stunning views and unforgettable experiences: Top 9 Best Rooftop Bars in Bangkok

chao phraya

Several destinations offer a more sunshine-filled experience:

Koh Samui and its dream beaches

Located on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui benefits from less rainfall than the rest of the country. This island paradise boasts magnificent white sand beaches, making it a dream destination for relaxation. You can also find exciting festivals and vibrant nightlife in Koh Samui.

You might love: Thailand Islands: Guide to Choosing the Best One in 2024

Koh Phangan and its dream beaches

Koh Phangan 

Partygoers rejoice! May is a prime time to visit Koh Phangan, famous for the Full Moon Party, a gigantic nighttime gathering that attracts thousands of revelers every month. Beyond the party scene, Koh Phangan offers stunning beaches and a laid-back atmosphere during the day.

You can also learn about Everything about the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan 

Hua Hin

Escape the May rains at Hua Hin, a seaside pearl located on the Gulf of Thailand with easy access from Bangkok. This beach destination boasts fine sand, turquoise waters, luxurious hotels, and a range of renowned international restaurants.

After indulging in the serene beauty of Hua Hin, adventure seekers can elevate their holiday by exploring the underwater marvels detailed in 'Scuba Diving In Thailand: The 10 Most Fascinating Dive Sites'

Hua Hin Beach

Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai

Unlike some heavily touristed cities, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have preserved their authenticity and traditions. With mild temperatures and lower rainfall in May, these northern gems are ideal for exploring Buddhist temples, museums, traditional markets, or embarking on nature excursions and treks in the surrounding mountains.

Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai

Pattaya

This city offers a variety of beaches, water activities, Buddhist temples, amusement parks, museums, and night markets. Pattaya caters to travelers seeking relaxation by the sea, with options ranging from budget-friendly accommodations to luxurious hotels.

 

Pattaya

4. Tips for a Perfect Thailand Trip in May: Packing, Budget, & Food

May offers a fantastic time to visit Thailand, with pleasant temperatures and budget-friendly travel opportunities. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

Packing Essentials for Thailand in May:

  • Beat the Heat: Pack breathable fabrics like t-shirts, shorts, and light dresses.
  • Embrace the Rain: An umbrella and a lightweight raincoat are handy for afternoon showers.
  • Sun Protection Essentials: Don't forget sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
  • Respectful Attire: When visiting temples, cover your shoulders and knees with loose-fitting clothing.
  • Mosquito Repellent: Pack insect repellent for evenings and outdoor activities.

Budget-Friendly Travel Tips:

  • Affordable Flights: Take advantage of cheaper plane tickets compared to peak season.
  • Accommodations on a Budget: Find comfortable guesthouses or hotels for €15-€30 per night during May.
  • Local Transportation: Utilize tuk-tuks and buses for a cost-effective way to explore. Consider travel passes for public transportation in major cities.

Discover how to master your budget for an unforgettable two-week adventure in Thailand with our article: How Much Does It Cost to Travel to Thailand? Prices and Tips 2024

A Taste of Thailand: Must-Try Food in May

Indulge in Thailand's world-renowned cuisine:

  • Savor Iconic Dishes: Sample Pad Thai, Tom Yum soup, and fragrant curries.
  • Grill It Up: Try delicious grilled skewers with meat, seafood, or vegetables.
  • Seasonal Delights: In May, relish fresh tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapples, and lychees.

By following these tips, you'll be well-prepared to experience all that Thailand in May has to offer.

Best time to visit Thailand''s beaches and Islands
Best time to visit Thailand's beaches and Islands

Conclusion

In short, Thailand in May will seduce travelers in search of authenticity and a change of scenery. Despite a humid tropical climate, many areas remain sunny for much of the month. Lovers of nature, culture and fine sandy beaches will be delighted. As a bonus, the attractive rates in low season are an added bonus. So, are you convinced by a trip to the land of smiles in May? All you have to do is pack your bags and take off for Thailand!

>>> Every month, everything you need to know about Thailand

JANUARY | FEBRUARY | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUGUST | SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER

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