Ko Pha Ngan is a stunning tropical Thai island that has fantastic year-long offerings for travellers. The balmy weather is present all year round, sometimes leading to the impression that there are no seasons here. Au contraire.
There are many seasons on Ko Pha Ngan. Weather-wise, there’s rainy, cold and hot season. Tourism-wise, there’s low, high and peak season. Which of these make for the best time to visit? Well that’s a much-debated topic and the answer will really just be dependent on how you like to travel. Here is a breakdown of the seasons, with pros and cons for each.
The monsoon typically hits around October or November (though it’s been known to come earlier and later). Sometimes, the rain will last for days at a time; others it will rain for an hour before the sun reappears. This season also happens (not coincidentally) to correspond with low season, when not many tourists visit the island. Pros: There aren’t many tourists around, which leads businesses to lower their prices. Plus, if you happen to get lucky and come during a rainy season dry-spell, you’ll have a perfect vacation. Cons: Sometimes, travelling isn’t as much fun when there aren’t people around to share it with. Ko Pha Ngan can be somewhat deserted during these months (except during the five days around Full Moon), and while enjoying a beach to yourself may be fun, eating in a restaurant or playing pool by yourself may not be.
Cold season really isn’t that cold. In fact, most Thais and expats on the island look forward to cold season because the temperatures are pretty close to perfect, a very pleasant 25 to 28 degrees Celsius. Cold season tends to last from December to March, and also coincides with peak season, usually nominated by hotels as December 15 to January 15. During peak season, the island is absolutely rammed. Hotels, particularly in popular areas like Haad Rin, have to be booked far in advance. There are even traffic jams in the main town area of Thong Sala. Pros: The weather is perfect, and there are plenty of people around with whom to enjoy the holidays. Cons: Prices are super high (sometimes triple or more what they are in low season), and there are a lot of road accidents due to the high amount of traffic. Also, if you don’t like crowds, you’ll likely be in the middle of them unless you head to one of the island’s quieter spots.
Hot season tends to start around April and lasts until rainy season starts. April and May are by far the hottest months of the year. They are so hot that even those who don’t like air-con will find it a necessity during this time. High season lasts from end of peak season until the end of Songkran, or Thai New Year, in mid-April. During this time, the island is quite busy, but nowhere near as crazy as during peak season. Pros: It’s not as expensive as peak season, and the heat is bearable if you have somewhere to cool down. There are still a good amount of people on the island to have fun with. Cons: If you do not have somewhere to cool down, the weather can be rotten. Many who live on the island leave during April and May because they cannot stand the heat. Prices tend to be still be quite high during high season.
June, July, and August are our picks for the best time of year to visit Ko Pha Ngan. It’s low season in terms of traveller numbers on the island, even though Europeans arrive en masse, but the hot weather has dissipated by then — it’s still hot, just not too hot, and rainy season is still far away. Prices are still low and the weather is great.
By Kaila Krayewski
Last updated on 23rd November, 2013.