the High Season calm arrives in Nov - only in 80% country

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Everyone knows Thailand's High Season begins in November .... but not in the south..

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High season weather on Thai beaches is idyllically beautiful, and the reasons for this show just how luck this country is to be sitting on the dividing line between two great oceans and two powerful weather patterns.
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In November and December, while the Philippines and Vietnam are boarding up against the violent typhoons that sweep in from the Pacific Ocean, Thailand welcomes these same winds.  These are the force behind its relatively dry high season. Happily for most of Thailand, the northeast typhoon season expends virtually all of its rain and violence over Vietnam, China and Cambodia before arriving as cool, dry and pleasant breezes over Thailand.  These welcome winds begin in November and blow till February
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Since these winds are coming from the northeast, most Thai resorts that face west or south have off-shore breezes that leave the water lapping their sands absolutely calm.  Put beautiful blue skies above and we have the idyllic, high-season conditions that have made Thai beaches so famous.
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But be warned, things are very different in the other 20% of the country, the southern islands of Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
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Read about the weather on Thailand’s Andaman coast in November-December, the beginning of the high season in a dedicated page.
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Also see more pages in this site related to Thailand’s weather:

'High Season' on the Andaman coast – near perfection

For Thailand’s entire Andaman coastline (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Khao Lak etc), the northeast winds create excellent conditions. Gentle and dry after crossing the Thai-Malay peninsula from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, these off-shore breezes leave the water on the Andaman beaches glassy smooth. The entire Andaman Sea becomes a gentle backwater among the ocean giants.
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It is common for visitors to wake in the morning and find the water before their beachfront resort truly like glass. Later in the day the natural land breezes created by heat will stir things just a little. For swimming, snorkelling, diving or just lazing in the water, these clear, calm conditions match many people's dreams of a tropical beach holiday.
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Along the Andaman coast the northeast season starts in December and January, producing light winds and excellent conditions for sailing, windsurfing and kite surfing. This is Phuket's regatta season, with the Phuket King Cup Regatta being held in December and the Phang Nga Bay Regatta in Jan-Feb.
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Remember, however, that mother nature breaks her own rules of weather with jolly abandon, and one may find a huge, black thunderstorm rolling over land or sea to disturb your beach comfort at anytime. Over the past ten years the Andaman coast has had many more rain storms through the high season months than the traditional pattern dictates. These are remnants of the big Pacific typhoons that lash the Philippines, and Samui, and get pushed across the Thai-Malay peninsula by the ever-stronger northeast winds.

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High Season in the upper Gulf of Thailand; Pattaya, Hua Hin, Koh Chang etc

Through the high season months from November to April all upper Gulf resorts are also enjoying beautiful high season weather, with small differences. Beach destinations along the Gulf’s eastern shoreline, including Pattaya, the Rayong coast, Koh Chang and Koh Kood, face south or west and enjoy the seasonal northeast winds from behind. The offshore winds thus leave the water on most beaches glassy smooth in the mornings, and reasonably calm throughout the day. Such beautiful conditions for swimming and beach sports attract millions of visitors. Here, too, beautiful blue skies are the norm from November through February.
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Beaches along the upper Gulf’s western shore – at Hua Hin, Cha Am, Pranburi etc – naturally face the daily northeast and easterly winds, which send waves washing up the sands. During big storms these can become destructive enough to completely erode the sand from many beaches. However, the waves can only build up over the relatively narrow width of the Gulf of Thailand, and for most of the time are quite small.
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In February and March the northeast weather creates special conditions on the beaches at Hua Hin and Pranburi – steady 15–20 kilometre winds through the day with small waves – turning these into one of Asia’s top kite surfing destinations. Only Muine Beach in Vietnam sees as many or more kites in its skies.

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But in Koh Samui, Phangan & Koh Tao High Season is completely different

Thailand's standard 'high season' from November onwards is high typhoon season in the southern Gulf islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao – and a big surprise for many visitors arriving there in the mistaken belief that all of Thailand enjoys high season at the same time. Many dreams of a tropical island Christmas or New Year party have been washed and blown out as the Northeast Monsoon and their accompanying typhoons descend upon the south of the country with a wet vengeance – at the very time everywhere else in Thailand is settling in for a fine high season and cool, clear weather.
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The reason for this is quite simple; the landmass of Southeast Asia (principally Vietnam and Cambodia), protects most of Thailand from the strongest effects of the Northeast Monsoon. This powerful force generated in the Pacific Ocean batters the coast of Vietnam, dropping virtually all of its rain there before sweeping across Thailand as cool, dry winds.
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The southern islands around Samui, however, have no such protection as powerful oceanic storms sweep around the southern end of Vietnam into the Gulf of Thailand. There they often pick up yet more moisture and monsoon power from the warm shallow waters. Then they let loose their fury of lightning, thunder and rain, battering and drenching the three famous tourist islands and all Thai Gulf provinces to the south of there.
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See how fortunate Thailand is, lying as it does right on the dividing line between the two great oceanic weather systems of Asia generated by the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
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the hot, hot end of the High Season – March & April

March and April are Thailand's gasping months; everyone across the country is left gasping for air and relief from the intense heat. Typically, these months see little rain, the wind has died off and the skies are quite clear. Much of the country appears browned-off dead. The whole country, particularly areas far from the ocean, bakes as the sun subjects the intense stillness to day after day punishment. April 2012 was Bangkok's hottest on record, with an average temperature of 40 degrees Celsius through the entire month that left many people there dreaming of escape – or of a beach.
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The stillness across Thailand is the direct result of its lying midway between the Indian and Pacific oceans. March April are the months when the powers of the two huge weather generators is in balance. The Pacific typhoon season has died down, while the Indian Ocean monsoon has yet to build the power to take over as the dominant force.
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Coastal areas and beaches are the best places to be during Thailand's hottest months. The heat over land sucks breezes in off the ocean each afternoon, bringing a little relief to the beaches that the North of the country can't enjoy. In the North the afternoons just get hotter.
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The air along the coastlines is laden with so much moisture that March-April skies generally turn a milky white. The views are so hazy that some tourists have been heard commenting on the 'pollution' obstructing their views, not realizing that what looks like city smog is in fact intense humidity hanging thick in the air.
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Despite the white skies, the sun's rays still penetrate with a power that visitors often underestimate, and many get badly burned under this deceptive blanket of white.
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Only the arrival of the pre-monsoon electrical storms in late April will start to give relief from the heat, while full recovery comes only with the onset of regular monsoon rains in May.
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See our more detailed page with temperature and rainfall statistics on the weather on Thailand’s Andaman Coast in March & April.
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by John Everingham
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Need help planning the ideal beach holiday in Thailand? True Beachfront’s founder and resident expert John E has over 30 years experience on Thai beaches, and offers free advice through this site. E-mail john@beachf.com