Thailand's beach weather controlled by Pacific & Indian Oceans

Thailand is the mistress of both, the slave of neither

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Also see these pages with more detailed weather info about different parts of Thailand, and different times:

Balancing the awesome power of the Pacific and Indian Oceans

The Pacific Ocean hurls typhoons at Asia. The Indian Ocean pummels the continent with six months of monsoon winds. Many countries suffer serious damage almost every year – like the unfortunate Philippines and Vietnam. But Thailand lives a charmed life, with both great masters of the weather caressing her beautiful shores, but neither daring to strike her hard.
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She lies seductively between the two powers, sucking the best from each, like a mistress that two great ocean emperors seek to seduce, but can only see-saw back and forth as their competing powers push and pull. Neither the Pacific nor Indian Ocean suitors ever gets more than five months of her full attention each year, with each caressing her soft sandy thighs in annual courtships that serve to refresh and enhance her tropical allure.
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Thanks to these two great heavenly powers Thailand has countless beautiful beaches on two oceans, east and west.
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understanding two opposing weather giants

Thailand lies right on the dividing line between the very different, and equally powerful weather patterns of the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean.
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It makes good sense for all intending visitors to Thai beaches to understand these two opposing weather patterns for they control all weather here. And they make a huge difference on the country's beaches. The great majority of visitors arrive in Thailand and its beach destinations during the 'high' season (Nov-April). Increasing numbers of visitors make a considered choice to come here during the monsoon season, and so long as they understand what to expect, can enjoy a range of excellent activities with minimal disruption from the skies.
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On the other hand, a surprising number of visitors arrive ignorant or confused, dreaming of a hot beachfront vacation but finding themselves in rain, lightning and thunder. Especially in Koh Samui as visitors step off the plane at Christmas and New Year. Forget the balmy blue skies of Thailand’s well-advertise high season, these people walk into wild typhoon weather.
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Too many remember only that Thailand’s high season begins in November; missing the fact that this is true in 'most of Thailand', and things are opposite in the south.
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those super destructive hurricanes and typhoons barely reach Thailand

Simplified, all weather in Thailand can be categorized into three periods, the Indian Ocean monsoon season, the Pacific Ocean typhoon season and the back-and-forth periods of relative calm when these two powerful forces are roughly balanced. During these periods the country can get winds from any direction at all, though they will not be either strong or prolonged.
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Thailand, with its long southern peninsula reaching down to Malaysia, forms the dividing line between these major weather systems. Luckily for this country, the worst hurricanes and typhoons that the two oceans cook up lash their fury on neighbouring countries, but rarely bring Thailand anything more than moderate wind and lots of rain.
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The Philippines, China and Vietnam are battered time and again by violent typhoons that form over the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean. By the time they cross the Asian land mass to central Thailand the fury of their winds is vented and they bring little but welcome rain and occasional flooding.
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Hurricanes are rare in the Indian Ocean, but when they do form their thunder and rage is invariably channelled up the V-shaped funnel between India and the Thai-Malay peninsula. (see the images of typhoon & cyclone tracks in the gallery here) Bangladesh takes the worst of their fury, with Burma getting some, like the hugely destructive cyclone Nargis in May 2008 that killed more than 30,000 people. East and West, Thailand invariably escapes the weather’s worst.
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Thailand is blessed by friendly weather patterns that have made it one of the great food baskets of the world, and created beaches along two oceans that rank among the most beautiful on the planet.
It's all thanks to the competing, but not conquering powers of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
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Is Thailand being impacted by changing weather patterns?

As a photographer who has worked in Thailand for most of a lifetime, I have watched the weather with a critical, professional eye since the 1970s. I had to, for weather controlled the days when I would go out to work, and when I would stay home.
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Since much of my work was for PHUKET Magazine, which I began publishing in 1989, the change of seasons from monsoon to high season weather around the beginning of November was critical. That also marked the beginning of my shooting season. The change from the blustery winds and grey skies of the southwest monsoon to the delightfully blue heavens and light breezes of the northeast season was quite dramatic, often arriving overnight.
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That dramatic change has rarely been the same since about year 2000, however. In recent years we have seen a more invigorated Pacific Ocean producing more and stronger typhoons and winds, sending much more rain across the dividing line, the Thai-Malay peninsula. Phuket has been getting significantly more rain in November and December, and fewer beautiful, blue-sky days. That doesn’t impact just a photographer. In the beach destinations of Thailand’s Andaman coast the odds of catching the beautiful high season weather that was once almost assured at this time of year are now reduced.
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And apart from my personal observations, the figures in Thailand Meteorological Department’s website show Thailand getting significantly more rainfall in November – December while countrywide temperatures have risen year after year.
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People might debate the cause of these changes – from human activity or otherwise – but there is no doubt about the message that the statistics are telling us.
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And that will make it ever more difficult to pick perfect weather for your beach holiday in Thailand.
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by John Everingham
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Expert advice on beachfront hotels and Thai beaches is available free from True Beachfront’s founder, the guy who’s also inspected and photographed over 1,100 Thai beach hotels and hundreds more in other Southeast Asia countries. E-mail john@beachf.com