December is the most popular time to visit Thailand. During this month, the weather is cool and the average rainfall is low making it the perfect time for outdoor activities such as trekking and camping. In the south, underwater visibility is high and the oceans are calm creating great conditions for diving, snorkeling, and other beach activities.
December is a great time to visit any area in Thailand and is also the country’s busiest month for tourism. In this article, we will discuss the best places to visit in Thailand in December according to certain conditions such as the region, prices, crowds, beaches, and weather.
South Thailand: 23°C to 31°C
Southern Thailand is an ideal place to visit if you want beautiful beaches and warm weather. In December, temperatures range between 22°C (72°F) and 31°C (88°F). The average rainfall is roughly 200 mm (8 inches) in Phuket, Koh Lanta, and Koh Phi Phi and 66 mm (2.5 inches) in Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.
North Thailand: 15°C to 28°C
In northern Thailand, the weather can get chilly in December. In Chiang Mai, temperatures typically drop to around 15°C (59°F) at night and in some years the temperature has been as low as 12°C (54°F). During this time, a frosty mist is often present in the early mornings which gives North Thailand a cool and crisp atmosphere.
As for highs, the temperature in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai peaks at around 28°C (82°F). December is the perfect time of year to avoid rain in Thailand as there is an average rainfall of only 1mm (0.04 inches).
Central and Eastern Thailand: 21°C to 31°C
Central and eastern Thailand are large regions that include many popular travel destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Koh Samet, Hua Hin, Ayutthaya, and Koh Chang in the southeast. Temperatures here range between 21°C (70°F) and 31°C (88°F). In December, this area of the country sees an average rainfall of 2mm (0.08 inches).
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Which is the Better Destination in December: the Southern Beaches or the Northern Cities？
Thailand is a country full of diverse landscapes from rural towns and cities to dense jungles and tropical beaches. Choosing whether you want to travel to north or south Thailand depends entirely on the style of holiday you are looking for.
Southern Beaches: Beautiful but Crowded
Beach Temperatures: Temperatures on Thailand’s beaches can reach up to 31°C, but luckily there is nearly always a breeze coming from the ocean that makes it feel much cooler. December is a good time to get a nice tan, relax on the beach without overheating, and participate in watersports.
Prepare for Crowds: The only gripe that you might have with southern Thailand in December is that the beaches can get quite crowded. Even so, if you want to include a jungle hike, a visit to a national park, or a day at an elephant sanctuary in your trip then Koh Samui and Phuket are great options.
How to Avoid the Crowds: If you would rather avoid crowded beaches, try Koh Lanta. Although Koh Lanta is a little pricier and harder to get to than other beaches, you will appreciate its tranquil atmosphere once you arrive.
Northern Rural and Suburban Areas: Cooler and Quieter
In Thailand, the north tends to be much cooler than the south. So much so that you will need to bring a sweater with you to wear in the evenings if are going to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.
Even though December is peak season, you will find it quieter in the north with fewer crowds and a much slower pace of life. Prices in the north are less inflated for many goods including everything from accommodation and tours to food and transportation.
There are no beaches in the north, but here you will find a plethora of activities to take part in such as:
- Swimming in waterfalls
- Visiting hot springs
- Visiting to hill tribes
- Cave exploring
- Forest adventures (camping and trekking)
- Exploring national parks
- Visiting wildlife sanctuaries
- Exploring ancient temples
There are also quite a few large lakes and rivers in the north. The best place to go in search of watersports is Pai. Exploring Pai Canyon and tubing down the river are popular activities here.
Best Beaches in Southern Thailand in December: Koh Chang
Even in December, the beaches of Koh Chang are never overcrowded. This location also offers a mix of beaches to suit all kinds of travelers including families, couples, kids, and those traveling with friends. Every beach here is clean, seems to stretch for miles, and has crystal-clear water.
Koh Chang is located off of the mainland in the Gulf of Thailand. The closest airport is to Koh Chang is Trat Airport, but when traveling in Thailand it is often easier to take a private taxi, minibus, or private van.
If you will be landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport, then booking a flight to Koh Chang via Trat Airport is the most convenient option.
To reach the beach from the mainland, you will need to get to the Thammachat Pier and catch a ferry that will take you to Koh Chang.
In December, Koh Chang"s beaches have an average of eight and half hours of sunshine per day and barely any rainfall. Only the beaches of Jom Tiem and Pattaya have more sunshine than Koh Chang, but neither are on par with the tropical experience that Koh Chang offers.
Koh Chang Island is quite small and you can rent a jeep, car, electric scooter, or motorbike to travel across the island and visit all the beaches from the east side all the way around to the west. There are also tons of restaurants to choose from along the way.
Besides what is available on Koh Chang, you will also have access to the nearby islands of Ko Wai and Koh Kood. Both of these islands offer secluded and undeveloped beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and some very good accommodation options.
By boat, you can also reach Koh Laoya, Koh Rong, Ko Khlu, Koh Khlum, and many more islands in the area.
Overall, Koh Chang is a paradise that has not lost its charm despite Thailand’s massive influx of tourists. If you would like to, you can try out more commercialized beaches such as Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, or Koh Samui. If you are looking for quiet relaxation, great snorkeling and diving conditions, and a peaceful vacation without all the fuss then Koh Chang is the place to be.
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Best Places to Visit in Northern Thailand in December：Chiang Mai
The best place to visit in northern Thailand in December is undoubtedly Chiang Mai. This city is the starting point for travel and adventure trips in the north. You can spend a couple of days exploring Chiang Mai and its suburban and rural surroundings then use the city as your base to further explore northern Thailand.
In nearby Pai, you can trek, camp, cycle through the dense jungle, swim in waterfalls, or visit hot springs.
From Chiang Mai, you can also venture up to Chiang Rai which is a small and quaint city where the people are welcoming and life moves at a slower pace. In Chiang Rai, travelers can also go cave exploring or spend some time on the beach by the river.
Overall, Chiang Mai is the perfect starting point to explore North Thailand in December.
Best Place for Families and Kids in Thailand in December: Phuket
If you are traveling with kids, it’s a good idea to spend a few days in Bangkok where they can enjoy waterparks, safaris, playgrounds, and shopping for a few days. Most hotels in Bangkok have large swimming pools and many 5-star hotels are still affordable during this time of year.
After exploring Bangkok, you can head to one of the major islands in the south such as Phuket or Koh Samui. Both islands are jam-packed with activities for kids and many of the hotels on both islands have facilities for children’s entertainment and even daycare services.
If you need to choose one of the islands for a two-week trip, then Phuket is a good choice. Phuket has more waterparks and education centers such as elephant sanctuaries that will keep children engaged and entertained. Both Phuket and Koh Samui are great places to go to spend time on the beach and participate in watersports.
While there are plenty of other great places to visit in December for kids, if you want a mixture of days on the beach, at the pool, or enjoying amusement parks then Phuket is the best option.
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Best Places for Couples Seeking Unique Experiences: Koh Chang, Koh Samui, Koh Lanta
If you are traveling as a couple and are looking for a unique experience, then Koh Chang Island is a great option. On Koh Chang, you will be able to island-hop, stay on private beaches, and participate in various watersports.
Besides Koh Chang, you can also look into Koh Samui and Koh Lanta. Koh Samui is perfect for couples because of its gorgeous location and small size. On Koh Samui, it is easy to rent a jeep or electric scooter to travel around the island and visit its temples and beaches. Here you can also book jungle tours, visit waterfalls, go diving, or take boat trips around the island.
For travelers who want an even quieter and more relaxing island than Koh Samui, then Koh Lanta is the perfect spot. Koh Lanta is larger than Koh Samui but is much quieter. Here, you can hire a jeep, car, or motorbike to explore the island. Koh Lanta is a better location if you are looking for a mix of romantic experiences and beautiful boat tours.
Boat tours from Koh Lanta often go to Koh Phi Phi where you can spend the day. After Koh Phi Phi, many tours head to the famous James Bond Island and then to the breathtaking Phang Nga which is considered to be one of the top 10 most beautiful locations in the world.
Best Places to Go to Celebrate Christmas in Thailand: Bangkok & Chiang Mai
Thailand is a majority Buddhist country so Christmas is not normally celebrated by Thai people and it is not a national holiday.
That being said, some Thai people do recognize the holiday and will put up Christmas decorations, but these decorations are not as bright or widespread as they are in many western countries. Some cities in Thailand that have a larger population of Christians, like Bangkok, will put on a more lively celebration.
Around Christmas-time, most Thai people are preparing to celebrate New Years instead of Christmas.
Christmas in Bangkok
In Bangkok, Christmas celebrations are often more lively because of the city’s large Christian community and numerous Catholic schools. Spending Christmas in Bangkok is a fun way to enjoy the holidays, however, the celebrations often lead to larger crowds.
To celebrate Christmas, Bangkok erects huge Christmas trees, snowmen, and decorations in many major shopping centers. There are also several western-style pubs and bars that serve Christmas dinners and buffets. Hotels in the city get into the Christmas spirit by decorating their establishments with Christmas trees and lights.
Christmas in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is also a great place to visit during Christmas because it’s comfortable and cool. Much like Bangkok, Christmas decorations are set up in the city’s shopping malls and the streets are decorated with Christmas lights, snowmen, and Santa Claus statues.
In Chiang Mai, there are also bars and pubs that offer traditional Christmas dinners. Because of the limited nature of these dinners, it is important to book in advance.
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4 Tips for Traveling in Thailand in December
1.Always bring a few pieces of warm clothing.
2.Plan for crowds in tourist areas because December is the peak travel season.
3.Book flights and accommodation in advance.
4.For convenient access to the internet, buy a Thai tourist SIM card when you arrive.
Explore Thailand with Asia Highlights
For the perfect December vacation to Thailand, look no further than Asia Highlights’ custom travel services. At Asia Highlights, we can create a tailor-made trip based on your preferences. If you want to avoid the crowds while enjoying the tropical beaches in the south or cities full of temples in the north then we can arrange it for you. Let us deal with the stress of planning so that you can just enjoy your trip.
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