What’s the weather like? – is Samui really that sunny?
Rain or shine, Samui is a byword in pleasure. Locals tend not to talk too much about the weather – that’s because it tends to be the same: hot and sunny!
It’s all very well coming here on holiday, but what’s it like if you’re living here, either for long periods of time or year-round? And if you’ve decided to live here for a couple of months at a time, as an increasing number of people are doing, when’s the best time?
Samui and it’s neighboring islands of Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao have exceptionally good weather even in Thailand. It doesn’t get too hot; it’s rarely cold; and it doesn’t rain much. In Bangkok, for example, the weather may be torrid and unbearable, experiencing highs of 40°C during the hot season there. On Samui, the highest temperature will be maximum 36.5°C. Temperatures keep to a pleasant 25°C to 33°C. Samui is really lucky; it has its own microclimate and follows a roughly predictable pattern.
From the end of December until March, it’s pleasantly warm, with plenty of sunshine and a few showers. In March, the temperatures hot up and the hot season starts. Rain will be minimal, there will be sun every day and the hottest temperatures.
April is often the hottest month on Koh Samui and even die-hard south-east Asia fans may start complaining about the heat. If you don’t tolerate the heat, you’ll find yourself spending plenty of time indoors in air-con surroundings. Some people simply leave the country round this time or go elsewhere. If you don’t mind the heat however, you’ll really love this season. The skies are extremely blue – great weather if you’re into photography with the light tending to be sharper, too – and the sea is extremely calm, a swimmer’s delight.
School’s out during this time and it’s a long break. Families often go on holiday, so if you’re booking a hotel, you may find some places are full. Avoid traveling by car during Songkran, however, as roads can be full and traffic accidents spike during this time.
In May the weather starts cooling and there’s more rain. Expect a long, long sequence of hot and sunny days but they will be more bearable. This state of affairs continues through to late October / early November. Then there’s the biggest change in the weather as the rainy season starts.
The rainy season
As a rule of thumb, the rainy season coincides more or less with the month of November, but can start earlier and finish later, even really late, in mid-December or beyond.
The rainy season can be paradoxically very sunny but with downpours, or it can be, in the most severe cases, a good two weeks of almost continual rain. It can all start with an increase in rain or a sudden deluge.
Usually the rainy season is bearable, however. Be prepared for flash floods – there are fewer now, thanks to island municipalities putting in better drainage on the roads. Floods go down quickly however.
The sea is still warm enough to swim in, but increased river flow means there will be a lot of debris in the sea and storms may pound the shores. It can even be dangerous to walk along them, so exercise caution if you see waves that cover the entire beach up to the treeline/sea wall.
Note that the Angthong National Marine Park closes between November and mid-December. It’s definitely not a good time to be taking a small boat anywhere, due to storms. Avoid using a motorbike too – the rain means poor visibility and once it stops, there are swathes of mud and sand in places on the roads. Unless you’re careful, you may not even see these, especially at night.
If you own a house, mold may be a problem. Clothes can start to feel damp and smell moldy. A good tip that Thais follow is to leave a light on inside a wardrobe. This is enough to keep everything dry.
Some people quite naturally take a break from Samui during the rainy season, returning to enjoy Christmas and the New Year on Samui, knowing the weather will be better.
So, what’s the verdict?
If you’re in the position of living in two different countries and want to know when to come to Samui, big factors are the heat and the rain – you may wish to miss out on either the hot season or the rainy season.
It’s quite likely though that your choice of when to come will have nothing to do with Samui’s climate, but the one back at home. Many people living part-time on Samui go home for the summer in Europe or North America and see friends and family during the pleasant months when children are on holiday. And then once the autumn or winter sets in, they think of returning to Samui.
Ask anyone at all who lives on Samui about the weather and they will give the thumbs up. If there’s one complaint at all, it’s that it’s too hot here at times. It’s unheard of for anyone to complain about how much it rains, wet season aside – it really doesn’t. Almost all people who have made their home on Samui have chosen to do so in part because of the weather – yes, it’s that good!