In Chiang Mai and the northern part of Thailand, like in the majority of Southeast Asia, there is a tropical climate, meaning that there are three main seasons: cool dry (Oct-Feb), hot dry (March-May) and hot wet (June-Sep). As you can immagine, the wet season is considered the worst time to visit the country – who wants to go on holiday and get wet the whole time?
I have to tell you though that, if you decide to face the few discomforts you will be pleasantly surprised by the many positive things that compensate the extra drops of the rainy season.
First of all, you need to keep in mind that it never rains all day every day! The rain normally comes in sudden refreshing showers during the day and more often during the night. A night of rain has the positive note of wake you to a slightly cooler temperature; plus you can still enjoy many sunny days.
A big pro of traveling in places like Chiang Mai during rainy season, are the competitive prices. Being the low season means that there are less people and more availability for lower prices, so you can score some pretty sweet deals!
A smaller amount of visitors also makes it more comfortable when it comes to do some sightseeing: less busy temples, roads and restaurant. Strolling down the road at the Sunday Market during high season, can be nerve wrecking. During rainy season is still very busy, but it gets more bearable. On the down side, the party scene and nightlife, which is already not big in Chiang Mai, is reduced even more, meaning that is not the best time if you are planning big nights out. But again, Chiang Mai is not famous for its nightlife, so if you are planning to go partying, you might consider a change of destination.
The biggest pro is the nature: during rainy season the countryside assume a gorgeous shade of green, the ricefields are at their best, the rainforest is dense with vegetation and water streams are abundant. You can easily enjoy the beautiful landscape just going around Doi Suthep or farther ahead to Doi Pui.
Trekking during rainy season can be a bit tricky: you will experience nature in all its glory, but is not as easy as it sound. I went for a 5hrs trekking northern of Mae Taman, and it was very challenging. The view, the lush vegetation and the forest were all unforgettable, but the soil was very slippery, making it not easy to walk. I was beyond tired and covered in mud when I finished, but it was worth it. We walked through some unbeaten path, where our guide had to open the way through the vegetation, there were butterfly flying around us and we rested along a waterfall. It was truly beautiful.
I also have to add that I’m the worst hiker, I literally don’t know where to put my foot when walking, so you can probably have a less challenging experience. I know that the most difficult and remote tracks, especially up in the north, are closed during rainy season, but you can still find some open one.
In conclusion, the pros of traveling to Chiang Mai during rainy season are: less people, better prices, gorgeous nature and the possibility to still enjoy some sunny days. On the other hand, the cons are the humidity, less party and harder trekking.
I personally enjoyed my days in Chiang Mai during the rainy season, and I think that, landscape wise, it’s a very good time to visit!