Our Weather inudon Thani:
Three Unique Seasons Full of Colours
Udon Thani and and the Isan region has a tropical savanna climate with three seasons: Winter, Summer and Rainy Season. Each season has its own own unique character, mood, colour and food. Winter is generally mild, dry, cold to require jumpers and has wonderfully beautiful misty mornings. Summer is hot with modest levels of rain and the highest annual temperatures that peak around April. The rainy season, or monsoon season, sees lower temperatures than summer but also the highest levels of rain with the wettest months being August and September. Across the year temperatures can range from as low 5c in winter and as high as 40c in Summer. The approximate dates for each season are:
- Summer is from Feb to May
- Rainy Season is from May to Oct
- Winter is from Oct to Feb
Best Time to Visit:
October - February
There is never a bad time to visit Udon Thani as each season does have it own special charms. Most people though, this author included, feel that the best times to visit is during winter with the mild temperatures, stunning misty mornings and rain free days. These conditions are ideal for many outdoor activities from camping to hiking to site-seeing. However, for many people winter is too cold for swimming in outdoor pools or lakes.
Taking an early January morning trip to the glass skywalk at Wat Pha Tak Suea can reveal breathtaking views of morning mist rolling across the Mekong Valley. Winter is also the best time to the visit the Red Lotus Lake as this is when the tulips bloom. It’s also the best time to enjoy trips to Phu Phra Bat Historical Park and Erawan Cave when lower temperature are more amiable for long walks and steep climbs.
Fruits that come into season during winter include strawberries, melons, pomegranates, tamarind and rose apples. Deliciously spicy Isan soups and salads will provide delightful warmth after an early morning outside.
Winter is also a joyous time in Udon Thani with many concerts and firework shows around the New Year. Whilst not officially celebrated, the shopping malls will be decked out in Christmas Cheer. Santa outfits, adored by children here, can be found on every street corner.
Winter in Udon Thani is marvellous and highly recommend! Do though come prepared with light jumpers for warmth and gloves to protect your hands if planning to drive a scooter!
Water Fun Time
Summer in Udon Thani is about Water Fun as people look to escape the hot days. Typically, summer arrives between the end of February and the start of March. It brings rising temperatures that peak during April reaching highs 30s and even occasionally low 40s. During summer there is often limited rain and droughts can last well into May or even June. An evening shower, when they do happen, is often welcomed as it brings a coolness back into the air.
The summer heat peaks in April just in time for Songkran. Songkran has grown here to be a three day festival that absorbs the whole of Udon Thani into one huge, city wide water-fight with both organised and unorganised events. People relish Songkran for both the celebration itself as well as the chance to have fun and cool off. It is impossible not to to be caught up in the colour, energy and excitement of it all. And it’s certainly impossible to stay dry! The city also sees many water filled concerts that bring crowds of young people to the city who contribute positively to the city’s energy at this time of year.
During these summer months, water parks, such as Usotel Waterland, are full of families enjoying themselves. Whilst Udon Thani has no sea it does have many lakes and weekends are often spent cooling in the chilled water of a nearby lake. For example, hiring a raft on Nam Pan Lake has recently become a very popular way to spend a day.
The air conditioned Central Plaza shopping centre is a popular hangout all year but more so during summer as people seek reliefs in its cafe, restaurants and cinema. For food lovers, Summer is also a delight as many fruits come into season, specifically mangos, which ripen between March and June. Most ice cream parlours will run special mango ice cream promotions providing another delightful way to cool off.
Summer in Udon Thani is hot but if you are thinking of avoiding the city due to heat then think again. Just bring your swimming gear, a hat, a water pistol and join the laid back fun!
One Huge Gulp Of Water
In the rainy season it rains. . . a lot. It must be remembered though that these rains are essential for the region. They fill the reservoirs for the year ahead. They fuel the Mekong River and all its hydroelectric dams. They also fill the rice fields and ensure we have enough to eat. It can also be said that Isan is at its most beautiful at this time of year. Nature doesn’t just blossom, it positively flourishes growing at speeds almost visible to see and watch. And the whole region turns into an endless sea of green as the rice plants continues their race skywards. The storms also bring stunning evening skylines and surreal sunsets. This is the time of year when Isan truly comes alive, invigorated by its once a year huge gulp of water, and it is well worth seeing.
April’s Songkran is timed to celebrate the end of summer heat and the start of the rains. Typically for Udon Thani the rains don’t arrive till May or June. The wind then changes to a North Easterly direction to fill the void left by hot summer air rising upwards. These Monsoon winds suck in moisture from the Indian Ocean bringing heavy rains and storms. Fortunately Udon Thani’s inland location and distance from the Indian Ocean means these storms have weakened considerably by the time they arrive here. Rain can still be intense with heavy downpours, deafening thunder and plenty of lightening.
During the Rainy Season, Udon Thani can also be impacted by tropical storms and even typhoons rising over the South China Sea to the East. Again Udon Thani’s inland location gives protection as these storms will have weakened well before they arrive but they still bring the heaviest rain and strongest winds.
The months with the highest rainfall are August and September. Most years it will rain two out of three days though rarely all day. Mainly the region sees evening storms that are often welcomed as they clear the humidity and bring down temperatures just in time for dinner.
It can flood during these months, often suddenly in just one or two days, though recently improved drainage and irrigation systems means this happen less often. If travelling during August or September it is always worth checking ahead for storms before coming.
People generally carry on regardless of the rain – it’s just part of life. Everyone carries a 30 baht poncho that can be slipped on to keep dry when walking about or travelling home on their scooters (scooters being the regions favourite mode of transport). Even in times of flood, people will just roll up their trousers, take of shoes and go about their daily business unperturbed. After all these rain are part of life and part of our lives.
Glorious Misty Mornings
Winter arrives in Udon Thani around mid October and it is always welcomed after the heat of Summer and the rain of the monsoon. It announces itself with the arrival of dry sunny days and a drop in temperature, especially morning temperatures. The mean temperature mellows to mid twenties degrees in October and drops further to low twenties in December and January. The start of winter is when Udon Thani and Isan looks it’s finest. Still clean and fresh from the rainy season, the rice fields are still gleaming in colour as the rice starts to ripen. The early morning sun glistens and sparkles on the fields’ watery floor whilst the whole region looks mesmerising radiant in the long shadows of an evening’s sunset; a wondrous backdrop for a walk, run or ride.
As November turns to December, the fields lose their greeness as the rice is harvested and the land ploughed. At this time, days are all rain free and the morning temperature can drop to below 10c meaning jumpers are required. This though is also the time of year when mornings are covered in mist creating stunning sunrises across the landscape. For a real treat head to the mountains around the Mekong River or the Red Lotus Lake for truly divine, magical morning scenes.