I was at Patong, Phucket and the streets were packed. Maneuvering through all the motorbikes, people, and food stalls keeps you busy enough to forget where you were walking to in the first place. The beach reminded me of spring break in Miami. There are more foreigners in this area than Thai locals.
While sitting at an Internet café, I overheard a woman with her family ask the front desk tour agency if there were any beaches that were less crowded. She laughed and told her there really aren’t many options for her. The woman asked if Koh Phi Phi was any less crowded. The tour agency lady continued to laugh. The woman didn’t want to believe her and repeated the question if there really wasn’t any beaches she could go to with her family that were less crowded.
Last year I traveled through Thailand during the low season months of July and August. I’m back in Thailand during the highest possible season during the months of December and January. There’s high season and than there’s peak season within the high season. I feel like I’m traveling in a whole different country.
- I never booked accommodation in advance. I was able to go to places whenever I felt like it and there was always a room available.
- I was able to bargain my accommodation much lower than the listed prices online.
- Bargaining anything was much easier than peak season.
- When I took a tour in Chang Mai, my group consisted of just my friend and I making it seem like it was a private tour when in reality it was just because no one else was taking the tour.
- Bus and train travel was fairly easy to book. I never booked a bus or train ticket more than a few hours in advance. Mostly just arrived and took any destination I felt like going to.
- I felt people were more honest for my money.
- More of a relaxed atmosphere in places that are otherwise crowded. The locals are also more relaxed.
- Wasn’t rejected as many times from bargaining taxi rides.
- Prices for accommodation sky-rocketed. Sometimes 50% to 100% more.
- I had to book in advance or otherwise risk sleeping on the beach or paying an extremely high price in a fancy resort if they even have a room available.
- Railay Beach was my favorite beach for its desertedness but when I came back during the peak season, it was difficult to even find a spot to sit on the beach. It killed the vibe that it once had.
- Most destinations had rumors of fully booked accommodations which made me nervous about arriving without booking something in advance.
- When I arrived without a booked accommodation, some destinations took hours to find accommodation.
- I was rejected several times by taxis when bargaining because they know they could set a higher price from someone else and make their time worth it.
- It required me to take more effort to find the less crowded areas.
While peak season does not mean the destination is any less amazing, it can impact our perspective of a destination when there are too many tourists. Travel has this weird thing of making places seem like there is less to see because of the amount of people that are there.
Places like Railay beach didn’t have the same affect on me than it had when I went while it was deserted. I know it’s the same exact place and not much has really changed but if I hadn’t been to Railay during the low season as well, would have I known how beautiful it could be during the low season? I may have just judged it as being an overcrowded family beach all the time if I hadn’t been there earlier. The pictures are a contrast of the same beach.
Many people are concerned about the rain during the low season. In my personal experience, it wasn’t much different in the low season than the peak season. In fact, I got more sun in the low season. I may have just been lucky though.
Overall, I think the low season is much better time to travel to Thailand. I’ll take my chances of a few showers rather than overcrowded attractions and highly priced accommodations.
High Season: October till April
Peak Season: December and January
Low Season: May till September