4 tips to help South Africans plan a winter escape to tropical Thailand

Maya Bay, Phi Phi Island in Thailand. Picture: Unsplash

Maya Bay, Phi Phi Island in Thailand. Picture: Unsplash

Published May 2, 2024


With winter upon us, the prospect of jetting off to sunlit shores sounds way more enticing than enduring the cold.

As such, there are plenty of tropical destinations, offering a world-class experience, to consider.

A destination like Thailand ticks all the boxes and with the relatively favourable exchange rate, South Africans can travel to Thailand without breaking the bank.

If you plan to avoid South Africa’s winter, here are some tips to help you plan a tropical Thai escape.

Aim for perfect timing

According to Chaiwat Tamthai, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Dubai for the Middle East and Africa, if you want to make winter travel affordable, first look at a destination’s peak travel season and weather patterns.

Tamthai said: “Thailand is warm all year round and there are minor weather changes that travellers need to be aware of. Thailand’s hot season runs from around March to June, which luckily coincides with the coldest months in South Africa.”

Tamthai said the he rainy season ran from July onwards but, even with heavy rainfall, showers were usually short and intense, followed by sunny spells and this kind of weather could definitely provide a welcome break from frigid temperatures.

“The added benefit is that by travelling during these months, you can also avoid peak season (November to February), which means that you’ll stand to benefit from off-season pricing on flights, accommodation, and activities,” he said.

Stock up on health boosters

Tamthai said making the sudden transition from hot to cold temperatures could be taxing on the body, so to mitigate this and make sure you don’t get sick when you get back home, it was advisable to pack your health boosters.

He said a few multivitamins, immune boosters and enough vitamin C can would ensure that your health did not take a bad turn and ruin your vacation memories.

“While in Thailand, it’s also important to keep your health in check by staying hydrated and protecting your skin from harsh UV rays. You can do this by carrying a reusable water bottle and applying sunscreen regularly to prevent getting sunburnt,” he said.

Pack light but pack smart

“The issue of what to pack can’t go unmentioned, because if you’re travelling during the off-peak months of July and August, you will most likely experience the monsoon season,” said Tamthai.

He said for those who had never experienced it before, getting rained on during a holiday might not sound that appealing but those who had experienced the monsoon season would be able to attest to just how magical and revitalising it could be.

“Monsoon rainfall sets the perfect scene for dancing in the rain. To make sure you are well-prepared for wet weather and to make sure that your return to South Africa isn’t too much of a shock to the body, it’s recommended that you pack in at least one warm outfit before setting off,” he said.

Plan for outdoor living

And lastly, Tamthai said that escaping the winter for a sunny utopia was fair enough, but not all summers were created equal and for this reason, it was important to conduct a bit of research on what to expect in terms of seasonal weather trends so you could plan around that.

“The goal is to make the most of the warmer weather, so it’s advisable to choose a destination that has a wide range of outdoor activities on offer.

“If Thailand is your destination of choice, you need to bear in mind that the hot season is usually very humid,” he said.

To avoid getting too hot and bothered, Tamthai recommended planning hikes and activities at higher elevations like the mountains in Chiang Mai, where the effect of the humidity would not be as intense.

“Before you set off, make sure to create an itinerary of the outdoor activities you want to experience that you won’t be able to when you return home. Water-based activities are always a win when the temperature is soaring, especially exploring islands where you’ll benefit from the fresh sea breezes.

“Once you have it all planned out, you’ll effectively have a wish list of activities that you can tick off as you go,” he said.