Want an introspective, supremely relaxing and perhaps romantic holiday? Can you list three or more bad choices made by characters in Jurassic Park? With a preference for lazy indulgence, and some common sense, Koh Samui in November could suit you very well.
Koh Samui in November
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Depending on the author’s preference for glasses half empty or full, you may have read that “Koh Samui in November is the worst time of year to come” – OR – that if you pack an umbrella you’ll barely need it. Which is true? Experiences with Samui’s rainy season vary but we understand why words like “monsoon” have your attention. Koh Samui in November is a gamble, but there are a few certainties…
What to expect?
Going by the book, November is the height of rainy season for this part of Thailand. Meaning? Expect heavy rain and rough seas. But don’t panic – there’s lots of good news, too.
1. Good hotel deals
Your accommodation rates will be at their lowest all year – leaving more in your holiday budget for the full spa menu. Sweet! With lower occupancy rates, you can expect extra attentive service and to make quick friends with your favourite bar’s happy hour staff.
- High-end: SALA Samui Choengmon Beach (US$259/night)
- Mid-range: OZO Chaweng Samui (US$113/night)
- Budget option: By Beach Resort (US$17/night)
Compared to slightly warmer, slightly drier January – hotel rates on Koh Samui in November are 20-50% less. Rates above from Booking.com for one night mid-month in November 2017.
2. A quiet island
You’ll have the island to yourself, as other travellers wait for better sunshine odds or school holidays – you’ll have no trouble with restaurant reservations. (Northern hemisphere) kids are in school – giving many resorts an atmosphere much more suited to couples and groups of adult friends.
3. Power cuts
Power cuts can happen during big storms, but Samui’s service industry is adept at keeping its customers happy. So while it might take longer to get a coconut shake (from an electric blender), it never stops the pad Thai or fried-bacon-and-egg parade (gas-powered appliances).
Island infrastructure continues to improve and new drains have helped a lot with roads prone to flooding.
4. It won’t snow!
You won’t need socks, jumpers/sweaters, scarves, gloves, tights or winter coats. If anyone gave me the chance to wear shorts for even half a day in November –I’d jump at it, rain or no rain.
Is it a bad idea to visit Koh Samui in November?
Not necessarily, it depends what you want to do. November on Koh Samui is a great choice if you like to feel intrepid while staying very much stationary. For a relaxing, do-very-little, pampered resort holiday – speaking for myself – I’d definitely take the chance on a November trip. Should the predicted rain not appear – that’s your gain. Should you get a week of half rainy days, half sunshine, again – you win! But as far honest expectations, there’s a reason that hotel and villa rental rates are lower through this period.
What to pack for Samui in November?
In addition to your Thailand packing list, definitely consider packing (A) extra water-proofing bits and (B) entertainment options that don’t require power (should you experience an extended power cut). Also recommended at this time of year:
1. Mosquito repellent
Recommended year-round in Thailand – but especially so in rainy season. The above bits are a great starter kit for avoiding bites – for total mosquito warfare, see this post for more tips.
2. Tropical rain gear
3. Pocket torches/flashlights
Obviously your phone has a flashlight/torch, but to save its battery for actual-phone-things, keep a few LED flashlights in your bag or pocket, just in case of power cuts. They’re generally handy on Koh Samui anyway, where street lights and path lighting can be on the darker side of sporadic.
4. Waterproof your expensive stuff
Waterproof cases for your phone/camera and dry-bags for your wallet/prized possessions keeps your expensive gadgetry safe (should you find your bag is less waterproof than you thought).
5. A waterproof Kindle – loaded with books
A Kindle is particularly ideal given the chance of power cuts, as its battery lasts forever – and it’s great to read in the dark. A waterproof Kindle is made-to-measure for Samui in November. Keep it relatively well charged and loaded with good books and, if the power goes out, you have weeks of uninterrupted reading until you need a re-charge. BYOB.
Koh Samui November weather
What kind of weather should we expect?
Throughout November, “the most common forms of precipitation are light rain, thunderstorms, and moderate rain” (source).
What about Forest Gump’s “big old fat rain”?
I find Samui’s November thunderstorm’s to pack a Jurassic Park touch of tropical: best enjoyed under a roof, with ice cream, leaving jungle excursions off the itinerary.
Many interior dirt tracks wash away in heavy rain – even if you’ve better luck than doomed Dennis Nedry*, it remains a terrible idea. Lashing wet palm leaves add a fitting soundtrack.
Does it rain all day on Koh Samui in November?
On average, November’s total rainfall is 302 mm*. That’s almost a foot of rain. As for how/when it chooses to dispense itself, the pattern varies year-to-year. It definitely can rain all day, for a number of days in a row, but that’s worst-case.
Will there be any sun? Can we tan in November?
Yes, it might rain, but will it? Your guess is as good as mine. Rainy season typically lasts through November in its entirety. It can rain non-stop for 7 days. Yet consider where you live, and the last time it was unseasonably hot when it should have been cold. Weather is a weird beast and will always surprise us, no matter the law of averages. You might get days of perfect sun.
What is there to do in November?
In many parts of the world, storm-watching is an attraction in its own right. On Koh Samui, forgo the heavy Gore-Tex weather gear and substitute a nice rum drink. Come expecting a holiday of yoga, reading, lounging, massages, long breakfasts … long baths? … and jigsaw puzzles. Doesn’t sound like the “worst time ever” to me!
Samui spa sessions
Does your Koh Samui hotel have an enormous bath tub? Probably. Most of the year, it’s way too hot to want a bath. That’s your November victory. In case the weather prevents you from enjoying the swimming pool, come prepared with an indulgent kit of bath stuff. Water will happen on your terms.
Pack old-school entertainment
Thailand colouring books
Make sure you pack some rainy day entertainment that doesn’t need to be plugged in! Colouring books and waterproof Uno suit lazy days propping up the hotel bar.
What are Koh Samui beaches like in November?
Beaches won’t be pristine. With rougher seas, lots of flotsam and jetsam washes up. Swimming isn’t advisable. To some, it might be a nice break to never have to bother with sunscreen. It certainly gets you from bed to breakfast more quickly.
What can’t you do on Samui in November?
Certain things will be trickier or even treacherous after heavy rainfall. I’m all but certain you want to have your Koh Samui wedding at another time of year.
What to avoid: Avoid visiting Big Buddha when it’s wet (steep tiled steps), and I wouldn’t contemplate any jungle activities as dirt roads can wash away or get bogged down. Let’s all remember Dennis Nedry’s poor life choices*. Instead, see the many rainy day ideas (for kids and adults alike) in The Koh Samui Guide.
Let’s all remember Dennis Nedry’s poor life choices.
Angthong Marine Park: Angthong Marine Park will probably be closed and many water-sports or boat trips are probably off the list. Want to tackle waterfalls, try SCUBA diving and get a tan? Hold tight for a month or two, and book your trip for late December, or wait ’til January or February.
What is there to do while it’s raining?
From a resort side, Samui is very well equipped for rain – huge umbrellas are provided, there are lots of wide overhanging roofs and thick plastic windbreaks roll down when the weather rolls in. Enjoy all the luscious corners of your resort or villa, including tropical outdoor living rooms and weather-proofed salas.
For its beautiful, tropical gardens (that look like utter magic in a storm) and short walking distance to Fisherman’s Village (under a provided golf umbrella), I favour Anantara Bophut Resort during rainy weather.