Koh Samui
November 1, 2022

Koh Samui in November: 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. Read on!

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Koh Samui in November

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.

Is November a good time to visit Koh Samui?

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 I 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. Read on!

Where to stay in November

Koh Samui in November: Weather, Events and More
The brand new Holiday Inn Bophut

My pick: Holiday Inn Bophut

Brand new! The newest, prettiest Holiday Inn you’ve ever seen. Sitting in pole position at the paved edge of Fisherman’s Village, you can enjoy the best of Bophut in any weather. Ideal for couples who want to enjoy Bophut’s nightlife and romantic ambiance, or for families who want extra cool kids’ bunk rooms. (Don’t miss the two-bedroom suites).

More hotel ideas

Good hotel deals – In November, your accommodation rates will be at their lowest all year – leaving more in your holiday budget for the full spa menu. With lower occupancy rates, you can expect extra attentive service and to make quick friends with your favourite bar’s happy hour staff. Compared to slightly warmer, slightly drier January – hotel rates on Koh Samui in November can be as much as 20-50% lower.

Tip: For an easy introduction to Koh Samui's beaches, see Where to Stay on Koh Samui.

A quiet island – You’ll likely have the island to yourself in November, as other travellers wait for better sunshine odds or school holidays. You’ll have no trouble with restaurant or spa reservations. (Northern hemisphere) kids are in school – giving many resorts an atmosphere much more suited to couples and groups of adult friends.

What to pack for November

Koh Samui in November: Weather, Events and More
1) My favourite mosquito repellent 2) a waterproof phone case 3) a waterproof Kindle and 4) power bank charger

1. Mosquito repellent

Recommended year-round in Thailand – but especially so during rainy season. The repellent above is my tried-and-tested favourite but can be hard to find outside of the UK and Europe. For more options – and total mosquito warfare – see how to avoid mosquitoes in Thailand.

2. Waterproof your expensive stuff

Waterproof cases for your phone/camera and dry-bags for your wallet/prized possessions keep your expensive gadgetry safe if you’re caught in a downpour (typically the time that you find out your bag is less waterproof than you thought).

3. BYO-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. Need some reading inspiration? See my favourite novels set in Thailand.

4. Power cut back-up plan

As a handy just-in-case for your phone, iPad or Kindle, it's a good idea to keep an external battery topped up. Especially if your rainy-day plan depends on downloaded Netflix. Though they’re getting rarer, power cuts can happen during big storms. They might last a few minutes but, depending where you’re staying, can last a few hours. (Large/high-end resorts will have generators).

Tip: As for your clothing, see what to wear in rainy season (with crucial shoe recommendations, too).

Weather in November

Koh Samui in November: Weather, Events and More
Fairly typical November weather

November averages

  • Temperature: 26.5°C / 80°F
  • Sunshine (hours/day): 6
  • Rainy days: 15 days (430mm / 17 inches)
  • Sea temperature: 27°C / 81°F

Throughout November, "the most common forms of precipitation are light rain, thunderstorms, and moderate 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.

Your questions

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). 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.

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.

Tip: 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.

Koh Samui in November: Weather, Events and More
A November sunset on Koh Samui

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.

Does it rain all day on Koh Samui in November?

On average, November's total rainfall is 430 mm*. That’s almost a foot and a half 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. More stats? November is mostly cloudy, with 86% median cloud cover.

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.

Koh Samui in November: Weather, Events and More
November sunshine is possible!

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.

Tip: 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.

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.

As for occasional power cuts, 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).

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.

What can’t you do on Samui in November?

Island infrastructure continues to improve and new drains have helped a lot with roads prone to flooding. However, 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. 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.

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 until January or February.

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. A few years ago, a tourist who’d deemed himself ‘a very strong swimmer’ had to be rescued on jet-skis by two Thai hotel staff.

Worth a read

In addition to the brand new Koh Samui Guide (see below), don't miss these two Thailand new releases:

Koh Samui in November

Koh Samui in November
Brand new 8th edition

More Koh Samui questions? A biased but worthy inclusion; I’ve written the Koh Samui travel guide I'd give my very best friends. I never planned on this travel guide becoming ‘my baby’, but I’ve expanded and updated it with obsessive love, care and attention for 8 editions and counting. Since 2012, The Koh Samui Guide has helped people in 97 countries plan and enjoy incredible Samui vacations. Enjoy!

P.S. You can find every tip for Thailand packing and prep in the archive, or subscribe by email and get all the details straight to your inbox. Enjoy!

*Sources: Weather Spark, Koh Samui average November weather, November cloud cover and Dennis Nedry's poor life choices"