The coldest place in Thailand is Sakon Nakhon, a mountain province in the Northeast of the country. Many sources cite Sakon Nakhon’s record cold temperature of -1.4 degrees Celsius (29°F) in 1974 when awarding it the distinction of being the coldest place in Thailand. However, there actually was an even colder temperature of -2.5 Celsius (27°F ) recorded on December 24, 1999. Back then it was considered a Christmas Eve miracle, and a fitting one for the province with the most famous Christmas celebrations. Tourists enjoying the Christmas lights in the village of Ban Tha Rae (the largest Christian community in Thailand) hoped for an additional miracle of snow, but alas no flurries emerged from the skies.
You might think that the coldest place in Thailand would also have the highest elevation. But that is not the case. In fact, it is not even close. The long Phu Phan mountain range that rolls through Sakon Nakhon has a maximum summit of 563 meters in the neighboring province of Nakhon Phanom (at Phu Lang Ka), with the 2nd highest peak being in Phu Mai Hia in Mukdahan (another neighboring province). While Sakon Nakhon has a higher summit atop Phu Ang So mountain (695m), that high point is dwarfed by Doi Inthanon in Chiang Mai (2,565m), Khao Kacheu La in Tak (2,152m), Phu Soi Dao in Utthardit (2,120m) and many other peaks.
So, why does Sakon Nakhon get so cold? Why does it have record low temperatures below those of Northern Thai provinces with higher elevations? The reason is that Sakon Nakhon gets more directly hit with cold high pressure systems, ones that blow down from China and across Laos.
Lastly, we should put this talk about cold weather in Thailand into perspective. While Sakon Nakhon is the coldest place in Thailand that doesn’t mean that it’s sweater weather all day long for several months. During December and January (the coldest winter months), the highs average in the low 80s°F (27-28°C) and the lows average in the mid 60s °F (17-18°C). However, it is usually quite chilly around Yuletide, so it is the perfect climate for enjoying the Christmas celebrations in Ban Tha Rae. If you are planning a visit and want to check the temperatures, please visit our Sakon Nakhon Weather page.