Burning Season in Thailand

Fire Map of Southeast Asia

Worse Than Too Much Rain - Northern Thailand

Most travelers concerned about weather in Thailand ask about the rainy season. Those who are planning to travel to islands in the Gulf of Thailand or the Andaman Sea wonder about the monsoons

Unless you have visited Northern Thailand during the burning season you may not think that burning a little rice-straw is a big problem.But is certainly can ruin a holiday!

Burning in Northern Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Southern China is an annual problem and seems to be getting worse.

What to Expect

Air quality in the burning season is among the worst in Thailand. On bad days, visibility is severely limited. On really bad days, it is common to experience eye irritation and breathing discomfort.

Who Burns & Why?

  • Rice farmers often burn straw & stubble after a harvest
  • Wild mushrooms are stimulated by burning
  • Some hill tribes burn to clear farm land
  • Many rural Thais burn to clear rainy season overgrowth

When is Burning Season?

  • Generally, November to April
  • Burning of rice stubble usually starts in with the first harvest in November.
  • When slash-and-burn farm land clearing starts the air quality gets worse.
  • Then the second rice harvest stubble burning starts.
  • Worst months are late February & March

Why is Northern Thailand So Bad?

  • Topography and terrain are factors, i.e., Chiang Mai was built in a basin surrounded by mountains.
  • Some of the problems are exacerbated by regional and seasonal wind patterns.
  • The area and areas of surrounding countries are rice growing areas
  • Northern Thailand, Burma and Laos have many hill tribes who practice slash and burn farming