Abstract This paper presents semi-empirical models for estimating global and direct normal solar irradiances under clear sky conditions in the tropics. The models are based on a one-year period of clear sky global and direct normal irradiances data collected at three solar radiation monitoring stations in Thailand: Chiang Mai (18.78°N, 98.98°E) located in the North of the country, Nakhon Pathom (13.82°N, 100.04°E) in the Centre and Songkhla (7.20°N, 100.60°E) in the South. The models describe global and direct normal irradiances as functions of the Angstrom turbidity coefficient, the Angstrom wavelength exponent, precipitable water and total column ozone. The data of Angstrom turbidity coefficient, wavelength exponent and precipitable water were obtained from AERONET sunphotometers, and column ozone was retrieved from the OMI/AURA satellite. Model validation was accomplished using data from these three stations for the data periods which were not included in the model formulation. The models were also validated against an independent data set collected at Ubon Ratchathani (15.25°N, 104.87°E) in the Northeast. The global and direct normal irradiances calculated from the models and those obtained from measurements are in good agreement, with the root mean square difference (RMSD) of 7.5% for both global and direct normal irradiances. The performance of the models was also compared with that of other models. The performance of the models compared favorably with that of empirical models. Additionally, the accuracy of irradiances predicted from the proposed model are comparable with that obtained from some rigorous physical models.