Thailand is going through its worst flooding in almost a century, if not ever. More than one third of the country is currently under water (yes, one third) and some northern suburbs of Bangkok are now under 1-2 meters of flood water.
Millions of cubic feet of water is making its way from Ayutthaya down to Bangkok, so flooding could get even worse. The city is also experiencing the highest tides Bangkok has had in weeks.
But, if you have a trip planned to Bangkok, should you cancel? Or is it safe?
While nobody can tell you anything is completely safe, we can tell you 90% of Bangkok is still flood free. Even though the international news would have you believe the whole city is under 2 meters of water, that is actually not true.
Flooded areas of Bangkok include the far northern suburbs — Rangsit, Don Meuang, Pinklao, Sai Mai, Chang Wattana and Thonburi, across the Chao Praya River.
Some of these areas are currently under 1.5-2 meters of water (up to 6 feet), so unless you are a resident there, and need to get home, nobody is heading that way. Few of these areas are tourist spots anyway.
Other areas of the city that are flooding include a few areas next to the Chao Praya River and parts of Yaoworat (Chinatown), when the high tide comes in early in the morning and again in the early evening.
But, even though flood waters are coming in up to 1 meter deep (3 feet), they are falling again when the tide goes out an hour later and pulls the water with it.
Of course, this repeats during the second high tide of the day but, for most of the day, the area is dry.
As for the rest of Bangkok, the other 90%, so far it is free of water and, if the government is correct, none of it is expected to flood.
In fact, the government now has much of the flooding under control (by releasing water from the north of Bangkok through flood gates etc. and out into the ocean). If the flood walls hold, they are expecting to be able to funnel the flood waters arriving from the north around Bangkok via the canals and out into the ocean every day for the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, almost all tourist attractions in Bangkok are open, shopping malls are open, restaurants, cafes, stores, markets, zoos, nightclubs, hotels — basically just about everything in Bangkok that isn’t 10 miles north of the city, or further out, is open and functioning normally.
So, if you want to take your trip to Bangkok and weren’t planning on staying in a northern suburb (they are not generally tourist areas, so few people do), Bangkok is not dangerous and it is highly unlikely to flood.
Besides, think of it this way. Once the flooding is over, costs to the Thai economy are in the tens of billions of dollars in clean-up costs, lost production, lost jobs and, yes, lost tourists.
So, yes, please come to Bangkok on your vacation or a business trip. It is not dangerous and you really will have an exciting time.
Just remember to bring flip-flops, in case you have to paddle.
**Special Note – If you really want to see what at least one third of the Thai population is dealing with (that’s 20 million people), look at these spectacular photos by the The Atlantic.
Photo # 27 is where one of our close Thai friends lives – his house is currently chest-deep under water.