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, and we’re experiencing the highest tides Bangkok has had in weeks. Where I live, in northern Bangkok, flood waters are less than a mile from my apartment…..and rising. If things don’t change, they’re expected to hit us tomorrow.
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, I 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’s 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’re a resident there, and need to get home, nobody is heading that way, but 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’re 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. And, let’s face it, if it floods for an hour while you’re there, you’ll get some spectacular flood photos to show the folks at home.
As for the rest of Bangkok though, the other 90%, so far it’s free of water and, if the government is correct, none of it is expected to flood. 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) and, if the flood walls hold, they’re 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’re not tourist areas, so few people do), Bangkok is not dangerous and it’s 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, if you can make your way to Bangkok, have a great time, and spend a little money while you’re here, we’d all really appreciate it.
As for me, I’ve already battened down the hatches and I’m waiting for the floods. I have enough food and water for three weeks, as do my rabbits, and as I’m on the eighth floor, I’m not too worried about rising flood waters. The government says our electricty and water will stay on, unless we get above 2 meters of water (6 feet) and then they’ll turn it off so no-one gets electrocuted. In that case, I have candles and a flashlight, and the rabbits aren’t scared of the dark.
Besides, I’ve paddled through knee-deep water in Bangkok many a time during rainy season, so, if we get minimal flooding, it’s not going to be that much different. Bangkok has had it much lighter than the rest of the flooded areas of Thailand so far, where, in cities like Ayutthaya, the entire city has been under 2 meters of water for two months — and when I say the entire city, I mean the ENTIRE city. it’s a total loss.
So, yes, please come to Bangkok on your vacation or a business trip. It’s not dangerous and you really will have an exciting time.
And, sure, we want you because we need your money, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have the best vacation of your life while you’re at it. 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 my close Thai friends lives – his house is chest-deep under water.