Oct 21 2011
You’re supposed to be arriving in Bangkok in the next few days and all you’ve read in the last week or so has centred on Bangkok’s efforts to reinvent itself as the true Venice of the East. You’re worried and thinking of cancelling your trip. Don’t — here’s why.
Update October 25: Due to the worsening situation in Bangkok, we’ve revised our position regarding the need to cancel a trip to Bangkok due to an elevated risk of severe flooding. You can read the full post here, or in summary we’re saying if you plan to arrive in Bangkok in the coming days, you should seriously reconsider your need to spend prolonged time in the capital.
Second update, October 30: So what’s our recommendation now? Well, Bangkok is stressed out, but hopefully past the worst. Most places that travellers tread are dry and open for business, as is the rest of the country. If you’re feeling it, Bangkok can be great, even in a flood. If you’d prefer not to be among it, transit through to unaffected areas. Full post here.
Bangkok is wet but Thailand is open for business
This is the most important point. The vast majority of Thailand, especially the south and northeast, is largely unaffected by the floods. Both the Gulf islands and those on the west coast, including Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Lanta, are enjoying some stellar weather.
The airport is still open
In case you were wondering if building an international airport on a flood plain was a tad silly, now you know. Despite this, at least for now, Suvarnabhumi Airport remains unflooded and open — as do the main transport links into downtown Bangkok (though traffic is a significant issue due to morons parking their cars on highway overpasses (tow the cars and add them to the flood walls, we say).
If you’ve always wanted to see a floating market, just not one on Sukhumvit Road, then reorganise your trip with a connecting flight to somewhere else in the country. There are more than a dozen flights a day from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north (which itself is recovering well from its date with a gazillion litres of runoff) and there are also plenty of flights to Ko Samui, Phuket, Krabi and Trang in the south and Trat in the east (for Ko Chang).
It’s a flood of water — not molten lava
There’s no denying the floods have inflicted significant hardship on residents around Bangkok (the areas surrounding the Thai capital were sacrificed in an attempt to protect Bangkok) and it is tragically true that hundreds of people have died.
But, the waters will subside. Walls and floors will be washed down, gardens cleaned up and linens aired. Businesses will reopen and get on with it. This isn’t the first time (and knowing Thai politicians, it won’t be the last) that Bangkok has faced tremendous floods and survived.
Don’t believe everything you read in the news
There’s been some real hyperbole floating across the interwebs. In one case CNN apparently reported Bangkok was underwater — nice one. Central Bangkok remains largely unaffected. The city isn’t on the verge of a complete meltdown and no, in case you were wondering, the Royal Thai Navy isn’t about to stage a coup.
There have been a number of stories lamenting mass hotel booking cancellations. That hasn’t been our experience. Perhaps all you Travelfish.org readers are hardier than most, but we’d take these reports with a significant dose of chillies.
Still thinking of cancelling?
Keep your flights to Bangkok, but hop, skip and jump to one of the neighbouring countries. There are heaps of flights to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and so on from Bangkok — it’s called an international hub for a reason.
So don’t cancel your flight, still come visit. Hell, you might even have an opportunity to help with the clean up — now that would make for a memorable vacation.
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