Oct 21 2011

Floods at Bangkok’s gates but don’t cancel your trip

Published by at 8:15 pm under Floods

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.

A more typical Bangkok flood.

A more typical Bangkok flood.

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).

Worth braving a flood for.

Worth braving a flood for.

Skip Bangkok
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.

If nothing else think of the Thai Herbal Thousand Years Liqueur Country Style.

If nothing else, think of the Thai Herbal Thousand Years Liqueur Country Style.

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.

41 responses so far

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41 Responses to “Floods at Bangkok’s gates but don’t cancel your trip” ...

  1. Alcaponeon 21 Oct 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Hi. I’ll be there the 30th of this month anyone know how can help there? there is any associations of volunteers??

  2. Davidon 21 Oct 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Honest report!

  3. Thellieon 21 Oct 2011 at 9:34 pm

    I’m at the Flood Relief Operations Command, at Don Muang airport. It’s dry here, although the water isn’t too far away (our temp accomm may succmb in the next day or so, but the airport should be okay as it’s on the other side of the highway).

    Volunteers are welcome to come here and help out – making lifejackets, packing relief packs – emergency rations, medical supplies, etc… they probably won’t let you out to help with search and rescue, but if you are happy to lend a hand in any way, then I’m sure you’ll be welcomed.

    What we need more than anything at the moment is money – donations to buy urgent supplies (or the supplies themselves would be great) – see our website for details.

  4. Taon 21 Oct 2011 at 9:35 pm

    @Alcapone: Yes, there are lots of volunteers needed.
    Different places on different days, but one of the main hubs for volunteering is at the Don Mueang airport in Bangkok (the old airport).
    Another place is the Thai Red Cross, but sometimes they have so many volunteers that you can’t do anything but stand around and wait till you get a chance to do something.
    In front of the Dusit hotel by the MRT station Silom is another place for volunteers, but it’s kind of similar like the situation at the Thai Red Cross.
    Also, there are sometimes shuttle buses that drive volunteers from BAngkok to the most heavily affected areas north of Bangkok.
    Also, you can contact us via our website and we’ll help find a good spot for you or you can join us when we go.

  5. Davidon 21 Oct 2011 at 9:36 pm

    For Alcapone: I’m not aware of any specific association but you may head to Ayuttaya and surrounding areas. That’s the place where help is much needed!

  6. Alcaponeon 21 Oct 2011 at 10:03 pm

    another question guys!
    There is a secure zone for sleep? some ghuesthouse you know..somthing like that….i hope i can give an hand :) How is the situation in Khao San Road?
    and you know if still are buses netween bangkok to siam reap?
    thanks for the answer

  7. James Puttockon 21 Oct 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Hi. My girlfriend and I are leaving for Bangkok tomorrow and arriving Sunday evening. We’ve booked a hotel for the first couple of nights in Silom road. Is everything ok there at the mo or should we be finding an alternative. The hotel stay was to celebrate our anniversary before starting the backpacker stuff. Should we maybe skip and head to the islands first?

  8. Still in business! | Three Bradleyson 21 Oct 2011 at 10:34 pm

    […] http://www.travelfish.org/blogs/bangkok/2011/10/21/floods-at-bangkoks-gates-but-dont-cancel-your-tri… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in News/Media by bbeskin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  9. Andrew Maguireon 22 Oct 2011 at 12:08 am

    Hello. Is there any flooding in Klong Toey? I will be thankful for help, b/c I will arrive in BKK in about 20 hrs. Thanks

  10. Taon 22 Oct 2011 at 11:31 am

    @James Puttock: Silom road is ok, you do not need to find an alternative. No flooding there.
    @Alcapone: Secure zone is pretty much all of central Bangkok. Silom, Sukhumvit – you won’t see a lot of flooding there. Maybe sometime a bit of water in the streets after heavy rain, but it will drain quickly.

  11. Taon 22 Oct 2011 at 12:47 pm

    You can do your trip as planned (of course without Ayutthaya). Only thing: better fly to Chiang Mai than take the bus, because the buses going to northern Thailand have to take a large detour and it is a very long bus trip now and the train to Chiang Mai is not working now.
    So from Similan islands, you can travel to Phuket and take direct flight to Chiang Mai with AirAsia (or other airline) and then go to Mae Hong Son, then back to Chiang Mai and fly to Bangkok for your departure.

  12. lucieneon 22 Oct 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you very much,,I am really afraid go to Bangkok now sorry ask more but what’s about the place Ambassador hotel is? Its save stay there?
    Ambassador Hotel
    Sukhumvit Soi 11

  13. Taon 22 Oct 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Yes, Ambassador hotel is safe, no flood there :-)

  14. lucieneon 22 Oct 2011 at 11:57 am

    I am going to Bangkok on 2 november and I will stay in Ambassador Hotel ,my play was spend 3 days in Bangkok and after go to

    Bangkok, Thailand
    Ayutthaya Tailandia CANCELLED
    Koh Samui Ko Samui Surat Thani Thailand
    Similan Islands
    Mae Hong Son Thailand
    Chiang Mai Thailand

    Could you please send me some up date about this place.
    Or is better change my holiday ..
    Thank you

  15. adminon 22 Oct 2011 at 10:00 pm

    HI James,

    Silom for now is fine. I wouldn’t be planning a prolonged stay in Bangkok at the moment, but as it stands today, transport out of the city is still mostly operating and the centre of town isn’t flooded.

    For an anniversary? I’d be leaning towards a fancy hotel in the islands regardless of the floods!

  16. Arunon 23 Oct 2011 at 2:48 pm


    I ll be visiting central & northern Thailand covering historical/cultural places (Ayutthaya & Chiang Mai are must in my itinerary) in Jan 2012 from India with family. Do normally floods in central/northern Thailand recover by Dec? My plan was start from 1st week of Jan. Do you think it would be better to reschedule to Jan 3rd or 4th week or just stay put with existing dates?

    — Arun

  17. Sabineon 23 Oct 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Hi everybody, first of all thank you so much for those firsthand accounts of the situation!
    Does anybidy of you know anything about trains on the northeastern line to Nong Khai? I was planning to take the sleeper train to Nong Khai in mid-November to go to Laos. I only know that trains on the northern line don’t operate – does anybody of you know about the northeastern line or maybe even has travelled there recently?
    Thanks a lot again for all the information!

  18. jean-philippeon 23 Oct 2011 at 6:34 pm

    je serai en thailande pour 3 semaines lundi 31 octobre je pense vu les inondations rester a bkk pour aider si cela est possible. Mon hotel pour les 4 premiers jour est sur la suriwong (silom) pas loin du lumpinee. y a t-il un endroit ou me rendre pour etre benevole autre que don muang

  19. Timon 24 Oct 2011 at 10:37 am

    Hi, We are flying into Bangkok on the 3rd of November for 3 days then onto Kata for a week. We are staying at the Asia Hotel in Bangkok, can anyone tell me if the floods have or will affect this part? Should we look at changing our travel plans?

  20. Brockon 24 Oct 2011 at 11:34 am

    Hello Tim-

    The Asia Hotel is in an unafftected area at this point (all of central Bangkok is relatively unaffected at this point). It’s hard to say what is going to happen at this point, however the next 48 hours should be a good indicator as the mass of flooding from the north arrives. I wouldn’t cancel your reservation just yet, but if you are nervous about it you could go ahead and book onwards plans in the region to an unaffected area. Best of luck!


  21. Asirion 24 Oct 2011 at 3:01 pm

    We are coming to Bangkok on 09th Nov. and have already booked BS Court Hotel in Silom/Sathorn.. Wil it be safe to stay there? Anyways we are planning fly to Krabi on the 10th and to return to Bangkok on the 13th. How about that?

  22. adminon 24 Oct 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Hi Asiri,
    That’s a while yet — I’d keep an eye on how things develop in the coming week or so. Depending on when you arrive in Bangkok, perhaps move your flight forward and connect with a flight straight to Krabi, skipping Bangkok.

  23. bannorkon 25 Oct 2011 at 9:12 am


    I am to arrive in Sumvanabuhmi international airport and onward to Don Mueng domestic airport on morning of Nov 2nd.

    I just received an email from Orbitz stating that flood water has reached Don Mueng airport, but flights are still operating as normal.

    I was wondering if this will put a damper on my trip by then. If the flight is canceled, I guess I can always go to the bus terminal and take a bus down to Mukdahan as plan, sure I will loose couple of days, but all is not lost.


  24. Noron 25 Oct 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Hi, is Sukhumvit Road affected by the flood at the moment? I have already make booking for my holiday trip at President Solitaire Hotel on 20th Nov 2011. Do you think the flood will subside by den? I am still sceptical bout my trip to Koh Samui on the 17th Nov too as i have read that the monsoon season will start in Nov in the South. Please advise.

  25. Karnon 25 Oct 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Don Meung airport has been closed for all flights as it has begun to flood slightly, until at least 1 November.

    Sukhumvit is not flooded at all. The PM has come out to say that Bangkok should prepare for the worst, and that it could stay for around a month in the worst case scenario, so that would include November. To be honest, no one really knows how bad it would be, but everything is still open as usual, at least in central Bangkok.

  26. Vipraon 26 Oct 2011 at 1:03 pm


    We are coming for a vacation to thailand on 22nd November , 2011. Our trip is to Phuket for a couple of days and then Bangkok after the 25 th of November, 2011.

    Can some one please suggest us if we need to reschedule our trip due to the present floods in Bangkok.


  27. michelleon 26 Oct 2011 at 1:32 pm

    i am really confused. we fly to bangkok on the mon 31st oct. staying 5 daya. are the air ports still open and is there flooding in the city thank you

  28. adminon 26 Oct 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Vipra, 22nd November is almost a month away. Impossible to predict now as the situation is changing day to day. I’d wait a few more days to see what happens.

    Michelle, This blog entry is a few days old — if you take a look at a more recent entry you’ll get a more uptodate status report. At this stage, if I was you, I’d be reconsidering a five day stay in Bangkok commencing October 31. One of the airports is already closed and there is a substantial risk of flooding downtown in the coming days.

  29. michelleon 26 Oct 2011 at 2:06 pm

    oh dear. i will have to speak to my travel agent. i was looking forward to bangkok and the tours i booked. i do hope my insurance will cover it.

  30. Khem sharmaon 26 Oct 2011 at 5:13 pm

    hi, I am to arrive in BKK on 5th Nov. and the take Druk air flight to Bhutan, the early next day. I am so worried about the current situation in BKK. I am thinking of booking my hotel at the airport. In case if the airport get closed for safety reasons, what would be the alternative? Any one of your suggestions would be very helpful.

  31. lucieneon 26 Oct 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I am going to cancel my trip in Bangkok but I need to know it is save go to aeroport in 2 of november and take a flight to Chiangmai?

    Thank you

  32. lucieneon 27 Oct 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I am the same situation of Khek Sharma ,please could you help me?

  33. adminon 27 Oct 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Early November is still almost a week away at this stage and it’s very difficult to know what the situation is going to be like tomorrow! Assuming the airport is open (and the Govt is saying it will be safe) then you’re fine. The transport links out to the airport are elevated, so even if the road between Bangkok and the airport was flooded, you should still be able to get out there.

    Sorry I can’t be more exact at this time. Do also check the more recent posts for further updates.

  34. Timon 27 Oct 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Like i said in my earlier post, we arrive on the 3rd on November. We are going either way. The current situation in Bangkok doesn’t sound to bad so far, and the local people will need all the help they can get. Lets help the best we can.

  35. Ireshaon 27 Oct 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I will be travelling to bangkok on the 25th of november. Do you think everything will be back to normal by then?

  36. adminon 28 Oct 2011 at 7:20 am

    Hi Iresha,

    Well I hope matters will be at least well on the way to normal by then! I wouldn’t be making any changes to plans in late November at this stage.

  37. lucieneon 06 Nov 2011 at 10:44 pm

    I woul like to go to Chiang Mai by train from Bangkok,
    Do you know if open?

  38. tveyon 07 Nov 2011 at 11:26 pm

    hello. I am planning to go to bangkok from siem reap on the 9th of nov. Then leave to trat the next day to koh chang. How is the transportation? Does the bus still running to those destination? How long does it take? Thanks so much if you could provide me the information.

  39. adminon 08 Nov 2011 at 3:22 am

    @Luciene Yes the trains north are running again

    @tvey Transport from Cambodia into the east of Bangkok is all running. Details on the trip are covered here: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/71

  40. Dobson 22 Nov 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Guys, my girlfriend and I are travelling to Bangkok on the 28th December and will be staying at the Viva-Garden hotel which is centrally located on Sukhumvit Road for 2 nights, and on our return will be staying at the Ramada Encore hotel in Klongtoey. Can you please tell us if this area has been affected? or should i just look to avoid Bangkok alltogether??
    Thanks alot guys

  41. adminon 23 Nov 2011 at 1:10 pm

    @Dobs – lower Sukhumvit (where both those hotels are) is unaffected — no need to change plans.