Oct 25 2011
It’s hard to stand in the middle of a sunny day at the end of rainy season in central Bangkok and imagine that it could soon be very wet. The situation has come to a point where it is time to consider available information and a make a decision about whether to travel here and stay, travel here and transit quickly, or cancel your trip here altogether.
Don Muang airport began to flood in the early afternoon (video here), forcing commercial carriers operating out of Bangkok’s secondary airport to either suspend flights altogether or relocate to Suvarnabhumi International Airport — see details available earlier here. (Note: Don Muang [DMG] is a domestic-only airport. Bangkok’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi International Airport [BKK], is operating normally.)
Rail services to the south, east and northeast are operating normally, however commuter service between Bangkok and Ayutthaya has slowed, with only two departures a day in each direction (with a change at Don Muang). Due to water on the tracks, trains to Don Muang airport are running on a modified schedule — this is in Thai, but the first chart shows trains to Don Muang on left side, and trains from on the right, and Ayutthaya in the second chart, to Ayuttaya on the left, from on the right. All trains exiting Bangkok continue along a section of track where the rails are submerged by 20-30cm of water — the train leaves a wake in the flood waters as it progresses.
Chao Phraya Express boat service has been cancelled until at least November 7.
Riverside communities (including Sam Sen, just north of Khao San Road and the Banglamphu area) are already experiencing periodic flooding as the river level fluctuates due to tides in the Gulf of Thailand. High tides for the rest of this week and early next week are predicted to be very high, causing a situation of great concern with the Chao Phraya already full. With the far northern regions of Bangkok and provincial border areas already experiencing serious flooding, the inner northern suburbs are starting to be inundated. No one knows how far the water will reach into inner Bangkok, but it is fairly clear that things are changing for both travellers and residents.
At this point, Travelfish.org recommends that travellers to Bangkok consider carefully if they want to be here right now. Central Bangkok isn’t underwater now, and it might not be, ever. If you are keen to see and experience Bangkok, it is currently open and ready for exploring. Take precautions and monitor the situation, and be flexible and ready to move on (quickly, and without burdening already overstretched local emergency services), if the situation dictates. As always, make sure you have travel insurance, and keep on top of what your government is recommending. (Singaporeans were warned to avoid non-essential travel to Bangkok some days ago.)
UPDATE: We have now seen photos of waters around the Grand Palace reportedly taken late Tuesday afternoon (via Twitter) — so even central Bangkok is struggling to stay dry.
If you want a relaxing holiday that’s free from considering how to secure drinkable water and avoid flash flooding (or sustained flooding), we recommend booking onward travel from Suvarnabhumi. Nothing outside of the central plains is currently affected, so you can safely head to hotels in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ko Chang, Kanchanaburi, and the entire south are available as options.
If you already have tickets booked, check with your carrier as many have begun offering waivers on change fees for travel to Bangkok for the rest of this month, allowing you to rebook your trip for after the waters recede.
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