Oct 30 2011
So far, Bangkok’s central business district has fared well compared to the outskirts of the capital and many other provinces suffering the floods that have swept through the kingdom over the past few months. Limited tidal flooding has occurred along the Chao Phraya river and a few of the canals that crisscross the city, while downtown — Silom, Sathorn, and lower Sukhumvit — is dry. Thonburi (the western half of the metro area split by the river) has seen water levels rise, and northern sections of Bangkok have been inundated (with some areas evacuated), including the Don Muang area around the domestic airport. Suvarnabhumi, the international airport, is operating normally (well, unless you’re flying Qantas).
The current cycle of high tides is expected to end as of November 1, so with any luck tidal flooding will be minimised. A lot of water that needs to make its way to the sea (some have estimated it will take more than a month for water levels to drop significantly), so the danger of flood barriers breaking and flash flooding from heavy rain will be with us for weeks ahead.
For travellers, the recent exodus of Bangkokians from the city has left streets with delightfully little traffic and plenty of empty guesthouses and hotel rooms. Bottled water supply is erratic (as are beer stocks at 7-eleven!), but safe drinking water IS available and not scarce — the supply is just erratic. Major tourist attractions are open. The Grand Place has seen some tidal flooding, but has remained open and popular with visitors — and those touts are still telling people it’s closed. Outside of the central plains, the rest of Thailand is unaffected, including Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai, and the South. Hua Hin and Pattaya are both currently chockablock with decamped Bangkokians, but with the flood holiday ending Tuesday everyone should be streaming back into the city.
Train service has been restored to the north of Thailand by rerouting the trains through the northeast. The line to the south is submerged; southbound passengers are bussed about an hour from Hualamphong Station to Nakhon Pathom to board the train. Train service to Ayutthaya is currently halted, with a few trains a day making it to Bangpa-in. State Railways of Thailand can be reached on 1690 to check up-to-the-minute service details.
Bus service to flooded communities has been halted or modified, but service to other locales is back to normal (although using alternate routes to avoid the water). Domestic flights that were operating from Don Muang airport have been relocated to Suvarnabhumi Airport, which as mentioned is operating normally. Many countries have issued travel warnings that advise against non-essential travel to Bangkok. While the actual danger on the ground is a call that everyone must make for themselves, travelling against the advice of your government as we have warned (and even ranted about) repeatedly may affect the terms of your travel insurance (which you, of course, would not be travelling without.)
So what’s our recommendation? Well, Bangkok is stressed out, but 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.
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.