This year has seen the worst flooding in Thailand in decades with the central provinces particularly affected. Bangkok remains on alert as flood waters from further north head towards the Thai capital. Although Bangkok has flood defences in place they are going to be severely tested in the coming days and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has conceded that Bangkok will suffer from some flooding.
The critical period for Bangkok is forecast to be from October 16-18 as high tides are scheduled to arrive at the same time as run-off from further north. Added to this is the risk of heavy showers. Experts are arguing over the potential severity of flooding in Bangkok, but it looks inevitable that there will be localized flooding in some areas. Historically, the Thai capital has always been prone to flooding and waters inundating some areas of Bangkok used to be a regular rainy season occurrence until flood defence systems were introduced.
What Areas of Bangkok Will be Flooded?
Nobody can say with 100% certainty what areas of Bangkok will or won’t flood. Most of central Bangkok and the main tourist attractions are protected by a series of flood walls and drainage tunnels. At the moment the flooding is to the north and east of Bangkok. However, the Chao Phraya River and the network of canals (klongs) throughout the city remain at a high water level so localized flooding is possible in a number of different areas of the city.
Will Bangkok Airport be Flooded?
Bangkok’s international airport at Suvarnabhumi was built on low-lying former marsh land with an irrigation system used to pump away water from the area to the sea. When the airport was constructed flood defences were put in place all the way around the site. These defences have been strengthened in recent days as an added precaution and Thai officials are confident there is no risk of flooding to Bangkok airport.
Should I Cancel my Trip to Thailand?
As a tourist, it should be noted that the majority of the main tourist sites have been unaffected by flooding with the notable exception of Ayutthaya. I don’t personally see any reason at this stage to cancel your trip to Thailand especially if you are flying to the north or the south of the country where the situation is normal. All of Thailand’s airports are open and operating normally. Some train services out of Bangkok to the north have been suspended and there are some delays on the roads with buses being diverted on some routes.
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For the vast majority of tourists any flooding is likely to be an inconvenience at worst. For many Thai people it means loss of homes, loss of livelihoods and, in at least 250 instances, loss of life.
Is it Safe to Stay in Bangkok?
I will post updates to this site and on my Twitter feed and Facebook page as and when they become available, but at the moment Bangkok remains safe to visit. There is certainly potential for some roads to flood in some downtown areas especially those close to canals. It might sound obvious, but if you do see flooding try to keep out of the water. I was amazed at some of the antics by barefoot tourists during the flooding of the Night Bazaar area in Chiang Mai a fortnight ago. Any overflow water from rivers and canals carries all sorts of unpleasant surprises including sewage and broken glass. The streets of Bangkok can be bad enough to walk on when they are dry let alone when they are submerged so make sure you’ve got your tetanus and cholera jabs up to date.