I’ve listed below some questions and comments that I’ve had in emails over the past few days concerning the floods in Bangkok and other areas of Thailand.
My government has banned people from going to Thailand because of the floods
Check again what your government is actually saying. A number of countries have issued travel advisories for Bangkok and some of the flood affected districts to the north of Bangkok (e.g. Ayutthaya). It does not apply to the vast majority of Thailand where there are no problems. Travel advisories do not apply to transit through Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. However, if your government has issued a travel advisory it may affect your travel insurance policy if you decide to stay in Bangkok whilst the advisory remains in place (check with your insurer). Whether that advisory is still needed (or was ever needed) is another debate. If you are worried or concerned, then go ahead and re-arrange your trip and don’t stay in Bangkok. As advised many times, central Bangkok is not under water and if experts are to be believed, nor is it likely to be although nobody can give 100% guarantees. There are no problems in popular locations including Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Ko Samui, Ko Chang etc.
I read on Trip Advisor that the Grand Palace was closed by floods
Did you? Please give me the link to that so I can put them right in no uncertain terms. Last week a small amount of water seeped through one of the entrances into one area of the grounds of the Grand Palace. The water was quickly pumped out. There was some ankle-deep water on one part of the road outside the Grand Palace (on the Sanam Luang side) last week during high tides, but this receded back later. Other roads in the area remained dry. The Grand Palace hasn’t been closed by floods. I’ve no doubt that the usual touts and scam artists are outside telling people that the grounds are closed. Ignore them. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo are open as usual as is nearby Wat Pho.
I read that Chinatown was under water
Chinatown covers a large area. A couple of sections of roads in one part of Chinatown did see some localized flooding last weekend whilst other areas remained dry. Latest reports indicate the area is now free from water.
BBC and CNN said Bangkok airport was closed
I also saw this headline from the BBC on one of their online articles last week. Reading the story it explained that it was Don Muang that was closed which they described as ‘Bangkok’s domestic airport’. The article gave the misleading impression that all domestic flights go from Don Muang (DMK). They don’t. A limited number of internal flights operate from Don Muang (located in the northern suburbs of Greater Bangkok) using low-cost carriers Nok Air and Orient Thai. Those airlines have now switched to the main airport at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) until Don Muang reopens.
The bulk of internal flights with Thai Airways, Air Asia and Bangkok Airways operate from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK) which is also the international airport and is located in the eastern suburbs. There is no flooding there nor are there any floods on roads between the airport and the central business district (CBD) of Bangkok. According to latest reports today, there is the possibility of some flooding reaching districts located to the north of the airport, but Thai officials are adamant there is no threat to the airport itself which has extensive flood defences in place. There are also no suggestions that road or rail transits into central Bangkok will be affected.
I saw photos of planes surrounded by water on the runway at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport
No you didn’t. What has been shown in the media are photos of planes on a section of tarmac at Don Muang airport. The photos were certainly dramatic, but what international media outlets failed to point out were that these were decommissioned planes sitting on an outer area of Don Muang. There are no floods at Bangkok’s main airport (international and domestic) at Suvarnabhumi which is open as normal and fully operational for domestic and international flights.
I’ve heard that Thailand has cancelled Loy Krathong
Loy Krathong festivities will continue as normal in most areas of Thailand including renowned locations such as Chiang Mai and Sukhothai. However, the decision was taken last week to cancel the official celebrations along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.
Can I still take a dinner cruise in Bangkok?
Dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya River were temporarily suspended last week. However, you should contact your hotel or tour operator in Bangkok who will be able to advise as the situation is liable to change on a daily basis as the height of the river drops and things improve. Cross river ferries continue to run, including those used by the upmarket hotels near the river such as the Peninsula. Chao Phraya Express boats have been suspended until
November 7 November 14.
Is Chatuchak weekend market closed?
Chatuchak district is an area that has seen some flooding and Chatuchak Weekend Market was closed last weekend. It is likely that it will also be closed this weekend.
Chatuchak Market is now scheduled to open this weekend, but it is on flood alert so the market could be closed at any stage if flood waters reach the area.
Is it true that Sukhumvit is flooded?
No it isn’t true. This particular gem of misinformation was due to the irresponsibility of the online edition of the Bangkok Post last week which carried a headline under the ‘Breaking News’ section which read, ‘Sukhumvit Flooded’. This subsequently spread rapidly via Twitter. For those of us that actually read the story and checked the facts, parts of two streets in eastern Sukhumvit (sois 48 and 50) suffered some localized flooding as a result of temporary damage to flood defences. It was then cleared. End of story. Unfortunately, some Twitter users began to tweet that Sukhumvit was flooded and created unnecessary panic for tourists. Sukhumvit is a very long road and sois 48 and 50 are in a residential area a long way out from the tourist areas and hotels of lower and central Sukhumvit. No need to panic. No drama.
Somebody told me on Facebook that Ko Samui, Phuket and Pattaya are flooded
Really? Somebody told me on Facebook that Elvis Presley was found alive and well and living on the moon.
Are trains running now from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?
There is now a very limited service between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. When I rang State Railway of Thailand (SRT) I was advised there was no sleeper service and the route was subject to extended journey times because it is being re-routed on to the north-eastern line before going back on the northern line. Yesterday I was advised there was only one train per day in each direction, but with the flood situation improving in the central provinces, more trains could be in a position to run within the next few weeks. For updated train information once you are in Thailand I suggest you call the SRT hotline on 1690.
Bangkok floods travel updates »
Are trains running to the south of Thailand?
They are, but not all services are running to or from Bangkok Hualamphong. Some services are departing/arriving via Nakhon Pathom with an onward connecting bus service to/from Hualamphong (and Thonburi). With the situation liable to change on a daily basis, passengers are advised to call 1690 within Thailand for more information.
Bangkok floods travel updates »
I’ve been told that Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus terminal might flood
Bangkok’s northern bus terminal at Mo Chit is in an area close to the flooded districts. If water forces the bus terminal to close, contingency plans are in place to move operations to the public transportation centre at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Bangkok floods travel updates »
Can I still travel around by public transport in Bangkok?
Can I get to the Floating Market?
The most famous and popular floating market is located at Damnoen Saduak some distance from Bangkok. This remains open as usual, but to get there from central Bangkok may involve some minor detours to avoid flooded roads to the west of the capital. There is another smaller floating market at Taling Chan on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River. This is in an area where there has been some extensive flooding on some streets. If you are going as part of an organised tour to Taling Chan the tour operator is best placed to advise you about access as things are changing on a daily basis. If you are arranging your own transport, then my best guess is that taxi drivers will want to avoid the Taling Chan area completely at the moment.
I’ve read that Bangkok has run out of drinking water
Another dramatic headline that needs explaining. The issue of clean drinking water is a serious concern for those living in flood affected districts in and around the Bangkok area. Floods at some distribution centres and on transport links have also interrupted supplies to some supermarket chains as far afield as Chiang Mai and Krabi. However, from a tourist perspective there are no real problems; you will not be going hungry or thirsty if you are due to visit Bangkok or Thailand in the near future.
A flood of information
I’ve been meaning to write this article for some time and was finally prompted to do so by Greg Jorgensen’s excellent post on his website. Greg lives and works in Bangkok and gives a balanced assessment of what it is actually like in Bangkok.
“If I wasn’t watching the news and monitoring the internet, I’d have no idea anything was amiss at all. Inner Bangkok remains dry, sunny, and business as usual . . .”
Bangkok resident, Greg Jorgensen
As Greg points out in his article, there has been lots of information put out on Facebook, Twitter and social media in general. Some of it has been useful, some of it has been irresponsible and some of it has been inaccurate. The problem with what some people are writing is that they are not checking sources for accuracy and just repeating hearsay and rumours. I read one message on Twitter in mid-October that said Central World near Siam Square was being closed because of flooding. It wasn’t. I challenged the ‘Twit’ and asked him for his source. His reply (5 days later) was he’d heard a rumour from his partner. This is happening time and again with misleading information and rumours being spread as ‘facts’.
The Thai government haven’t helped matters and nor have the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority and the Flood Relief Operations Centre. They are all involved in a difficult and unenviable task, but unfortunately politics have also been at play during the flood crisis. Politics have also extended into sections of the media in Thailand, notably the Bangkok Post and The Nation newspapers.
The bottom line is that we all have to apply our own individual filters and use common-sense when reading information on the floods or watching news coverage. For my part, I am trying to filter out useless information and stories which can’t be verified. I don’t want to underplay what has been a serious situation in Bangkok and the central provinces of Thailand, but neither do I want readers to get the false impression that all of Bangkok is underwater. Media reports last night and this morning say a fifth of Bangkok is flooded which is clearly serious, but that also means that 80% of Bangkok isn’t flooded and that includes the inner areas. At this stage, I am still wary about who to believe and who not to believe, but I would advise all tourists not to panic and to keep things in perspective for Bangkok. As I’ve repeatedly said on my updates, the problems for tourists are an inconvenience at worst. The real problems are for the people who live and work in the flood-hit areas and who have seen loved ones killed, homes destroyed and livelihoods lost.