In the last week or so, Chiang Mai and the north of Thailand have been experiencing the usual hazy weather they get at this time of the year. The haze and smog in Chiang Mai is nowhere near as bad as it was last year, but it is still enough of a problem for the king of Thailand to voice his concern. King Bhumibol has asked for daily reports to be sent to the Royal Household Bureau. If the situation doesn’t improve the king may order artificial rain-making.
Royal Rainmaking Project
Early in his reign, King Bhumibol became interested in artificial rain-making. His Majesty travelled to the most remote parts of Thailand and witnessed at first-hand the problems farmers face with drought conditions. The Thai king invested his own private funds into a project to research cloud-seeding techniques and artificial rain-making. King Bhumibol’s interest and expertise in artificial rain-making has been internationally acclaimed and the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation is viewed as a leading light in this field.
Haze in Chiang Mai
From my own personal experience of living in Chiang Mai, the haze this year is no surprise because it happens every year as the hot season kicks in and farmers continue to use slash and burn techniques. From the city it’s quite easy to gauge how bad the haze is on a daily basis by just seeing how clear the view is of Doi Suthep, the mountain which forms the backdrop to Chiang Mai city. As I write this, the mountain is a bit of a murky outline, but is still visible and the haze certainly hasn’t descended as low as it did last year.
I visited Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on Monday with family who are visiting from the United Kingdom and our enjoyment wasn’t affected by the haze, although the view of the city from the temple grounds wasn’t too clear.
Mae Hong Worst Affected by Smog
Official figures show that current haze and smog levels are at their highest in Mae Hong Son. If you are flying to Mae Hong Son, be advised that your flights may be subject to delay or even cancellation. Levels in Mae Hong Son are also high enough to cause possible problems for people with respiratory illnesses.
Chiang Rai Haze
Chiang Rai ranks as the second most affected province. I am planning a visit to the city of Chiang Rai this weekend, so I will write an update on conditions there when I come back.
The weather in Chiang Rai was hot and sunny but there was haze around which obscured the normally clear views of the surrounding mountains. That said, it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the visit. Since I left Chiang Rai on Sunday, rain has helped to clear the air just as it has done in neighbouring Chiang Mai province.
If you are planning a visit to the north of Thailand, don’t be put off by reports of haze. Yes, there has been plenty of haze around in recent weeks, but current conditions are excellent in terms of air quality.