Over the past several weeks, seasonal rains that are heavier than usual have resulted in widespread flooding in Thailand. While the flooding is having some impact on tourism, most key tourist destinations and attractions throughout Thailand have not been affected by the floods and almost all remain open.
The floods are mainly affecting the provinces in central Thailand including parts of Bangkok and a few provinces in the north and northeast. Flood waters in several provinces in northern Thailand have begun to subside. Provinces in the south of Thailand have not been affected by the floods. Ayutthaya has been the only tourist destination widely affected by the floods, while other provinces where tourists generally go have been slightly impacted.
Major tourist destinations such as Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Sukhothai, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Pattaya, Koh Chang, Rayong, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, and Koh Samui, and all provinces in southern Thailand, are not affected by the floods. They remain fully accessible and are experiencing normal weather conditions for this time of year.
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok has not been affected by the floods and is operating as per usual. The airport has considerable flood protection measures in place and officials are monitoring the situation closely. Don Mueang Airport, which is located in a northern suburb of Bangkok and handles domestic airlines serving a small number of provinces, has been closed until November 1st due to flooding. All other airports in Thailand are open and operating normally.
Flood waters are being drained through Bangkok’s system of canals in a controlled manner. Key areas of central Bangkok where tourists normally go are not flooded. Some of the city’s suburbs and areas along the Chao Phraya River are experiencing localized flooding.
Tourist destinations in the north, such as Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Sukhothai, are best accessed by air as some roads and railways in the central provinces are closed due to the floods. Provinces in southern and eastern Thailand remain fully accessible by road and train.
Train services from Bangkok to northern destinations are suspended due to the tracks being flooded. The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is offering full refunds on tickets for travelers who want to cancel their trips to destinations where train service is suspended. Train services to other parts of Thailand are available as per normal.
Thai Airways International (TG), Orient Thai Airlines and Air Asia operate daily flights between Bangkok and Chiang Rai. The flight takes about 1.15 hrs.
Chiang Rai, the former capital of the great Lanna Kingdom, is a fascinating province filled with cultural and natural wonders, including the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos, and Burma come together; an area that was once the hub of opium production, a trade that had much influence on cultural practices and lifestyles. Chiang Rai had stayed off the tourist radar for many years, its people enjoying very leisurely development and mostly traditional, rural lifestyles. Until this day, entire clans live together in bamboo houses and each village has its own individual character.
Recently tourism has boomed in Chiang Rai, where visitors have come to explore the pristine natural beauty of the countryside and immerse themselves in the indigenous culture, including those of a variety of different hill tribe communities. Fortunately for tourists, Chiang Rai is also a center for community development projects, helping rural villagers develop their attractions without adversely affecting their natural and cultural assets.
Chiangrai Times – Anna Wong