Bangkok remains on high alert, with the Thai government admitting that efforts to protect the city from the incoming flood waters are failing.
In its latest attempt to save the economic heart of Bangkok, the authorities opened floodgates to relieve pressure on dams and levees and send the floodwater toward the sea.
Despite this, Bangkok is for the most part operating as usual, but tourists should take care given the lack of certainty. As of Friday afternoon major tourist areas in central Bangkok, such as Sukhumvit Road, Khao San Road, Siam and Silom, remained unaffected by the incoming runoff from the central plains provinces. But many riverside piers, restaurants and homes on low-lying sections of the Chao Phraya River have been flooded, as well as suburban areas of Bangkok.
Most public transportation — including the Chao Phraya River ferries, BTS Skytrain and MRT — is running as normal, while shopping malls, government offices and banks are open. Traffic has reportedly eased significantly in the city center, as many drivers are opting to leave their vehicles parked on raised ground.
Though the majority of the city remains dry, the floods have disrupted Bangkok’s food and water supply chain. Many convenience store and supermarket shelves are missing items like bottled water and non-perishable food, a hot buy as city residents stock up to prepare for the worst.
For those looking to extend their Thai tourist visas, the Nonthaburi-based Chaeng Wattana Immigration Complex in Bangkok’s outskirts is still open, despite floods in the area.
Elsewhere in Thailand
As of Friday, all airports throughout Thailand, including Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, remain unaffected by the floods and are operating as per usual.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) says major tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Sukhothai, Kanchanaburi, Ratchburi, Pattaya, Ko Chang, Rayong, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Ko Samui are all experiencing normal weather conditions.
The exception is the ancient city Ayutthaya, which has been badly hit by the floods. All tourist attractions there have been temporarily closed.
Despite the TAT’s assurances, tourists should check ahead with tour operators, hotels and airlines before traveling, as the tourism body’s updates are sporadic. Train services from Bangkok to northern destinations beyond Ayutthaya suspended, with only limited services in the areas affected by the flooding.
The State Railway of Thailand is offering full refunds on tickets for travelers who want to cancel their trips to destinations where train service is suspended. Contact the SRT Call Center at 1690 for updates and info.
Long-distance bus services from Bangkok are still operating, but due to highway closures in flooded regions some are taking alternative routes, resulting in increased travel times. Call 1490 for the latest information.
So far, at least 340 people have been killed and two people are missing in Thailand, according to the government website Thaiflood.com. Some 62 of the country’s 76 provinces have so far been affected, impacting more than 9 million people.
The TAT’s news site offers semi-regular updates on the floods. Tourists can also call the TAT Information Line at 1672 to check local conditions, or visit the Thailand Meteorological Department website for updated weather forecasts.
Source: Thai flood crisis | CNN