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Thailand’s Flooding FAQ, update 29 October 2011 (TAT)

Thailand has been facing the worst flooding it’s seen in half a century; thus, if you are traveling or planning a trip to Thailand at this time, you are advised to stay well-informed. There are many places you can travel very safely to, and have a normal, wonderful Thai holiday says the Tourism Authority of Thailand . There are also some things that you should stay tuned in to, in order to avoid any unexpected developments.

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Bangkok river flooding 29102011

Thailand has been facing the worst flooding it’s seen in half a century; thus, if you are traveling or planning a trip to Thailand at this time, you are advised to stay well-informed. There are many places you can travel very safely to, and have a normal, wonderful Thai holiday says the Tourism Authority of Thailand . There are also some things that you should stay tuned in to, in order to avoid any unexpected developments. 

This FAQ is provided to answer some important questions, and to give you the information you need to keep up with the developing situation.

1.    What tourist destinations in Thailand are not affected by the floods and are okay to visit?
While several major tourist attractions in a few central provinces have been temporarily closed due to the floods, they represent a very small portion of the many thousands of tourist attractions throughout Thailand. All other tourist attractions in central Bangkok, as well as elsewhere in Thailand, such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kanchanaburi, Hua-Hin, Pattaya, Rayong, Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui, and all provinces in the south, have not been affected by the flooding.

Bangkok river flooding 29102011

The vicinity of the Chao Praya river remains heavily flooded, but the water level is slowly decreasing

2.    Will there be any difficulty to visit all the important tourist places in Thailand now due to the flooding?
At present, no.  The only two centers that have closed are Dream World and Future Park Rangsit.  Both are in the northern suburbs of the city, which has already become affected by rising waters.  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.

3.    Do you have any ideas whether tourist shopping places like Platinum Mall or Chatuchak (Weekend) Market is still open at this point of time?

At the present time, all major shopping centers remain opened.  Chatuchak Market is closed to visit during 28-30 October at the moment. You should check the current status of the sites you wish to visit in Bangkok with the news and contact numbers provided.

4.    Does the severity of this year’s floods mean it’s better to avoid Thailand for holidays this year, even in the high season?
No, as the floods are a result of the annual rainy season, which is over before high season. The rainy season is now coming to an end, which will allow the flood water to clear out and provide for restoration of the affected areas well before high season. It is too early to cancel trips planned for December 2011 through February 2012, the normal tourist high season in Thailand.

5.    What is the total number of tourist attractions that have been closed by the flooding?

Some tourist attractions in a few central provinces have been temporarily closed, as well as the majority of tourist destinations in Ayutthaya province. Of the more than 1,200 tourist attractions that interest international visitors to Thailand, only about 3% have been affected by the floods. This includes 40 tourist attractions in the central region. Other than the World Heritage Site in Ayutthaya, all of the tourist attractions that visitors like to go to when they come to Thailand remain opened.

6.    Will I have a nice trip as a tourist?
If you stay informed and avoid the areas in and around Bangkok that are temporarily flooded, you will have your typical, amazing Thai holiday. Chiang Mai is functioning perfectly as usual, and open for business, as are all the fabulous beach resorts in the south.

7.    What advice do you have for travelers who want to travel safely around Thailand at this time?
Stay abreast of all the latest news, including the TAT’s www.thailandtourismupdate.com. There are many websites and phone numbers listed in the site that you can use to travel safely at this time, and enjoy your holiday. Simply travel by air out of Bangkok to any of Thailand’s major tourist destinations and you’ll be fine.

8.    Are most hotels and tourist destinations throughout Thailand operating as normal, or is it very quiet now throughout Thailand?
Tourist destinations outside of the flooded areas of the central provinces are reporting near-normal occupancy and booking rates for accommodations. The government is putting tremendous effort into protecting central Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi Airport, which are two key tourist areas, from flooding. Key tourist destinations in the south, north and northeast, as well as destinations in the central provinces such Hua Hin and Pattaya, have not been affected by the floods so we are confident that they will see the tourist numbers that are expected for the high season.

9.    What is the status of Thailand’s airports?  Could they possibly be closed soon?
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok has not been affected by the floods and is operating as usual. The airport has considerable flood protection measures in place and officials are monitoring the situation closely. Don Muang 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 opened and operating normally.

10.    Are the trains still running north? Just wondering if we should skip the north and go south?
Tourist destinations in the north, such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, 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.

11.    What is the transportation system like now? How well is everything functioning?
Some roads to the north of Bangkok are closed at present. Thailand’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi, is opened, and you can fly to anywhere else in Thailand from there with no problems. Thailand’s secondary airport, Don Muang, is closed at present, with Nok and Orient Air moving their services to Suvarnabhumi.

12.    Prime Minister Yingluck has declared Bangkok to be a disaster area. This sounds like the situation is very serious, so why should people risk coming to Bangkok?
Tourist destinations in the north, such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Sukhothai, are best accessed by air as some roads and railways in the central provinces are closed due to the floods. The State Railway of Thailand cancelled all south-bound train services from Bangkok Friday 28th Oct 2011. SRT has arranged the bus from Hua Lamphong Station to Nakhon Pathom station and passenger can continue the train from there to Southern part. Provinces in southern and eastern Thailand remain fully accessible by road and train.

13.    What are foreign government travel advisories saying about the situation in Thailand? Are they warning people to stay away? 
Various governments issue travel advisories based on their impression of a situation and what they feel is in the best interest of their citizens. The TAT encourages travelers to review these travel warnings, as well as consult several sources of information, and make a personal decision about traveling to Thailand at this time.

14.    What kind of flood control measures does Bangkok have in place?
According to the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority, the flood prevention and drainage system protecting Bangkok includes a vast network of dams and drainage systems, all being utilized to minimize the impact on Bangkok. There is also a highly sophisticated flood control centre with high-tech devices for rain forecasting and synchronizing the meteorological information with various agencies that are also involved in nationwide flood prevention efforts.

15.    Will there be any difficulty in getting food and water?
There have been cases of food, such as instant noodles, and bottled water, sold out at major supermarkets across Bangkok.  This is due to a supply and demand issue, in which suppliers simply underestimated the public concern over the flood situation.  Most other items are readily available, and no major shortages are reported upcountry.

16.    Why is the TAT remaining so positive about achieving its targets for arrivals?

The TAT’s outlook remains positive for several reasons, including the fact that of the more than 1,200 tourist attractions that interest international visitors to Thailand, only about 3% have been affected by the floods and the remainder are open and welcoming visitors. The most affected area is the central region, where 40 tourist attractions have been closed due to the floods.

17.    What effect is the flooding having on major events coming up in Thailand?  Can you give me an update please?
Major events going ahead as planned include:
– Phimai Festival, from November 9th to 13th, at Phimai Historical Park in Nakhon Ratchasima province.
– The 5th Thailand International Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai from November 25th to 27th.
– Loi Krathong Festival and Candle Festival in Sukhothai, from November 8th and November 10th at the Sukhothai Historical Park.
– The Royal Flora Ratchaphruek Fair 2011 in Chiang Mai, although the opening date has been moved back from November 9th to December 16th.

18.    Where can I view maps of flooded areas and highways?
See this Thailand Flood Map (http://g.co/maps/c3c66); or view the Department of Highways site showing affected roads throughout Thailand: http://maintenance.doh.go.th/flood54.html (in Thai, but with maps).

19.    What websites provide the most up-to-date information that I can check day to day?
The TAT is communicating these facts to potential visitors worldwide through regular updates to our 24 international offices, media worldwide, online and via direct communications with tour operators. The situation can be monitored through www.thailandtourismupdate.com. You can also check the following sites for additional information:
– Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (English) – www.bangkok.go.th/th/main/index.php?&l=en
– Thai Meteorological Department (in English) – www.tmd.go.th/en/
– Flood Relief Operation Centre (in Thai) – www.floodthailand.net

20.    What useful numbers you can tell me to get more information?
USEFUL CONTACT NUMBERS
TAT Call Center:     1672
Thai Airways:     02-356-1111
Bangkok Airways:    02-265-8777
Air Asia:     02-515-9999
Nok Air:    1318 or 02-900-9955
Orient Thai Airlines:    1126
Tourist Police    1155
State Railway of Thailand (SRT) Call Center:     1690
Transport Co., Ltd. Hotline:    1490
(Inter-provincial bus service)
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration Hotline:    1555
BMA’s flood response centre:    02-2485115
Highway Hotline:    1586
Highway Police:    1193
Animal rescue:     1362

Please remember to stay well-informed until the flooding subsides. There is much information available, and you should print out or make note of these websites and phone numbers. There are people everywhere willing to help and assist you, should you need it. If you do find yourself in need of official assistance, the Thai Tourist Police are well-trained and able to assist you; they can be reached by calling 1155. Chances are that you will not need any of these emergency numbers, but it is best to be prepared and not caught unawares. That way, you’ll get the most out of your time in Thailand, and be able to fully enjoy your time here.

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