Thailand is well known for its dramatic monsoon rains, and like it or not, whatever time of year you visit the Land of Smiles, there is a chance you will encounter some rain. Whilst some may barricade themselves in the dry comfort of their hotels, I say nay; grab your raincoat and get out there and enjoy those hot, steamy Bangkok showers. After spending two days in Bangkok’s rain with one of Experience Travel Group’s founders, Tom, I have come up with a few insider tips on how best to tackle the wet weather:
1. AVOID TAXIS!
Its rush hour, its raining and you have somewhere you’ve got to be. Happy hour at the hotel is about to finish. You have to pick up your tailored suit before the shop closes. You may even have an appointment with a high monk for a blessing at one of Bangkok’s glided temples. Hail a cab, right?
Wrong! Don’t forget that everyone else on the soggy streets of Bangkok is thinking exactly the same thing, and as such the traffic-clogged roads are likely to be even more traffic-clogged than normal. Why not hop on the sky train to get to your next destination? Not only is it cheap, efficient and clearly signed for foreigners, it also offers awesome views of the city from up high.
Those brave enough (and who don’t mind getting a bit wet/muddy), rent a bike and discover your inner child again as you zoom through those enormous puddles along the roadside. Make sure you wear a helmet and look out for tuk-tuks!
2. GET A GRIP……………………….PY PAIR OF SHOES
The pavements in Bangkok start to resemble ice-skating rinks when wet, so make sure you invest in a good pair of shoes with solid grip on the soles. Flip-flops are not ideal as you will slide all over the place, not to mention flick mud up the backs of your legs (trust me). Shoes with external fabric like Converse, trainers, etc, are also not advised; not only will they emerge with water-stain marks, but they also have a habit of smelling bad when wet. Unless you had the foresight to pack a pair of Wellington Boots in your luggage, your best bet is probably a pair of jelly shoes or a pair of water proof, velco-strap travel sandals.
3. STREET FOOD UNDER COVER
The streets of Bangkok are always a colourful and vibrant blur, and a little (or a lot) of rain certainly doesn’t change that. Life still moves at a thousand miles an hour here, even when it rains, which means that during a downpour, you have got a perfect opportunity to do some serious “people watching”. What do I mean by people watching? Simply pulling up a chair, sitting back and watching daily life unfold in front of you in all its dizzying splendour.
Bangkok is definitely a city that runs on a full stomach, and despite the rain, street vendors and local snack shacks still enjoy a roaring trade. Seek out a kebab cart or a pancake hot-plate with an umbrella under which you can sit, order some freshly cooked snacks and a steaming cup of tea, and simply watch the world go by.
Oh, but make sure your street snacking spot isn’t too close to the road, you wouldn’t want to be splashed by one of those over-zealous cyclists from tip no.2, would you?
4. HEAD TO A TEMPLE
When the heavens open, one of the last things you may feel like doing is continuing with your site seeing. However, where others may give up for the day and return to their hotels, you could visit one of Bangkok’s religious temples for an unforgettable experience away from other tourists. Grand golden stupas, exquisite mural paintings, chanting monks swathed in brilliant orange robes, swirling incense smoke and tinkling bells all make for a sensuous experience when visiting Thai temples, and pouring rain adds another dramatic dimension to the heady atmosphere. Try the iconic Wat Arun or Wat Benchamabophitr, and remember to keep your legs and shoulders covered.
5. DON’T FORGET MOSQUITO REPELLENT!
Sadly these little pests still come out to play in the rain, and I have the bites to prove it. Ouch. Remember to spritz some mosquito repellent before you go outside!
“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.” – Anonymous
P.S. Combine any or all of these elements with Experience Travel Group signature Bangkok experiences as part of your Thailand holiday: with or without the rain!