The rainy season in Thailand can be pretty harsh and unforgiving at times: flash flooding, terrifying thunder, lightning bolts and soggy flip flops. But at the same time it's lovely when the rain clears the humidity and you can appreciate an overcast day while still wearing a t-shirt.
The rainy season is a blessing and a disguise, it washes away the dirt, waters the crops and gives us something to say to each other than “it's so hot (rawn mak mak!). Learn how to survive the rainy season in Thailand this year with these 10 top tips.
1. Carry a Compact Brolly
I thought we'd start with an obvious one, yet you'd be surprised how many people I see at the station each day who forgot to take an umbrella to work. However, emphasis is on the word “compact”. Pavements in Thailand tend to be quite narrow, and as such you will be required to drop, dip and duck with your brolly as you avoid taking someone's eye out.
2. Beware of Cheap Flip Flops
Cheap flip flops with zero grip are a no no during rainy season. Every year I see many a person going arse over tit as a slippery stream of water rushes under foot. Get some grippy, waterproof kicks.
3. Respect the Dangers of Lightening
If you get caught outside in the rain and lighting begins to strike, you must avoid water and high ground. Avoid open spaces and all metal objects, including electric wires, fences, machinery, motors and power tools, etc.
4. Take Proper Shelter When Outdoors
Whatever you do don't stand under a tree! Find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle such as a car, truck or a van – not a Tuk Tuk! Rather than sprint home to get inside as quick as possible, be safe and duck into a supermarket of 7/11 for shelter. Better to wit 15 minutes than to break a leg!
5. Close Doors & Windows When Inside
Storms are pretty cool to watch, and it can be tempting to stand out on the balcony and watch the lightning bolts. However, lightening can easily strike you on your balcony or through an open window as you sit and ponder the rain (see here!). Be safe, shut the windows and doors and stay inside.
6. Walk if You Can!
Us foreign folk aren't scared of a drop of rain, are we? Thais, as you probably know by now, are. “Rain makes you sick!” If you don't mind walking in light rain (with an umbrella and not when you hear thunder or see lightening) you gain considerable advantage during the rainy season on two levels. Firstly, heavy rain roads are even more dangerous than normal, so taking a Tuk Tuk or motorbike taxi isn't advisable. And secondly (if you live in BKK), when the rain falls the streets are choc-o-block and the traffic barely moves. Over short distances you can get around faster on two legs. However, if it's thunder and lightening outside you're better off staying at home.
7. Buy Three Day's Worth of Essential Supplies
The tropical rainstorms in Thailand tend to last somewhere between 15-45 minutes. That said, in previous years flooding has made street access difficult in some areas, and caused panic food buying at local stores. Think ahead and stock up on essential items with at least three day's worth of supplies. Double that figure for drinking water.
8. Know Your Emergency Telephone Numbers
It's common to see accidents in the rainy season, and hospitals are busy with cuts, bruises and breaks the country over. The rainy season is a particularly dangerous time for old people and children, and so it bodes well to know your emergency numbers in case a situation suddenly arises whereby you need to provide assistance:
– Emergency call center (Police, Fire, Ambulance) : 191
– Police :191
– Fire Brigade : 199
– Ambulance : 1554
– Tourism Police (English, French, and German languages) : 1155
– Highway Police : 1193
9. Prepare a Survival Kit (Rural/Island Dwellers)
This survival tip is geared toward those living on the islands or in fairly remote, rural parts of Thailand where harsh weather conditions may cause electric power, gas and water services to be interrupted.
Prepare a disaster supply kit containing essential items such as food, water, and sturdy clothing, capable of sustaining a family for up to three days. Here's a solid list, as provided by the folks at Moonsoon.org:
- Three gallons of water in clean, closed containers for each person and pet
- First aid kit
- A stock of food that requires no cooking or refrigeration
- Portable and working battery-operated radio, flashlights, and extra batteries
(Candles and oil lamps are fire hazards)
- Necessary medications
- Back-up power source for life support or other medical equipment that requires electricity to function
10. Spare a Thought for the Animals
Many street dogs and feral cats struggle during the rainy season. Their normal environment is disrupted; sleeping spots are wet and uninhabitable and food in short supply due to less people traffic and floor food washed away by the rain. Put some food out for that local mutt that looks a tad on the thin side, and for the kitten that miaows expectingly each time you walk past. If you see an animal in distress, Google a number for your local rescue centre and report the incident immediately.
Take care and enjoy the rain from a distance!