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Extremely wet conditions are about to envelop the Thai capital for a few months, but the extreme weather needn’t put a damper on your spirits
Contrary to what many might think, the rainy season, approximately end of June to October in Bangkok, is not a miserable war of attrition against the elements. While it certainly rains (and rains hard) on a regular basis, showers don’t occur every day and they rarely last for longer than a couple of hours. What’s more, just as Bangkok is equipped with places to hide from the sun during the hottest months, so too is the city well served with shelters from the storms.
When rainy season kicks in earnest in Bangkok it is usually greeted with a massive sigh of relief after the relentless sun and sweltering temperatures of high summer. It’s true though, that the leaden skies and torrential showers can pall quickly – especially if you are caught in the rain. A little planning goes a long way if you are visiting Bangkok between June and October. First off, develop a keen interest in hourly weather patterns in the city. If the forecast says it is going to rain or if a massive thundercloud is looking angry in the distance, then stick to the sanctity of your hotel room or head for the nearest mall or restaurant.
Monsoon season is not the most fashion forward period in Bangkok. Waterlogged sidewalks aren’t particularly kind to expensive footwear, so this is a good time to invest in some sturdy flip-flops. Likewise, women might want to forsake make-up of the non-waterproof kind and invest in decent rain gear instead. Lastly, taxis are not your friend during a downpour due to the congestion on the roads. Try to stick to the city’s BTS or MRT lines or hail a motorbike taxi: you may get wet, but at least you’ll get to your destination in reasonable time.
It may seem rather obvious, but there’s no better way to pass an extended rain shower than by perusing one of Bangkok’s incredible city centre malls: one stop shops for shopping, dining and entertainment for all the family. Emporium, Gaysorn Village and Central Embassy cater primarily to the chic and sophisticated set. The latter goes beyond mere retail to provide a full spectrum lifestyle experience. Those seeking a luxurious dodge from the showers will love the mall’s Embassy Diplomat Screens – a VIP theatre complete with giant sofa-style seats and complimentary snacks and drinks. Other highlights, meanwhile, include a large food market called EATHAI, which serves up Thai regional dishes, a seafood market and Issaya Cooking Studio comprising a chef’s table, a cooking school and an open pastry kitchen.
Bangkok’s cultural highlights – museums and art galleries chiefly – offer enough intellectual ballast to see you through multiple rainy days. We are big fans of the Museum Siam, a charismatic museum that employs a variety of media to explore the origins of the Thai people and their culture. Exhibits are presented in a contemporary, engaging and interactive fashion. Also compelling is Jim Thompson House. Thompson, an American entrepreneur, arrived in Bangkok after the Second World War and revived Thailand’s ailing silk industry. His former home in Bangkok sits in lovely gardens on the bank of Saen Saeb Canal. The elegant residence is a collection of six traditional Thai teakwood houses linked in the garden compound by covered walkways. It’s a haven of peace in the heart of the city and a wonderful place to while away an extended shower.