Visiting Thailand is always an adventure, but sometimes, due to rain, politics or economic crashes, you get opportunities to see situations that you might not have planned. If the event happens between when you buy your ticket and you arrive, or while you are there, there are ways to make it a rich experience.
Don’t just cancel your trip or go straight home. While you need to keep yourself safe, normally adverse events are very localized to where the event is happening. Thailand is a huge country with lots of great places to go and things to do.
Unfortunately, western media accounts of events in Thailand are generally extremely biased toward the sensationally wrong (CNN Headline News crawl: “Bangkok opened the flood gates.”) and often don't clearly explain what is actually happening in an actionable way. Whether it is a poor grasp of Thai politics, biased or overly "balanced" editing or a belief that the reality is too complicated for 500 words, western papers have never seemed apt to report the real machinations of Thai events or politics. The end result is simply that you need to go elsewhere for news.
If you want better knowledge, you can find the best reporting of events and politics in the leading Thai newspapers, Daily News and Manager, which Google Translations does a very adequate job of translating. CNNgo.com/bangkok and Richard Barrows seem to report tourism-impacting events meaningfully. The leading English language newspapers in Thailand, The Bangkok Post and The Nation are generally also far better at reporting local events than western media.
Hop Somewhere Else
Once your in Thailand, if whatever is happening is right where you wanted to be, it's often easiest best go to another part of the country. Flights from Bangkok to outside areas, such as Chang Mai, Phuket or Samui are very inexpensive on the local carriers. There are discount airlines such as Nok Air or Air Asia who have regular flights all over the country. There are also trains, buses and cars.
While you may have planned to have a completely relaxing holiday, you might have an incredibly rewarding one by pitching in. The local buddhist temples, the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, the UN and many others offer aid during events. By helping out you’ll probably build great friendships, have an deeply meaningful time. By sticking around and being a part of the solution, the connections you’ll have made and stories you’ll be able to tell when you get home are likely far more interesting than they would have otherwise.
There may not be another opportunity
As a world citizen, take charge and visit these historical sites, there may not be another opportunity to do so. Last fall we were lucky to have gone to to the top of the Washington Monument and a few months later there was an earthquake, Now visitors are no long allowed in the tower. This month’s floods have put the ancient city of Autthaya under water and there are questions about whether the temples will survive. You have made you plan, take this chance to take in what Thailand has to offer. There may not be another opportunity.
Some of these events you may not have an opportunity to see again. We’d love to be in Bangkok right now, during the floods to help out, take pictures and see the city as it faces the challenges. While we’ve seen hardship and suffering in the photos of Bangkok residents, and we’re saddened by the damage, we’ve also seen many pictures of people smiling as they wade through the water. While you need to stay safe and healthy, finding happiness despite catastrophe is partly just perspective.