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Thailand Floods Update – Chiang Mai

If you have any interest in Thailand the floods that have devastated areas around Bangkok this autumn cannot have escaped your attention. Of course, by association people then wonder about flooding in Chiang Mai. Well, we’re pleased to report it’s situation normal here with the last traces of flooding being cleared up more than a month ago. See this article: Chiang Mai – Update – the floods have gone!.

We are now enjoying some excellent cool season weather, with beautiful daytime blue skies and cool night time temperatures. Last night dipped to a very pleasant 17 degrees C and this afternoon’s high reached a wonderful 29 Degrees with a light refreshing breeze.

Suan Dok gate Chiang Mai
Stunning cool season skies over Suan Dok Gate

The noticeable collateral effects of the Bangkok floods for Chiang Mai have been a large increase in the number of people coming here and shortages of some items in the shops due to production and transport difficulties. This weeks Loy Kratong festival appeared to be one of the biggest ever with a large influx of flood refugees from Bangkok. Traffic around town has been much heavier than usual with many Bangkok registered vehicles adding to the congestion. Foreign tourist numbers have also seen a boost with seemingly many more people around and busy bars and restaurants. Indeed, in the tourist areas around Thapae gate many places have been packed to capacity.

However, the extra people have not helped the commodity supply situation which was already struggling. Don’t panic, no one is going to go hungry – the fresh food markets are all brimming with local produce and other essentials such as drinking water are produced locally and in good supply. The noticeable problems are with consumer items from Bangkok or abroad and with some store chains such as Tesco Lotus, 7-11 and Tops who have centralised distributions systems and are having difficulty re-supplying. Though locally run stores such as Rimping Supermarkets, and local shops supplied by local wholesalers still have most essentials in stock.

Singha Beer

The biggest and most shocking problem for many is a shortage of BEER. With Singha’s main brewery in Ayutthaya apparently under water the iconic bottle and well know emblem of Thailand has just about vanished. Beer in small bottles (33 cL) favoured by tourist bars, is hard to find in any brand, though large bottles, which are the staple of Thai drinkers are easier to find (except Singha).

The most readily available is Leo Beer, although from the same company as Singha Beer, we understand Leo is brewed exclusively in Khon Kean, Issan which still has clear transport links with Chiang Mai. Even then demand and panic buying mean stocks are under pressure, though most Mom and Pop stores we see around town have an ample supply.

Leo was originally introduced to compete with Chang Beer, but has carved out it’s own market niche and Boon Rawd Brewery claims that since 2009 Leo has been the number one selling beer in Thailand (from Excise department official statistics). It is highly popular with Thai consumers though maybe less well known for tourists as it has only made significant market penetration in the last few years. It has a clear crisp and light taste making it very drinkable and it seems to do inflict less morning after collateral damage than it’s rival Chang Beer. Best served the Thai way with ice here’s something new for your holiday vocabulary: “Bia Leo Kuat Yai, Sai Naam keng Krap” (Big Leo with Ice) 🙂

Leo beer

Apart from the beer shortage and difficulties finding some imported and processed foods, everything else here is great. The constant crackle of Loy Khratong fireworks is abating and everyone’s determined to enjoy the cool weather after the interminable rainy season. Transport links are OK, planes are operating with no problems as Suvaranabhumi airport in Bangkok is fully open and not effected by the floods, at least so far…. Both the buses and trains are running, though with some delays and diversions around Bangkok. The trains are very busy as Thai’s currently can travel very cheaply due to government intervention because of the floods.

If you haven’t booked your trip to Chiang Mai yet now is a great time to do so. And, below is just four of some very many special reasons to come here!

Shan Guys
You can tell they drink leo 🙂

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