It’s probably true all over the world that rain is one of the weather conditions that will reek havoc on traffic conditions. As a Los Angeles native, it’s often been said that Californians don’t know how to drive in the rain because even a drizzle will bring our freeways to a stand still.
It’s no different in Bangkok except that the scale of traffic is at least ten-fold. Most Thais don’t have an affinity for rain and Bangkokians especially because they know that rain equals traffic. As soon as it gets cloudy in the afternoon, you’ll hear Thai saying “fon thok” and that they have to go home as quickly as possible as to avoid the anticipated traffic conditions.
Now imagine millions of people all over Bangkok doing the exact same thing and instead of lingering around their workplaces or stopping somewhere after work, all of them rush home as soon as they can. The unavoidable result is that the road are packed with the normal traffic, as well as these “fon thok” traffic avoiding Bangkokians. Unless you were lucky enough to actually beat the “fon thok” traffic, whether or not it’s actually raining, depends on if you got out earlier enough.
If you weren’t one of the lucky ones, expect to be stuck in the kind of traffic that Bangkok is famous for. It isn’t unusual for your daily commute to double or even triple under rainy conditions. You’ll sit in your car or taxi counting the number of times the windshield wipers swish by as cars all around you sit at a stand still for no apparent reason. By the time you get home, your bladder is probably about to burst, a condition worsened by listening to the sound of rain for an hour.
Perhaps the best thing to do if you suspect that it will rain during rush hour is to stay put and wait it out. At least you won’t have to suffer through gridlock traffic like the millions of Bangkokians who fear “fon thok” traffic. The down side is that in Thailand it can easily rain all night and you’ll never know when the traffic will subside.