In the west, they say April showers bring May flowers, but I’m learning that in Bangkok April showers just lead to more showers. Here it is generally a steamy 85+ degrees Fahrenheit, or 29+ degrees Celsius, in the daytime. Living in the Northeast, I experienced the hot and sticky summers, biting winters, and erratic springs and falls. Each season had its own uniform and tools to make everyday activities easier. In Thailand, I knew that instead of four seasons the climate would instead be split into two. The dry season, which coincides with what I perceived as fall and winter, is when the temperature drops just enough to make it possible to walk Bangkok’s balmy streets. Rainy season somehow manages to get hot enough to warrant avoiding going outdoors, then the skies open to unload an almost daily deluge of precipitation.
At first, the weather did not seem like a huge deal. Then I experienced the rainy season. The mood swings of oppressive heat and torrential rains proved to be a combination worthy of respect. In November when the last of it had passed, it was crazy looking over the equipment we acquired to deal with the elements. My husband purchased a few important items to keep him and his belongings dry when he commutes to and from work (I talk more about how we get around in Bangkok here). I needed items that I could easily carry around, in case I got caught in the rain. Luckily, I did not have to purchase much for my kids since they mostly went from covered outdoor spaces and indoors.
A lightweight raincoat was vital for my husband and me to have around. Finding a jacket to protect against the elements, while also not suffocating in the heat, is not an easy task. A lot of the materials you find out there are not breathable, which is horrendous when it’s so hot outside. We needed something that could fold up and fit in a bag, while I was out and about, and something that could fit in my husband’s motorbike seat. Downpours don’t last particularly long but can come down hard.
The next essential item was a good pair of waterproof shoes. The water can rise pretty high on the streets during the rainy season so I thought my Hunter boots would be just the thing for getting around Bangkok. So far, I haven’t had any need to use them. For one thing, those tall boots are not breathable, so they are boiling to wear here. I’ve seen many people wearing flip flops, but stepping in puddles can be gross. Also when the ground is slippery, you may want to wear shoes that stay securely on your feet. I have these really cute purple Converse lace-up sneakers that can be fun to wear for short excursions outdoors.
Keeping your body dry is definitely important, but keeping your stuff dry matters too. The best way to do that is to get a waterproof or water-repellent bag. Hunter makes a great backpack that my husband uses when commuting on rainy days. It is completely waterproof so he does not have to worry about his laptop getting wet. I use this water-resistant Everlane backpack that looks cool – and is super useful.
Even if you hate umbrellas as much as I do, it is beyond useful to have around if you get stuck walking in a Bangkok downpour. Not those obnoxious golf umbrellas. I’m talking about a small umbrella that can easily fit into a bag. I don’t enjoy knocking into other people’s umbrellas when walking the streets – not to mention getting dripped on (ICK!). If you must carry around an umbrella, why not get high tech one; one that includes some improvement on the original umbrella design?
I harp on and on about the need for breathable items in this post, but it truly is crucial. I would argue that it matters all the way down to your undergarments.
After all that sweating in nature’s take on an outdoor sauna, you’d be surprised at how much moisture is lost through your pores. It seems counterintuitive, but I found that my skin – and my face in particular – were in dire need of hydration. I went back into the wells of my beauty product collection and rediscovered the Ole Henriksen Counter Balance™ Oil Control Hydrator. It works great when you need something to minimize oiliness while also moisturizing skin prone to dryness.
These items mean that I don’t have to wait out downpours to avoid getting drenched and ensure that I don’t get sick from going into air-conditioned spaces after getting soaked. What products have you not been able to do without in during rainy season in Bangkok?