Traditional wisdom has it that the rainy season, which lasts from around May to October, is the worst time to visit Thailand. That has never really been true, and when it comes to Bangkok, the rainy season is definitely a very good time to come. Hotel rates are generally lower, and the city is much easier to get around with fewer tourists about.
The key to a successful rainy season visit is to plan your day accordingly, and be flexible. The rain usually comes in drenching late afternoon thunderstorms, so plan on doing your sight-seeing in the early morning - this is actually a good idea no matter when you visit - then have contingency plans for the afternoon, depending on the weather. For adults, one of the most obvious things to do in Bangkok when it rains is visit a spa. Every hotel will have one, and there are several good independent ones around town. Spa treatments usually take two to three hours, which is just perfect for whiling away time while it rains.
While spa treatments are the obvious choice, you can't get a them every day. Here are some other, less obvious choices:
See a Movie
Seeing the latest blockbuster movie while on vacation may sound like an odd thing to do, but as with many other things, seeing movies in Thailand has it's own special twist. For starters, there's the price: typical movie tickets sell for around US$4 or less at most of the better cinema chains. Then there's the "VIP" option. Most of the big chains have first class theaters providing such amenities as reclining easy chairs, "honeymoon" seats for two and even waiters who will bring your popcorn right to your seat. The cost is in the range of $6.50 to $12 depending on the amenities. All of this makes seeing a movie one of the top things to do if you visit during the rainy season and need to kill some time.
- Movie Seer
- Movie Seer lists all the films, both Thai and imports, currently being shown around Thailand and allows you to check show times in the major theater chains.
- SF Cinema
- The SF Cinema chain operates multi-screen movie theaters in many shopping centers around Thailand. Some outlets feature digital projectors as well as sound. All branches have first class theaters.
- Major Cineplex
- The Major chain has their own stand-alone "mega-plex" theaters that also feature restaurants, bowling alleys and often also sport IMAX 3D theaters. They also operate multi-theater cineplexes in many major shopping malls.
Note that all theaters have reserved seating. You can book your ticket on the day of the show at any time up to the starting time, and select your seats when booking at the cinema's box office.
You should also keep in mind that there is a peculiarly Thai practice found at all movie theaters: After most of the coming attractions and commercials are over, and before the movie starts, the King's anthem is played. Everyone, including tourists, is expected to stand until the anthem is finished.
Most of Bangkok's best museums are multi-building designs that are not easily enjoyed in the rain. While it is a bit obscure, the Rama VII Museum is fascinating to serious students of Thai history, and is a beautiful building as well. Close by is the new and technically spectacular Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall. The National Gallery can also be enjoyed on a rainy day.
Finally, you can always enjoy what Thais enjoy doing all year round: shopping. Bangkok's shopping malls are big and plentiful. Virtually every shopping mall sports a cineplex, a wide range of restaurants, as well as the many shops and department stores. Between a movie and a meal, you can easily spend several hours in one mall, which is generally more than enough time for a rainstorm to pass.