Travel Tips : Air quality in Thailand

Air quality in Thailand

Photo above is a screen-shot from the website Air Visual at 6 February 2020 and shows the air quality of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. And as you see it is not very good. And it is not only not good in the area of Chiang Mai but actually all over Central Thailand (Bangkok), North-East Thailand and North Thailand. And to make it worse the air quality is not only in Thailand unhealthy but also in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And it is basically already like this for  at least 2 months. All we can do is waiting for rain, what is unlikely in February to happen. Actually more likely somewhere end of April. For postings about air quality in Thailand click AQI (Air Quality Index).

According to the AirVisual app as of 6 February 2020 * the air quality in Thailand is :
  • Nan province = 155 (Unhealthy)
  • Chiang Mai = 122 (Unhealthy for sensitive groups)
  • Chiang Rai = 129 (Unhealthy for sensitive groups)
  • Khon Kaen = 144 ((Unhealthy for sensitive groups)
  • Udon Thani = 157 (Unhealthy)
  • Bangkok      = 74 (Moderate)
  • Pattaya        = 101 (Unhealthy for sensitive groups)
  • Hua Hin      = 76 (Moderate)
  • Koh Samui  = 53 (Moderate)
  • Phuket         = 33 (Good)
  • Hat Yai        = 42 (Good)
And in nearby countries :
  • Hanoi, Vietnam = 180 ((Unhealthy)
  • Ho Chi Min City (Saigon), Vietnam = 112 (Unhealthy for sensitive groups)
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia = 92 (Moderate)
  • Vientiane, Laos = 79 (Moderate)
  • Luang Prabang, Laos = 103 (Unhealthy for sensitive groups)
So my personal travel advice **? Well we are living in Nan province where the air is unhealthy and indeed the view of the mountains is limited. And although we are not experiencing direct healthy problems it is probably effecting our healthy. So for people within the group that are sensitive for bad air quality I would advice not to travel to North Thailand or North-East Thailand until the raining season begins. 

Cause of the air pollution? In short greed. In more detail :
  • Burning of farming left overs from rice, sugar cane and corn
  • Burning of garbage (mostly plastic)
  • Diesel engines of cars & trucks
  • Coal power stations for electricity
  • Destroying of forrest in favour of farming (mostly corn)
* = Be aware that the data from Air Visual is sometimes based on information by Thailand Air Quality and Noise Management Bureau but also sometimes based on satellite data or private air quality sensors. Also sometimes the air quality sensor for an all province is in a city, where the air quality is always less good as outside that city. In reality air quality can vary a lot by location of just 1 km difference.

** = My personal travel advice based on personal experience of the air quality of where I travel and where I am living. 

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