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29
Nov-2013

Bangkok Demonstrations – What Travellers Need to Know

Thousands of Thai protestors have gathered together in Bangkok to occupy government buildings and call for the overthrow of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. These anti-government protestors have forced their way into a number of government buildings and have cut the power to the Finance Ministry on Monday.

According to the protestors, they believe that the government is being run by the brother of Yingluck, Thaksin Shinawatra the former prime minister. Shinawatra was taken out of power in 2006 by the military and in 2008 was convicted of charges of corruption. This latest wave of protests was sparked by a blanket amnesty bill that was pushed through the lower house of parliament this October. Many Thai nationals believed that the bill was a front to allow Thaksin Shinawatra to return from Dubai, where he fled to avoid his jail term. The Thai Senate voted against this bill this month, due to the enormous public pressure.

The protestors aim to stop the government from functioning by causing civil servants to be unable to work. They danced, blew whistles and sang through the hallways of the government buildings.

On Sunday there were more than 150,000 protestors at the Democracy Monument, which is the largest anti-government gathering that has been seen in Thailand for many years. The protestors entered several buildings, including the location of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police – where they were met with riot police officers bearing a water cannon and tear gas. The protestors ripped down the barricade, but didn’t go any further.

The government has described the protests as an “illegal coup”. However, Akanat Promphan, the opposition spokesperson, described them as a “peaceful sit-in”.

thai-protestOfficial Travel Advice

23 different countries have issued special travel advice urging their citizens visiting Thailand to be extra cautious because of these large protests. The countries offering specific travel advisory warnings include the United Kingdom, Japan, Taiwan, China, France, Singapore and South Korea.

Areas to Avoid

Most of these 23 countries have warned their citizens about the political protests centred in the Thai capital of Bangkok, as well as specifying certain areas to be avoided. The warnings from the USA advise citizens to stay away from any government agencies and large gatherings of people and Brazil has advised its citizens not to visit the Grand Palace and the protest rallies near the Democracy Monument.

The anti-government rally itself stretched along Ratchadamnoen between Sanam Luang and Makkawan Bridge. Key locations in the protest include the police headquarters, the TV and radio station headquarters, the Finance Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Budget Bureau and the Public Relations Department.

Click here for a helpful map of protest sites to avoid.

The Majority of Bangkok is Safe for Tourists

Although some of the areas of Bangkok are full of protests and chaos, there are still many parts of this city where there is no sign of problems at all. Away from the affected areas, life is normal in most parts of Bangkok.

None of these countries have prohibited citizens from visiting Thailand, they have simply suggested that travellers avoid protest locations. No one knows when the protests will end, but so far it has been perfectly safe for tourists. Bangkok is a large city, so there is no need to cancel your trip and there are plenty of places to stay far away from the protests – just stay up to date with the news before and during your trip.

photo credit: Inmediahk via photopin cc

photo credit: adaptorplug via photopin cc

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