The demonstrations in Bangkok are heating up at the moment and 45 countries have issued travel warnings for their citizens living abroad or holidaying in Thailand. These protests were triggered back in November, when the Thai government tried to force a bill of political amnesty that would have let Thaksin Shinawatra (former premier), return from his self-imposed exile without serving jail time for corruption. Shinawatra is the brother of the current caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The People’s Democratic Reform Committee plans to set up a number of rally sites throughout the city of Bangkok at major intersections – including the Victory Monument, Ratchaprasong, Lumpini, Lat Phrao and many more. However, it is possible that protests could erupt in other areas with little notice, as events are unpredictable at the moment.
The groups that are demonstrating against the government are threatening to shut down the city, by blocking all main roads into the capital from the month of Monday January 13th.
Travellers are being cautioned to avoid the locations of the rallies and to stock up on water, food and cash. The US Embassy advises its citizens to have a week’s supply of cash and a two-week supply of food, water and medicine. They are being warned to make sure that they always have a fully charged mobile phone on them. Also, travellers have been advised not to wear the colours yellow or red, as these are highly charged colours associated with the parties involved in the protest.
The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have advised their citizens to cancel any travel plans to Thailand at the moment. Also, citizens of Hong Kong, Russia, Taiwan and Oman are being advised to stay away. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has warned travellers to avoid all protests and demonstrations – as some of them have become violent. They have also advised travellers to monitor the local news and social media for further developments.
Tourism Authority States City Still Open for Business
Despite the threat of a shutdown, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has reassured travellers to Bangkok that most of the city will be still open for business and will be accessible for tourists and locals.
In order to get around the road closures, special lanes for tourist buses will be created. Also, the protestors have promised not to get in the way of the public infrastructure – such as city buses, the BTS skytrain, the MRT subway and the airport rail link with Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The Thailand Tourism Authority also points out that the main attractions and historical sites in the city, such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace, will still be open. Also, shops and banks will not be shut down.
The political situation in Bangkok has had a negative effect on tourism to the city throughout the last few months. The Tourism Authority of Thailand predicts that there will be a 5% decline in visitor numbers for the first quarter of 2014 if the demonstrations are to continue.
Outside of Bangkok, life in Thailand goes on as normal. If you have booked a hotel in Bangkok with us, we recommend that you simply change your booking to another Thai destination such as Hua Hin or Pattaya – in order to avoid the hassle of the protests.