23 May 2014
It’s understandable that visitors may have concerns about upcoming trips to Thailand. First it was martial law and now it’s a military coup. It all sounds ominous if you’re in Thailand now or visiting in the near future, but what does it actually mean for tourists?
Update June 2014:
Please also read the latest advice for tourists
Is there a curfew?
Last night, everybody in Thailand was requested to observe the nationwide curfew that was in place from 22.00 to 05.00*. Tourists were advised to stay in their accommodation during those hours. It isn’t known yet how many days there will be a curfew for. From previous experience of similar situations in Thailand, it is usually a day or two before curfews are lifted. It’s also likely that the curfew is more strictly adhered to in Bangkok, but whilst it’s in force tourists should comply.
On May 27, the Thai authorities announced the curfew hours would now be midnight to 04.00
The curfew does not apply to people who are travelling to or from the airport for a flight and you will still be able to get a taxi. Keep your passport and travel documents close to hand in case you need to show them en route.
Are the airports open?
All airports in Thailand remain open. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) have set up a help centre at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport to assist passengers and extra vehicles are being made available to help tourists reach their hotels. Shuttle buses continue to operate normally between Bangkok Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports and are not affected by the curfew. Some countries (e.g. United Kingdom) have arranged to have staff from their Bangkok embassy on hand at Suvarnabhumi airport to assist their citizens.
Are tourist attractions and entertainment venues open?
Tourist attractions are open as usual throughout Thailand. Shopping malls and markets remain open, but may be subject to earlier closing times. Some bars and clubs were closed last night, but it would be a surprise if that lasted into the weekend, especially away from Bangkok.
Under the current circumstances, it’s advisable to keep your passport with you at all times.
Will there be more protests?
The army declaring a coup does not resolve Thailand’s deep political divide. Indeed, it could be said that their involvement makes things worse. The coup has meant that the army have been able to end ongoing street rallies by rival pro- and anti-government groups in Bangkok. However, there is certainly the potential at some stage for violent resistance from the red shirts and pro-democracy groups who have previously said they would resist any coup.
Visitors to Thailand should use common-sense and discretion and avoid talking about politics or the Thai monarchy.
Should I cancel my trip?
At this stage, my advice would be to continue with your trip as planned. The situation is fluid and advice may change as the situation develops. This remains an internal political problem and tourists are still welcome in Thailand. Things may or may not take a turn for the worse, but my view is to be patient and wait and see. Don’t make any knee-jerk decisions. At the moment, there are too many variables and unknown factors that make it impossible to second-guess what happens next week or next month.