Since the Military coup in May this year, there have been countless undecided tourists online asking whether or not it is safe to go to Thailand, and although the national context and situation are overall pretty messed up, there are a few things that should be of high interest for anyone who’s planning on visiting this country in the near future.
While there’s been a public declaration of a military martial law nationwide, and the constitution along with all the other human rights don’t seem to matter too much lately, what it’s more important is to which extent this matters for the ordinary, civilian travels. In other words – is it really impossible to visit the state and getting back home in one piece?
Well, no. The tourist attractions are still open for whoever plans to take the holidays here, but there are some general things to be taken into consideration, given the state of facts.
The first one concerns the curfew – because yes, there is one. This basically means that after generally speaking 00 a.m. to 04 a.m. people are required to remain indoors. Practically, most of the restaurants, bars, along with any other types of touristic or leisure business to close earlier than this. The elevated monorail and the metro (including the airport link train to Suvarnabhumi International Airport) do run on shorter schedules. So yes, it’s not only possible but it can really be a great experience visiting the country, but make sure you’ve got some good books or board games (if you’re traveling with friends) for during the night, when it’s practically impossible to go out since everything is palsied.
The airports also have a special program because of these national issues. They are officially open 24/7, but due to road-blocks that the security implemented it could take longer than usually to get to the airport. Advice? When you’re leaving the hotel make sure you’ve got a spare 30 minutes at least and always carry with you the passport and all the other I.D. information that may be required in case you run into such an inspection on your way to catching the airplane.
Travel insurance is one of the most important things to double check during your holidays, since most of the issues that occurred with tourists regarded some complications of this kind. And since this is some place new, you should know that the Thai weren’t very fond of public criticism even before the military coup – now it’s strictly prohibited and unless you plan on getting to know the prisons or police sections during your trip, you should be careful to this aspect as well.
Other possible implications might occur if you’re traveling for media or political purposes. There’s an official ordinance banning political gatherings where there are more than 5 people. Since the ordinance there have been few demonstrations against the new regime, and led to disruptions of the public transport – so you’d better be careful, this isn’t just a myth. BBC and CNN along with many other foreign TV outlets were blocked and if you’re traveling with media purposes that are not incognito, you’d better make sure your media trust isn’t on the black list.
Safety – a problem?
Well, the classical and most general answer is that the situation can always turn to something worse whenever political issues are involved. Pro-government supporters could always gather and make a protest, but the truth is that only a very small part of the touristic infrastructure was really involved in this huge political change.
Which means that, taking all the above into consideration, Thailand is a pretty safe place to visit – in other words, if you’re informed about all of the things we already mentioned, the chances for something else to go wrong are small to none. Of course, another important thing would be not to deviate from the typical touristic areas – if your trip to Thailand was supposed to be something off the beaten path, getting to know the people and roam around all the villages and less popular areas, you should honestly change your plans. But the touristic and culturally important places weren’t affected by these latest issues.
General traveling concerns
Besides the contextual obstacles that could bother you during your stay, you should also pay attention to some other specific things that were to be taken into consideration even before political implications of any kind. They regard the state of the country and how secure it is all in all – for instance, try not to take all your most expensive jewelry with you, and if you do try wearing them discretely. The ATMs are best used inside a bank or a very well secured building.
As about going out, it’s the same old set of rules that your mother taught you before your first night out: don’t leave your drink unattended, don’t drink too much, be careful who you’re talking to – nothing in particular.
Your personal standard of comfort also matters a lot in situations like these. While some wouldn’t let themselves bothered by some national issues that don’t involve them in any way, others would take these restrictions personally. In the end, it goes down to the kind of activities that you’d like doing as well as the hours when you wish to be most active.
It’s about the conflict between the ‘yellow shirts’ representing the upper class and the ‘red shirt’ representing the working class. The conflict dates since 2006, when the former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra was forced from office in a non-violent military coup to which in response his supporters (the red-shirted) took over sections of central Bangkok and made an entire series of anti-government demonstrations.
Some of these were violent and the Thai military intervened, which caused, back in May 2010, approximately 40 civilian deaths.
This year, in May, there has been an initiative of the military governmental seized control to ‘reform the economy, the political structure and the society’. In order to avoid the protests, always be active and check for peculiar activities here.