Travellers warned about Bangkok protests (dreamstime)

Update: Travellers warned about Bangkok protests

3rd December 2013

UPDATE: The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has released a statement on the current situation in Bangkok and offers advice for travellers in the region

The Tourism Authority of Thailand issued an update on the current situation in Bangkok earlier today (3 December) at 14.30 local time. The statement opened with the following information: "The ongoing anti-government protests in Bangkok, which had been normal to peaceful for 32 days since 30 October 2013 and had turned volatile during 1-2 December 2013, has eased as of this morning. Clashes between police and protesters at Pol 1 intersection, Chamai Maruchet Bridge, Orathai Bridge and Karn Ruan intersection near the parliament has stopped as of this morning. Friendly scenes are reported at the Metropolitan Police Bureau as police and protesters shake hands and exchange flowers.

"For tourists visiting the kingdom, it should be stressed that the four volatile sites are within a small quarter of Bangkok. No tourists are hurt or affected by the situations. Also, it should be stressed that tourists have not been targeted in the ongoing political protests."

TAT goes on to suggest that, although the situation is currently peaceful, travellers should still avoid protest areas (Government House and the Parliament and the Metropolitan Police Bureau, as well as Government Complex on Chaengwattana Road) and large crowds. The authority also warns there may be road closures around these areas. Suvarnabhumi Airport has advised air travellers of possible heavy road traffic and a lack of taxis resulting from the protests in Bangkok.

The TAT's statement goes on to say: "It’s business as usual in Thailand. Albeit the volatile political situations in Bangkok, life in the Thai capital and all other areas of Thailand continues as per normal. Tourist attractions and activities as well as businesses in Bangkok and other provinces are open and operating as usual."

TAT have also warned of potential protests in other large cities around the country. However, they add that while there may be demonstrations, these will likely take part near administration halls, located in 'official designated areas' and are 'not where tourists usually go to'.

The British FCO last updated their travel advice on 30 November. While there are no travel restrictions in place, they advise all visitors to the capital city to remain vigilant and avoid all crowds and demonstrations. Currently, 34 countries worldwide have issued travel warnings to its residents who plan on visiting Thailand. 

Tuesday 26 November, 15.00

Travellers to Thailand have been warned to exercise caution in the country's capital, Bangkok, which has been rocked by a new wave of political protests

In a statement on their website, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned travellers to avoid the protests, which are being led by demonstrators calling for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government to step down.

The protests reportedly centre around Ratchadamnoen Avenue in central Bangkok but, according to the FCO, have the potential to spring up “with little warning” in various locations throughout the city. Earlier today, the offices of the finance ministry were seized by demonstrators who have threatened to take control of other government buildings.

Thai authorities have condemned the protests as “illegal” and have responded by implementing the Internal Security Act in all districts of the city. The act involves an increased security presence and allows authorities to impose curfews and seal roads.

The recent demonstrations, which involved an estimated 100,000 people taking to the streets on Sunday, are the largest the country has seen since 2010, when 90 civilians were killed.

They have been sparked by a proposed bill which would have allowed ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return to the country without serving a prison sentence for charges of corruption. Mr Thaksin, the brother of the incumbent Ms Yingluck, is currently in exile and disputes the charges which led to his fall in 2006. The bill failed to pass through Thailand's senate but has, nevertheless, reignited political divisions within the country.

For up-to-date advice on the situation, consult the FCO website.

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