Is Thailand safe for travel?

Is Thailand safe for travel?
By admin

Bangkok airport is subdued; the immigration queues are short and the people are sparse.

“Normally the airport is more crowded,” Tourism Authority of Thailand PR manager Pongsak Kanittanon says.

Tourism has undoubtedly been affected by the recent elections and spate of civil dissent. VIE Hotel in Bangkok reports a 30% decrease in bookings over the last month and a high number of cancellations.

There are approximately five areas in Bangkok where protesters are based. The first sign of unrest is at Siam Square, a short walk from the hotel.

Roads are closed and bag searches are conducted on pedestrians but they are performed with a smile and a cursory inspection that seems more symbolic than serious.

Once past the metal gates, there is a carnival atmosphere. Activists speak on stage over loud-speakers, cheered on by a small crowd. To give an idea of scale, the crowd is outnumbered by a long queue waiting for red curry.

There are tents erected in Siam Square for campaigners from country regions and I see one protester reclined in a hammock tethered between street posts.

One of the striking elements of the protest is the number of stalls selling merchandise with the movement’s tagline, “Shut down Bangkok”. Every t-shirt seller has a different design variation on this slogan.

“Be careful,” a lady selling dresses near the protest says to me but while the discontent is visible, I feel safe walking through the protest in the afternoon and evening.

The VIE hotel offers a full refund to those guests who cancel due to concerns about the unrest.

“It is calm at the hotel, however, as it is near Princess Palace,” VIE Hotel marketing manager Nuntakorn Chang says.

There is no clear resolution to the political dissatisfaction and it may continue for months. “Just take precautions, as Smart Traveller recommends and avoid protest areas,” Kanittanon says.

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