All right, you’ve booked your plane tickets to Thailand and you’re dreaming of days of fun in the sun, discovering an ancient culture and enjoying Thai cuisine. Your vacation may be a dream, but pack a little caution. If you are going to travel to Thailand despite the coup d’état and martial law, here are a few tips to make your trip a success.
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Thailand is in the midst of political problems which, after months of demonstrations and protests, have culminated in a military coup d’état. A national curfew has been imposed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., some media have been censored and some television channels blocked, and social networks are being monitored. But don’t panic, here is a quick summary of how the situation is in Thailand and which parts might affect your holiday:
There’s a nationwide curfew, starting at 10pm and ending at 5am. During this time no one is allowed to be on the streets, unless they have permission from the authorities.
There are protests and political meetings in the country, most of which take place in Bangkok.
During the day, tourist attractions are open.
All the airports in Thailand are operational and flights have been kept to a minimum.
Cities and towns in Thailand continue to operate normally outside of curfew hours. Trains, buses, ferries, shopping malls, restaurants and shops all operate smoothly except during curfew hours.
How will this affect your holiday? If you have time to change your plans you might be interested in escaping to a neighbouring country such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam or Cambodia. But if you’ve made up your mind and you’re going to Thailand, here are a few tips to help you make it happen:
Stay away from places of political demonstrations and marches at all times. This includes the seat of government, the parliament, the UN building, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, the Democracy Monument and the Government Building Complex. Take a look at this map to get an update on where the demonstrations are taking place.
Tourist attractions will continue to be open. But remember you have to be back at your hotel before the curfew, that is, before 10pm. Traffic can get a bit chaotic from 8pm onwards because everyone will be trying to get home, so plan ahead and get out in time.
Keep your passport with you at all times.
Before you travel, check that your travel insurance is valid and covers you due to the situation in Thailand.
Keep yourself informed through news and media outlets, the Internet and hotel staff. Twitter may be the fastest way to keep up with what’s going on.
If you are flying during curfew hours, contact your hotel to arrange a way to get there. But, just in case, maybe you should try to be at the airport before 10pm. Always have your flight itinerary printed out.
Modify your itinerary to meet security requirements. Find out what activities are available at the hotel to keep you busy during curfew hours.
If you’re going to Thailand to party wild until the wee hours of the morning, the best thing to do is to stay at a great resort as prices have dropped due to the political situation. This way you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about partying at night.
Useful phone numbers in Thailand
These phone numbers can be useful if you are going to travel in Thailand, so it is not a bad idea to take note and follow the recommendations of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT):
Tourism Authority of Thailand customer service phone number: 1672
Tourist Police: 1155
Traffic Police: 1197
BMTA customer service (city bus and van service): 1348
Bangkok Skytrain Telephone (BTS): +66 (0) 2617 6000
Bangkok Metro (MRT) Customer Service: +66 (0) 2624 5200
Bangkok Train Customer Service (TRS): 1690
Customer Service of Transport Co. Ltd. (interprovincial bus service): 1490
Suvarnabhumi Airport (AOT) Customer Service: 1722
Suvarnabhumi Airport Operations Centre (temporary): +66 (0) 2132 9950 or 2
Don Mueang Airport Customer Service: +66 (0) 2535 3861, (0) 2535 3863
Thai Airways International Customer Service: +66 (0) 2356 1111
Bangkok Airways Customer Service: 1771
Nok Air Customer Service: 1318
Thai AirAsia Customer Service: +66 (0) 2515 9999
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If you’re going to Thailand, these items interest you:
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Or if you end up opting for Thailand’s neighbors:
The 7 best places to visit in Cambodia
Top 7 things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Vacation in Southeast Asia: What to visit in Malaysia