Is travel to Thailand safe? It’s been said, “Now is not the ideal time to be in Thailand.” But what if you have already paid for your tickets, and/or have scheduled vacation time off from work?
On Tuesday, Thai officials declared a state of emergency in Bangkok due to political protests that have been going on since November. And the military has taken over the government. The U.S. State Department has warned citizens to avoid “large gatherings” in the greater Bangkok area.
But is it safe to travel to Thailand or Bangkok right now (May, 2014) with the military coup happening? And as asked above: “What if you have already paid for your tickets, and/or have scheduled vacation time off from work?”
Is travel to Thailand safe (updated May, 2014)?
While some would say these are foolish questions with a military coup raging in Thailand, you should know that, while western nations have issued updated travel advisories (see below), overall the actual danger to a foreign tourist remains pretty low.
Understand better what is happening in Thailand here: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/21/travel/thailand-tourism-martial-law/
Adventurous Kate has some good advice at http://www.adventurouskate.com/is-it-safe-to-travel-in-thailand-during-the-bangkok-protests/
“People aren’t fleeing the city for safety. The airports, train stations, and bus stations are functioning as normal, as is public transportation, and tourist sites are operating as usual.
But if you’re visiting Bangkok, you should find out where the protests are each day and avoid them.
How do you do that? Bookmark this Google map and refer to it every day.
And the U.S. State Department warns:
“U.S. citizens are cautioned that even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid protest sites, demonstrations, and large gatherings. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news media reports.”
Most often these riots/violent encounters have been at night and in very specific parts of the city. (See http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-thailand-protests-explosion-20140117-story.html#axzz2rFLu6XyS)
If you choose to travel to Thailand (specifically Bangkok) be aware of overnight curfews: Stay off the streets between 10:00pm and 5:00am nightly and these also restrict fast food deliveries to hotel rooms and hostels.
http://www.richardbarrow.com/2014/01/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-bangkok-shutdown/ and Richard’s Twitter feed @RichardBarrow have the latest on issues you should be aware of from a traveler’s perspective.
Short-term travel medical insurance that includes political and emergency evacuation is critical (all our short-term travel insurance plans include medical and most include political evacuation as well at no additional cost), but realize that most will not cover you if the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning to stay away. Call us at (866) 636-9100 to better understand the implications of the current State Department memorandum.
Lastly, as Adventurous Kate says:
“Keep in mind that things could change at any time. The situation is fluid, and I recommend that you stay up to date on the latest news so you can make an informed decision for yourself.”
Expatriates, foreign aid workers, and their families worried for their safety should see the article here: http://bit.ly/1hdQoZ1
U.S. State Department (travel.state.gov) travel advisory for Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand:
Canadian travel warning for Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand:
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Office travel alert for Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand:
U.K. Foreign Office travel advisory for Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand:
Link to Google map showing specific areas of unrest in Bangkok, Thailand:
UPDATE: FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2014
Life slowly returns to normal in Thailand’s chief city of Bangkok.
There is a curfew and “There was also nothing on television… if the army wants us to stay home, they should have at least let us watch something.” – Thanakan Chalaemprasead