So, you have planned your dream holiday in Thailand and you were just getting really excited about the trip, when news programmes started showing images like this one. Then you hear that a state of emergency has been declared by the Thailand government. It’s natural that you would worry that the dream holiday is about to become a nightmare.
The first thing to know is that the vast majority of Thailand is unaffected by these protests. Resorts and islands such as Koh Samui, where SmartOtels’ clients Elements Boutique Resort & Spa Hideaway is located are unaffected. As these are protests against the current government, it’s unsurprising that protests in Bangkok are principally around government buildings and impact normal daily life mainly in terms of additional traffic.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office rightly tends to err on the side of caution in advising British citizens but, whilst it is keeping the FCO web site updated no travel advisory has been issued – so there is no suggestion that British people need be concerned about travelling to Thailand. Just some straightforward, common sense advice. You can also keep yourself updated with details at the official Tourism Thailand UK blog for tourists visiting Thailand.
Joaquin Cababie of SmartOtels has been living in Bangkok for the last 3 months – throughout the developing situation there this time around – so we are able to share Joaquin’s experience on day to day life from the perspective of tourists in the capital city:
“I have been conducting business in Bangkok as usual – visiting many different hotels and going to travel industry networking events. In my conversation with hotel managers, we sat in the hotel lobby and we never felt worried that something was going to happen to us, and this shows the importance to see the things with your own eyes. I feel it is just normal to be cautious and avoid some crowded places but honestly there is a vibrant and festive atmosphere around the protests and, as a western visitor in this country, I have never felt unprotected or felt in danger.
It seems that everything in the city is running as normal: retailers, shops, people selling food and drink on the street. Most shopping centres are unaffected, although a few are. I had the chance to visit the Shopping Centre, go to the cinema, go to Lumpini Park, walk around Ratchaprasong and Central World area without any real problems. I took the BTS Skytrain when I needed to do so and we have been driving around the centre and outside Bangkok with Thai friends without encountering major issues. Just near the Chatuchak there are some blockages on the road but there is enough space to keep the traffic circulating. At the end of the day, it is a very small proportion of the city that is affected and the challenges tend to be around government offices.
I have also had to go to Thai Immigration to renew my stay in Thailand, as I have been here longer than expected, and again there has not been any major issues. The main Immigration Office just moved somewhere a bit safer for a while, where there is not many big blockages.
Recently, I also went to Siem Reap the famous day of the “Shutdown” protest and I was a bit worried I might not be able to travel but everything was operating like a normal day for the outward and return journeys and I think it was actually better as there were not so many cars on the road, so the trip was more pleasant.
Thai people are feeling concerned about the future of the country. I experienced the same a few years back when I was representing a collection luxury resorts in Thailand and the country still shows great growth in incoming figures, as Tourism Authority of Thailand indicates. Also some long established DMC companies in Bangkok are monitoring the situation continuously and of course there is no issues at all in places like Koh Samui, Pattaya, Phuket and other major tourist destinations outside Bangkok.
We all know that Thailand is a very resilient country and it has excellent future prospects. Bangkok is amongst the top most visited cities in the world by tourists and business people alike. There is no strong reasons to cancel or avoid your visit to this beautiful, warm and hospitable country.”
It is sensible to keep up to date on the situation and sensible to follow the advice given to stay away from the protest areas around government buildings, but tourists can still enjoy the main attractions of Bangkok itself largely unaffected and those going outside Bangkok to the main tourist destinations will be entirely unaffected. So, please go ahead and enjoy your dream holiday – you have certainly earned it.