Issued at Bangkok at 15.00 hrs. (GMT+7) on 2 February 2014
Thailand is holding the general election today, but several polling stations in Bangkok and other provinces have been disrupted by the anti-government demonstrators as part of their campaign for a national reform before election. In general, there have been no problems with voting in the most parts of Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand although there have been reports of clashes at several polling stations. Polls take place from 08.00 – 15.00 hrs while tourist attractions and shopping malls open as normal.
Bangkok and some parts of nearby provinces (Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan) remain under a state of emergency, which has been imposed to maintain peace and order, as well as to provide safety and security for the general public, foreign visitors and the demonstrators. The 60-day emergency decree has been in place since 22 January 2014.
The emergency decree currently covers Bangkok and some parts of nearby provinces as stated above only and not any other destinations in Thailand. There is currently no curfew in place in Bangkok or any other parts of Thailand. Local residents and international visitors can continue to travel within Bangkok and other destinations in the country as usual.
Today, the anti-government demonstrators continue to stage their protests in a peaceful manner at six downtown intersections – Pathumwan, Ratchaprasong, Silom (Lumpini Park), Latphrao, Asoke and the Victory Monument roundabout – and at the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, Phan Fa Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and Chamai Maruchet Bridge on Phitsanulok Road. Roads in the areas may be closed to traffic.
It is business as usual in Thailand
While the demonstrations are taking place in the central Bangkok areas, life in the most parts of the Thai capital and throughout Thailand continues as usual. However, tourists are advised to be vigilant and avoid the demonstration areas for their own safety and security.
Bangkok is a large city and so it is possible for local residents and international visitors to avoid the demonstration areas. Traffic in the most parts of Bangkok is also moving normally since all other roads and expressways are not affected by the demonstrations.
All major tourist attractions in the Thai capital, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Grand Palace and the Temple of Dawn, are open normally. Tourists can visit all attractions using the usual means of transport, including buses, vans and car transfers by tour companies, taxis, the Skytrain, the subway or the boat and ferry service.
Businesses, including banks, petrol and gas stations, hotels, spas, restaurants, entertainment venues, cinemas, convention centres, shopping malls, superstores, convenient stores, pharmacies, hospitals and the like are open and operating as per normal. However, shopping venues in the rally areas may change their opening hours while some businesses may be closed. Telephone both landline and mobile and Internet services are available 24/7 as per normal.
All airports in Bangkok and throughout Thailand are open and operating as per normal. Air passengers with flights departing out of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports are advised to allocate at least four hours prior to their scheduled flight departure time and to check the flight status prior to travelling.
For tourists travelling within Bangkok, the available means of transport are as follows:
- The BTS Skytrain runs between Mo Chit and Bearing Stations (Sukhumvit Line), and between the National Stadium and Bang Wa Stations (Silom Line).
- The MRT subway runs between Bang Sue and Hua Lamphong Stations.
- The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) operates several bus and van services throughout Bangkok. Many bus routes may be adjusted to avoid the protest areas.
- Boat and ferry services on Saen Saep Canal and the Chao Phraya River.
For tourists with flights arriving in or leaving Bangkok, the available means of transport are as follows:
- The Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link’s SA Express and SA City Line trains run between Suvarnabhumi Airport and Bangkok downtown (Makkasan City Air Terminal and Phayathai Stations). From the two downtown stations, tourists can connect to and from their destinations using the Skytrain or the subway.
- The State Railway of Thailand’s (SRT) northern train line runs through Don Mueang International Airport station to Hua Lamphong Station.
- About 6,000 taxis registered with the Airports of Thailand (AOT) have been given special stickers to show that the vehicles are carrying tourists, thus allowing them to be able to pass normally through intersections occupied by the demonstrators.
Elsewhere in the country, all means of transport are operating as per normal, including train services by the SRT and bus and van services by the Transport Co., Ltd.
Tourist assistance measures
- The Tourist’s Friend Centre (TFC) – operated by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports (MoTS) in conjunction with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) – is open 24 hours a day to offer assistance for tourists.
- There are two TFC branches located at Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang International Airport.
- There are four TFC Help Desks located at the following BTS Skytrain stations: Siam, Phaya Thai, Ekkamai and Sala Daeng.
- There are three TFC Shuttle Bus Pick-up Points located at the Jewellery Trade Tower, Windsor Suites Hotel and Twin Towers Hotel. Each location has one bus, two vans and one boat on standby. However, the pick-up locations may change as deemed appropriate by the responsible agencies.
- A number of rapid Tourist Police units and 50 volunteers are also on standby to assist tourists who may require travelling through the demonstration areas.
- At Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the Airport Operation Centre offers assistance for passengers at check-in counter row R, Departure Hall, 4th floor of the Passenger Terminal. The Airport also deploys a group of facilitation personnel from TAT, ATTA and THA to assist passengers near the AOT Information Counter, Arrival Hall, 2nd floor of the Passenger Terminal.
Other major tourist destinations in Thailand
Tourists with flights arriving in Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang International Airports) and wish to see Thailand’s wealth of cultural and natural attractions outside of the Thai capital are recommended to make use of the many daily domestic flights, as well as bus and car transfers, to get to the following destinations directly:
Chiang Mai: Located 716 km north of Suvarnabhumi Airport, 7-8 hours by car or about 1 hour by plane. Attraction highlights: Wiang Kum Kam, Doi Inthanon National Park, Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park, Ang Khang Royal Project, Ratchaphruek Garden and many superb temples.
Phuket: Located 865 km south of Suvarnabhumi Airport or 9-10 hours by car or 1 hour 25 minutes by plane. Attraction highlights: various beautiful beaches and a trip to nearby gorgeous Phang-nga Bay, exquisite pool villa accommodation and luxury spa treatments.
Pattaya: Located 120 km southeast of Suvarnabhumi Airport or about 1-2 hours by car. Attraction highlights: beautiful beaches, Ko Lan, entertainment shows, zip-line adventure, boxing lesson, shopping opportunities, floating market and various theme venues.
Hua Hin: Located 227.5 km southwest of Suvarnabhumi Airport or 2-3 hours by car. Attraction highlights: beautiful beaches, Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Kaeng Krachan National Park, Maruekhathaiyawan Palace, floating markets and vineyards.
Ko Samui: Located 804 km southwest of Suvarnabhumi Airport or 10-11 hours by car and ferry or about 1 hour by plane. Attraction highlights: beautiful beaches, Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, pool villa accommodation and luxury spa treatments.
Khon Kaen: Located 458 km northeast of Suvarnabhumi Airport or 5-6 hours by car or just under 1 hour by plane. Attraction highlights: Thai Silk Centre, Chang-kra Orchid Garden, King Cobra Village, temples and Phu Wiang National Park – which demonstrates that the Isan Plateau was once home of dinosaurs.
Sukhothai: Located 439.7 km north of Suvarnabhumi Airport or 4-5 hours by car or about 1 hour by plane. Attraction highlights: Sukhothai Historial Park, Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Sangkhalok Museum, Wat Maha That, Wat Phra Si Ratana Maha That and Wat Si Chum.
- For instant updates, follow Amazing Thailand through the Application Line and Facebook or Twitter @ThailandFanClub.
- For information on tourist attractions and activities, visit: www.tourismthailand.org
- For live videos of attractions in Thailand, download the Thai Live Cam mobile application at: http://livecam.tourismthailand.org/
- For daily news on TAT and the Thai tourism industry, visit: www.tatnews.org
- Thailand is a festive country, celebrating numerous local and national holidays and hosting many regional and global events each year, to see the calendar of events and festivals, visit:
Useful contact numbers:
Tourist’s Friend Centre +66 (0) 2314 1212
TAT Call Centre 1672
Tourist Police Call Centre 1155
Traffic Police Call Centre 1197
BMTA (city bus and van service) Call Centre 1348
BTS Hotline +66 (0) 2617 6000
MRT Customer Relations Center +66 (0) 2624 5200
SRT (train service) Call Centre 1690
Transport Co., Ltd., (inter-provincial bus service) Call Centre 1490
AOT (Suvarnabhumi Airport) Call Centre 1722
Suvarnabhumi Airport Operation Centre (temporary) +66 (0) 2132 9950 or 2
Don Mueang Airport Call Centre +66 (0) 2535 3861, (0) 2535 3863
Thai Airways International Call Centre +66 (0) 2356 1111
Bangkok Airways Call Centre 1771
Nok Air Call Centre 1318
Thai AirAsia Call Centre +66 (0) 2515 9999