Is Bangkok Really Dangerous?

Last night, on the evening of 7th April 2010, the Prime Minister of Thailand declared a State of Emergency for Bangkok and certain districts in surrounding provinces. Although this in itself may sound scary, it in no way means that Bangkok has suddenly become dangerous. Life goes on as normal for most people. The fact of the matter is that the State of Emergency does not affect ordinary people or even foreign tourists. We do not have martial law. We do not have tanks on the streets. There is no night time curfew. People are still going to the malls, watching movies and relaxing in night clubs. Basically life is going on as normal. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful and I urge you to keep a close eye on the news. At the moment it isn’t a good idea for you to visit any of the red shirt rally sites. In fact, Bangkok is a big place and some tourists that I spoke to said they hadn’t even come across any of the protesters yet.

URGENT UPDATE: Yes, Bangkok is now Dangerous after crackdown from army left at least 15 dead. See www.ThailandVoice.com for latest blogs.

Bangkok Dangerous Map of Rally Sites and Blocked Roads
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For tourists visiting Thailand, it should be stressed that foreigners have not been targeted in the on-going political conflict. However, foreigners are advised to be vigilant, and avoid areas where crowds may gather. Travel to all other parts of the kingdom has not been affected. Tourism activities in all other areas continue as normal. Both city airports (Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang) are operating as normal. All other international and domestic airports in Thailand remain fully operational. Spas, golf courses, fitness and recreational centres, and other tourism attractions in all other areas of Bangkok and in key destinations around Thailand are not at all affected and remain open for business. Temple and palace tours around Rattanakosin Island (Koh Rattanakosin) – the site of the ancient capital and historic heart of Bangkok – have not been in anyway affected by the UDD/’Red Shirt’ protests.

The Red Shirt political activities are limited to the following demonstration sites in Bangkok at:

  • Ratchadamnoen Avenue (Panfah bridge)
  • Makkawan Rangsan Bridge near Government House
  • Ratchaprasong intersection

For security reasons, the following department stores and shopping malls around Ratchaprasong intersection and Siam Square remain closed today – CentralWorld, Zen, Big C Rajdamri Superstore, Gaysorn Plaza, Amarin Plaza, Siam Center & Siam Discovery Center and Siam Paragon.

DEPARTMENT STORES, SHOPPING MALLS AND WEEKEND MARKETS IN ALL OTHER AREAS OF BANGKOK ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL.

Central Chidlom, Central Silom Complex and all other branches of Central Department Store, MBK Shopping Centre or Mah Boon Krong on Rama I Road, Platinum Fashion Mall in Pratunam, Erawan Bangkok, Peninsula Plaza on Rajdamri Road, Emporium Department Store and Shopping Complex (Sukhumvit 24), and all branches of Robinson Department Store, The Mall Department Store and other shopping centres and malls, as well as weekend markets, in all other areas of Bangkok, including Yawarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown), are also open for business as usual.

To avoid traffic congestion, it is best to travel by BTS Skytrain or the MRT (Bangkok Subway).

EMERGENCY NUMBERS:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 24-hour operation centre provides foreigners with further information. Please call +662-575-1023, +662-981-7225, +66-88-022-1540 or +66-88-022-1541.

TAT recommends that foreign tourists and visitors to Thailand call the 24-hour Tourist Police Hotline — 1155 — for the latest updates on traffic conditions and roads to avoid.

The TAT Hotline and Call Centre — 1672 — operates from 08.30 – 20.00 hrs [8.30 am to 8.00 pm] daily. TAT recommends that foreign tourists and visitors to Thailand call 1672 for tourist assistance. In the event that further coordination or facilitation is needed, they will be directed to the nearest TAT Tourist Information Centre.

(Information supplied by Tourism Authority of Thailand. Pictures by Getty Images and AP)

8 responses to “Is Bangkok Really Dangerous?

  1. Richard I’ve been travelling to Thailand 3 or 4 times a year for over a decade (not much time spent in Bangkok) and your post reads as sound advice.

    I have never experienced any major problems in Thailand as such and wouldn’t expect to do so if I was there now (arriving next month), although as with anywhere in the world you do have to remain a little streetwise.

    I fully expect and hope the current troubles are over for the good of Thailand by the time I land next month, but believe me I will not worry about my own safety if they are not.

    I hope anyone considering their first trip to Thailand is not put off by the current political climate. If they read your post it should at least put a lot of their doubts to bed. Best wishes from a gloriously sunny England.

  2. Back when the yellow shirts were protesting and blocking airports, my mom insisted it was safe to visit Thailand. She said that the protesters wouldn’t be in the same areas that I would have normally visited.

    I’m not surprised that the red shirts have gathered around the Ratchaprasong area where all the shopping centers are located. The photos of demonstrators in front of luxury boutiques puts this whole class divisions into perspective.

  3. It sounds frightening when the government announced the state of emergency. Five days before I due to arrive in Bangkok for a three weeks visit with my girlfriend’s much anticipating first visit to Thailand. I’ve been monitoring the US State Department Travel Advisory but none of the warrants sound too serious. This is my second trip to Bangkok in ten months and I am looking forward to be back. I appreciate your advise, pictures and update information about the rallies. I am currently living in the States but I grew up in Bangkok around Thanon Wisut Kasat and Rachadamnoen Nok just a short distant from the Democracy Monument. The demonstration usually took place nearby and around the monument. Ironically, I will be staying at the Royal Hotel on Rachadamnoen Ave. upon arrival. I hope to have a good visit and and a good time and to give my girlfriends a good impression on her first visit to Thailand.

    Thanks.

  4. I live in BKK and its rather safe. Except right now at Phan Fa…

  5. 15 protesters dead?.. I would call the situation volatile

  6. Yes, with 15 dead in the army crackdown in Bangkok last night, tourists are now advised to avoid Bangkok. Latest blogs linked at our http://www.ThailandVoice.com website.

  7. An idiot Siam took my land

    Thailand is not a safe city anymore. The old Khmer slogan is right about Bangkok. This slogan tells about 4 things , and 3 of those are already happened. This slogan is written before the three things occurred. The last thing says that Bangkok will collapse. And now it’s getting started. OK happy khmer-thai new year.

  8. Khun Richard, I am very appreciative of you posting about the situation in Thailand as unbias as you can.

    I don’t like the yellow shirt and I think many of the red shirt are very oppressed. You can clearly see the differential treatment given to them. Unless the democrats are ready to shed their elitist image, they are never going to win the support of the masses.

    When Abhisit came into power, I was unwilling to recognise the fact that he is now a PM due to the fact that theoretically, he came into power unconstitutionally without an election! I (and I am sure many of the rural thais too) would have rallied behind them had he brought those yellow shirts to justice and attempt to do more than speaking about reconciliation.

    Then again, however, I think the red shirts have gone a little too far this time. And the military needs to be subdued! The military has no place in a democracy.