Bangkok, 20 May 2014: The Royal Thai Army has declared martial law that covers the entire Kingdom of Thailand, effective from 03.00 hrs today.
This is not a coup, according to the army statement. The martial law has been invoked to ensure peace and order for people from all sides. In the announcement, the army told the public not to panic and to live their lives as normal.
There is currently no curfew in place in Bangkok or any other tourist destinations in Thailand. Local residents and international visitors can continue to travel within Bangkok and other destinations in the country as usual. Further, tourists transiting Bangkok to onward destinations in Thailand can be assured that outside of Bangkok, there are no demonstrations. Tourists visiting Bangkok need not panic – they are however advised to avoid rally sites and demonstration marches as well as areas where crowds may gather.
Sethaphan Buddhani, director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Mumbai is keen to keep the market informed of happenings in Thailand. He said, “Shopping malls remain open and accessible. Key attractions in Bangkok such as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Grand Palace and the Temple of Dawn, which the Indian traveller visits, are also open, safe and accessible. I urge you to exercise caution if you are travelling to Bangkok – do not visit the demonstration marches and protest sites. Those with plans to travel beyond Bangkok will find that there is not so much as a sign of Bangkok’s demonstrations anywhere else in the country. 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.”
Meanwhile, the situation at the rally sites of both anti- and pro-government groups in Bangkok remains normal. The anti-government groups’ rally sites are situated in areas surrounding Government House – at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue and Chamai Maruchet Bridge on Phitsanulok Road – and at Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road as well as at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue (a camping site). The pro-government group’s rally site is on Aksa Road in Bangkok’s western outskirts.
Bangkok is a large city and so it is possible for local residents and international visitors to avoid the demonstration sites and rally routes. Roads in areas where the protests are taking place may experience heavy traffic or a temporary closure due to large crowds gathering and blockage of traffic lane by the protesters’ rally activities. Visitors who have flights to catch are advised to take the precaution of leaving for the airport an hour earlier than usual.
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 normally. Telephone both landline and mobile and Internet services are available 24/7 as usual.
Government-watchers in Thailand are speculating that the situation is likely to improve in a few days. In the event that demonstrations are toned down, the emergency decree and martial law will be lifted. Currently, the present government continues to run as caretaker.