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State of Emergency Declared in Bangkok

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- update 16 May 2010 - As people are seeing on their television screens around the world, the problems in Bangkok have escalated to such an extent that blood is being shed on the streets of the capital city. On Sunday (16 May), the black smoke of burning tires could be seen rising from the city from well over 30 kms away. Thai soldiers appear to be shooting on their fellow countrymen, some of whom are armed with just sticks, stones, bottles and fireworks.

 It is an extremely dangerous and fluid situation, and even if the army do manage to disperse the protestors from the Rajaprasong site, there is no end in sight to this problem that has highlighted to the world the massive fissures that currently divide the country.

It goes without saying that tourists visiting Thailand should avoid Bangkok completely, and instead travel south to areas like Phuket, Pattaya, Samui, Krabi, Lanta, Koh Chang, Hua Hin etc. if they still plan to visit the country. - end update -

Original Article: The Prime Minister of Thailand, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, declared a State of Emergency in Bangkok and surrounding provinces on Wednesday (7 April 2010) evening. This is the fourth time since 2008 a State of Emergency has been declared in the city.

Politics aside, what does it mean for tourists? In reality very little has changed since our last warning a few weeks back advising extreme caution to be taken in the city. The State of Emergency does indeed dramatically increase the power of the government, but it really means little to the average tourist, and very much depends on how the government enforce the decree, something which is far from clear at the moment

As before, we advise tourists to take extreme caution, avoid demonstrations and getting involved in political debate, and even possibly not to wear red or yellow shirts. Some major shopping malls have been closed in the city, but the one thing Thailand does not lack is quality shopping malls, and there are still plenty open which are busy.

If the situation concerns you, then take this moment of uncertainty to visit other parts of Thailand. Hua Hin is less than 3 hours from Bangkok by car and lively Pattaya even closer. Alternatively, why not head further south and visit Krabi, Koh Lanta, Samui, Phuket or some other beautiful island, where your only concern will be whether you have put on enough sun tan lotion.

The situation in Bangkok should not be underestimated however, it is a very, very, serious situation, and absolutely anything could happen over the coming weeks. On the bright side, there is still very little disruption to tourists, the airports remain open*, people can move around, and if you plan your trip to Thailand correctly, you could come and go without seeing any sign of a trouble.

* It was in 2008 yellow shirt protestors closed the airports of Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai before turning their attention to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport with disastrous results for Thailand's image and travel industry.

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