Curfew in Thailand (2014) - Should You Still Go?

Travel News Asia Videos Podcasts Latest Travel News Asia Friday, 23 May 2014 - updated Saturday, 14 June 2014

Update 14 June 2014: Thailand's National Council for Peace and Order has lifted the curfew from the entire country. The whole of Thailand remains under a state of martial law. End of update.

Update 7 June 2014: Less than a week after Thailand's National Council for Peace and Order lifted the curfew in Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui, four more popular Thai holiday destinations now have their own reason to celebrate as the curfew has also been lifted in Cha Am, Hua Hin, Krabi and Phang-Nga. End of update.

Update 3 June 2014: Thailand's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has lifted the curfew on the popular tourist islands of Phuket and Koh Samui as well as Pattaya city to the south of the capital Bangkok. It remains in effect from 00:00 to 04:00 for the rest of the country. End of update.

Update 28 May 2014: In a somewhat surprising move, Thailand's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) announced on Tuesday evening that from today (28/5), the hours the curfew are in place would be shortened from 22:00 - 05:00 to 00:00 - 04:00. While it is not entirely clear what purpose the curfew serves, the shortened hours will not only make travelling to and from airports much easier, but should return a sense of normality to the lives and businesses of those in Thailand. End of update.

At 16:30 on Thursday, 22 May 2014, the Thai military staged a coup that, among other things, dissolved the caretaker government, suspended the constitution, banned gatherings of more than five people, and issued a curfew across the country that starts at 22:00 and ends at 05:00 (these times have since been revised to 00:00 to 04:00).

The curfew applies to everyone in Thailand who is not in Pattaya, Phuket or Koh Samui, including tourists, and will take place nightly until further notice.

Exceptions to the curfew will be allowed for travellers that need to leave or arrive in the country through airports, along with select groups of workers that are needed for night shifts, such as those in the aviation, hospital sectors etc.

While most shops and malls will now resume their normal operating hours, public transport, restaurants and bars are all expected to close between 23:00 and 00:00 to give their staff enough time to close shop and get home before the curfew begins.

Travellers should give themselves plenty of time to travel to or from the airport, make copies of emergency numbers, and prepare all necessary documents in case they are asked for them at a military or police check-point.

AirAsia issued a statement on 22 May that said, "the airline highly recommends its guests to allocate no less than 3 hours of travel time to the airport and to stay up to date with traffic news to ensure they do not miss their flights. AirAsia wishes to remind all guests that check-in counters will be closed 45 minutes prior to departure time."

And Bangkok Airways has said it is waiving "fees for rebooking and refunding for all passengers who wish to amend their travel plans or cancel flights. Rebooking flights or refunds can be processed without charges for passengers holding Bangkok Airways tickets for travel up to 31 May 2014."

Some countries have increased their travel warnings about Thailand.

Hong Kong is warning visitors to Thailand to adjust their travel plans, and avoid non-essential travel to the country.

In its travel advisory for Thailand, the UK Government on 22 May wrote the following, "There is a risk of a violent reaction to the armys announcement. We recommend that you exercise extreme caution and remain alert to the situation. If youre in any doubt about your safety, stay in your accommodation."

The U.S. also issued a statement on 23 May, and it includes the following advice: "The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok recommends that U.S. citizens reconsider any non-essential travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to ongoing political and social unrest and restrictions on internal movements, including an indefinite nighttime curfew."

Singapores Ministry of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement on 23 May that says, "Singaporeans should seriously reconsider visiting Thailand at the moment. The situation is unpredictable and volatile, and may evolve quite rapidly ... Singaporeans who are travelling to Thailand should exercise a high degree of caution and take all necessary precautions for personal safety, including purchasing comprehensive travel and medical insurance."

So, in light of these latest developments, do we recommend you to still travel to Thailand?

When the demonstrations in Bangkok were ongoing, we suggested that you visit other areas of the country, such as the north or south, and save your trip to Bangkok for another time. After all, there are now plenty of direct international flights to places such as Chiang Mai and Phuket, Samui etc., and each of these popular tourist destinations have all the attractions such as shopping, restaurants, nightlife that the capital offers.

Now with the curfew and martial law in place, we recommend you check with your government's travel advisory, call your insurance company to find out what status you will have if you still travel to a country under a coup d'etat, and call your airline and hotel to see not only what the status is with regards to cancellations, but very importantly what happens to you if the situation worsens while you are in the country.

The situation is extremely unpredictable, so if you do come to Thailand, do not try and get a few extra "likes" on Facebook, more "views" on YouTube, or additional "followers" on Twitter by taking pictures of any protests, or the soldiers. Just stay away from those areas (which are currently mainly in Bangkok), and enjoy the areas which do not have the potential to erupt into deadly violence at a moments notice. Either that, or visit one of the many other beautiful and exotic gems that Asia Pacific has to offer.

See also: How did the recent political demonstrations affect the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok? Exclusive HD video interview with the RVP/GM.

Curfew, Thailand, Bangkok

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