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The 60-day clampdown gives the government the power to implement curfews, censor the news media, disperse gatherings and use military force to “secure order.”
Analysts say in this respect it is no different to the law that Suthep Thaugsuban — a former deputy prime minister who is now leading anti-government protests — used in 2010 to bring a violent end to months of protests in the capital Bangkok.
But this time, the government says it has no plans to crack down on the protesters that have disrupted the capital Bangkok for weeks. Labor Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who will oversee the joint operation between the military and the police, told a press conference this week the government would not use weapons and would not attempt to disperse protesters at night.
The emergency decree has been imposed in order to maintain peace and order as well as to provide safety and security for the general public, foreign visitors and the demonstrators. It should be stressed that the emergency decree only covers Bangkok and some parts of nearby provinces as stated above and not any other destinations in Thailand. In addition, 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.
Meanwhile, the ongoing anti-government demonstration sites in downtown Bangkok areas remain peaceful and continue to have a festival atmosphere, especially during the evening. The major rally sites have blocked six downtown intersections and nearby streets – Pathumwan, Ratchaprasong, Silom (Lumpini Park), Latphrao, Asoke and the Victory Monument roundabout. Other major rally sites are at the Government Complex on Chaeng Wattana Road, Phan Fa Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and Chamai Maruchet Bridge on Phitsanulok Road. The anti-government demonstrators’ daily marches may also cause traffic disruptions on other roads at certain times.
Tourists are still advised to be vigilant and avoid the demonstration areas for their own safety and security, however, it should be stressed that tourists have not been targeted in the ongoing anti-government demonstrations. In addition, despite the closure of major intersections and streets in downtown Bangkok, tourist and emergency vehicles are still allowed to pass freely.
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 per normal.
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, including bank branches and petrol stations – may be closed. Telephone – landline and mobile – and Internet services continue to be 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 Public Limited Company (AOT) have been given special stickers to show that the vehicles are carrying tourists, thus allowing them to be able to pass freely 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.
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.
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.