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What a traveler needs to do for Thailand’s martial law

May 19, 2014

At 3 a.m. local time on May 20, 2014, the Thai army imposed martial law across all of Thailand saying that the intent is restore law and order after a six-month long political crisis which has claimed 28 lives.

So what does this means for a traveler in Thailand? Mainly it’s holidays as usual, but the first thing you must do is stay away from protest areas and keep their eye on developments happening in the city or country.

You might see some soldiers on the streets guarding buildings and TV stations, and some may also run into checkpoints where you may be asked for your identification such as passports. You must make sure to carry your legal identification document at all times.

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Most travel insurances would invoke an exclusion policy in case of an imposition of martial law, or the usurping of power by the military, but it’s wise to read through the clauses of their policy or contact your travel insurance agency and ask for further information.

Since the aim of the army is to restore peace and order, they’ve left the caretaker government in place, and have explicitly stated it is not a coup, so the power has not been usurped. Which means that most travel insurance companies will continue to support you.

It is important for you to remember that even before martial law was imposed you would not be covered for anything that happened to you if you went and sought out the protests and got involved. That still applies.

Martial law is not a good sign and considering Thailand’s politics, this could turn ugly, so if you think it’s too risky to go or be there right now, then think twice and make alternative arrangements – either to not visit or try and leave as soon as possible. Negotiate with your airline and hotel about getting a refund or rescheduling. Make sure you read your policy and fully understand the conditions applicable to “cancellation” cover. Before you cancel your trip, talk to your insurer and make sure you understand what’s covered and what’s not.

In worst case scenarios, seek help from a local friend or contact your nearest embassy or consulate for assistance.

Expect traffic disruptions, blockages and delays during this period and plan accordingly. You should monitor the media for developments that might affect your safety and follow the instructions of local authorities. Public transport continues to operate in Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok are currently operating normally.

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 centers, shopping malls, superstores, convenient stores, pharmacies, hospitals and the like are open and operating as per normal. Both landline and mobile telephone services, and Internet services are available 24/7 as usual.

All airports in Bangkok and throughout Thailand are open and operating as per normal. 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 other popular destinations, such as, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Ko Samui, Khon Kaen and Sukhothai.

Safe travels!



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