Skip to main content

Thailand travel warnings issued as thousands of protesters gather

By Karla Cripps, CNN
November 27, 2013 -- Updated 0536 GMT (1336 HKT)
An anti-government protester blows a whistle in front of Thai flags during a rally at Bangkok's Democracy Monument on Friday, one day after the embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote in parliament. An anti-government protester blows a whistle in front of Thai flags during a rally at Bangkok's Democracy Monument on Friday, one day after the embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote in parliament.
HIDE CAPTION
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
Thai protesters stage huge rallies
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Despite anti-government protests, Bangkok residents remain calm, unconcerned
  • More than 20 nations issue warnings for citizens to avoid political gatherings
  • Some tourists didn't even realize there were protests taking place in Bangkok

Bangkok (CNN) -- Though on the surface it seems like another typical day in central Bangkok -- hot, muggy and busy, with traffic snarls around town -- tension is rising as protesters continue to exert pressure on the Thai prime minister to step down.

Thousands of demonstrators were expected to march on key ministerial buildings on Wednesday to demand an end to the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, ahead of a no-confidence vote in parliament on Thursday.

READ: Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra faces no-confidence motion

The escalating political tension has prompted travel updates from 23 foreign governments, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry. Among the countries warning their citizens to be vigilant are the UK, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden and Singapore.

Thai protesters march to oust government
Tensions tighten in Thailand

Locals and tourists appear unconcerned

For those not plugged into official information sources, there are few signs of what's being broadcast around the world -- images of government ministries under siege, rallies filled with thousands of cheering anti-government protesters and video of Yingluck explaining to the nation why she's implementing the Internal Security Act (ISA).

The ISA gives law enforcement officials and the military additional powers, including the right to impose curfews, put up checkpoints, restrict the movement of demonstrators and search for weapons.

Away from the affected sites it's pretty much life as normal in most parts of wider Bangkok. But while it's easy to avoid protests, as of Wednesday morning the situation had become extremely fluid and increasingly worrisome to some observers.

READ: Thai anti-government protesters storm ministry compound in Bangkok

While the number of demonstrators, led by the Democrat Party, has declined from the 100,000 reported on Sunday, protesters claim tens of thousands of people are still on the streets. Authorities say the figure is closer to 10,000.

On Wednesday, they'll split into two or more groups, according to Akanat Promphan, a spokesman for the protesters. He told CNN they plan to march to a number of government buildings, including the ministries for Public Health, Social Development, Labor, and Science and Technology.

Another group is heading to a complex outside the city which houses a number of government offices. A primary target in this location is the Department of Special Investigation.

A city accustomed to protests

The capital's residents have become accustomed to political uprisings, hence the business-as-usual attitude among locals.

Thailand was wracked with turbulence for four years after a 2006 coup, culminating in a 2010 army crackdown on supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the older brother of the current prime minister. More than 90 people were killed in the violence.

Foreign government have warned their citizens to be vigilant, despite assurances from the Thai government that authorities will "absolutely not use violence" to disperse the demonstrators.

On its website, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office said, "A number of political demonstrations have taken place in various locations in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand since the start of November 2013."

"Further large scale protests are taking place with little warning, at various locations in Bangkok. The main ongoing protest area situated along Rachadamnoen Avenue including Democracy Monument in Bangkok has now expanded to include protests at a number of government buildings in central Bangkok."

In its security message to citizens, the United States Embassy in Bangkok said. "Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence."

Russian foreign ministry tells citizens to avoid Bangkok

Though most government warnings advised citizens to avoid protest areas, Russian media reports say their Foreign Ministry advises tourists to avoid the capital completely.

"The possibility of further escalation of the unrest should not be ruled out," the ministry said in a statement quoted by news agency RIA.

"In this respect, we recommend that Russians avoid visiting Bangkok. Those already there should take due care, comply with law enforcement officers' demands and avoid crowded areas."

Protests, what protests?

Security concerns notwithstanding, some tourists who spoke with CNN didn't even realize protests were taking place in Bangkok. Others said they were aware of the situation, but weren't concerned.

British traveler Charles Rowson, 43, who is on a 10-day vacation with his family, said he was keeping an eye on developments.

"I have been reading the local papers to keep up on the political situation and our hotel briefs us daily on the areas to avoid," he said, while waiting for his hotel's courtesy ferry to pick him up from the Saphan Taksin pier.

Tourism is a concern for the nation's travel industry right now, as Thailand enters its high season.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the tourism and travel sector contributed $27.99 billion, or 7.3%, to Thailand's GDP in 2012.

A report on state-run website MCOT cites a senior Bangkok Metropolitan Administration official as saying tourism revenue may fall 10% lower than projected if the political demonstrations continue.

READ: 10 questions: What's behind the protests in Thailand?

CNN's Jethro Mullen and Kocha Olarn contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1239 GMT (2039 HKT)
Sean Connery says "yes," whilst David Beckham says "no." See what the famous are saying about Scotland's referendum.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
On September 18, Scots go to the polls to vote on the future of their country. Here's what you should know.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
This is "Flames of War," a slick and ominous new video from the ISIS media center.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1508 GMT (2308 HKT)
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
The Ebola virus, very deadly and currently without a cure, is fast-spreading throughout the small West African country.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
September 17, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT