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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Situation Update: Thailand Political Developments. 13 January 2014.

The ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok have been normal to peaceful most of the time. The main demonstrator group, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), has relocated their rally stages from the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue to seven new rally sites by this morning as announced.


Meanwhile, two other anti-government demonstration groups remain staged at Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue and near the Government House.
As of this morning, PDRC’s new rally venues are located at Pathumwan intersection (new main stage), the Victory Monument roundabout, Lat Phrao five-way intersection, the Government Complex on Chaengwattana Road, Lumpini Park (Silom intersection), Asoke intersection and Rajaprasong intersection. The seven areas link directly with 16 main roads – Sukhumvit, Rama I, Rama IV, Silom, Rajdamri, Rajprarop, Phaya Thai, Phahol Yothin, Asoke Montri, Rajadapisek, Rajvithi, Din Daeng, Pracha Songkhro, Vibhavadi, Lat Phrao and Chaeng Watthana.
The anti-government group’s intention is to pressure the Caretaker Yingluck Shinawatra Government to step down.
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It’s business as usual in Thailand
At the time of writing, department stores and shopping malls located in Rajaprasong and Pathumwan areas have announced the change of opening times to 10.00-20.00 hrs. today from the normal closing time of 21.00 or 22.00 hrs.
Life in Bangkok and throughout Thailand continues as per normal. All roads in Bangkok, excluding those at the rally sites or directly link to, are open to traffic at all times.
Most businesses, including banks, petrol and gas stations, hotels, spas, restaurants, entertainment venues, cinemas, convention centres, shopping malls, superstores, convenient stores, pharmacies, hospitals and the likes are open and operating as per normal, albeit some changes in the opening hours.
Telephone – landline and mobile – and Internet services are available 24/7.
Transportation
All means of transportation are operating as normal.
All airports in Bangkok and throughout the country are open and operating as per normal. However, air passengers with flights depart out of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports are advised to allocate at least four hours prior to their scheduled flight departure time.
Thai Airways International has confirmed that it is operating as normal with no flight cancellations, no unplanned flight delays and no reduction of staff in operational areas. Passengers can check flight status atwww.thaiairways.com.
The Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link has announced it will increase the frequency of its train services between the airport and the Makkasan City Air Terminal / Phyathai Station to 78 SA Express and 161 SA City Line trains per day. Journey on the SA Express takes 15 minutes and the SA City Line takes 30 minutes. Trains will run every 12 minutes during rush hours (06.00-09.00 hrs. and 17.00-20.00 hrs.) and every 15 minutes during normal hours.
The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) has announced it will increase the frequency of its train services en route between Don Mueang International Airport and Hua Lamphong Station to enable commuters and air passengers to connecting to the skytrain, the subway or the airport rail link stations.
The Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited, which operates the BTS skytrain system, has announced will increase the frequency of its train services to every two and a half minutes (from normally every three minutes during rush hours). The service is open until 24.00 hrs. as usual.
The Bangkok Metro Public Company Limited, which operates the MRT subway system, has announced that it will increase the number of staff in operational areas and ticketing points to facilitate the anticipated increase in the number of passengers. Contact: MRT Customer Relations Center +66 (0) 2624 5200. The service is open until 24.00 hrs. as usual.
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) has rerouted many bus and van services to avoid the protest areas, and is using expressways to deliver passengers to major stops that connect to the skytrain or the subway.
About 6,000 taxis registered with Airports of Thailand have been given special stickers to show that the vehicles are carrying tourists. Meanwhile, passenger buses bearing special signs issued by the Ministry of Transport can use the expressways free of charge.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has announced that it will prepare 46 boats to help commuters on both sides of the Chao Phraya River. The BMA has also advised commuters to avoid the demonstration areas by following its shortcut route signs or take the skytrain or the subway.
Meanwhile, boat operators have been asked to increase the frequency of services on Saen Saeb Canal and the Chao Phraya River.
Elsewhere in the country, all means of transportation are also operating as per normal, including train services by the SRT and bus and van services by the Transport Co., Ltd. However, the SRT has announced a closure of rail tracks on the Bangkok-Chumphon route between 11 and 14 January 2014.
Tourist assistance measures
  • Tourist Care Centre is set up at the Sports Authority of Thailand at Hua Mark Stadium and aTourist Care Unit at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports to coordinate with all concerned public and private agencies to provide assistance to tourists.
  • Tourist Help Desk is set up at BTS skytrain Siam, Phaya Thai, Ekkamai and Wong Wian Yai Stations and MRT subway Hua Lamphong Station. Each location is manned by four Tourist Police officers.
  • Shuttle Bus Pick-up Point is set up at Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn, Windsor Suites Hotel and Twin Towers Hotel. Each location has 1 bus, 2 vans and 1 boat on standby.
  • Rapid Tourist Police units and 50 volunteers are on standby to assist tourists who may require to travelling through the demonstration areas. In addition, accommodation near the airports will be reserved for tourists waiting or arriving late for their flights.
  • At Suvarnabhumi International Airport, an Airport Operation Centre is set up to assist passengers at check-in counter row R, Departure Hall, 4th floor of the Passenger Terminal. Waiting areas have been assigned for passengers missing their flights due to the travel uncertainties from Bangkok downtown. The airport also deploys a group of facilitation personnel from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Association of Thai Travel Agents and the Thai Hotels Association to assist passengers near the AOT Information Counter, Arrival Hall, 2nd floor of the Passenger Terminal.
Other major tourist destinations in Thailand
Air travellers with flights arrive in Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang International Airports) can seek advice from the above airport or airline information counters. For those who wish to see Thailand’s wealth of cultural and natural attractions outside of Bangkok, they can make use of the many daily domestic flights to get to the following destinations directly:
Chiang Mai: Located 716 km north of Suvarnabhumi Airport, 7-8 hours by car or just above 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 just above 1-2 hours by car. Attraction highlights: beautiful beaches, Lan Island, 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 just above 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.
Sukhothai: Located 439.7 km north of Suvarnabhumi Airport or 4-5 hours by car or just above 1 hour by plane.Attraction highlights: Sukhothai Historial Park, Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Sangkhalok Museum, Wat Maha That, Wat Phra Si Ratana Maha That and Wat Si Chum.
Bangkok: For tourists visiting Bangkok, it should be stressed that tourists have not been targeted in the ongoing political demonstrations. Tourist attractions and activities in Bangkok and throughout the country are open and operating as per normal, but tourists are advised to be vigilant and avoid areas where crowds may gather. This is because there may be traffic disruptions or delays, thus causing inconvenience.
Security measures in Bangkok
Tourists need not be alarmed of the presence of security forces in Bangkok today. More than 20,000 police and military personnel would be deployed in important areas and at key state agencies in the capital to maintain peace and order.
The TAT is closely monitoring the situation, and would like to inform tourists and the tourism industry that all concerned public and private agencies will exercise utmost efforts to ensure tourist’s convenience.
Useful contact numbers:
TAT Call Centre 1672
Tourist Police Call Centre 1155
Traffic Police Call Centre 1197
BMTA (city bus and van service) Call Centre 1348
BTS Hotline +66 (0) 2617 6000
MRT Customer Relations Center +66 (0) 2624 5200
SRT Call Centre 1690
Transport Co., Ltd., (inter-provincial bus service) Call Centre 1490
AOT (Suvarnabhumi Airport) Call Centre 1722
Suvarnabhumi Airport Operation Centre (temporary) +66 (0) 2132-9950 or 2
Thai Airways International Call Centre +66 (0) 2356 1111
Bangkok Airways Call Centre 1771
Nok Air Call Centre 1318
Thai AirAsia Call Centre +66 (0) 2515 9999
Tourists can also keep up-to-date with the tourism situation in Thailand through Application Line: Amazing Thailand.
For live videos of various attractions in Thailand, tourists can download the Thai Live Cam mobile application available now in iOS and Android. See more at: http://livecam.tourismthailand.org/
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