A violent showdown between Thai soldiers and anti-government protesters in Bangkok has prompted governments around the world to issue travel warnings. The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Bangkok. British nationals should also review travel plans to other parts of Thailand. British nationals already in Bangkok and other cities affected by the violence are advised to stay indoors and to monitor the media and this travel insurance advice. A state of emergency has been in force in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathumthani, Nakhon Prathom and Ayudhaya since 12 April. Armoured vehicles are deployed in the capital and security forces are attempting to clear the streets. Several violent clashes have occurred between red-shirted supporters of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin and military and police units in central Bangkok and the seaside resort of Pattaya. During the early hours of 13 April, troops used tear gas and fired warning shots at one group of protestors who returned fire. There are reports of some 60-70 injuries. Some shops are closed and red-shirted protestors have blocked several road junctions with makeshift barricades and tanker trucks. This is making travel in some parts of Bangkok difficult. The Lao/Thai border crossing in Nong Chai is closed and there are reports of road blocks in Chiang Mai and Lampang in northern Thailand. Red-shirt leaders have threatened major protests in 50 cities throughout Thailand in the next few days.
The main Bangkok railway station is closed. However the international airport and the main access road to it remain open. Transit through Bangkok airport has so far been unaffected. Foreigners have not been targeted by the protestors and there are no reports of British citizens being caught up directly in the violence. However, the situation remains volatile and unpredictable with a high risk of further bloodshed. The political situation in Thailand remains uncertain. Throughout Thailand, British citizens should exercise great caution and avoid demonstrations or large gatherings of people which might turn violent.
Should you become caught up in what is neatly termed, civil commotion or civil unrest, you need to be aware that mosttravel insurance providers include this as a general exclusion in their policies. The impact of this is that you may not be as well insured as you think you are. If in doubt, do check with your travel insurance company before you travel and look at your policy wording. Generally, medical expenses and medical repatriation will be included but if you want to be covered for all eventualities then you will have to pay an increased premium for this. Thankfully the chances of being caught up in these types of incidents are still very slight, and even when they do strike, they tend to be away from the main tourist destinations. So if you do plan to visit Thailand, do check with your tour operator beforehand who may be able to offer alternative destinations away from the troubled areas. For the independent traveller, be wise and avoid those areas where a heightened tension exists.