Is Bangkok safe again?
June 27, 2010 12:45 PM   Subscribe

After the political unrest in the recent months, how's the situation in Thailand in general, and Bangkok in particular nowadays? Also, if yes, advices on the places to go and things to visit for a first timer to the country.

Hi, I am currently in Singapore but might be planning to take a trip to Thailand next week. I'd go by myself first and my girlfriend will join me in two weeks time after she finishes her work. She's Singaporean and I'm Indonesian, both in our late twenties, we're Chinese but speak pretty fluent English. Many questions now follow:

1) I've never been to Thailand before while she has been to Bangkok several times for short-duration shopping trips. We're wondering whether now is a good time to go to Bangkok (and Thailand in general), particularly after news of the political unrest in the recent months? If anybody on the ground can share his/her experiences, that would be great!

2) If our plan is still good to go, I'd be roaming and exploring on my own during the first two weeks in Bangkok until she joins me and we take off by bus/domestic flight to other destinations within the country. Is two weeks too long for a solo experience within the city? Will I end up boring myself to death? Suggestions on things I can do to pass the time? I'm pretty interested in history and ancient civilization stuffs, religious artifacts, monumental buildings and such things. Coming from Indonesia, rice paddies and chaotic Asian cities are not really special to me though.

3) Suggestions on places to visit from Bangkok onwards? We'd only have two weeks to spend together around South-East Asia before having to return to Singapore again. So far we've been to Malaysia (KL, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching), Bali, Hong Kong and Tokyo. We might also consider taking trips out to other surround countries if it's interesting enough.

Thanks for all the pointers!
posted by joewandy to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not too sure about whether it's a good destination right now, but I'll say that I'd find two weeks in Bangkok pretty painful. There are lots of shopping options (although I heard a lot of the malls got damaged in the protests), and some nice markets, but it wasn't my favourite big city in Asia. I think 3 or 4 days would be enough for me.

As for other destinations in Thailand. Ayutthaya is the old capital, and has a bunch of temple ruins that I enjoyed. It's about two hours from Bangkok, if I recall correctly. There's also a floating market outside of Bangkok that you can travel to.

Chiang Mai is a nice town, with some nearby getaways (hill tribe villages, mostly), and some fun stuff like cooking classes, and a decent night market.

The beaches/islands of Thailand are definitely worth seeing.

Have you considered Vietnam? One of my favourite countries in southeast Asia. I am guessing it might be a bit busier due to the Thai unrest, but Sapa, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, etc., are all worth seeing in my opinion. Sapa has lots of rice paddies, so maybe you'd want to skip it, but it's really a lovely area.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:20 PM on June 27, 2010

Thorntree (the Lonely Planet forums) has a 4-page thread discussing the safety situation. Browsing the forum will probably give some insights on your other questions as well.
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:32 PM on June 27, 2010

My father, who lives in Thailand, has this to say:
...things have returned to normal here (or what passes for normal in Thailand). Fortunately we live just outside Bangkok, and the trouble with the Red Shirts, etc. was mainly in the middle of the city. So it was pretty quiet out here. But while the Red Shirts were demonstrating, the public transportation was all screwed up (and it's pretty screwed up to begin with), and it was very difficult to get anywhere in the city.
He also noted out that there didn't seem to be any anti-foreigner sentiment among the protesters or the establishment.
posted by Soliloquy at 2:45 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

From what my Thai friends are saying online, it sounds like the situation has calmed down significantly.

I've spent, all told, about a month in Bangkok on different trips and definitely did run out of things to do, but that was partly because I'm not a very good sight-seer: I don't really like museums, and once I've seen one temple, I've seen them all. I spent a lot of time going to markets, but that may be less exotic/interesting to you, being Indonesian. A perusal of the aforementioned Lonely Planet Thorn Tree will give you some good ideas.

Definitely consider a few day trips. Ayuthaya has great ruins and is a really nice, pretty laid-back town - good breather from BKK. Koh Samet is a nice island just a few hours from BKK.

I would recommend staying at a nice hostel/guesthouse where you can meet fellow travelers so you don't get lonely in those two weeks. When I wasn't staying with friends, I always stayed at Suk11, which I loved. Met lots of great people there, and they have books and books full of other travelers' advice (at least they did when I stayed there last). It is right in the middle of where the protests were, which could either be inconvenient or really interesting.
posted by lunasol at 4:18 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll second Suk 11. Great hostel.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:20 PM on June 27, 2010

Cambodia is great, Siem Reap in particular. Go see Angkor Wat and enjoy everyone treating you like royalty for a few days. Super chilled out. Book a room at Mother Home guesthouse. At $18/night it's the priciest around, but it's serious 4-star service.

Otherwise, Koh Chang, in Thailand, is like my favorite beach ever. Head to Siam Huts- $5 a night to stay right on the beach, plenty of eateries nearby serving 4,5$ dinners and breakfasts. Friday nights are CLUB NIGHT and, hence, hellish, but the rest of the week is quiet. Do yourself a favor and find a "Deluxe" bus.
posted by GilloD at 8:57 PM on June 27, 2010

anecdotal but a co-worker recently (2 weeks ago) came back (Bangkok and Chang-Mai) and said there were no issues, except for the lack of tourists...which led to her getting some great deals!
posted by Country Dick Montana at 5:47 PM on June 28, 2010

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