Traveling through Thailand during martial law

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Even though the most recent pointbreaks list wasn’t all that great, there was one listed hotel we’ll be able to take advantage of- the Crowne Plaza in Bangkok since we happen to be in Thailand already.  Others must have felt the same way since it is now off the list already!  However, some are afraid to come to Bangkok right now.

Which brings me to the actual topic of this post.  Traveling through Thailand during martial law.

There has been a lot of talk in travel communities about whether or not it’s sensible or safe to travel in Thailand right now, as their recent election failed and the military has essentially taken over for awhile.  In fact, we found all of this out just a few nights ago when a note from the hotel was slipped under our door.

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As you may notice, the letter states that the Kingdom of Thailand will have a 10pm to 5 am curfew for the time being.  Pretty unique travel happenstance.

I am not a reporter.  I have a fuzzy memory for facts and statistics and the like,and I don’t have access to the most current news sources etc etc etc.  But…I figured people may be curious about whether or not Thailand is a different place to travel in now that it’s under martial law.  So as someone who has experienced non-martial-law Thailand AND now, martial-law-Thailand, here is the reality of what it’s like to travel in Thailand during martial law.  Not from a reporting perspective.  Just from a traveler to traveler perspective.

1.) Yes there’s a curfew but…

Yes there is some evidence of a curfew, but in places like Patong or Phi Phi island it is enforced fairly loosely with much grace given to tourists.  For instance in Patong no one showed signs of recognizing a curfew until closer to 11 pm and even then, it was a slow trickle of businesses turning off their music…then lights…then sluggishly closing.  So tourists gathered on the streets and only when they wandered towards the beach were they confronted politely by the police advising them to go back to their hotel rooms.

One night Drew ventured out past 11:00 and though no one stopped him, he said it was pretty quieted down out on the streets.  Not the usual for Patong, generally throbbing with Vegas-like energy all night.

Here on Phi Phi island it’s similar.  However, we heard from friends who have just come from Bangkok that the curfew actually IS enforced as intended in Bangkok.  We’ll be in Bangkok in a week or so and will soon see for ourselves.

2.)  We feel safe.

Again, perhaps we’ll feel differently once we pass through Bangkok but we have felt safe here and the other travelers we’ve talked to (even those who have been through Bangkok) seem to share this low-anxiety sentiment.

3.)  For whatever it’s worth…according to NewYork Times this is at least the 12th time that the military has had to intervene in the last 80 years.  So…in some ways people do not seem alarmed although this could be my ignorance showing.  And to be fair, I’m sure there are many people who are quite distraught (or else there wouldn’t be protests right now!) But in general people are going about business as usual.


If your goal is to come to Thailand and experience some great snorkeling in Phuket or see the gentle sloping hills in Chiang Mai, then you probably will get the experience you’re looking for, fairly unhindered by this martial law.  Especially if you fly straight into Phuket as we did.  If you’re coming to party….well…you may be disappointed when everything’s quiet long before midnight.

Having said all that, I don’t know how things will evolve as days go by.  For instance I found out that at some point today Facebook was being blocked in some parts of Thailand?  I didn’t notice any such thing but then again I wasn’t sitting there refreshing my facebook all day.

Like I said, we feel safe.  But you should do what will make you feel safe.  If you don’t like unknowns, then maybe you won’t feel at ease here but we have not yet felt any reason to be uneasy.

I’ll keep you updated.


6 Comments on “Traveling through Thailand during martial law

  1. In one of his posts, Drew had mentioned about a hotel in Phuket running at less than 30% occupancy before martial law. I know you said there are still tourists coming through, but have you noticed a decline in numbers since the coup began?

    If so, is it having any affect on your experience there?

    • Honestly it’s hard to say because it’s also just now getting into rainy season and therefore, slow season. So it’s hard to know what is linked to slow season and what is linked to martial law but I can definitely say it is not in any way hindering our experience. In fact this weekend we made loads of new friends. If it is slower here at all, it’s in a nice way and not in a “dead” way.

  2. I’ve been in Thailand since May 4th. Before the coup and during. I was in Chiang Mai (when the earthquake happend in Chiang Rai) way more scarrier then anything else so far as I was on the 10th floor of a condo building that shook like crazy.

    Then on to Patong beach, it does put a dampner when the stores close eary and you need to get stuff or if you want to enjoy a late night drink. Im not into the all night partying, so I haven’t been affected much. Have not seen any military either, police have all been nice. Not to say it isn’t important or a big deal, I just have not seen a lot of affects where I’ve been. i was in Phi Phi Island last weekend and nobody followed any curfew there.

    I will spend one night in Bangkok this coming Wednesday near the airport, but I dont have time to go into town. So not sure what the experience will be like.

    This is my 4th time here and other than the curfew so far, not much is really different that I have seen. As Carrie stated, if you coming to party all night, you might want to wait untill the curfew is lifted, otherwise your going to be dissapointed.

    • Hey! Looks like we may be at Bangkok airport on the same day! And actually we may have crossed paths without knowing it as it seems we’re following the same itinerary! (Patong and then Phi Phi island! We are actually on Phi Phi island until tomorrow.)

      If you see a bearded fellow with a teeny tiny curly haired wife walking around, say hi!

  3. Hi Carrie,
    I wanted to donate to Rachel & Zack’s fundraising, and I left a comment for Drew since I didn’t see a way to send a PM, but I’m not sure he saw it and I wanted to be able to donate before the window closes so I’m writing here hoping you’ll see it. Anyway I wanted to ask what does “One award booking” mean in the $500 donation category? Is that where you find the award booking using my miles? And if so, is this also a service you offer? And in case I don’t hear back before the donation window closes, would you still take it afterwards?

    Thanks so much. – Ed

    • Yes definitely even though it’s past the “window” we’ll certainly still give you the perk for your donation since it’s clear you were trying to donate within the window. The “award booking” referenced would be a booking Drew would do using your miles. He would help you get the trip you want out of your miles using what he knows of routing/fuel-surcharges/etcetc.

      We used to offer that as a service but it was a lot harder balancing it with the blog than we thought it would be.

      Hope that answers all your questions!

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