Over 900,000 Brits visit Thailand each year, which is why the Sunday Times judged it one of their top ten holiday destinations. With so many of us having visited the country, there must have been a collective sigh across the UK this week at the sight of the Erawan Shrine, one Bangkok’s most popular tourist spots, having been bombed, resulting in twenty deaths, including twelve tourists. Those sighs will have turned to groans as would-be back packers (and the parents of would-be back packers) realise that one of the favourite stopping off places on their itinerary might suddenly have become more dangerous.
The millions of British who have previously visited the country will have felt particularly disappointed as they recalled the warmth (and gentleness) of the people and the beauty of the country. How, they might well have been asking themselves, could somewhere so welcoming become so scarey?
So how dangerous has Thailand become and what changes, if any, should would-be visitors make to their travel plans?
We carried out a quick straw poll amongst several independent sources and experts to see what their advice was. And the good news? They all think you should still go.
We turned first to Simon Calder, one of the UK’s leading travel journalists, who not only writes a regular column in the Independent, but is often used by the BBC as a ‘talking head’ when carrying travel stories. Simon’s view, as published in the Independent on Monday (17th August) was pretty unequivocal. “I would have no hesitation travelling to Bangkok or any of the usual tourist spots in Thailand”, he wrote.
The Foreign Office’s advice was to: ”monitor news reports, follow the advice of local authorities and take extra care”. Standard stuff and probably not that helpful, but, the only areas of Thailand they definitely advise you not to visit was: “the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla on the Thai-Malaysia border”.
The Tourist Authority of Thailand was, as you would expect, keen to demonstrate that they were working hard to address the situation and have: “put extra security in place at all of Bangkok’s key attractions and venues popular with tourists. Tightened security is also being introduced at key destinations across the country to provide extra care for tourists and locals”.
Finally, to Tripadvisor. Their site doesn’t react quickly to late breaking news but its advice was fairly positive. Its website says, “ Overall, Thailand is a safe nation in which to travel. Physical attacks and other crimes against “the person” are far less likely than in many other “developed” nations”.