Thailand Country Guide

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Unrest

Civil Conflicts
In 2004, long-simmering resentment in the southern (Muslim majority) provinces burst into violence in the provinces of Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. All are off the beaten tourist trail along the eastern rail line from Hat Yai to Sungai Kolok (gateway to Malaysia's east coast) passes through the area and has been disrupted several times by attacks.

 
 
 
 
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Hat Yai (the largest city in Southern Thailand's Songkhla Province) has been hit by a series of related bombings. However, the main cross-border rail line connecting Hat Yai and Butterworth (on Malaysia's West Coast) has not been affected and none of the islands or the west coast beaches have been targeted. In September 2006, three foreigners were killed in bombings in Hat Yai. Some rebel groups have threatened foreigners but while targets have included hotels, karaoke lounges and shopping malls, Westerners have not been singled out for attacks.

City of Hatyai by Miyano2005

Political Unrest
Long-simmering tension between pro and anti government groups came to a collision course in 2008 with the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) first blockading several airports in Southern Thailand for a few days during the middle of the year. In November they took over Bangkok's two airports for a week, causing immense disruption to tourism and the Thai economy. While several protesters were killed or injured in scuffles, by and large the protests were peaceful and no tourists were harmed.

Red Shirt demonstrators in Bangkok by Takeaway

Following the resignation of Thailand's prime minister in December 2008, things went back to normal for the time being but the situation remains unstable. In May 2010, Red Shirt demonstrators occupied a large area of Bangkok, which was not dispersed for two months. This resulted in much violence, arson and even a few deaths. The problem is still simmering and though poses no real threat to tourists, you should bear in mind that things could easily flare up. Follow the news closely and keep your travel plans flexible to stay away from troubled hot spots. Avoid demonstrations and other political gatherings.

 
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