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Should Tourists Stay Away During Thailand Referendum?

Embassies around the world have warned tourists of the risks of travelling during the Thailand Referendum.

But should holidaymakers really stay away while Thais case their votes on a new political charter?

Well, the answer is no. Unless, violence and political protests are sparked after the result of the vote. In which case, avoid Bangkok.

The U.S. embassy's warning o tourists during the Thailand referendum

The U.S. embassy’s warning o tourists during the Thailand referendum

Should here be any fall out from the Thailand referendum vote, the Thai capital will feel the brunt of it. And there could be scenes similar to those during protests that led to a military coup in 2014.

Protests  could cause traffic-gridlock in central Bangkok and increased risk of mob demonstrations and attacks. There would also be a strong military presence in the capital.

The U.S. embassy has warned tourists traveling in Thailand to ‘exercise caution and avoid crowds and demonstrations’.

Anyone who has booked a holiday to Thailand – unaware of the dates of the referendum should take a trip outside of Bangkok to an island or tourist resort.  These sleepy towns and cities will carry on as normal.

Political sensitivity during Thailand referendum

On a more practical level, alcohol sales have been banned during the weekend of voting. This could limit the amount of activities available at night.

If the vote passes peacefully, then tourists, in general, should have no problems. The country will be very much business as usual within a few days.

Furthermore, tourists are most likely not the ones to have strong opinions on Thai domestic politics – the kind of thing that could cause problems.

However, ex-pats living in Thailand have been warned by embassies around the world to take extra care during the referendum.

The U.S. Embassy published a statement online reminding its citizens of the heightened sensitivity around free speech during the voting.

‘Individuals, including foreigners, may be detained for publicly criticising the National Council for Peace and Order or the monarchy,’ it said.

‘Security forces have additional powers, including the right to control movement and search for weapons.’

The British embassy also warned people about peaking publicly on Thai issues.

‘It’s illegal to criticise the coup and you should be wary of making political statements in public,’ their online statement read.

Similar warnings have come from many European embassies, all of which have citizens living in Thailand who could be affected by the fall-out from referendum.

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