Anti-government protests in Bangkok, Thailand are now in their third month, with protest groups controlled by the PDRC (People's Democratic Reform Committee) now set up all over Bangkok, blocking major roads and causing inconvenience and distress to hundreds of thousands of people. Thailand's general election is to be held tomorrow, February 2nd, 2014 and that is when tempers are expected to explode from both sides of the political fence.
That being said, is it safe to travel to Bangkok, Thailand in February, 2014, or should you put off visiting Thailand's capital for another time?
February 2nd Elections - A general election was called at the end of 2013 by the current Pheu Thai government, headed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, in an effort to placate anti-government protesters. The general election will be held tomorrow, February 2nd, 2014.
Unfortunately, all that has done, so far, has caused the PDRC to increase their protests resulting in some violence and several deaths of protesters so far. Hand grenades and home-made bombs have also targeted protesters with more than 50 people being injured and several killed as a result, and the home of the governor of Bangkok was also attacked with a hand grenade.
Anti-government protesters now say they will be disrupting the election on February 2nd in an attempt to stop people voting, which is likely to cause further violence tomorrow and possibly after as those who do want to vote in the election come up against them.
For anyone not wanting to vote or not involved in protests, it's highly advisable to stay away from Bangkok on February 2nd, and possibly in the days afterwards, as clashes are expected between pro and anti-government protesters, as well as those voters caught in the middle who just want to vote.
I have lived in Bangkok for more than a decade, through a military coup and several months of political protests from both sides. I have never seen things this bad in all the time I've lived here, or witnessed such a frightening atmosphere.
With some observers saying civil war in Thailand could occur in 2014 if animosities continue from both sides, and others saying even if that doesn't happen incidents of violence are likely to increase, I currently recommend those without vital business in Bangkok stay away from Thailand's capital city until the situation has calmed down.
Thai Destinations Instead of Bangkok for Early 2014? - While Bangkok isn't the place to visit in February, 2014, that doesn't mean other places in Thailand should be avoided however as anti-government protests haven't spread to most other cities or resorts.
The northern city of Chiang Mai is a government stronghold, with the current government supported by the vast majority of the people who live there, so neither anti-government protests nor violence have occurred. It's also a beautiful city with much to do, and highly recommended as an alternative to Bangkok.
Phuket too is not much more than a tourist spot, and as non-Thais are not involved in the current protests and those Thais living there seem more concerned about conducting their business in the tourist industry rather than being involved in anti-government protests, Phuket is another Thai destination well worth visiting.
Other places like Chiang Rai, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Koh Samui, Koh Chang and Koh Samet are just as safe as they've always been, and are all delightful places to enjoy a visit to Thailand.
If you do decide to travel to Thailand in the next few months, however, just be sure to keep an eye on the news while you are in the Kingdom, so you can make alternate arrangements should the situation rapidly deteriorate.