Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tourists fleeing Bangkok troubles head for Southern Provinces

There is something strange -- alarming even -- about this story. The Bangkok Post reports:
In Hat Yai, Songkhla's commercial district, a large of number of foreign tourists arrived to board planes out of the country. The stranded tourists have headed to Hat Yai, from where they can fly or go overland to Malaysia and Singapore and return to their home countries from there. "Several hundred buses to Malaysia and Singapore are fully booked.
The newspaper report talks about how tourists can "go overland from Hat Yai" to Malaysia. I have made the trip myself, though not recently. I do not think overland travel through the Southern Provinces especially advisable, considering the insurgency. The article continues:
The tourists have been advised to come to Hat Yai for flights to Malaysia or Singapore and then return home," said Kriangkrai Samphankul, chairman of the Phatthalung tourism association. "But some are taking the opportunity to explore Hat Yai as well while they are here."
At least in Bangkok tourists have not been the targets of violence. But the same cannot necessarily be said of Hat Yai over the past several years:
  • The first big bomb in Hat Yai . . . Hat Yai Airport, Carrefour Superstore and various night spots in town, killing two people and injuring 30. (April 3, 2005)
  • At least four people were killed and 82 were injured. Among those killed were a Malaysian, a Canadian and two Thai people. (Sept. 16, 2006)
  • Seven coordinated bomb attacks left Songkhla's popular tourist centre of Had Yai reeling last night. They injured 13 people, including one women whom police said was in a serious condition. (May 28, 2007)
Who would have thought that foreign tourists would start flocking to a region of Thailand that has been a virtual war zone for several years?

See Also: My other recent posts about the Bangkok Airport crisis and the PAD demonstrations that have rocked Thailand.
Maps: Dr Srisompob Jitpiromsri and Panyasak Sobhonvasu, "Unpacking Thailand's southern conflict: The poverty of structural explanations" Critical Asian Studies 38:1 (2006), p95-117 at p109 (academic access only) via Bangkok Pundit and NY Times.


  1. The reason the tourists are deciding to go through land to Malaysia is because there is no other way. Believe me, no one thought their relaxing vacation in Thailand at the beach was going to end with 4 days of traveling by land, including a 24 hr bus ride (that turned out to be several shady vans) to cross the border.

  2. One Hong Kong resident and two Canadians died in traffic accidents -- the Canadians were traveling in the shady vans apparently -- on the way to Malaysia. Tragic.


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