How Does Lifting of Martial Law Affect Tourists Coming to Thailand?

How Does Lifting of Martial Law Affect Tourists Coming to Thailand?


After nearly ten months, martial law has been lifted in much of Thailand. Though we shouldn’t forget that it continues in the deep south as it’s a separate issue due to the ongoing insurgency. Martial law came into affect across Thailand shortly before the coup last year. The good news is that it has now been lifted. The bad news, is that the military junta has invoked Article 44 which basically gives them absolute power over the Thai people and any foreigners living here.

So, how does the lifting of Martial Law affect tourists? Well, on the surface, nothing has really changed as I think the majority of them didn’t really know what was happening in Thailand. The ones I spoke to had recollections of some protests a year or so ago, but the majority thought that the troubles were all in the past. Of course, that is not so. Tourists should have been aware that having Martial Law in Thailand probably meant that their insurance was invalid. You cannot really blame the tourists as you hardly see any soldiers, and any police you see are usually traffic cops.


I was at an event today that was attended by Ms. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the Minister of Tourism and Sports. I managed to ask her a quick question as she was leaving. Though there was no time for any follow ups as she was already late for her next engagement. This is the transcript of what she told me

How does the lifting of the martial law affect foreign tourists?

Kobkarn: It will benefit them.

In what way?

Kobkarn: Because of the confidence. Like for example the Japanese. They have asked us many times whether we can change the name. Because “martial law” to them is very strong. It’s something related to war. That kind of thing. So with this they will have more confidence. And that another part that will help a lot will be, I think, the MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions]. Because some of them were reluctant to come to Thailand because of the insurance companies. But I believe the insurance [companies] should be happy to accept Thailand now.

From what I am reading here is that it’s just the name that has been changed; from Martial Law to Article 44. Basically superficial window dressing to make insurance companies, MICE organisers, and foreign tourists happy. But, will it work? Will insurance companies fall for this sleight of hand? If tourists are now fully insured should they still come to Thailand for a holiday without any concerns?

There is still a lot more I want to find out about Article 44 before I make up my own mind. I also need to give some thought as to whether I should continue promoting Thailand as a tourist destination. I have received a certain amount of criticism from certain quarters regarding this. The pressure is similar to the call for travel boycotts to Burma in the past. I had previously dismissed this by saying it’s not the same in Thailand and that the generals will soon give power back to the people. But, these days I’m not so sure.


At the moment, my heart says continue promoting Thailand for the people and the country that I love. The hope is that one day there will be light at the end of the tunnel and that things will get back to normal. But, I know full well that it won’t ever be the Thailand that I fell in love with when I first came here over twenty years ago. I am also realistic that the day might come when I should stop promoting Thailand as a tourist destination. But that will never mean that I have stopped loving the country.

What do you think? Has the time come for me to hang up my hat or should I continue as normal?

23 thoughts on “How Does Lifting of Martial Law Affect Tourists Coming to Thailand?

  1. That’s a difficult one Richard. And personal. I lost confidence in Thailand in 2010 and the country has done nothing to regain it, only digs itself further into the muck. Do I love Thailand? Sure. If I didn’t, all of this wouldn’t matter so much to me.

  2. Promote the good stuff, be critical of the bad. No reason to stop doing that no matter who’s in charge. Unless you’re being pressured to paint only a rosy picture, then time to stop probably!

  3. Richard, the comment about insurance is not really true. In nearly all cases insurance would pay out, the exception being if a claim is directly or indirectly a result of martial law, for example you get caught in crossfire, run over by a tank or get beaten up by the army for breaking a curfew. I’ve read a number of policies and didn’t find any where all losses occurring in a country or region which is under martial law are excluded.

  4. Continue, and people will have to make up their own minds. You are not responsible for what they think and do. Due diligence requires that they do their own research before deciding on where to go and what to do. That said, whenever and wherever people travel there is an element of the unknown, that’s why we do it! If it doesn’t work out as planned for someone, it’s not your fault!

  5. I have mixed feelings about Prayut. I don’t think he’s in it for the money, which is refreshing in this country. On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to be attached to reality as a military man who has been surrounded by yes men and women most of his life. This is a wait and see game..

  6. It depends where you live in Thailand , what is your lifestyle . Up here in Chiang Saen nothing has changed in the 12 years I have lived here you would not know there was martial law , never seen any anything other than the usual traffic police & they never bother fallangs .

  7. As I’m a Thai person living in Thailand, I do wish you keep promoting my country. Yet, at the same time, I also wish you’d follow your own will, so if the situation escalates and you finally decide to abandon us, it’ll be my own compatriots not you who deserve a blame.

  8. You must do what is good for you and your family. I enjoy your unbiased style. At times of unrest you’ve provided valuable hints for tourists to avoid areas of unrest. You’re promoting a people, not their (un)elected leaders.

  9. Do not be nostalgic of the Shinawatra clan. The game is over. Thailand will continue to Thai people. Thailand is expanding. The boycott of the West will not help !

  10. Richard:

    My last visit to Thailand was 2011-2012.
    I would have been more assured of my personal safety, had
    I needed to visit Thailand again during the Martial Law
    period, in contradistinction to the two years preceding the Coup
    when virtual lawlessness ruled !

    1. Visited Thailand in February 2015 and felt very safe. Would not have felt like that if the protests and uncertainty of violence were still going on.

  11. Martial law was the best thing that happened in Phuket. But now the army has gone, the crooks and scammers have returned – not that they actually left, they just kept their heads down.

    The problem is, a lot of the crooks and scammers are working in the administration.

    And our new governor Nisit just doesn’t have a clue. Am I allowed to say that? Maybe you’d better delete it.

  12. My son is here for work with a colleague. Yesterday while we waiting for a taxi at the driveway entrance to a hotel, a tuk tuk pulls up and stops in front of us. The driver yells, “WHERE U GO?” We ignore him as he can see we are looking for a taxi. He yells the same thing two more times, then gives me the finger. Then he backs the tuk tuk into the driveway where I was standing, straightens it out, revs up the engine and comes straight at me! I jumped out of the way just in time to avoid getting hit. Then he sped into the road and away he went. He was so out of line and belligerent. The first taxi that stopped said no meter, 100 baht, the second taxi said same but 150 baht. We decided to take the BTS instead.

    The point is this: The article said the reason the General went from martial law to Article 44 was because TAT was complaining that martial law was hurting tourism, well what about stuff like this? I felt embarrassed that my son and his colleague had to witness the worst of Bangkok.

    Oh, and BTW, I have stopped recommending that visitors come here years ago.

    1. Same in Phuket. Too many thugs come here to make money fast from farangs as “taxi” drivers (tuk-tuk drivers). Some of them should be locked up for life.

      Please bring back martial law, general. And come back to Phuket for another go at cleaning out all the crap, because it has come back again.

  13. Martial law was absolute power for the military.
    Article 44 is absolute power for one man. And, he will use it, and is using it to the limit, of which there is none.
    He has already stated that it will take 3 or more years to fix the problems, so he basically has cancelled the elections scheduled for early 2016.
    He stated yesterday that if the media does print positive articles, he will shut them down.
    Insurance is not valid under the conditions prevailing in Thailand, check with your provider.
    Actually, the best way is to vote with your feet, there are many other wonderful tourist destinations in SE Asia. VN, Mynamar, Cambodia, Indonesia (North Sumatera) to mention a few that are as good or better than Thailand, and most are also cheaper. Let them wonder what happened!!!!!
    See you elsewhere.

      1. Thanks for your reply, and the question

        My comment concerning the better and cheaper was directed toward tourists that wish to travel to South East Asia, and my reply from the grass is always greener.

        Having worked and lived in the Philippines and Indonesia (1989-2000), and lived only in Thailand since 2000, and traveled throughout the region for 25 years, my friends and I have tossed this question around, of why do we stay?

        The answer always comes back to the same logic, “Where do we go if we leave?” Things are basically good here, the martial law and “44” don’t have much effect on our daily routine, and everywhere you ever reside, there are quirks in the law of which you will not agree with. Corruption is rife EVERYWHERE IN the WORLD, religion is totally out of bounds, so I try not to complain, especially concerning the issues over which I have no control. I have always nit picked problems that can and should be addressed by individuals and governments.

        Good luck with your column, I have just become a reader.

  14. Dear sir!First I would like to thank you for your site ,it helped to me a lot I stay in Thailand from 2006 but knew about your site maybe four years

    I think if we love this country we love in good time and not good time ,prosperous and poor ,stable and unstable time and God bless your

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