How Safe is Phuket For Travel?
Phuket is one of Thailand's most popular tourist destinations, and yet visitor numbers are well down on previous year. The beaches and streets in Phuket are quiet and businesses are beginning to feel the strain. Thailand's political problems have been well documented by the media, so much so that the country is portrayed as being in complete anarchy. Although the problems have been centered in Bangkok, they have impacted Phuket. But what's the reality of the situation? Should tourists be wary of traveling to Phuket?
The short answer is "no". For a bit of perspective, Thailand has had numerous problems over the years, from coups to bombings. However, it was only the tsunami that really affected tourism in the long run. Thailand's internal problems usually create a few short-term ripples and the media writes of chaos in the streets, but for people living in Thailand, they will tell you that life goes on as usual.
In Phuket, tourism is way down. Hotels are nowhere near full and people on the island are saying that the effect on the industry will be worse in the long term than the tsunami. It's such a dire situation, but it's also completely unnecessary. Travel advisory warnings also don't help.
If you were to visit Phuket right now you'd see a peaceful island. There are no more dangers than normal and everything is safe. There's no fighting in the streets and tourists aren't being victimized or attacked. In fact, there's probably never been a better time to visit Phuket because the island is less crowded than usual.
The beaches are still there and the popular sites are waiting for visitors to trickle in. Of course, travelers should still exercise the same caution they would when visiting Phuket any time of the year. Traveling alone on a motorcycle at night isn't a good idea and care should be taken when out and about. But don't let the news reports put you off a trip to Phuket.
It's a sad state of affairs, but hotel-booking websites have been reporting a huge decline in bookings. The same is true of airlines, who are now throwing out offers left, right and center to entice people to visit Thailand. There are bargains to be snapped up at the moment.
So if Phuket is safe for tourists, then what about Bangkok, where most of the trouble has been? There have been protests and airport closures and all sorts. However, unless you had a plane to catch during that time, if you were in Bangkok, you wouldn't have noticed much out of the ordinary other than when you turned on the news. Everything carried on as usual. It always does.
After the most recent coup, the tanks and soldiers became a tourist attraction. The resultant protests were mostly jovial affairs with picnics and concerts. Some media reports were speculating that Thailand was about to become a bloodbath, similar to revolutions of the past, but such events didn't materialize.
Forums, blogs and phone lines have been inundated with people asking if Phuket is still safe for travel. It is safe, and it likely will be for a long time to come.