Channel NewsAsia

Chiang Mai sees influx of visitors amid political unrest in Bangkok

As the Thai capital continues to experience gridlock from political protests, the northern province of Chiang Mai is entertaining an influx of visitors who prefer to stay away from all the roadblocks and possible dangers the protests might bring.

CHIANG MAI: As the Thai capital continues to experience gridlock from political protests, the northern province of Chiang Mai is entertaining an influx of visitors who prefer to stay away from all the roadblocks and possible dangers the protests might bring.

Many of Bangkok’s streets are blocked by anti-government protesters, who have long been calling for the government's resignation and a postponement of the upcoming polls.

Their blockades of advance polling stations on Sunday led to a fatal clash with pro-government activists, resulting in one death and several injuries.

Amid growing concerns that violence may escalate even further, many tourists have chosen to stay away from the capital city as far as they can.

One of the popular destinations is in northern Thailand, where peace and security remains undisturbed.

Located some 700km north of Bangkok, the province of Chiang Mai is enjoying a huge influx of visitors from around the world. Many of them have diverted their route from the capital city for fear of its volatile situation.

While businesses in Bangkok are feeling the pinch of the social unrest, entrepreneurs in Chiang Mai are benefiting from the very same cause.

After 11 years of selling scarves at the weekend night market, Jitraporn Watcharasurang is enjoying an unusually high volume of sales, thanks to the many tourists who have fled the capital.

The 58-year-old shop owner said: "I've noticed more tourists in Chiang Mai. We usually see a lot of tourists during this time of the year because it's a high season but we are now seeing a lot more. My sale has nearly doubled."

Besides local stores, hotel rooms in the northern province are also selling out fast.

And entrepreneurs are quite confident the tourism businesses will continue this way as long as Bangkok remains under the siege of the political impasse. 

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