Channel NewsAsia

Mixed reactions from S'porean travellers after Thai coup

Some Singaporeans in Bangkok said they decided to return home earlier, while others were still intent on travelling to the country.

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has advised Singaporeans to seriously reconsider visiting Thailand at the moment.

It noted that the situation there is unpredictable and volatile, and may evolve quite rapidly.

A day after the military took over in Thailand, some Singaporeans in Bangkok said they decided to return home earlier.

"I was actually supposed to come back on an evening flight. So I changed my flight to an afternoon flight because of this,” said Veeramurugan Subramanian, who was in Bangkok for work.

“We do not know what the situation will be like, whether there will be any violence. So my manager asked me to come back earlier."

Travellers also had to adjust to the nationwide curfew in place from 10pm to 5am.

"Around 8(pm), people start rushing home and you have difficulty taking transport,” said Mike Ang, who was in Bangkok for work for three days.

“The BTS (metro system) stopped at around 8(pm). I saw a lot of military trucks trying to barricade some of the important,key installations."

Ca-ryn Lim, who was in Bangkok on holiday, said: "Most of the restaurants were already closed between 6-8pm, so we just took away the food and ate in the house."

Outside of Bangkok however, the situation was relatively normal.

"Everything was normal except that the TV stations were all blacked out," said Tan Yong Hwa, who was in Krabi on holiday.

Gwen Tay, returning from Phuket, said: "We didn't see any military presence. Everything was normal, life was normal."

MFA has urged citizens to reconsider travel to Thailand for now.

It advises travellers to monitor the news and developments closely, and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Safety precautions should also be taken.

"I've friends in Bangkok so they're telling me it's very safe. So I don't think it's an issue," said Max Lee, who is going to Bangkok.

Kong Chek Yong, also going to Bangkok, said: "I've been travelling a lot and this is just something that I think is not too dangerous based on my assessment. I won't go close to the crowds and I won't wear sensitive colours."

Chan Brothers Travel said it has not received any cancellations from customers with travel plans to Thailand. It is also in touch with those already in Thailand to see if they need assistance.

"Normally, we would have them reach the airport two hours or three hours before their flight. But now we've arranged for a five-hour buffer time,” said Jeremiah Wong, senior executive of marketing and communications at Chan Brothers Travel.

“They would rather be in the airport earlier than to be caught in a traffic jam or in a possible situation where they would miss their flight."

Several airlines are also offering waivers of administrative fees for those making a change in date or destination to their existing ticket to Bangkok.

Some airlines have put up advisories on their websites, notifying customers that flights to and from Bangkok are operating as scheduled. Some have also suggested that those leaving Bangkok should leave for the airport, at least four hours prior to their flight and to take the Airport Rail Link where possible.

Singapore Airlines said it is offering waivers for administrative fees for refunds or re-booking for those with existing tickets to Bangkok issued on or before May 19.

This is for travel to and from Bangkok, on or before May 31, 2014

As for those who have made bookings for Bangkok on budget airline Tigerair on or before May 19, they will also be able to change their travel dates for free or get a free change to another destination.

However, they will have to pay the fare difference, if any. This is also only applicable for travel between May 20 and 31.

Tigerair passengers can also cancel their current booking and get a flight credit valid for three months, for the same value as their purchase price.

However, budget carrier Scoot said it will not be rescheduling flights or refunding tickets for now, as MFA has asked travellers to seriously reconsider visiting Thailand but not recommended against travelling to Bangkok.

But it said guests who have booked a Scoot flight and do not wish to travel, may use ChangeYourFlight, a partner service which may be able to provide a partial refund in the form of a voucher.

It added it will continue to monitor the situation in Bangkok and will be guided by authorities. 

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