Confusion reigns for tourists in Thai holiday hotspot

Stall holders pack up at Chiang Mai's normally busy bazaar as the curfew comes into effect.
Stall holders pack up at Chiang Mai's normally busy bazaar as the curfew comes into effect. Photo: Kylie McLaughlin

Atmosphere remained calm in Chiang Mai last night as the nationwide curfew imposed by Thai military took hold.

At 9pm in Chiang Mai's busy central night bazaar stall holders and massage stands quickly packed up their belongings and ushered confused tourists away.

"I know there is a curfew, but this does not affect us as tourists?" a visitor asked a masseuse.

A lone security guard stands at the entrance of the night market in Chiang Mai.
A lone security guard stands at the entrance of the night market in Chiang Mai. Photo: Kylie McLaughlin

"Tomorrow it will be OK, but tonight is not OK," the masseuse replied.

By 10pm most of the stalls were packed but the streets were far from deserted as people struggled to pack up in time.

Some continued to sell items to tourists.

Most workers seemed happy to be finishing work early . A 7-11 attendant spoke gleefully of finishing work at 9 for "maybe 7 days".

Others sat around chairs and tables on the street drinking beer.

There was no sign of a military presence or any kind of enforcement in Chiang Mai's busiest tourist centre.

Tourists may have been unaware of the curfew until early evening when television was cut off at approximately 7.40pm.

Hotels did not make guests aware until later, so those returning from day trips and heading out for the evening may not have known until locals were packing and restaurants and bars started to close at 9pm.

Further north on the Burmese border town of Mae Hong Son questions about curfews were met with mirth.

"No way," said a local hotel worker. "Only in Bangkok, and even there is ok now."

Early Friday morning, Chiang Mai returned to life and markets in the old centre were busy as usual. The airport was also operating, with no apparent disruption to flights.

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