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Bangkok Braces for Massive Protests

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Bangkok is bracing for a massive round of protests on Monday, and the government has deployed nearly 15,000 police officers to maintain order.

As we explained last month, anti-government activists have been calling for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's resignation since November, alleging that her brother-in-exile, and ousted former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra is leading the country from afar.

Monday's protesters will target government buildings and several major intersections, complicating local transit and forcing schools to close.

Aside from the longer transportation times, visitors to Thailand's capital—a repeated T+L World's Best City winner—should not see too many effects of the protests. The State Department urges U.S. citizens to steer clear of the protests, however, just in case the peaceful demonstrations take a violent turn.

T+L's contacts in Bangkok will be on hand next week with updates. For more immediate news, you can follow the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok on Twitter.

UPDATE (Monday, January 13): Tens of thousands of flag-waving protesters took to the streets today, blocking off major intersections and forcing schools and many downtown offices to close. For international travelers, however, the "Bangkok Shutdown" should have little effect. Pamela Lassers, director of media relations for Abercrombie & Kent, reports that the luxury tour operator's local programs are running as normal, including airport transfers and city excursions. Major tourist sites such as the Grand Palace, Wat Po, and the riverside remain entirely untouched by the protests, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand insists everything is "business as usual."

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: istockphoto

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