CHIANG RAI – Tourist attractions and upcoming events in the northern districts of Thailand have been largely unaffected by the recent earthquake in the province of Chiang Rai and while some of the region’s infrastructure has sustained damage from the tremor, it is business as normal for tourists coming to the region.
The epicentre of the earthquake, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale, was Chiang Rai’s Phan district and it was felt at 18.08 hrs. on 5 May, 2014. Following the quake, there have been some minor aftershocks, the latest being on 7 May, 2014. The earthquake and aftershocks were felt mainly in the northern Thai provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Nan, Phayao, and Phrae.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, TAT Governor said, “While we continue to carry out detailed assessments of all visitor attractions in the seven provinces that experienced the quake, our preliminary findings have ascertained that no major tourist sites were adversely affected. But obviously these initial assessments are part of an on-going process and we continue to carry out inspections in the wake of aftershocks”
Unfortunately, one attraction that has not come through the earthquake unscathed is the famous Wat Rong Khun in Mueang Chiang Rai district. This memorable landmark sustained substantial damage and has had to be closed for maintenance. However, on 8 May, 2014, the art gallery is ready to open for tourists. Meanwhile, the Chiang Rung Hotel in Phan district, near the epicentre of the earthquake, sustained structural damage and is now closed until repairs can be carried out.
In addition, the quake also caused damage to some roads in the province. Cracks have been found on the Mae Lao – Mae Suai Highway between kilometre markers 151 and 152 (Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai) and so the road has been closed for the time being. Highway No. 118 or the Chiang Rai – Chiang Mai route sustained cracks over a 50 metre stretch around kilometre marker 141, leaving only one lane open to traffic. To prevent traffic build-up on this road, the Department of Highways has advised motorists to use other routes; such as, the Chiang Mai – Lampang – Phayao – Chiang Rai which have not been affected by the quake.
Immediately after the earthquake, measures were put in place by the provincial governor of Chiang Rai, who formed a response team at the Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation in the City Hall. Further support centres have been established around the region and teams will continue to monitor impact from the quake in and around the Chiang Rai area.
The TAT Governor said, “In terms of tourism, everything is going ahead as usual in these northern regions. Local and international visitors from Europe, Asia, and China especially have not changed their plans to travel here and continue to flock to the region. With no major impact on tourism to date, visitors can still enjoy the wide range of attractions that this lovely area offers.”
The Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai International Airport and the Chiang Mai International Airport as well as airports in Nan and Phrae are operating normally with no reports of drops in passenger numbers.
The rest of the country was completely unaffected by the Chiang Rai quake. Thailand’s main gateway Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and all other airports throughout Thailand are operating normally. All other modes of transportation, including rail, road and waterways are also reporting normal traffic for this time of year.
In addition, popular tourist destinations throughout Thailand, including those in the Central Region; such as, Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Ko Samet and Ko Chang; and in the south of Thailand, such as, Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak (Phang-nga), Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao have not been affected by the quake.