Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi heads to Thailand on Tuesday for her first trip abroad in more than two decades, ending an era of isolation and cementing her arrival on the global stage.
The former political prisoner, who won a seat in parliament in historic April by-elections, is expected to meet the Thai prime minister, attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia and meet Myanmar communities during several days in the country.
Suu Kyi, who spent 15 of the past 22 years under house arrest, will emerge into a world transformed, with the skyscrapers and frenetic activity of Bangkok presenting a stark contrast to her sleepy home city of Yangon, regularly beset by power outages.
She is due to arrive in Bangkok around 1440 GMT. Her plan to leave Myanmar for the first time since 1988 comes as dramatic changes sweep the country, after decades of outright military rule ended last year.
Suu Kyi, fearful that she would never be allowed to return, had refused to travel abroad in the past, even when the former junta denied her dying husband a visa to visit her from Britain.
Suu Kyi will meet Thai premier Yingluck Shinawatra during her trip, but the timing has yet to be confirmed, the prime minister’s secretary general Thawat Boonfeung told AFP.
Suu Kyi is also set to visit Myanmar migrant workers in Samut Sakhon province, south of Bangkok, on Wednesday, according to local activists.
Suu Kyi is also expected to travel to the north of the country to meet some of the roughly 100,000 refugees displaced by conflict in Myanmar’s eastern border areas.
The Nobel laureate is scheduled to speak in an open discussion with World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab and appear at a session on the role of Asian women on Friday.