After taking control of key roads and buildings in Bangkok. the Thai army announced that it has deposed Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister, and suspended parliament on Tuesday.
Following the news hundreds of Thais gathered in the rain at the Government House, the prime minister's office, taking photos and video of themselves with the army's tanks.
Yong Suphachai, the owner of a body-painting shop in Bangkok's main tourist area said: "I don't know what will happen to Thailand and I am confused."
"I was so shocked and I am scared."
Sasiprapha Chantawong, a student at Thammasat University said he favoured the change:
"I don't agree with the coup, but now that they've done it, I support it because Thaksin has refused to resign from his position," he said.
"Allowing Thaksin to carry on will ruin the country more than this. The reputation of the country may be somewhat damaged, but it's better than letting Thaksin stay in power."
Chuan Leekpai, former prime minister and a member of the opposition Democrat Party, said Thaksin had forced the military to act.
"As politicians, we do not support any kind of coup but during the past five years, the government of Thaksin created several conditions that forced the military to stage the coup. Thaksin has caused the crisis in the country."
Weerasak Kohsurat, a deputy minister in a previous government, said he believed royal adviser Sumate Tantivejakul would steer the political reform process.
Elections would be called when it was done and Thaksin, Thailand's longest serving elected prime minister, would be allowed to take part, he said.
As tanks rumbled through the streets and suddenly surrounded Government House, while state television and radio fell into the hands of rebel military leaders.
People leaned out of windows and shouted to one another, trying to make sense of the rapidly developing situation.
The army have acted swiftly to affirm their support for the Thai king.
Elderly King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the most revered figure in Thailand, and his portrait hangs in almost every shop and home.
"It's just the news," said one woman, a Bangkok chicken vendor.
"Tomorrow everything will be back to normal. Everything is OK because we have a king."