After 70 years of reign, the beloved king of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on 13 October 2016, leaving the Thai people in deep grief and an official mourning period of 1 year, with 1 month of no celebrations. If you are planning on visiting Thailand in the next 1 month, there are a few things to keep in mind…
Understanding the Loss
Due to the King’s long reign, a lot of Thais haven’t seen another ruler in their lifetime, which leaves them in a lot of pain and uncertainty. It is important to understand that for the Thai people King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has been not just a monarch, but an actual strongly beloved father figure, so the nation grieves as if they have lost a family member. The official colours of mourning are black and white so you can expect to see a lot of Thais dressed in those, or generally darker colours. The rule doesn’t officially apply for tourists and expats, but it is highly recommended that everybody travelling in the country during this time shows respect by wearing appropriate clothing and keeping the holiday mood volume down.
Bars, Parties and Celebrations
In order to keep tourism going during the 1 month of mourning, the government has allowed bars to operate, based on the owners discretion. This means that some bars might be open and alcohol served, while others will remain closed for indefinite period of time. Keep in mind hough that in any case, there will be no music, loud parties or celebrations. All music festivals and major events during the 1 month period (including the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan) have been cancelled. The beautiful Festival of Light (Loi Krathong), falls outside of the mourning period, but there is a chance that it might be cancelled or at least extremely subdued – no fireworks or parades.
In Bangkok, the Grand Palace and The Temple of The Emerald Buddha will be closed for at least one month, and most of the popular red lights district will be shut as well.
Do’s and Don’ts
While you might see it as unfair that all celebrations are cancelled and this will ruin your vacation, try to be respectful and be careful with what you’re saying in public places. Drinking alcohol on the street, being too loud or dressed inappropriately will most probably be seen as disrespectful by the locals. No matter how unhappy with the situation you are, make sure you don’t say anything disrespectful about the royal family as Thailand has strict lèse-majesté laws, which forbid any insults to the monarchy. Being a tourist doesn’t really protect you if you violate this law, and may put you in prison for up to 15 years.