Millions of Thais are in mourning following the death of their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej. A revered father figure, he was seen as a major stabilising force in a country that had lived through many tumultuous years and political coups, helping to bring a sense of calm and peace, that is at the core of every Thai person and family living today.
With Thailand being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has issued a list of guidelines for foreign visitors to observe and respect as the population enters a year-long period of mourning. (Please note, that although the full period of mourning is a year, the most intensive period which will affect bars and businesses opening hours, etc., is only for the first month and lasts until the 13th of November.)
We’ve summarised the guidelines here to give you an idea of what to expect, although these guidelines are, for the most part, common sense and basic respect, and will not make your booked or planned trips to the ‘land of smiles’ any less wonderful.
Attire and attitude:
Black and white are the colours of mourning, so you will notice that Thai citizens will be wearing these shades for the most part. Tourists are not obliged to follow suit, but you are reminded that you should dress respectfully and avoid wearing anything garish or loud in public. While you are encouraged to relax and enjoy Thailand as you would otherwise, you are also asked to be well-mannered and polite, and to avoid any inappropriate or rowdy behaviour. As an extra tip, if you are heading out in the city, eating at a restaurant, or doing anything social that might involve dressing in something a little fancy; adding a simple black ribbon will be greatly appreciated by the locals.
Nightlife and entertainment:
The Thai government has asked for cooperation from recreational spots like bars and nightclubs. It has been suggested that owners operate for fewer hours during the mourning period and not indulge in “boisterous parties”. Simply put: bars are open but won’t be throwing all night parties. This will relax after the initial month’s mourning period, but each bar and club will do so at their discretion. This also affects a number of concerts and festivals. While most entertainment has been postponed until a later date, some concerts and parties have been cancelled for good, so it’s worth checking the websites of any events you are interested in attending so see what their current status is.
All forms of civil and public service will operate as per normal. In the interest of safety, security will be heightened to ensure peaceful travel and transactions when it comes to transportation, banks, hospitals, and any other form of public service.
Tourist attractions and sightseeing:
Most tourist attractions are staying open and operating as usual with the exception of Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace, as this are where the King’s funeral will take place. It is always worth performing a quick search before visiting a landmark just to be on the safe side, though.
Members of the public can sign messages of condolences and pay their respects to the late King at the Sahathai Samakom Pavilion, located in the Grand Palace, 8:30 am to 4 pm daily.
If you’d like to find out more about his life and his deeds you can find more information here.