On Thursday 13th October, Thai authorities announced the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The 88 year old Monarch, the world’s longest serving head of state, reigned for 70 years and was revered as a father figure to the people of Thailand.
This is a time of deep sorrow for the Thai people and a 30 day national mourning period is being respected across the country. Prime minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha announced several measures of national mourning, including public officials and offices displaying their mourning through uniforms and flags flying half mast.
Understandably tourists travelling in Thailand, and those planning to visit over the coming month, are concerned about how this will affect them. The Thailand Toursim Authority is encouraging travellers to carry on as normal and to not change their travel plans. All they ask is for travellers to demonstrate respect for the Thai people, by refraining from behaviour that may be interpreted as disrespectful or disorderly, and to have patience during this time.
Here are Buffalo Tours recommendations for those visiting the country until November 13th:
Increased security measures have been put in place at Thailand’s international airports. The Airport Authority of Thailand advises that passengers arrive no later than three hours before their scheduled departure during this time.
Large numbers of people from other provinces will be travelling to Bangkok to pay their respects and thus transport hubs will be busier than usual. Authorities have similarly increased security in bus/train stations and ports to facilitate those travelling around the country.
Tourist attractions will mostly remain open having closed in the first few days after HM’s death, with the exception of Wat Pra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace in Bangkok. These two sites will open again after October 31st.
The weekend walking street and Night Market in Chiang Mai will now be open as usual but with restrictions on light and sound.
We recommend that you check individual websites for local attractions, or ask your travel agent or hotel, prior to visiting to avoid disappointment.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand has released a list of cancelled events, festivals and concerts on their news website.
Restaurants and bars
Restaurants and bars have been encouraged to stay open but ultimately it is up to the individual establishment to make decisions on closures. Again, it is worth checking beforehand and this list may provide useful for some of the more popular spots in Bangkok.
Thailand’s famous nightlife will be most affected. All entertainment venues, including bars, have been asked to reconsider their operating hours during this time and an 11pm curfew is being recognised by many.
Thailand celebrates many traditional and cultural events throughout the year and many will continue to take place, although the manner of celebration may change as a mark of respect.
Most significantly, Chiang Mai municipality had announced the cancellation of the Loy Kratong and Yi Peng festivals this year. However, Loy Kratong (12-15th of November) is back on but without its famous parade, music and fireworks. Locals and travellers will be able to release lanterns in memory of the King. Yi Peng is currently still cancelled.
We advise all travellers to continue to enjoy the beautiful country of Thailand whilst remaining respectful for the mourning period. It is especially important to exercise patience and consideration of the Thai people, and to refrain from behaviour that will be in direct contrast to the potentially somber mood.
While many Thai people will be wearing simple black and white dress, it is not necessary for tourists to follow. However, we do advise you to dress as modestly as possible. If you would like to display your solidarity with the mourning of Thai people, wearing a black ribbon is appreciated as sign of respect for the late king.
It is likely to be weeks before the official funeral takes place but it will likely mean a country-wide ‘shutdown’ of up to a week. When dates are announced we will provide you with more information.