Thailand: Tourists Must Take into Consideration a Mourning Kingdom

Thailand in mourning (Photo from the South China Morning Post)

The passing-away of the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej is affecting the life of the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai people plunge into a deep sorrow. Tourists visiting the country will have to bear it, and understand and adjust to this special situation at least until the middle of November.

It will be quiet around Thailand for a while as the Kingdom is mourning the death of their beloved King, after 70 years of reign. Tourists who already booked their holiday will now have to adapt to the exceptional circumstances and adjust to a situation which might last for a month. Many events are now cancelled, starting with the festival of lights, Loy Krathong.

Announcements have already been made for the cancelled festivity all across the country including in famed places such as Chiang Mai and Sukothai. Generally, most public festivities –except religious ones—are cancelled for 30 days.

Special private events such as the International Dance Festival, the Contemporary Film and Short Film festivals in Bangkok are either postponed or cancelled. The Pattaya International Fireworks Festival and the Surat Thani Full Moon Party have also been cancelled.

Entertainment venues such as the popular Muay Thai Live Show at Asiatique or the Sampran Riverside Cultural Show cancelled some of their performances. Some other entertainment venues might operate with restricted hours during a week or two. The government advised entertainment venues owners to decide at their convenience and to tone down their performance during a month.

Tours however are not affected with all traditional sightseeing such as museums or temples being opened to the public. The Grand Palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddha are closed to visitors for the time being. They are however due to reopen to the public on October 20. Wat Pho is open to the public, but it might be extremely crowded as Thai people might come there to pay respect to their late King.

Most embassies, as well as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), are advising travellers to the Kingdom to dress in a sober and sombre way. Dark, muted, or white colours are recommended. In cities, it is advised then not to walk around in very short trousers, sleeveless tee-shirts, or wear tee-shirts with provocative slogans. The TAT already posted guidelines for visitors on its website. Tour operators and inbound travel agencies briefed their tour guides who will advise clients about the right way to behave. Many embassies also posted advices on their website.

Shops, malls, bars in hotels as well as restaurants are opened as usual as all public services. Transportation, banks, public services or hospitals are operating normally. Foreign visitors to Thailand will certainly understand and share the sorrow and emotion of Thai people.