What Should Travellers Do During the 30-day Mourning Period?
Last Updated on October 18, 2016
Quick information before we start: Please note that these are recommendations for travellers only. Thailand has an intensive lese-majeste policy, speaking you should not, under any circumstances, be heard talking about the king, the royal family or analysing the throne’s successor.
Following the passing of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest reigning monarch, Thailand has entered into a 30-day period of mourning. But what exactly does this mean for you as a traveller and how will a visit affect you? Here are some practical tips and information you should know in case you planning to visit Thailand over the next 30 days:
- Dress appropriate: Thais are asked to dress black (or in dark colours) or a combination of black/white over the next month. In case you don’t have black clothes, wear dark or decent colours (just nothing too bright and shiny) as a way to recognize the death. In addition, refrain from tank tops and super short skirts and shorts. Government officials are expected to wear black for an entire year.
- As mentioned above, do not discuss about the king or royal family. Thais are extremely sensitive about this topic plus it could get you into real trouble.
- Many festivals, concerts and events are cancelled/postponed. This also includes the cancellation of the ‘Full Moon parties’ on Koh Phangan. The Music of City event on 16th October has been postponed. Yi Peng/Loi Krathong festival in Chiang Mai in November will still be hosting but the event will have no entertainment. Fireworks have been banned and people are invited to join the festival in a peaceful and quiet manner. Many other events will follow suit. To fully stay up-to-date, follow relevant Facebook pages for the latest information as well as news published by the TAT, the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
- Generally, expect the overall mood to be more solemn and reserved. The websites of many media organizations and Thai companies are turned black and grey. TV channels, both national and international, have only restricted TV programs for 30 days to suit the national situation. Don’t act to joyous in public and especially, don’t get drunk. Chiang Mai has seen a strong increase of police checks at night.
- Bars, clubs and discos are most likely to be closed, although owners have been granted to run their businesses at discretion and with strict regulations concerning alcohol sales. Night markets and weekend markets around the country are operating as usual but without music or any kind of shows/performances. The Citylife Garden Fair on 19 November is still on. Most venues at the infamous Soi Cowboy in Bangkok are closed indefinitely. Clubs on Khaosan Road will be closed as well, but restaurants and bars will remain open, just without any (live) music and most scheduled DJ sets have been cancelled until at least 14 November.
- Government offices, i.e. immigration, may operate only at limited times. This may not be the best time for visa extensions; expect long waiting times.
- Malls and shops are open as usual. Some cinemas had limited showtimes on the weekend after the passing but operate as usual now. Cafés and restaurants are also open as usual.
To sum up, if you’re travel plans include festivities and parties, you may want to postpone your trip. On the other hand, there are no restrictions if you’re travels are focused on things like cultural activities, shopping, relaxing and beach time. Do, however, consider wearing black/decent shirts and pants while you’re here. Also, it is recommend to always carry your passport with you.