You might have heard the saddest news this past Thursday, 13 October 2016, that our beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej has passed away at the age of 88, after a 70-year long and non-stop service to his people as the “strength of the land”. This is why we, Thai people, call him “Father”. There are some points I would like to explain and clarify to you regarding what to expect and how to best go about this mourning period in Thailand.
What to expect?
Although all Thais are deeply in sadness, PM has urged everyone to help running business & economy as best as we all can. Most of the hotels, attractions, restaurants, department stores, and shops still operate as usual. However, main tourist attractions in the old-town district (Rattanakosin Island) are closed due to the royal mourning ceremony, e.g. grand palace & the temple of emerald buddha. All of the entertainment related events will be on halt for at least until the end of October 2016. This includes, but is not limited to, concerts, parties, or night clubs. You also might have noticed that the social media and online sites might turns black in mourning. This is usual practice among Thais and nothing to worry about.
Is it safe to come to Thailand now?
Definitely yes. It’s even safer because everyone helps keeping eyes on anything unusual. Almost everything is running as usual, e.g. floating market, Ayutthaya historical sites, River Kwai bridge, etc.
You might not be able to visit the grand palace (at least at the moment), there are still many other great things to do in Bangkok / Thailand, e.g. visiting floating market, enjoying delicious Thai food and many tours.
What should I do or prepare?
If you are coming to Thailand, it’s nothing to worry about if you understand the situation and the Thai peoples’ feeling. They will mostly wear black/white clothes. Please make sure to bring a couple of black/white or non-vivid color clothes to wear in public. You might have to tone down and be respectful in public area, so you won’t feel too noticeable.
What else do I suggest?
I would consider using more public transportation (BTS, MRT) instead of commuting by car in Bangkok because there may be heavy traffic in certain areas.
**Robert Newton volunteers for a local Thai CBO, Thailand Teach. Follow the link to contact him for more information regarding this period, or volunteering in general.