Since the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on 13 October, Thailand has plunged into an ocean of grief and mourning. It seriously matters for visitors to understand what they should or shouldn’t do during this very sensitive period for Thai people. Below, we offer suggestions to help you understand what is appropriate behaviour during this period.
The Significance of His Majesty the King
First of all, you need to know how much the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is affecting Thai people. Thai citizens regard him as a father, not just their monarch, and they will take any insult or offense to their King very personally. Due to His Majesty’s 70-year long reign filled with benefaction for his people, Thais are in deep mourning and especially sensitive during this difficult time.
Most tourist attractions are still open and welcoming visitors. The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, however, are closed for the royal religious ceremonies but will re-open on 1 November, as well as Lumpini Boxing Stadium Ramindra and Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium. Other religious sites remain open to the public.
Events & Media
During the official mourning period, celebrations and festive activities will be considered as offences, and almost all live entertainment events such as concerts, plays and also marathons are cancelled, or postponed until further notice. Local festivals have mostly been withdrawn from official schedules, including New Year Parties and the famous Full Moon Party on Pa-ngan Island. Media such as TV, websites and magazines have become black-and-white in colour tone and do not feature entertainment.
Nightlife & Alcohol
There is no strict enforcement to close entertainment venues, but cooperation has been asked from the owners to tone down their activities and festive atmosphere. Customers can purchase and enjoy alcoholic drinks, but being drunk or making loud noises in public is utterly unacceptable.
Black is the universal colour for mourning and many Thais are taking it seriously at this time. If you have run out of black clothes, cannot afford to purchase them or have a necessity to wear other colours, pinning a black ribbon to your top will be one way to show your respect. Please do not to dress revealingly, although colourful swimsuits and bikinis at the beach or pool are fine. Locals might usually turn a blind eye to what foreigners do, but for now adhere to the saying: ‘When in Rome, do as Romans do’.
Freedom of Speech
Please be informed that Thailand’s lèse-majesté law is strict and enforceable when it comes to public speech, and this applies to posts on social networks as well. You have the right to talk, and even criticize, royalty in private but appropriateness and respect should be deliberated and considered.
Participate in Mourning Rites
For those who would like to show their condolences, the Bureau of the Royal Household is permitting commoners to pay homage to His Majesty’s portrait and to sign their name in the Royal Mourning Book at Sala Sahathai Samakhom Hall, inside the Grand palace, every day from 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can arrive there by shuttle buses specially provided for this, which depart from main city spots like Victory Monument, Ekamai and Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Traffic around Sanam Luang Park, the Ministry of Defence and in front of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is at a standstill, so avoid driving in these areas if you can.
Presented by Rangsimun Kitchaijaroen
Photos by Pimlada Thanachoknitiwat