Thailand mourning period: What travellers need to know

AFP

Millions of Thais are in mourning as the grieving nation prepares to hold traditional Buddhist ceremonies for revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose death leaves the country facing an uncertain new era.

Bangkok is the world's most popular city for travellers, but those visitors are being asked to act with sensitivity as Thailand mourns the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

As the nation plunges into an unprecedented period of mourning, certain tourist attractions, festivals and events will be disrupted.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has issued a list of guidelines for foreign visitors, and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has updated its travel advice for the country.

Mourners gather outside the Grand Palace to pay their respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok.
EDGAR SU/REUTURS

Mourners gather outside the Grand Palace to pay their respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok.

Here's what you need to know.

READ MORE:
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Tourists in Thailand warned not to behave badly in wake of king's death
Thailand: Grief after death spills into anger as woman faces charges of insulting beloved King

 
A Thai woman pins a black tribute ribbon to her blouse.
Leon Neal

A Thai woman pins a black tribute ribbon to her blouse.

WHAT TO WEAR

Black clothes are reportedly selling out all over Thailand as the late king's loyal subjects attempt to express their grief. Tourists are also being encouraged to "dress respectfully", in black, white or other sombre colours.

However, this is not mandatory. "Despite reports, tourists don't have to wear black on the beach," said Chris Lee, UK and Ireland head of marketing for the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

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"It's simply that the Thai authorities are asking people to be respectful. For example, do not wear any 'flamboyant clothes' in public areas."

Thailand-based travel blogger Richard Barrow said the Tourism Authority has asked Immigration to offer free black ribbons to foreigners when they enter the country.

HOW TO BEHAVE

Australia's Smart Traveller website says: ​"To demonstrate respect for the Thai people, refrain from any behaviour that may be interpreted as festive, disrespectful or disorderly. Abide by local laws and respect Thai customs."

 Avoid falling foul of Thailand's lese majeste laws, which are among the strictest in the world. Anyone caught defaming, insulting or threatening a member of the royal family could be punished with up to 15 years in prison.

Thailand's Khao Sod news site says: "Best advice: Listen to people but don't talk about the monarchy."

ENTERTAINMENT

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the government has asked entertainment venues to refrain from conducting any "boisterous performances".

Bars are still open and serving alcohol, but may close early during the month-long period of mourning (until November 13). All hotels and resorts are operating as normal.

The authority has warned that some festivals and events in the kingdom will be postponed or toned down as a mark of respect, while others have been cancelled.

One of the biggest events to be cancelled was the famous Full Moon party on the island of Koh Phangan, which was due to begin on October 17.

 

A photo posted by Tourism Thailand (@tourismthailand) on

In Bangkok, concerts by English rockers Oasis and Morrissey planned for this month were also cancelled.

For a full list of postponed and cancelled events visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand website.

SIGHTSEEING

Most ​tourist attractions will remain open with the exception of Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace, as they will be the venue of the royal funeral rites.

All transport, banks, shopping areas, hospitals and other public services are expected to be operating as usual.

SafeTravel says visitors may generally experience periods of delay due to reduced staff numbers, periods of closure, and the local observance of mourning periods.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand says many people will be travelling from the provinces to Bangkok to pay their respects to the king. This may cause some congestion in certain parts of the city, as well as to commuters.

TIMEFRAME

While the mourning period will be felt the most strongly in the first 30 days, it officially lasts for a year. That means you can expect popular events like Songkran - the Thai New Year and water festival - to be more subdued in 2017.

Still, Thailand is encouraging tourists to visit the country and continue their travel plans - even if the experience might be slightly different to normal.

Will you be in Thailand during the mourning period? How does it affect your travels? Let us know in the comments.

 - Stuff

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