At 7pm on the 13th October 2016 a public announcement was made on Thai broadcasting services that His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej had passed away at the age of 88 years. Obviously this news has been received with great sadness by the Kingdom of Thailand and beyond.
His Majesty’s body was transported by royal procession to the palace’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, on Friday as thousands of people lined the roads. Widely seen as a unifying figure and the father of the nation, he served as monarch for 70 years, so long that most Thais have known no other. The subdued atmosphere that has engulfed the country since his death is unmistakable, visible in the black or white dress worn by millions of Thais in a massive show of mourning that has been displayed even on mannequins in luxury shopping malls.
Government officials have announced a 30-day national mourning period, entering into effect immediately, plus a one year mourning period for all government officials. Over the next 30 days public celebrations, as well as some services and entertainment activities will be limited.
In a statement issued late on Friday, the Tourism Authority of Thailand confirmed that tourist attractions will remain open with the exception of Bangkok’s gold-gilded Grand Palace, because it “will be the venue of the royal funeral rites”.
- All airports and public transportation throughout the country are operating normally and most of the tours are unaffected, although there are some exceptions.
- The Grand Palace will be closed until 20 October 2016 (at the earliest) and we will offer alternative sightseeing options to visit other temples and attractions which are available.
- Some tourist shows such as Samphran Riverside cultural show will be closed for the current period plus some international pop concerts have been cancelled (including Morrissey).
- The Night Bazaar and Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai are suspended until further notice.
- The famous Loy Krathong celebrations on 13-15 November have been cancelled by the Chiang Mai Municipality.
- Most shops, hotels and restaurants are operating as normal but many bars and numerous nightlife spots will either be temporarily closed or be forced to restrict their entertainment offers for the foreseeable future.
No foreign government has advised its nationals to cancel trip plans but several have issued advisories. Canada called on its citizens to “refrain from any behaviour that may be interpreted as festive, disrespectful or disorderly”, Britain urged its nationals to “wear sombre and respectful clothing when in public”, and the US called on Americans to maintain “decorum during this extended period of profound mourning.
We would recommend that all guests dress and act respectfully during the national mourning period. Thai people are being asked to wear black and white clothing during this period and most ex-pats living in Thailand are doing likewise.
Should you have any concerns about future plans please do not hesitate to contact us on 01491 575 987.