Visiting Thailand While The Country is in Mourning


Thailand’s king, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, passed away last week at 88 years old.

The king was the longest serving monarch the country has ever seen and was beloved, so for the next year, the country will be in mourning.

This doesn’t mean you have to cancel your upcoming trip to Thailand, but it may make your travel experience a little different. While all hotels/ hostels/ modes of transportation are still open and available, some other opportunities may not be. Here’s what to expect:

No or Limited Alcohol

Many places will not be serving alcohol, some for the next week, some for the rest of the year. Out of respect, don’t get drunk in public during this time. If you do find some place serving beer, have one discreetly or avoid it all together. In general, Thai people don’t look kindly at wild displays of partying and alcohol, but while the country is in mourning this kind of behavior could have bigger consequences.

Lese Majeste Laws 

Thailand has always had very strict Lese Majeste laws, which protect the royal family from insult. As the country is currently mourning, any ill mention of the King or his family will be punished severely, meaning you will most certainly be jailed. But then again, why would you go to a country ever, and speak ill of their beliefs or royal family? I know you’re not the kind of a jerk, so I’m just gonna leave it there.

“Joyful Events Cancelled”

For the next month, the flag will fly at half-mast and most events considered to be “joyful” have been cancelled. This means no full moon party, no parades, no festivities. Vigils are already being held for the King and will continue throughout the month and year. You have to understand–to most people, this is the only King they’ve ever known. It will feel to many like losing a family member.

Dress Extra Modestly

Many people will wear black while in mourning, and it’s a good idea for you to show respect also. If you don’t decide to wear black, be sure at least to keep yourself covered up. This is not a good time to flaunt your bikini body through the streets of Bangkok. Short shorts and skimpy tops will not be appreciated, particularly through the month, but also through the year. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has said that while black and white are not required of travelers, they should dress modestly to show respect.

Attractions That Are Closed

The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha are closed, and are likely to remain closed for the next month or potentially year. The two Thai boxing stadiums in Bangkok are closed. The Pattaya Loi Krathong Festival, Pattaya International Fireworks Festival and New Year Celebrations in Pattaya have been cancelled. The full moon party has been cancelled for this month.

You can still travel through Thailand and have a good experience during these months, but sensitivity and respect will be required and will go a long way.

Are you planning a trip to Thailand in the next month or year? Tell us about your plans or questions in the comments below.


About Author

Kelly Lewis is the founder of Go! Girl Guides, the Women's Travel Fest and Damesly. She's an optimist, an adventurer, an author and works to help women travel the world.

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