Thailand at sunset. Photo: Getty Images.


What you need to know as Thailand mourns its King

Published October 14th, 2016

As Thai people mourn the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, travellers can expect major events to be postponed and business hours limited, but hotels, resorts and tours should operate as normal. The much-loved king – the world’s longest-reigning monarch at 70 years – died yesterday at the age of 88.

There has been an outpouring of grief across the country, as it enters an official 12-month mourning period. Thai people will be expected to wear black or dark-coloured clothing, and in some areas tourists will be asked to do the same. Concerts, festivals and major events are likely to be postponed or cancelled.

Many bars will cut operating hours or close for up to a month, and the sale of alcohol may be limited to certain times of the day. Some shops and markets may close in coming days. Hotels and resorts will continue to operate as normal and travellers will be free to move around.

Tours will continue across Thailand, but some activities may be adjusted. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said yesterday flags would fly at half-mast and all entertainment functions must be “toned down” for a month as a mark of respect.

Jetstar has advised that travellers to and from Bangkok and Phuket may change their bookings over the next couple of weeks.

Student Flights offers the following recommendations for people currently travelling in Thailand:

  • The feelings and grief of the local people should be respected – derogatory comments about the Thai monarchy will almost certainly incur criminal charges.
  • Respect local customs and cover up bright clothing, if requested.
  • Speak to your hotel staff to understand the operating hours of local shops, bars and markets, as well as the general protocol around mourning.

It may be weeks or months before the funeral takes place, but when it does travellers can expect a country-wide ‘shutdown’ of up to a week. We will provide more information when the date is announced.