What visitors to Thailand need to know after King Bhumibol’s death

Story highlights

Tourists not expected to wear black but asked to be respectful

Koh Pha Ngan Full Moon party called off as sign of respect

Bangkok CNN  — 

As Thailand mourns the loss of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for more than 70 years, visitors to the country may be wondering what impact the situation will have on their journeys and how they can show their respect.

Though the nation is now observing a 30-day period of mourning, the government is encouraging the public to carry on as usual.

This means business operations will not be greatly affected.

All hotels, airports, public transportation, banks, hospitals and other public services are operating as usual.

“Shopping malls, restaurants and tourist attractions are expected to remain open as normal,” Richard Barrow, a well-known blogger who has been keeping locals and tourists up to date on the situation via Twitter, told CNN.

“However, a number of events have been canceled during the 30-day mourning period,” he said.

Nightlife toned down

This includes the Full Moon Party, a monthly all-night beach party on Koh Pha Ngan island that’s a huge draw for international tourists.

Canceled Bangkok events include the upcoming sold-out Morrissey concert and the Scorpions’ 50th Anniversary World Tour.

“Entertainment venues have also been asked to be respectful and not play loud music,” Barrow said.

Nightlife is among several points addressed in the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s guidelines for travelers visiting the country during the period of mourning.

“The government has asked for the cooperation from the entertainment venues; such as, bars and nightclubs to consider the opening of their business operations during this time,” the TAT guidelines say.

“The decision will be made by the individual owners.”

Restaurant and small bar owners in Bangkok who spoke to CNN said they will remain open and continue to serve alcohol, but added they’ve canceled all events scheduled for the near future.

Some reported receiving visits from Thai police asking them to close before midnight and to keep their music low.

Several previously closed entertainment venues and nightclubs have since reopened.

Convenience store chains that had halted sales of alcohol over the weekend were expected to resume selling on Tuesday, October 18.

The clubs and bars of Soi Cowboy, an adult entertainment district in Bangkok, remained shuttered on October 16 as the country continues to mourn the loss of its King.

Most temples, markets open as usual

Though several tourist attractions were closed over the weekend out of respect for the King, most were due to reopen on October 17.

Exceptions to this include both of Bangkok’s popular Thai boxing stadiums, Ratchadamnoen and Lumpini, which remain closed.

According to the TAT, the only religious sites temporarily closed are Bangkok’s Grand Palace and the adjacent Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) as they are the venue of the royal funeral rites.

The Grand Palace will reopen to the public on October 21.

Kanchanaburi’s Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, which was closed over the weekend, has since reopened.

All of Thailand’s major markets, including the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok and the Chiang Mai Night Market, are open.

No restrictions on beachwear

Beach resorts are operating as usual in Thailand’s popular tourist destinations.

“Most travelers and also hotels are looking at social media, it’s very much a fluid situation but clearly the response from travelers has been enormously respectful,” said Phuket-based Bill Barnett, managing director of hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks.

“Phuket hotels are indeed operating as usual. Beachwear has not been issue and it seems that news has been well distributed.”

It’s a similar situation in Koh Samui, according to travel writer Tina Hsiao.

“Hotel staff told me tourists are free to enjoy the beaches as usual and nobody is being asked to refrain from wearing swimwear, but there will be no parties on the beach,” she said.

How to show respect

According to a palace statement, all civil servants have been ordered to wear black clothing for a year as a sign of mourning, while the public has been urged to wear the symbolic color for 30 days.

Most shops are now filled with black clothing for sale.

Tourists are not expected to follow suit, but “Thais would appreciate it if they wore muted colors during the first 30 days,” said Barrow.

“Tourists should also act in a respectful manner, in particular if they are around Thai people. Thais have a deep love and respect for King Bhumibol and his death has hit many of them hard,” he added.

Foreign governments issue advice for tourists

A number of governments have issued statements to their citizens, telling them to not just be aware of any possible security implications following the King’s death but also to remain respectful as the nation grieves.

“You should respect the feelings and sensitivities of the Thai people at this time,” says the latest Thailand travel advice from the UK Government.

“Access to entertainment, including restaurants, bars, and shopping areas may be restricted and you should behave respectfully when in public areas; if possible, wear sombre and respectful clothing when in public; check local media regularly and follow the advice of the local authorities.”

The Embassy of China issued a statement saying that the King enjoys high prestige and is loved by the Thai people, who are saddened by his death.

It asked Chinese citizens in Thailand “to comply with the relevant provisions of the Thai side during funeral rituals and customs, and consciously safeguard the friendship between the two peoples.”

China is the largest source of visitors to Thailand, with almost 3.5 million Chinese nationals visiting between January and April of 2016.

The Australian government also issued an advisory to its citizens, urging them to “act responsibly and to respect the feelings of Thais at this difficult time.”