Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch, died in hospital on October 13. For the vast majority of Thais, King Adulyadej is the only monarch they have ever known. Because of his hard work and widely-recognized dedication to his country, His Majesty holds a cherished place in the hearts and minds of his subjects.
For the Thai people, the days and months following the King’s passing will be emotional and sensitive, but should also provide a very interesting and unique view of this fascinating country. There’s never been a more important time, however, to pack a little cultural sensitivity and awareness along with your sunglasses and swimsuit.
While there may be some disruption of normal commercial and public services in the country in the 30 days following His Majesty’s passing, the Kingdom’s attractions will be operating as usual, with the exception of Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace, as they will serve as venues for the Royal Funeral Rites. All public transportation, banks, hospitals and other public services will operate as usual.
Travellers are reminded to behave respectfully in public areas, and if possible wear somber clothing over the next 30 days as a mark of respect. As the country begins its period of mourning, travellers should (1) check local media and follow the advice of local authorities, (2) be mindful of local customs and traditions, and (3) avoid wearing bright colours—locals traditionally wear black, white or a combination of the two.
Most Thais will welcome questions about His Majesty and their feelings during this difficult time; however, those questions should be respectful and compassionate. While there is no definition of what constitutes an insult to the monarchy, perceived insults or ridicule of the monarchy are rigorously enforced and could land you in serious trouble.
As Thailand begins its one-year period of mourning, it remains a kingdom of stunning scenery, fascinating history, mouth-watering food, beaches, mountains, cities, villages, and – most importantly – the amazing people who will help you appreciate it.
Interested in visiting Thailand? We’re looking forward to exploring the Kingdom with you during this unique time in the country’s history. G Adventures runs a number of departures in Thailand encompassing a wide range of dates and activities to cater to different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.