What you need to know about holidaying in Thailand right now
We all know that Thailand is awesome. Every year, Aussies head there in droves, attracted to the beaches, booze and ladyboys – you know the drill. What you might not know is that His Majesty, King Bhumibol has recently died, and this has seriously affected the mood of the place. The nation has gone into a period of sustained mourning, so travellers need to be wary about where they go and how they behave when in Thailand.
Why is Thailand in a state of mourning right now?
The King of Thailand is revered in a way that we Aussies are not used to. He was like a god to the Thai people, and with the country in a state of political unrest, it was up to the King to hold it all together. With him gone, Thailand has become a little more unstable, and you may find the place a little different to what you expected when your plane lands.
Should I still go?
You’ll probably be fine, but it’s best to be prepared. By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to make your time in the country as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Additionally, you can give yourself extra peace of mind by taking out affordable travel insurance with TID – we’ll look after you!
What’s the current mood in Thailand?
When the King’s passing was revealed, the outpouring of grief was plain for all the world’s media to see – this is not a death that will be forgotten quickly, or moved on from at any great pace.
Indeed, the Thai government soon announced the one-year mourning period, and this is something the Thai people will take very seriously, so you shouldn’t act in way that could appear festive or disrespectful – Thailand really isn’t in a party mood right now.
How long is the mourning period?
It officially lasts for a year, but the first couple of months are when it will be at its most noticeable – so pretty much until the end of the year.
Do I have to wear black at all times in Thailand?
Not necessarily. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, black clothes (the traditional colour of mourning) are selling out the length and breadth of Thailand as the king’s subjects express their grief, but tourists don’t have to dress in such a manner, even if the locals would appreciate it.
It’s recommended that if you really don’t want to wear black, opt to dress respectfully in sombre colours. Wearing a black ribbon would also be seen as a mark of respect, so that’s another option.
Watch what you’re saying
Thailand is a nation that really holds its Royal Family dear, as we’re sure you’ve already gathered. As such, it has some of the toughest ‘lese majeste’ (a French expression that means ‘injured majesty’) laws on the planet, and these should closely obeyed.
You should never defame, insult or threaten a member of the Royal Family, living or dead, either in person or online. The offence is punishable by up to 15 years behind bars, so that should be incentive enough!
It’s best to play it safe by listening respectfully to Thais talk about their loss. Express your sympathies, but do it without mentioning the monarchy yourself – you wouldn’t want to put your foot in it.
What else do I need to know?
The Thai government has asked entertainment venues to keep a lid on any ‘boisterous performances’, and bars are set to close earlier than usual during the mourning period. However, hotels and other resorts will remain open as normal. Certain festivals and other events could be postponed or cancelled – for example, the legendary Full Moon party on Koh Phangan.
However, the Thai government continue to encourage travellers to visit. The experience may not be quite the norm, but by following these simple guidelines, your stay should be an enjoyable one.