It was with great sadness that I heard the news about the death of King Bhumibol. I was with a group of Thai friends at the time and it was very emotional. We all knew this time was coming, but it hit everyone hard. Thais and foreigners alike. Everyone had tears in their eyes for a great man that had done so many great things for the country. The initial mourning period will last for 30 days, but funeral rites will last for 100 days. Government officials will be wearing black for one year. This will then be followed by the royal cremation.
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Ever since the announcement of His Majesty’s death, I have been tweeting live updates on @RichardBarrow to inform people of the situation. At times like this, it is difficult to get accurate information, and that is when Twitter becomes invaluable. Even more so in a foreign country where you don’t speak the local language. The majority of my tweets are translated from the Thai media to help foreigners better understand the latest situation. I decided to start this page after I saw a lot of misinformation being put out on social media and in the international press. I was also getting a lot of questions about what it is like in Thailand at this moment and what, if anything is open. So, this is a guide to my observations so far. Please come back as I will constantly update this page. Also, I suggest you follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow for any breaking news and updates.
UPDATE: Please read my exclusive interview with the Thai Tourism Minister on what to expect in Thailand over the coming months.
Tourists are NOT expected to wear black for the next 30 days (up to 13 November 2016). However, if you are able, I am sure the Thais would appreciate it if you wore muted colours. If not, it is possible to buy a black ribbon to pin on your shirt. Please be respectful at all times when around Thais. They are in deep mourning. But, life goes on. For Thais too. The King himself said that he didn’t want people to weep at his passing. Everything is open as normal though some events have been adjusted to be more appropriate.
LATEST UPDATE (4th November 2016):
- Temple Fair in Nakhon Pathom “งานมนัสการองค์พระปฐมเจดีย์” is taking place as scheduled from 11-19 November 2016
- Loy Krathong festival is not cancelled this year. It takes place on full moon on 14 November
- The Giant Christmas Hope Fair on 29 November is going ahead as planned at the Rembrandt Hotel
- The popular Ploenchit Fair at Bangkok Patana School is going ahead as planned on 26 November 2016
- It’s official! Football supporters at the upcoming match between Thailand and Australia can cheer as normal
- Entertainment activities can resume Nov 14
- Culture Collective Studio presents “12 Angry Men” from 18-27 November in Bangkok.
- Festival in Pattaya has been rescheduled from December to 16-19 February 2017
- TMB Parkrun 2016, originally scheduled for November, has been postponed until 5 March 2017
- Thailand Harmony World Puppet Festival, originally scheduled for November, will now take place from 20-26 February 2017
- Parties for Halloween, Xmas & New Year can go ahead as normal with loud music behind doors. But if outside, must be adjusted appropriately.
- The annual Monkey Party in Lopburi is going ahead as planned on Sunday 27 November 2016. Everyone is welcome
- Loy Krathong Festival in Sukhothai is confirmed to be going ahead from 10-14 November 2016
- Public access to Dusit Maha Prasart Throne Hall to pay respect to the royal urn postponed to Saturday
- The Full Moon Party scheduled for 14th November will now take place on 15th November 2016
- My friend was at the Ratchada Train Market in Bangkok the other night, and she said it was packed, with music blasting out as normal
- There are no plans to cancel the Ayutthaya Marathon. It is going ahead as scheduled on 11 December 2016
- At the World Cup qualifier next month in #Bangkok between Thailand & Australia, you must wear black, grey or white & you can’t sing or cheer
- UPDATE: The Laguna Phuket Triathlon, scheduled for 20 November, is NOT cancelled any more. Please tell your friends
- It looks like all concerts & major entertainment will be cancelled or postponed during the 100 day period. This is up to about 21 January. So, this would include new years celebrations. Certainly no fireworks or Countdown events.
- Department of Fine Arts has announced that ALL national museums & historical parks in Thailand will be FREE for EVERYONE from 20 Oct-31 Jan
- Grand Palace and Temple of Emerald Buddha remain closed to tourists until October 31
- Facebook has announced that delivery of ads in Thailand will resume on 21 October at 00:01 hrs
- New Royal Anthem performance to be filmed on Saturday 22 October at Sanam Luang from 1pm. You can take part in it. Please wear black.
- Three or four public holidays next year could change according to the Bangkok Post. This includes Coronation Day and Kings Birthday. Possibly also Queens Birthday. Speculation is that 13 October will now become a public holiday. It is not known yet what will happen to Fathers Day. Hopefully it will stay on 5th December.
- Photos posted on social media show that the nightlife is starting to get back to normal one week later. This includes lights and music. But, this will vary around the country. No clear picture yet.
- Reports sent to me from around Thailand show that not as many people outside of Bangkok are wearing black. So, don’t worry about standing out. In tourist areas, life goes on. Just be respectful if around mourners.
- Mourners will be allowed to pay their respects to the royal urn from Friday 28 October (The body of King Bhumibol is in a coffin nearby). A cremation pyre will be built on Sanam Luang. However, the cremation is not expected to take place until at least after one year
- Outside of the metropolitan areas not all Thais are wearing black. The ones that are, said they will only wear for 30 days. Some for 1 year. Like I said before, tourists are not expected to wear black or white. Muted colors appreciated but not compulsory. Same with black ribbon.
- Chiang Mai Yi Peng Lantern Festival at Tha Phae Gate on 13-15 November is NOT cancelled now, though there will be no music or entertainment
- People can organise weddings, ordinations and sporting events, but no music or entertainment
- Nightclubs are allowed to open and sell beer, but they mustn’t organize any special activities or play loud music. Basically, they are allowed to continue as long as they keep it behind close doors and are respectful.
- People are allowed to organize weddings, ordinations and sporting events, but no music and entertainment.
- Shows aimed at tourists are all open as normal, this includes Siam Niramit, Alcazar Cabaret, Tiffany’s Show, Calypso, Muay Thai Live etc.
- Loy Krathong is allowed to take place on 14th November, but music and entertainment is not allowed. Basically people will go to the local canal and river to float their krathongs.
- Cinemas, ice rinks, zoos, tourist attractions are all open as normal. Night markets in Bangkok opened as normal at the weekend
- Places like Dream World and Safari World are open as normal, though the parade at Dream World is cancelled for 30 days
- In Chiang Mai, the famous Night Bazaar and Walking Street opened as well.
- Shopping malls are all open as normal. Local markets in Chinatown, Pratunam, and Bo Bae were all packed over the weekend. Chatuchak Weekend Market was open as well, but as shops are individually owned, some chose not to open as they wanted to go to the Grand Palace. We expect them to be fully open next weekend.
- The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and The Grand Palace is closed to tourists. However, you are allowed to go and pay respects to his portrait (if you are wearing black) at the Sahathai Samakhom Hall in the Grand Palace between 8.30am & 4pm. Starting from 28 October, the public can pay respects to King Bhumibol’s urn in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall from 9am-4pm
- Every other temple around the country is open as normal. This includes the historical parks in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai.
- Dinner Cruises on Chaophraya River are continuing though they won’t play any music and will dim the lights
WHAT IS CANCELLED?
- CentralWorld cancels New Year Countdown Party & Beer Garden
- The Scorpions 50th Anniversary World Tour, scheduled for 26 October, has been cancelled
- Wonderfruit Festival, originally scheduled for December, has been postponed until 16-19 February 2017
- The Big Mountain Music Festival, scheduled for 10-11 December, is cancelled
- The annual temple fair at Wat Saket and the Golden Mount, scheduled for 7-16 November, is cancelled
- BDMS Bangkok Marathon 2016, scheduled for 20th November, has been postponed until 12th February 2017
- The annual Patong Carnival has been cancelled this year
- Luang Pho Pan Festival parade by boat & truck in Khlong Dan, Samut Prakan, has been cancelled.
- “Bryan Adams The Get Up Tour Live in Bangkok” and “Blue Man Group” have been postponed. No new dates announced
- The annual Elephant Roundup in Surin, scheduled to be held from 19-20 November 2016, has been cancelled
- Asia’s First Ever All-Girl Battle of the Bands Competition, scheduled for 21-23 October, has been postponed
- Full Moon Party cancelled on 17th October. The next one is going ahead
- Hellfire Pass Memorial and Walking Trail will be closed from 14-16 October
- The Sound of Heritage concert scheduled for 21 October is cancelled
- Lumpinee Boxing Stadium and other Muay Thai rings in Bangkok are closed for one month. Lumpinee will re-open on 15th November
- Bangkok Street Show, scheduled for 10-12 December has been postponed
- Pattaya International Fireworks Festival, scheduled for 25-26 November, has been cancelled
- The Illuminated Boat Procession, scheduled for 9-17 October, has been cancelled
- Naga Fireball World Festival in Nong Khai, scheduled for 15-24 October, has been cancelled
- Bangkok International Festival of Dance and Music is cancelled
- Morrissey Live in Bangkok scheduled for 18 October is cancelled
- Scorpions 50th Anniversary Tour, scheduled for 26 October, is cancelled
- New Year celebrations in Pattaya are cancelled
It is expected more will be added and possibly some cancellations rescinded. Come back as I will update the above list daily to make changes. New additions will be added to the top of the list.
Tourists are NOT expected to wear black. But, if you don’t have muted colored clothes, the Thais would love it if you wore a black ribbon pic.twitter.com/nI43Ukynoy
— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) October 17, 2016
THE SITUATION DURING THE FIRST THREE DAYS:
- King Bhumibol died at 3:52 p.m. on Thursday 13th October 2016. The announcement was made to the nation shortly before 7 p.m.
- Flags to be flown at half staff for 30 days. Most Thais expected to wear black, grey or white for 30 days. Government officials to wear black for one year.
- Over the first few days, people were in shock. Entertainment venues were asked to close or at least turn off the lights and music, and shut the doors. Many places also stopped selling alcohol over the weekend.
- Quite a few events scheduled over the first three days were cancelled or were toned down. Some cinemas shut their doors on the day after the death of His Majesty. Local Immigration offices shut for one day.
- There were no advertisements on the electronic billboards and on the skytrain. Mannequins in the shops were all dressed in black.
- On Saturday, the annual Buffalo Racing in Chonburi was cancelled, though the Buddhist boat parade in Bang Phli went ahead. It was confusing to know what would be acceptable.
- On Sunday, the malls were packed. Cinemas open as normal. People eating in the restaurants. Life goes on.
- All airports continued to operate as normal. All transportation networks, buses, trains and boats, continued as normal.
Please follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow for all the latest breaking news and updates.