Having been to Thailand at least 25 times in the last 20 years, I have some affinity and insights into the country. Many outsiders are confounded about the very real grief being experienced across the country following the death last week of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX). My thought is, imagine if you are staying with a friend and their father dies. You would expect grief and sadness. For Thais, the King has been more than a father to their country. It is only natural and right that there is such grief right now.
In my example above, when your host’s father dies, then you would expect some level of respect from the guest. Partying loudly in their living room whilst they are grieving would be considered rude. This is the situation for Farangs (foreigners) visiting Thailand right now. This is a time for us to show respect.
The Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha announced a one-year mourning period and asked the Thai people to not organise entertainment events for thirty days. During the 100 days of rituals that follow the passing of a Thai monarch that most mass entertainment events including concerts and Full moon parties will be cancelled or altered. The Prime Minister has also made it clear that life must go on, suggesting businesses should remain open.
- Do not cancel your visit -30m tourists a year provide vital revenue for the Thai economy,
- Accept things may be closed, restricted or cancelled. Some Farangs have been complaining. That is not respectful or empathetic,
- Wear sombre and respectful clothing emphasising white, grey or black,
- Tone down the drinking when in hotels, pubs and clubs,
- Consider what you post on Social Media while you are in Thailand,
- Do not speak in any way that may be considered critical of the Thai king or the rest of the royal family.