On October 13th, 2016, Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away at the age of 88 leaving the entire country in mourning. He was the world’s longest reigning monarch (70 years!) and held an almost god-like status to his people. As a sign of understanding and respect, the Thai government has announced an official year of mourning.
YEAR OF MOURNING
Though this mourning period was felt most intensely in the month following his death, there will still be noticeable changes until next October. Among those, the government’s request for the country to dress in black or other dark colours and the possible limitation of alcohol sales. It’s been left up to each establishment to determine their own actions but bars and nightclubs have been encouraged to keep their music down, shorten their hours and/or limit alcohol sales altogether as a sign of respect to the royal family.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TRAVELLERS AND SONGKRAN 2017?
Many people are asking if Songkran 2017 will still take place and the answer is… yeah, sort of. As far as anyone knows, yes, Songkran 2017 will still happen UNLESS the Thai government steps in and decides to cancel it. There is no talk of that at this time and Songkran 2017 will most likely happen. However, the annual wet and wild Thai New Year festival will most likely be a little more subdued this go around. My advice? Check whichever travel resources you deem reliable for updated information as the festival gets closer.
As far as traveling to Thailand is concerned, all tourist sites/hotels/transportation/etc. are said to be operating as normal but travellers should remain sensitive to the country’s grieving people. While it’s not required for tourists to wear black, Thais have said they’d appreciated it if travellers stayed as far away as possible from flamboyant neon colours better reserved for South Beach nightclubs and 80s-themed bachelorette parties. Okay, they didn’t say those exact words.
Thailand will still be a country in mourning come April of next year so concentrate on being a respectful traveller and maybe getting to know Thailand’s famously strict lèse majesté laws juuuust in case.