Thailand has been observing a one year mourning period after the king passed away on October 13 last year. Since then, his body has been lying in state in Bangkok’s Grand Palace, where thousands of people have been coming to mourn and pay their respects every day. The “father of the Thai people” will finally be put to rest during a majestic $90 million funeral, which will span five days, from October 25 to 29.
The Thai government has banned all forms of “public entertainment”, but business owners and patrons alike have been left in the dark as confusion looms about what is and what is not allowed or deemed appropriate. Last year during the month of mourning directly after the king passed, similar confusion and ambiguities resulted in some businesses operating as usual while others closed their doors.
The government has said that during the month of October bars and restaurants will be allowed to open and serve alcohol. However, loud music and festivities in public spaces, including the full moon party, will not be permitted especially on October 13 (the one year anniversary of the king’s death) and during the king’s cremation ceremony and funeral. Tourist attractions are expected to be open as usual with the exception of the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Visitors have been asked to be particularly respectful and understanding towards locals during this difficult time.
A curtailment on public entertainment is not the only way Thais are honouring their revered king; many have decided to dress only in black during the month of October, television channels and websites have switched to black and white, and netizens have changed their profile pictures to monochrome and included the black ribbon of mourning.
If you find yourself on Koh Phangan expecting a huge beach party, you’ll need to wait until next month, when public entertainment restrictions will be lifted. In the meantime, why not seize the opportunity and take a look at the islands’ alternative attractions?