It’s the time of year when thousands of people plan and book a dream holiday to one of the world’s most loved destinations, Thailand.
But it pays to do some research at the moment if you are planning to see specific festivals or attractions as the year of mourning to honour the recent passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has seen a significant number of events cancelled or scaled down.
And the situation remains fluid as some decisions made initially are being overturned or modified.
It’s a difficult balancing act for local authorities who are also well aware that tourism represents 10 percent of the Thai economy and that 60-70 percent of the 30 million visitors to the kingdom every year are repeat travellers.
All ‘festive events’ were cancelled for 30 days (ending November 13) but there are many events well beyond that period that are also impacted.
The spectacular Loy Krathong Festival for example – the 700-year-old ‘festival of light’ highlighted by floating lanterns carrying candles or joss sticks – was initially cancelled outright.
The decision was later repealed to enable it to go ahead (November 10-14) but organised events will have “no entertainment” meaning concerts, fireworks or beauty contests. Some provinces have decided not to proceed at all – although locals may take part as they wish – and it was also noted the Krathongs must be white or grey only and city decorations are still allowed.
The extremely popular Chiang Mai Night Bazaar was also declared closed initially – in fact it was significantly reduced in size – but it is slowly returning to full capacity.
Bangkok’s 2016 River Festival, New Year celebrations in Pattaya and the Pattaya International Fireworks Festival have all been cancelled along with many performances such as the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra, Oasis and Morrissey concerts. Many events remain on the “postponed until further notice” watch list.
If you are wondering about the main temples in Bangkok, they are now all open.
- The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha – REOPENED OCTOBER 20
- Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha) OPEN
- Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) OPEN
Bangkok’s Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium and the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium are both closed until October 31.
During the mourning period, Thai people have been asked to dress in appropriate attire and visitors should also respect the kingdom’s loss by dressing modestly and acting with sobriety.
Handy links to stay in touch with the latest on events and festivals.
- The Tourism Authority of Thailand in Australia http://thailand.net.au/
- Bangkok Post http://www.bangkokpost.com/
- The Royal Thai Government: http://www.thaigov.go.th/en/index.php – in English
- Department of the Government Public Relations Department http://thailand.prd.go.th/main.php?filename=index – In English