Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Your Trip To Thailand After King’s Death

The death of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej last week, following a 70 year reign, has shocked the entire country. While the King was unwell for many years, his passing stopped the nation and brought people together in grieving for a figure considered almost holy to Thais. Soon afterwards, a year-long period of mourning was announced.

The following days have seen media reports of popular attractions and entertainment venues closing or reducing their hours, stores banning sale of alcohol and tourists being asked to wear black. Visitors expressed their discontent on social media, complaining of “ruined holidays” and lack of things to do.

But what does this really mean for tourists coming to Thailand and should they think twice before visiting?

Well, first of all, Thailand is still very much open for business. Its tourism industry is too important for the country to effectively shut down. According to The World Travel and Tourism Council, visitors spend $72 billion a year in Thailand with the travel industry accounting for about 14% of total jobs.

Many of those tourists come to Thailand looking for sun, sea and sand – package holidaymakers and backpackers make up a huge chunk of visitors to the country. Naturally, lack of open bars and parties is likely to be of concern to a lot of people. While some events have been cancelled, visitors should not be put off.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand was quick to dispel rumours of a country that didn’t welcome tourists during the period of mourning. People are merely being asked to dress sensitively and to understand that the initial period of morning, lasting until 13th November, could mean toned down entertainment activity. Other than that, the vast majority of tourist attractions will remain open, public transport will run as usual and, by the time you read this, sales of alcohol in stores should be back to normal.

Tourists should act in a respectful manner

Visitors are also asked to behave respectfully, especially in public areas. While asking questions about the King is fine, it is a sensitive subject and it’s important not to insult or mock royalty. Doing so could lead to problems including jail sentences.

What happened in the immediate aftermath of the King’s death with bars and clubs closing or toning down music and alcohol consumption is to be expected considering how revered he was. Majority of Thais haven’t known another King in their lifetimes – he has been on the throne since 1946, after all – and this represents a major change in their lives.

Don’t let it put you off travelling to Thailand

Thailand is a fascinating country and it needs tourism now just as much as ever. While this is a difficult time for many Thais, travelling there now can provide a unique perspective on the people, their customs and beliefs. While it’s paramount to remain sensitive and respectful, you shouldn’t shelve your travel plans. While many will undoubtedly stay away, this is a great opportunity to discover an incredible country while supporting its people during a difficult time.

Thailand is a country of unmatched natural beauty, friendly people, long history and incredible food. Finding out what makes it so special is possible without full moon parties and cheap alcohol buckets.

What do you think? Has the King’s death affected your travel plans to Thailand? Are you more or less likely to visit during the mourning period? 

Thailand's King


35 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Your Trip To Thailand After King’s Death

  1. Tracy Collins says:

    We will still be visiting Thailand. I think some of the media reports of tourists complaining that their holiday has been ruined are so disrespectful. We will respect the traditions of the country and the Thai people.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Tracy, spot on. I’ve actually been shocked at some of the things that people have said online. To dilute Thailand to partying and drinking is not right. I’m glad you’re still planning to visit!

  2. Angie Briggs says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post and provide such valuable information. I appreciate that you obviously love Thailand and respect it’s people, this is the correct message that should be heard so well said! I will sill continue with my visit and will heed your advice 🙂

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Angie. Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear how much I love that country. I would be very interested to hear of your experiences in the coming months!

  3. Kelly Turpin says:

    Hey Lexx! Great info and very important for people to realise it is not as restricted as they may think. Alcohol sales are definitely back! We are currently anchored at the top of Phuket and a little removed from most of the action. However, we have come into Patong for the weekend – I am currently sitting in a hotel room doing my blogging and social networking, LOL great holiday! – anyhow I intend to get out later to have a dinner and I am interested to see the difference since I was here last (shortly before the kings death). I believe we tourist should respect the mourning period and wear darker colours and less revealing clothes when in certain places i.e. restaurants etc. Still wear your bikini (not you Lexx!) on the beach but definitely do not walk around in it in the main streets or while shopping (which is actually inappropriate at anytime here in Thailand). Another important thing for tourist to really take onboard is DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE KING. I say do not talk about him, or the succession to the throne, because most of us do not know enough to make valuable comments and if we say the wrong thing it can be taken very seriously. Better to just not say anything!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks, Kelly. I think you make some very valid points there and I do agree that it’s better to err on the side of caution with the subject. I was in Thailand at the time of the Bangkok protests in 2014 and there was a lot of instability back then without foreigners getting involved. I’d be interested to hear what the mood is like in Patong, so do let me know!

  4. David says:

    While I can sort of understand people who visit Thailand to party etc. to be disappointed, it’s still important to respect the local culture. I think it would be a fascinating time to be visiting because you would certainly see a different side to Thai society. I know how much they loved their king so I can understand the seriousness of their mourning period. Insightful post mate.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      David, I can understand it to an extent but to vent about it online is different. Respect is important and I agree it will be an interesting time to visit. Thanks for joining the conversation!

  5. Alexis says:

    I am living in Cambodia till end of December. Thailand has been on my to do list since I arrived. Definitely still planning to visit hopefully by end of this month! Can’t wait!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      You’ll have an amazing time Alexis! Don’t let the recent news put you off! Let me know if you need any advice on where to go!

  6. Kreete says:

    I agree with what you say about travelling there now and that it can provide a unique perspective on the people, their customs and beliefs. I would certainly not cancel my trip because of a “fear” of not having “fun”. It’s all about the cultural experience for me. Great post and will share on pinterest!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thank you – I think we have our priorities right! I am definitely planning to go back to Thailand within the next year and I can’t wait!

  7. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) says:

    Powerful message and good information for people traveling to Thailand and those that are there. I agree be respectful, dress moderately and respect their culture. These are things we should be doing when we travel to other locations but a reminder is so important. Thanks for sharing!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Stephanie, you’re right – it IS something we should be doing all the time. I would never want to offend locals with my behaviour and it’s particularly important to show respect at this difficult time.

  8. Anna Schlaht says:

    Spot on. Thank you for writing this post; I hope a lot of people read it. It always makes me sad to see travelers complaining about “ruined vacations” or a lack of fun things to do… Where is the respect? I’m really glad you addressed that in your post and hope people realize that Thailand is an amazing place even when expending extra thoughtfulness toward the locals during their time of mourning.

    Good stuff to know! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Anna. Definitely felt very strongly about this so very glad that so many people agree. There are many different ways to travel but they all need to promote respect and cultural sensitivity!

  9. Allison says:

    Part of traveling to other countries is respecting the culture and way of life. It says a lot about a man who was so revered by his people that they would want to mourn his passing for an entire year. I think it’s the least that tourists can do to pay their respects by not complaining and abiding by the country’s wishes. Yes, we all want to have fun while we’re traveling but we also have a responsibility to be globally aware and reach outside ourselves instead of thinking it’s all about us and our experiences. I love that you brought attention to this.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Allison, I love how you put it. Thailand has been shaped by its monarchy in many ways and it’s important to remember that it’s a huge part of the country’s identity. As you say, the least we can do is respect that. Thanks for your views!

  10. Lisa says:

    Thanks for writing & sharing this post. If I had plans to go there I would not let the changes deter me. Understanding their culture and showing respect to their customs is essential…. anytime.

  11. Garth says:

    When we visited Thailand we were impressed how patriotic the Thai people were. When the national anthem was played, everyone stopped, I mean everyone in the streets cars, people, scooters to pay their respects. Your article is spot on, we should always show respect when visiting other countries and culture.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Garth, yeah when you first experience everyone stopping, it’s incredible! You’re right, we should always show that respect. In an ideal world, this post wouldn’t need to be written!

  12. Barry says:

    Interesting post Lexx. I know plenty of Thai people and can only imagine how upset some of the locals will be. However Thai’s are a strong bunch and they will bounce back. Hopefully us boozy Brits will behave and act respectfully!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Barry. You’re right, they are very resilient and I have only positive things to say about the country. I hope we behave too! Don’t want us getting a bad rap!

  13. Zophia says:

    Thailand’s king dying is sad thing for the people he has been king for 70 years and looks like he is loved so tourists should be respectful of this, if they respect different customs, people , traditions and are travellers they should understand this. Tourists are safe, they can still go around see the City, eat Thai food and enjoy their while, I see no reason tourists feel they should not visit Thailand now, I agree with you.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Zophia. Absolutely agree, tourists are safe, can still enjoy themselves but just need to be respectful and understanding – as they always should be!

  14. Ria (@lifeinbigtent) says:

    I agree, in media was many articles about how bad will be to go to Thailand now and etc. But the life is continue – yes, maybe in the beginning some of the places will be closed, something will be canceled but it’s the way to get out of your comfort zone and do something not planned and different 🙂 The main thing – just respect the mourning time and local people.

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Ria, thanks and spot on! The media tends to exaggerate things and this is a good example. From what I hear, many things in Thailand are back to normal!

  15. Jenn says:

    This is a great post. You bring up such a relative point – in times of loss and tragedy, the tendency of tourists to refrain from visiting often does more harm than good. It’s important to keep traveling, while being helpful and respectful to the area and it’s people. Thanks for sharing!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Thanks Jenn. We need to support Thailand and its people and doing it through responsible tourism is one of the best ways to do so

    • Travel Lexx says:

      The touristy spots are not for everyone but it’s a beautiful country with amazing people and history. Hope you get to go one day!

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