BANGKOK – Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Gen Tanasak Patimapragon said he has instructed the two ministries to issue brochures advising foreign tourists visiting the country how to behave appropriately during the mourning period of the Thai people.
He said plane tourists arriving in the country will be given black ribbons as well.
Although the country is in the mourning period, he remained confident of this yearâ€™s target of 32 million tourist arrivals as tourists from Europe, Middle East and ASEAN continue to come as usual although a slight fall in tourists from the United States.
Minister ofÂ Tourism and Sports Ms Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul stated today that twoÂ big events such as the Bangkok Marathon with over 30,000 people taking part, and the World Jet ski competition to be held next month wonâ€™t be cancelled.
The Mourning Period in Thailand
There are two mourning periods in place in Thailand. The initial 30-day period after the Kingâ€™s death is when flags are being flown at half-mast and it is during this four-week period that ordinary Thai people are requested to be particularly respectful. The second, extended period of mourning applies to state officials and government employees who will be required to wear black for a year. It probably wonâ€™t be until late in 2017 when the cremation ceremony for the King takes place.
The initial 30-day mourning period (up until November 13 and 14) is the time when visitors to Thailand should be especially considerate about what they wear. As a visitor to Thailand you donâ€™t have to wear black or white and you arenâ€™t expected to go to the same lengths as the local people. But as a guest in the country there are some simple ways to show respect that will be appreciated by locals. Detailed below is the advice I would give my own family and friends if they were visiting Thailand from now up until November 14.
What should I wear to show respect for the King?
The most practical way for overseas visitors to show respect for the King is to wear a simple black ribbon. Some hotels in Thailand are handing out black ribbons to guests and some local authorities are doing a similar thing.
You can wear it over your chest, but you will notice that most Thais are wearing their black ribbons on their left arm.
If you can find a black ribbon at home before you arrive that would be ideal because depending on where you travel to in Thailand they might not be available. There has been talk of some airlines that fly to Bangkok offering black ribbons to passengers, but that may take some time to arrange and isnâ€™t definite.
There is also talk of black ribbons being made available at the immigration desks when visitors arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport.
If you canâ€™t find a black ribbon, try to wear tops that arenâ€™t too bright or â€˜flashyâ€™. White is ideal and suitable for the tropical climate, but neutral or dark colours are all fine too. Leave the luminous orange t-shirts at home. The Singha beer vests favoured by backpackers and men of a certain age are OK for the beach, but not a good look in the city.
What to wear in Bangkok
With the Kingâ€™s body resting in Bangkok, itâ€™s appropriate to be extra considerate in the Thai capital. As a tourist you wonâ€™t be expected to wear just black or white tops for the duration of your trip, but muted colours would be appreciated.
Bangkok will see an influx of Thai tourists over the coming weeks with people travelling to the Grand Palace to sign condolence books and pay their respects to a man who was loved by many as the â€˜Father of the Nationâ€™. If you are visiting the Grand Palace area, even if itâ€™s just outside, please be tactful. Wear a black top or a plain white top with a black ribbon if possible.
What to wear in Chiang Rai and other cities
Wearing plain white or muted colours is appreciated whichever city you are travelling to in Thailand during the next three or four weeks. I can personally vouch for the fact that wearing a black ribbon on your shirt sleeve will gain you a lot of respect.