BANGKOK (AFP) – With Thailand grieving the death of beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the famous welcome extended to visitors in the “Land of Smiles” will be a bit less warm during mourning.
While most public services are unaffected, a range of entertainment, sport and cultural events have been cancelled or postponed, and guidelines have been issued on acceptable behaviour.
Here is what visitors should know.
ATTIRE AND BEHAVIOUR
Not everyone is required to follow millions of mourning Thais in wearing black, but visitors are nonetheless expected to avoid overly revealing or colourful attire.
Britain has advised its citizens to “behave respectfully when in public areas”.
“If possible, wear sombre and respectful clothing when in public; check local media regularly and follow the advice of the local authorities.”
Australia’s foreign ministry counselled against behaviour that may be interpreted “as festive, disrespectful or disorderly”.
On the country’s popular southern beaches, however, normal swimwear is expected to remain acceptable,
PUBLIC SERVICES, TOURIST SITES AND COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES
Most public services and commercial activities are unaffected, with hospitals, banks, embassies, government offices and shopping malls largely operating as normal, though there may be ad hoc closures or restrictions.
There have so far been no reports of major transport disruptions.
A number of entertainment events have been cancelled, including concerts by Morrissey and the Scorpions, and Korean K-pop bands Big Bang, JYP and FT Island.
Dozens of local stage plays and other Thai entertainment also have been called off, as have a range of Bangkok arts and music festivals, according to Khaosod, a popular English-language website.
The city’s 14th World Film Festival set for November has been postponed to Jan 20-29.
A range of religious and cultural festivals around the country also have been suspended.
These include next month’s Loi Krathong festival, in which colourful decorative baskets are released on rivers around the country, and annual buffalo races in southern Chonburi.
All entertainment programming on Thai television has been banned for the next month, but cinemas have reopened following a brief initial shutdown.
Most tourist sites in Thailand including its exquisite Buddhist temples remain open.
Due to funeral rites, however, Bangkok’s gilded Grand Palace, the seat of the royalty, and the sacred Temple of the Emerald Buddha on its grounds are closed to visitors until Oct 21.
Both are among the capital’s prime tourist draws.
Most of Bangkok’s numerous popular open-air markets also are expected to stay in operation but visitors are advised to check locally as some have been reported closed.
NIGHTLIFE AND ENTERTAINMENT
Don’t come expecting to sample Thailand’s notoriously bawdy nightlife over the next month.
Bangkok’s nightclubs and lurid go-go bars have either temporarily closed or are operating in markedly subdued fashion after the nation’s military strongman ordered them to “tone it down”.
Otherwise, finding a bar or market selling alcohol in Bangkok has become hit-or-miss.
Some bars have reportedly been told they can continue to serve alcohol but play only slow music during an initial 30-day mourning period and are expected to close by 1am.
One of the highest-profile casualties for revellers has been Monday’s Full Moon Party, an all-night blaze of bacchanalia on the southern beach resort island of Ko Pha Ngan that draws thousands of tourists annually.
Thailand’s domestic football association has cancelled the rest of its season and a Thai-Iran friendly next month also was scrapped.
A World Cup qualifier between Australia and Thailand may be moved.
Bangkok’s Lumpini Boxing Stadium, a popular site for watching “muay Thai”, or Thai-style kick-boxing, has closed until Nov 15.