Everything visitors to Thailand during the royal funeral need to know and prepare for
From October 25 to 29, the Thai people will be paying their respects to their beloved king. Here’s a list of closures, transport changes and dos and don’ts if you are going to be in Bangkok during the royal funeral
Business and leisure visitors to Thailand from October 25 to 29, the five days of King Bhumibol’s funeral, need to be prepared for crowds, closures and traffic disruption. Those visiting Bangkok earlier in the month may also encounter the side effects of rehearsals.
KingRama9.net, the government site dedicated to the funeral of the king, has a wealth of details about his life, ceremonies and such elements as the royal urn, buildings, chariots, artwork, sandalwood flowers, and masked dancers.
On his ThaiTravelBlogs website, resident travel writer Richard Barrow is keeping up with the latest funeral news of most interest to tourists.
October 26 will be a public holiday, so banks, government offices and museums will be closed. Although not required to do so, many stores, malls, and entertainment venues will also voluntarily close. The Dream World and Safari World theme parks, Tesco Lotus supermarkets will not open, Major Cineplex has already announced its venues will be closed. Kick-boxing (Muay Thai) contests are cancelled for the entire month throughout the country. The Grand Palace complex is closed in October.
So far, there has been no official ban on sales of alcohol, but it is likely to happen, at least on October 26.
Transport and roads
Eighteen major roads around Sanam Luang will be closed during the five-day funeral period as well as during rehearsals on October 15, 17 and 21, and for the umbrella setting ceremony on October 18. Sections of 13 additional roads elsewhere in the city, including Sukhumvit Road, Charoen Krung Road and Sathorn road, will be closed for parts of the day between October 25 and 29 to allow dignitaries to attend the ceremonies.
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Although relatively few people will be able to view the ceremonies up close, a great number of public buses will be running to points north of Sanam Luang from October 23 to 31, from 5am to midnight. Direct shuttle buses will run from many points in the city, including from the two airports and bus terminals.
Travel on the subway (MRT) will be free on October 26. From October 25 to 27 the Airport Rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport will be free as will some Skytrain routes. The routes of Chao Phraya river boats and ferries will be curtailed from October 25 to 27 and stops at several piers close to Sanam Laung will not open.
Rehearsals and ceremonies
Casual tourists will have no chance of personally observing the processions and funeral ceremonies, but they might catch glimpses of the full or partial rehearsals on October 15, 17 and 21. Another possibility is the October 18 ceremony in which a nine-tiered umbrella will be set atop the spire of the crematorium.
Flash-free photography will be allowed during the rehearsals on October 15 and 17. Because King Vajiralongkorn will be present, it’s unknown whether photography will be allowed at the October 18 umbrella ceremony, or on October 21 when a full rehearsal is scheduled. Use of drones for photography in virtually all Bangkok’s airspace will be prohibited on October 26.
The final funeral processions will take place in the afternoon of October 29, when the royal ashes will be transferred from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to the complexes of Wat Ratchabophit and , Wat Boworniwet.
FromOctober 23, programmes on Thai TV channels will be in black and white; only programmes about King Bhumibhol will shown from October 21 to 24. From October 25 to 29, only programming devoted to the funeral will be aired; there will be English commentary on radio and television.
Other than media accredited for the funeral, photographing the five days of processions and ceremonies is strictly prohibited. Even accredited media are prohibited from commenting on social media during this time.
Those intending to be in the vicinity of Sanam Luang, site of the funeral ceremonies, between October 25 and 29, are advised to dress modestly and wear black, grey or white clothing and closed-toe shoes (no sandals). Thais everywhere will be dressed in a similar fashion. Shoulders, arms and legs should be covered. For the past year, civil servants, teachers and television presenters, among others, have worn black clothing. From November 1, normal colours will be acceptable once again.