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Hoot Blog

What to do when you're travelling in a country and the king dies

Thailand was recently shaken by the tragedy of the passing of beloved King Bhumibol. Bhumibol reigned for 70 years, and passed away at an impressive 88 years old. His kind and fair rule was truly a tragic loss for this country. So much so that events like the Full Moon Party were cancelled, dancing was banned and even the most vivacious areas of the country respectfully shut down to mourn the loss.

As you can imagine, this can be challenging for visitors of the country. How are you expected to act when such sadness strikes? We've got some tips for you.

Respect the mourning process

Don't expect that just because you're a tourist people in mourning are going to see you as an exception and open up shop. You will undoubtedly be able to find businesses still in operation, but you should not try to push anyone who is clearly not open for business. After announcing the death of the king, Thailand's prime minister warned people to avoid "festivities" for 30 days. The best rule of thumb here is to judge your surroundings, if you see locals partaking then you can too!

Dress in black 

Thailand is usually filled with vibrant colours, however once the king died, many switched to black clothing. It's okay if you didn't bring your finest black attire - shop owners will likely start selling black clothing. As you'll notice that most locals are dressed in the colour of morning, you'll want to as well in order to avoid coming across as rude or insensitive. 

Take part in the mourning events

While times are sombre, partaking in the events a country has planned in wake of a royal death is still a great way to get to know the people and culture - and it'll make for a very unique experience that other tourists don't normally get to experience. During this time of mourning, there are Buddhist funeral ceremonies held at Bangkok's grand palace and prayers held along the Chao Praya River. You can even observe the parade hosted in his honour.

Avoid nightlife 

Out of respect, many bars and restaurants stopped selling alcohol - even in the louder parts of the country like Bangkok shut down their nightlife scene. As such, you shouldn't try to keep the party going if there isn't one. If you have to indulge in an alcoholic beverage, perhaps do so on your own and make sure you don't bother anyone.

So there you have it - a royal death does not have to damper your holiday, instead it can be an incredible way to connect with the locals and experience the country like few tourists ever get to.