Everything you need to know about the Funeral of King Bhumibol in October

UPDATED: 17th October 2017 – Nearly a year has passed since the passing of  King Bhumibol on 13th October 2016. He was Thailand’s most revered King in living memory and the nation’s sorrow has been overwhelming. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people have queued up in the heat and rain to pay their last respects. Nearly a year later, many Thais, and foreigners like myself who work in Thai schools, are still wearing black. Soon the day will come that nobody wants. The cremation of King Bhumibol. Many foreign tourists and expats have asked me how the funeral will affect their holiday in Thailand. What I will be doing on this page is giving you all of the latest information as and when it comes in. Please follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow or Facebook for any breaking news.

IMPORTANT: This page is only a summary. Some sections were getting so long that I have now written separate blogs on some of the major topics. Click here for a full list of blog posts about the royal funeral.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:

  • The royal funeral will take place from 25th to 29th October 2017.
  • The actual cremation ceremony will take place on Thursday 26th October.
  • 13th October is a new public holiday marking the death of King Bhumibol. This will take place every year from now onwards.
  • 26th October has been declared a public holiday so that people can attend the funeral. This is a temporary holiday for this year only
  • There will be rehearsals for the royal procession at Sanam Luang on 7th, 15th and 21st October. If you attend, it is compulsory to wear black and carry photo ID [more here]
  • The royal crematorium on Sanam Luang will be open to the public after the cremation from 2nd to 30th November, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

TIMELINE OF FUNERAL:

25th October: A royal merit-making rite will be held to mark the start of the royal cremation ceremonies in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace. This will start at 5:30pm and will be broadcast live on all TV channels.

26th October: The body of the late King will be moved from the throne hall to the royal crematorium at Sanam Luang where the royal cremation will be held. This will take place at 7am. The cremation ceremony will be from 5:30pm and 10pm. The actual cremation will take place at 10pm.

27th October: Following the cremation, a royal ceremony will be held to collect the royal relics of the late King at the royal crematorium from 8am.

28th October: A royal merit-making rite for the royal relics will be held in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall at 5:30pm.

29th October: A royal ceremony will be held to enshrine the royal relics at the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall at 10:30 a.m., and the ashes of the late King will be enshrined at Wat Rajabopit and Wat Bowon Niwet at 5:30pm.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS and ACTIVITIES:

  • The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha will be CLOSED to the public, including tourists, from 1st to 29th October 2017. It will re-open on 30th October.
  • There will be no Muay Thai fights during October at Rajadamnern Stadium
  • Ananta Samakom Throne Hall and Vimanamek Teak Mansion are closed until further notice
  • Paruskawan Palace and The Police Museum are closed from 1st to 31st October.
  • There will be no steam train trip on 23rd October 2017

Quite a few of the major tourist attractions, like Dream World, Safari World, Siam Park City and Siam Niramit will close for one day on 26th October. They will be open as normal on the other days. [Full list here]

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS:

  • The Full Moon, Half Moon and other parties on Koh Phangan have been cancelled during October.
  • The Phuket Vegetarian Festival will go ahead as planned between 20th and 28th October. However, there will be no parades until the last day.
  • The Phra Samut Chedi Temple Fair Parade on 10th October will go ahead. However, the actual temple fair has been postponed until November.
  • The Rub Bua Festival in Bang Phli and the Buffalo Racing in Chonburi on the 4th October are both going ahead as planned. But there will be no outdoor concerts.

SHOPPING AND ENTERTAINMENT

Shopping malls, markets and shops are expected to be open as normal during October. However, quite a few shops, cinemas and even some department stores will close for one day on 26th October. In addition, you might find some family run shops and market stalls closed from 25-27 October. As far as entertainment goes, provincial governors have been asking for venues to “suspend activities from 13th to 27th October 2017”. However, you may find some behind doors entertainment continuing as normal. You would have to ask these places in advance. But, what is certain, by far the majority will close on 26th October as the actual cremation is that evening. Click here for a full list of what is closed.

Shopping malls open every day include CentralWorld, Siam Paragon, Emporium, Emquartier. Others may close early on 26th October for the Royal Cremation Ceremony.

IMPORTANT: Click here for a dedicated blog post on what is closed during the funeral.

TRANSPORTATION:

  • All buses, trains and airplanes are expected to be running as normal. But in the days leading up to the funeral, expect many people to converge on Bangkok and the area around Sanam Luang. They are putting on extra buses, trains and planes, but expect congestion.
  • The BTS skytrain will be free all day on 26th October. On the 25th and 27th October, only the extensions from On Nut to Samrong, and Wongwian Yai to Bang Wa will be free.
  • The BRT bus service from Sathon to Ratchapreuk will be free from 25th to 27th October
  • The MRT subway will be free all day on 26th October
  • The Airport Rail Link and the Purple Line will be free on 25th-26th October
  • The Chao Phraya Express boats and Saen Saeb canal boats will be free on 26 October.
  • There will be free shuttle boat services from 9am to 4pm on 25th-26th October, and from 10am to 3pm on 27th October. The boat service will go from the Commerce Ministry pier, the Nonthaburi pier and the Rama VIII Bridge pier in the North, and from Sathorn pier and Tha Pimarn pier in the South.
  • There will be restrictions on boat movement on the Chao Phraya River from Krung Thon Bridge to King Taksin Bridge. The main periods of time are from noon to 9pm on 25th October, from 6am to 11pm on 26th October, and from 8am to 2pm on 27th October.
  • The Chao Phraya Express Boat will not stop at Tha Chang, Tha Phra Arthit and Tha Rajinee piers temporarily, but stop at Thewes pier in the northern part of the river and Talad Yodpimarn in the south instead. Ferries operating from Phra Chan Nuea, Maharaj, and Tha Chang piers will use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river while ferries which operate from Tha Tian pier will use Rajinee pier instead. Tourist boats will use Pinklao pier on the Bangkok side of the river as well as Rajinee pier.

IMPORTANT: Click here for a dedicated page on road and river closures during the funeral

ROYALTY AND HEAD OF STATES AT THE ROYAL CREMATION CEREMONY

  • King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife Queen Jetsun Pema
  • Prince Akishino and his wife Princess Kiko from Japan
  • Queen Mathilde of Belgium
  • Queen Maxima of the Natherlands
  • Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
  • Australia’s governor-general and his wife
  • President Halimah Yacob of Singapore

MORE UPDATES:

  • Festivities to pay a final tribute and farewell to the His Majesty King Bhumibol and to mark the ending of an official mourning period include public performances, such as the khon masked drama, puppet shows, and orchestras. They will start at 6:00 p.m. on the Royal Cremation Day, 26 October 2017, and run through 6:00 a.m. on the following day. They will take place at the Northern end of Sanam Luang
  • The flying of drones is banned over much of Bangkok from 25th-29th October. The air exclusion zone extends for a radius of 19km from the Grand Palace [more here]
  • The one-year mourning period has been extended until 29th October
  • Flags to be flown at half mast from 13-27 October.
  • Thai TV stations will go black and white from 1st October. Until 20th October they have to stop or reduce the number of entertainment shows. From 21-24 October there will only be programs about King Bhumibol. From 25-29 October only the funeral of King Bhumibol will be aired

If you want some more background information about the royal funeral and the crematorium, then please visit this website www.kingrama9.net. The following are direct links to the highlights:

The Bangkok Post also has a good site about the Royal Crematorium and ceremonies.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Q: Can I attend the funeral?
A: Literally hundreds of thousands of people will be attending the funeral of King Bhumipol. I expect that as long as you dress respectfully in black, you will be able to attend. But, don’t expect to get close to the actual ceremony. I hear also there will be a special area reserved for foreigners. I will post more information on this when I get it.

Q: Can I take pictures of the royal family and the funeral ceremony?
A: You certainly can not. You have to be accredited members of the media to be able to take photos and they will have many restrictions. And also, only a select few can get anywhere near the main ceremony. I am not going to even try.

Q: Will clubs and bars be closed during the funeral?
A: There has been no official announcement about this yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a ban on the sale of alcohol on the 26th October. The actual cremation will be taking place in the evening and it is unlikely that any bars will open that night. It is also possible that there might be a voluntary ban on the sale of alcohol for the main three days of the funeral, 25th-27th October. Some bar owners have told me that they will probably close the whole week. I will update this information as soon as I hear anything official.

Q: Are tourists expected to wear black?
A: You only need to wear black or grey if you are attending the funeral on Sanam Luang or at one of the many ceremonies held around the country.

Q: Will the shopping malls be closed?
The big shops rarely close for anything. Nothing officially has been announced on this, but I expect you will find the malls open as normal during the funeral. However, I think on the cremation day, and particularly in the evening, you might not find many people out and about. There will probably be at home watching the funeral on TV. So, smaller family run shops would most likely be closed on at least the 26th October.

Q: Will the Grand Palace be open?
A: They have already announced that the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace will be closed to the public during most of October. It will re-open again on 30th October.

Q: Will temples near the Grand Palace, like the Reclining Buddha and Temple of Dawn be open?
A: I expect these will be open as normal.

Q: Is it best to avoid Bangkok during the funeral?
A: Bangkok is a big city and there is no reason to avoid it. However, there will be a big movement of people to Sanam Luang, the site of the royal crematorium. It is best to avoid all roads and the river in that area during the five day funeral. In particular on the 26th October. Khao San Road is also in this area and I wouldn’t personally stay here during the funeral.

Q: Will tourist attractions be open during October?
A: I expect most will be open as normal. However, government run museums will be closed on the public holidays on 13th, 23rd and 26th October. This is normal.

Q: Will anything be closed on the royal cremation day?
A: I don’t think it will be made official, but many leisure kind of activities and attractions will be closed on 26th October. An owner of a golf club has already told me they will close on this day.

Q: Will public transport like the skytrain, buses and boats be open as normal?
A: Yes, of course. Life does go on. But, they’ve already announced that some services will either be free or have reduced fares. I would think that the skytrain will be very busy at major intersections like Siam, Victory Monument and Saphan Taksin. The busy period will be 25-27 October with 26th October being the busiest.

Q: Will there be English commentary on TV during the funeral?
A: There will almost certainly be English commentary on TV sets where you can change audio channels. The funeral ceremony will be broadcast live on all TV channels.

Q: Can I fly my drone during the funeral?
A: Drones are very noisy and it would be extremely disrespectful to do such a thing. Anyway, an air exclusion zone has been declared for drones that extends for a radius of 19km from the Grand Palace. This covers much of Bangkok.

Q: I will be flying THAI Airways on the 26th October from London to Bangkok. Will they show movies and serve alcohol?
A: I am almost certain that it will be as normal on your flight. The government has already said that drinks can be served behind closed doors. No problem with movies too.

Q: I will catch a bus from Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi airport on the 26th October. Will the roads be closed? Will the airport be open as normal?
A: The roads to the airport and and the airport itself will certainly not be closed and will be operating as normal. Anyway, Suvarnabhumi is not actually in Bangkok and there is a main highway between here and Pattaya.

PLEASE BOOKMARK THIS PAGE AS I WILL BE UPDATING THE ABOVE TEXT CONTINUALLY DURING THE NEXT MONTH.

If you have any further questions, please post them in the comments below. Please also follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow as I will be posting regular updates in the days leading up to the funeral.

156 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about the Funeral of King Bhumibol in October

  • October 17, 2017 at 2:35 pm
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    Will these affect other parts of Thailand as well? Entertainment & tourist attractions area in other parts of Thailand?

    Reply
    • October 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm
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      The majority of closures are being reported in Bangkok. Some of the other major cities will also have some closures, though not to the same extent. Even less as you get away from the big cities.

      Reply
  • October 18, 2017 at 9:26 pm
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    Hi Richard,

    Flying in from the Maldives on the evening of the 26th with Thai Air Asia…hoping the airport taxi can get me close to Samsen Rd-Pra Athit-Banglampoo locality…Hoping for the best to dump my luggage at the GH and then walk down at least close to the Royal Palace…should be possible yes??

    Thx, Mark

    Reply
    • October 19, 2017 at 8:25 am
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      That whole area is in lockdown on that evening. The cremation is at 10pm. I doubt very much you will find any taxi that will want to take you to your guesthouse. Even the airport bus won’t go that far. You might have to come in from the north and walk in with your luggage.

      Reply
  • October 19, 2017 at 12:51 am
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    Hi Richard.
    Have you listed anywhere the other official sites in Bangkok where respects can be paid to the late King? I had heard that there were eight such places for those of us who might find Sanam Luang a little difficult to reach. If you have already listed these would you please provide a link to same.
    Thanks in anticipation.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2017 at 1:00 am
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    I arrive In Bangkok from Dubai on the 26 th October will I be ok getting a taxi to pattaya

    Reply
    • October 19, 2017 at 6:28 am
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      Yes for sure as the airport is outside of Bangkok and has a clear route to Pattaya.

      Reply
  • October 19, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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    Will pratunam morning market and ratchada night market open on 26 oct ?

    Reply
    • October 19, 2017 at 5:31 pm
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      I am sure Pratunam will be open in the morning. Not sure about the night market yet. Other night markets said they will close that night.

      Reply
  • October 20, 2017 at 9:27 am
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    Hi Richard – we’ve just moved here and still don’t quite understand where all these places are. We are supposed to taxi from Bangkok (close to Bearing BTS … so Sukhumvit 107) to Koh Samet on the 26th … are we outside of the road closures? And do you think the speed boats will be operating as usual over to Samet?

    Reply
    • October 20, 2017 at 10:07 am
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      You’re on the outskirts of Bangkok and so should be fine. The ferry boats should be working as it’s a scheduled service. Speedboats are up to demand. You can double check with your hotel.

      Reply
  • October 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm
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    Hello Richard, thanks for sharing and creating this website, the information are very useful to us as we will be traveling to Bangkok on 29th Oct.

    Regarding this point below, does it mean that there will be no other shows on TV during 25-29 Oct except the King’s funeral? We have a plan to catch a Premier League football match on 28th Oct, I wonder whether will the live broadcast on all TVs be cancelled?

    “Thai TV stations will go black and white from 1st October. Until 20th October they have to stop or reduce the number of entertainment shows. From 21-24 October there will only be programs about King Bhumibol. From 25-29 October only the funeral of King Bhumibol will be aired”

    Reply
    • October 20, 2017 at 12:05 pm
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      Hello Richard, sorry, there is a correction to my question above, my travel date is from 28th Oct – 30th Oct. Thank you.

      Reply
    • October 20, 2017 at 12:12 pm
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      What time is the match? Thai TV probably cannot broadcast it but you might be able to watch on satellite tv. Or stream on the internet.

      Reply
  • October 21, 2017 at 11:26 am
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    Hi Richard. An awesomelingly informative website by the way! We’ll be flying out on the 26th and will have to get to the airport from Le Luk Condo on Phra Khanong. Do you think we’ll be able to get an Uber? Need to be at airport at 3:30pm… Or do recommend any thing else? Lots of luggage…

    Reply
    • October 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm
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      I would go by Uber but add at least an hour to the usual journey time just in case of road closures.

      Reply
  • October 21, 2017 at 11:29 am
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    Correction, the 27th.

    Reply
  • October 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm
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    Hi Richard – thank you for taking to the time to reply to all the questions here. We will be arriving BKK on Oct 26 at 9.30PM. Going to hotel in Rangnam area – will it be difficult getting a taxi from Suwarnabhumi that day and time?

    Reply
    • October 21, 2017 at 8:20 pm
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      Your arrival time is problematic as the cremation is at 10pm and I am sure many people would be “distracted” at that time. But, I am confident that you will be able to get a taxi. Though there might be a shortage. However, public transport such as airport bus and Airport Rail Link will run as normal. You have options.

      Reply
  • October 21, 2017 at 3:01 pm
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    Hi Richard , will we be able to watch the funeral in the U.K. ?

    Reply
    • October 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm
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      Yes, I just posted a new blog on how to watch. Link is on front page of my website.

      Reply
  • October 21, 2017 at 9:16 pm
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    Hello Richard,
    A big thank you for your wonderful work as a reporter.
    Will there be a DVD of commemorations about of Cremation of King Buhmibol?
    How to get the pin’s, I will can come to Thailand from next December 2017?

    Reply
    • October 21, 2017 at 9:46 pm
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      Thanks. But I am not a reporter. I am just a school teacher who likes helping people. A reporter gets paid to do this job. I don’t. To answer you question, I don’t know yet!

      Reply
  • October 22, 2017 at 4:25 am
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    Hi Richard,

    Ill be arriving to Bangkok on the 25th in the afternoon, do you think I would have any issues getting to the our hotel In Chinatown area? Does the Chinatown area stay fall in the path of where all the closures would be?

    Thank you for writing this blog! Its been extremely helpful and informing.

    Reply
    • October 22, 2017 at 5:12 am
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      Chinatown is on the edge of the old city where the cremation is taking place. I cannot see you having a problem though there might be temporary road closures for VIPs.

      Reply
  • October 22, 2017 at 7:43 am
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    Hi Richard,
    My husband and I are in Chaing Mai now till the 25th, then fly back to Bangkok and depart from Bangkok on the 27th of October back to Canada. Our flight leaves at noon and we were planning to use the BTS/Airport Rail system. Will there be any disruptions going that way. Thank You. Very appreciated.

    Reply
    • October 22, 2017 at 7:45 am
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      You should be fine on the 27th October. The busiest day is the day before.

      Reply
  • October 22, 2017 at 12:31 pm
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    Hello sir. May I just ask if the A4 bus from Don Muang airport to sanam luang will run on october 26?

    Reply
    • October 22, 2017 at 1:52 pm
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      Yes all public buses are running but some might have diversion due to road closures

      Reply
  • October 23, 2017 at 10:16 pm
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    Hi Richard, I was told that it is compulsory for people to wear black/ dark shirts on the street in Bangkok? Even if they are not attending funeral or within the funeral ceremony area?

    But what about wearing shorts and sandals? Will that be okay?

    Reply
  • October 24, 2017 at 4:03 am
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    Will temples in Ayutthaya be open on the 26? We are arriving Bangkok on 25 and our tour begins 27th so that is our only day to go

    Reply
  • October 24, 2017 at 5:57 am
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    Hi Richard – Arriving at Krabi on 26thOct morning with a group of 30 people – Hope there wont be any problem in getting on arrival visas as the main cremation is on the same day . Please let us know

    Reply

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