The Royal Cremation Ceremony for the late King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is scheduled for October 25-29, 2017. The actual cremation will be held on October 26 (Thursday) which has also now been declared a public holiday. The ceremony will take place in Bangkok at Sanam Luang, the royal field in front of the Grand Palace. This has traditionally been the venue for royal cremations and is where the intricate funeral pyre is being constructed by specialist workers and skilled artisans.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on October 13, 2016. At most funerals in Thailand the deceased is cremated approximately three days after dying. However, for somebody of high status it is not unusual for there to be a prolonged period between death and cremation and this is actually a show of love and respect for the deceased. Thai Buddhists believe that all of the religious rites and merit-making ceremonies carried out between death and cremation ease the path for the deceased and enables the departed to benefit in the next life. According to Thai Buddhist belief, whilst the body is still present the spirit can benefit by the gifts offered, the sermons preached and the religious chants uttered in its presence. The cremation ceremony marks the final departure of the spirit from the mortal world.
grandmother and grandson paying their respects at Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai
Since the death of the king, the Thai public have flocked to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The Royal Household Bureau report that so far, more than six million people have paid their respects in front of the royal urn at the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall inside the Grand Palace. The body of King Bhumibol Adulyadej lies in state in a separate room away from public view. Dressed in black, Thai people from all walks of life and all areas of Thailand have made the journey to the Grand Palace. It has been a remarkable scene to witness and shows the genuine devotion and love so many Thais have for the man who was fondly referred to as the Royal Father.
Thai mourners outside the Grand Palace in Bangkok on November 5, 2016
If you are in Thailand at the time when the Royal Cremation Ceremony takes place, please keep in mind local sensitivities. Some Thais have been wearing black ever since the death of the king last October. Although tourists won’t be expected to wear black, it would be extremely respectful to wear a black top or a white shirt with a black ribbon on October 26. There will almost certainly be temporary restrictions on alcohol sales in Thailand on the day of the cremation. It is probable that bars, clubs and entertainment venues in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand will close for at least a day. If you are planning to travel in Thailand during October, please keep in mind that there is likely to be a high demand for buses, trains and flights into Bangkok in the days leading up to the event as Thais from across the country head to the Thai capital. Hotels and guest-houses closest to the Grand Palace area are also likely to see a surge in bookings from Thai visitors who want to be in Bangkok for this historic event.
*Update September 21, 2017:
The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) in Bangkok will be closed from October 1-29, 2017