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Royal Cremation Ceremonies in October 2017

Photo by Courtney Ridgel

By Courtney Ridgel

Thailand has been mourning the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej since last October, and this October (2017), will mark the end of this period of mourning.  The king’s body will be cremated and both official and religious ceremonies are expected to mark the occasion.  The Thai government has officially announced that the ceremonies will take place October 25th -29th, 2017, with the official cremation date on October 26th.

For travelers heading to Thailand in October, this means that the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew and the surrounding areas will likely be closed off to the public.  It is rumored that the Grand Palace may close as early as the 23rd of October in order to make preparations and rehearse for the ceremonies.   The day of cremation (October 26th) will be a public holiday, and many business, museums and attractions will be closed out of respect.  You can find further details about the expected schedule of the cremation ceremonies in this article from the Bangkok Post, and you can see photos from the last Royal funeral, which included an elaborate procession, in this article from the International Business Times.  A procession for the upcoming ceremonies in October is also likely, and so traffic delays can also be expected.

Photo by Courtney Ridgel

We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep our guests updated on what to expect, and if necessary will adjust itineraries to work around the closures.   If you plan to travel to Thailand before the end of October, we recommend reading our blog about what to expect when Visiting the Grand Palace during this period of mourning, as there are certain unusual regulations in place for the year.  For example, visitors to the Grand Palace are still expected to dress entirely in ‘mute’ colors – black or dark navy until after the cremation ceremonies in October.

As always, please remember that deep respect should be shown to the King and Royal Family at all times. Showing respect for King is the law (known as the lese majeste laws) and all people within Thailand, including foreigners, are required to abide by this law.  Additionally, the Thai people loved their King and deeply mourn his passing.

Photo by Courtney Ridgel

 

Other Blog Articles Related to this topic:

King Bhumibol Adulyadej

What to Expect in Thailand Over the Next Month – October 2016

What to expect from Loi Krathong this year – October 2016

Visiting the Grand Palace

The travelling days of the Emerald Buddha

A must see while visiting Bangkok, the emerald Buddha has a colourful past and is remarkably well travelled for a statue …

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The diminutive Emerald Buddha, although only 45cms in height, is one of the most revered and famous religious statues in Asia. Legend has it that the idol is the palladium of Thailand, on which the safety of the country is believed to rest. The statue, actually made of Jadeite and not emerald, currently resides at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew in the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Incredibly precious and significant to the Thai people, the Emerald Buddha is adorned with garments of gold. The statue has 3 different sets of clothes which are changed by the King of Thailand each season (rainy season, summer and winter) in a ritual named ‘The Changing of the Robes’.

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The exterior of Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok. Image by Sebastien Bertrand

According to local lore the Emerald Buddha was created in India in 43BC near the present day city of Patna in Bihar, where it resided for 300 years. To save it from being destroyed in a civil war it was whisked away to Sri Lanka around the middle of the 3rd century AD. In 457 King Anuruth of Burma requested that the Buddha be sent to him to strengthen the cause of Buddhism in his country. The request was granted, but during the sea voyage the ship carrying the idol lost its way in a storm and ended up in Cambodia.

For nearly 1000 years the Emerald Buddha was hosted by the Khmers of Cambodia until Angkor was sacked by the Thais in 1434, whereupon the statue was taken to Ayutthaya in Thailand. Over the next two years a whirlwind tour of central Thailand, Laos and northern Thailand ensued, with the idol again coming to rest in Chiang Rai.

The jealous city ruler of Chiang Rai hid the statue from prying eyes and for a time it was believed lost. One stormy day, however, a bolt of lightning struck a pagoda in the city revealing something green buried within the stucco. On investigation this turned out to be the Emerald Buddha which was dug out from its hiding place to resume its travelling career.

The King of Chiang Mai, over lord of the north of Thailand, demanded the statue be brought to his capital from Chiang Rai however fate intervened again when the elephant carrying the Buddha insisted instead on heading towards Lampang. Interpreted as divine intervention the elephant was allowed to have its way and the statue resided in Lampang for around 30 years until it was finally brought to Chiang Mai where it was housed at Wat Chedi Luang.

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Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai. Image by Theerawit Wachiranugoon

When the Lannathai throne of northern Thailand became vacant in 1552, the Crown Prince of the kingdom of Lan Xang (current day Laos) was offered the job and moved to Chiang Mai. When his father died and he inherited the throne of Lan Xang he relocated to the traditional capital of Luang Prabang taking the Emerald Buddha with him. In 1564 he moved his capital to Vientiane and the Buddha was on the move yet again.

There it rested for around 200 years until invading Thais sacked Vientiane and spirited the Emerald Buddha away to Thonburi, and subsequently on to Bangkok where it has resided ever since. Part of any tour of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, our Journeys Within guides can bring the story of the emerald Buddha to life.

Southeast Asia 2011: Thailand!

We asked Jaeb, our Thailand tour director, to fill us in on her top things for 2011. For the next few days we will tell you what she is excited about this year, from where to visit, what to see and where to stay!

What are your top five places and things to do in 2011 in your country?

Places to go:

-Visit the pride of Thailand, The Grand Palace, and then enjoy a massage at Wat Pho. Make sure you find the elephant drop off spot at the Palace!

Elephant drop off at the Royal Palace

-Visit Ayutthaya, but skip the day tour and instead cyle at night to see the temples.

Ayutthaya bike tour at night

– Flight of the Gibbon in Chiang Mai is a unique way to see the Thai rainforest. With over 3km of zip lines, this is the largest and highest rainforest canopy tour in the world!

Zip lining through the Chiang Mai rainforest with Flight of the Gibbon

– In Mae Hong Sorn, visit Bua Thong field to see the hills covered in blooming sunflowers. They bloom during November, and the gorgeous colors are worth planning a trip during that time.

Sunflowers of Bua Thong field

– Koh Lipe is a small island in the Southern part of the Andaman Sea, and it is a great place to snorkel and dive in relative solitude. This place is not busy yet, so make sure to visit it soon! Boats leave from Pak Bara and Koh Lanta daily.

Dive in the crystal clear waters of Koh Lipe

Things to do like a local in Bangkok

-Shopping at Siam area and tasting Thai iced tea, or in Thai, Cha yen.

Thai Iced Tea is perfect on a hot day

-Shopping at The biggest market in the world, the Chatuchak “Weekend Market”

Need some shoes? Head to the Weekend Market!

-Have a drink at Vertigo, the rooftop bar at the Banyan Tree hotel. The view of the city at night is amazing!

Drinks at Vertigo are a must for the awesome view!

-Sampling food and walking in China Town at night

China Town at night

-Wandering around the Flower Market in the morning and trying Pad Thai at a well known restaurant near Wat Ratchanadda

Flower Market, Bangkok
Making flower offerings in the Bangkok Flower Market