It’s been a sad day for the Thai people. Following the announcement of the death of King Bhumibol Thursday evening, Thais are mourning the tragic loss of their much revered monarch. Having reigned for 70 years, for most Thai people King Bhumibol is the only monarch they can remember in their lives and his death marks the end of an era.
Shortly after the televised announcement of the beloved monarch’s death at 7 p.m. an official one-year mourning period was announced by prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. While the general public has been urged to decide on an appropriate duration of mourning, Prayuth also ordered all sectors of society to “refrain from holding entertainment activities for one month.”
But what does this mean in practice, and how will this entertainment ban affect tourism in Thailand, nightlife and the entertainment industry?
To come straight to the point: There is no reason whatsoever to cancel or postpone your vacation. In Pattaya, most bars are open as usual, just with toned down activities, no loud music or parties.
In addition, the military government confirmed on November 1 that the month-long ban on entertainment activities would come to an end on November 14 as scheduled and would not get extended.
So while the impact on Pattaya’s entertainment industry has been minimal anyway and more or less limited to a ban on loud music and parties in open-air bars, things should go fully back to normal from mid-November. Festivals, concerts, and other forms of public entertainment may also resume November 14.
Here are all the details you should know. (This post has been frequently updated since it was first published, the last time on November 16.)
TV, Entertainment Events, Festivals, Attractions
In the first place, it seems, the order will only affect radio programs and television channels that were replaced with black and white palace broadcasts late Thursday night.
All TV networks – including international satellite channels like the BBC, CNN etc. – were ordered to replace their regular programs like soap operas and comedies with a “prepared rolling state media program”.
While the TV entertainment ban was initially meant to stay in place for 30 days, the junta later agreed to return broadcasting authority to the stations at midnight on Friday. There have however been limitations on what can be shown, with no entertainment programs like soap operas, comedies or concerts allowed.
From November 14, television channels will be allowed to fully resume their normal programs.
Likewise, most entertainment events, such as concerts, festivals, live music etc., have been cancelled nationwide for the next 30 days. For example, there will be no Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan this month and a number of concerts including by international artists have been canceled.
Even the Thai football season – with three remaining match weeks to be played – was cut short after the passing of the king and the league leaders crowned champions.
As for Thailand’s World Cup qualifier against Australia in Bangkok on November 15, fans were initially asked to tone down their dresses and wear black, white or grey. Chanting and “joyful activities” were equally banned.
After the government confirmed, however, that entertainment activities could return to normal after the end of the immediate 30-day mourning period a day earlier, fans will now be allowed to cheer their team as usual.
While tourist attractions around Pattaya, including the Alcazar and Tiffany’s ladyboy shows, remain open and operate as usual, the Loy Krathong festival on November 14 will be limited to its traditional aspects like floating baskets made of banana leaves and candle lightning.
As it appears, the Pattaya International Fireworks Festival in late November and the lavish new year celebrations at the Bali Hai Pier at the end of the year have also been canceled or will at least be toned down. (Thai tourism authorities actually confirmed mid-November that Christmas and New Year celebrations nationwide would “go ahead as scheduled,” but organizers may have make “adjustments”.)
On the positive side, there will be free entry (for foreign visitors too!) to historical sites and museums throughout Thailand until the end of January 2017.
Are Bars Open in Pattaya? YES !!!
As for the local entertainment industry, most bars and nighttclubs around Pattaya were ordered by authorities to close on the night of the king’s passing – a step many bar owners would have probably taken by choice.
An alcohol ban was however not in place and no official closing order was issued to local bar owners. The decision whether or not to close for a couple of days was with individual owners.
In fact, many bars were open again the following night; others likely decided to wait until the Buddhist holiday on Sunday (alcohol ban) was over before they opened again for business.
Bars are however still required to tone down their activities, with no types of parties, no loud or live music or any form of obscenity being tolerated during the 30-day mourning period. “Quiet” music is acceptable, though, and can indeed be heard again in many open bars now.
Outside dedicated entertainment zones, it appears that bars also have to close at 1 a.m. for the time being. The early curfew is however not strictly enforced and most beer bars are open longer.
So while parties and loud music blaring from the speakers are still a no-no in open bars, you can still have a beer and have fun with the girls as you usually would in Pattaya. In general, you should only expect the atmosphere to be more subdued than usual. There is however NO reason to cancel your trip to Pattaya.
From November 14 – when the 30-day entertainment ban officially comes to an end -, things should go fully back to normal again, i.e. including wild parties and ear-piercing music (if that’s what you’re into.)
What About Walking Street, GoGo Bars & Clubs?
Following a couple of days of confusion – many clubs on Walking Street were already open again Friday night; others were still closed -, the Interior Ministry issued an official statement on Sunday, October 16, saying
entertainment businesses such as bars and nightclubs can operate normally so long as they are behind closed doors.
In other words, clubs and GoGo bars were officially allowed to open again, however without fancy lights and explicit advertising on the street. Venues with open glass fronts were also asked to cover them.
But as you can see from the picture above – taken on the night of October 23 and nine days after this post was first published -, most of the neon signs on Walking Street are on again by now and the place is as crowded as usual. While there’s still no loud music and dancing in the open outside bars, GoGo bars and clubs are operating as usual on the inside.
As it seems, the official closing time in “designated entertainment zones” such as Walking Street has also been brought forward to 2 a.m. for the time being. As far as we know, however, clubs like Insomnia and Marine are still open until 4 a.m. and the party is in full swing as usual.
In addition, the military government has now confirmed that the ban on entertainment activities would ultimately expire after 30 days. So while the impact on Walking Street and the nightlife industry there has been minimal, things should go fully back to normal from November 14.
Again, there is NO reason whatsoever to cancel your holiday in Pattaya.
We’ll keep you updated as soon as more information becomes available. If you’re in Pattaya at the moment your feedback would obviously be much appreciated too. Simply leave a comment in the comments section below and help people better understand the situation on the ground. In the meanwhile, we’d like to ask you to respect the feelings and sensitivities of the Thai people at this time of national mourning.