THAILAND’S capital of Bangkok is set to receive crowds ahead of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s funeral, a year following his death.
Reuters reported that hotels in the city’s old town as well as its backpacker enclave are booked up as locals from around the country prepare to make their way to the capital to bid farewell to their beloved king. Popular areas that have been booked out include Khao San Road in the Banglamphu area.
The king’s funeral will run for five days next week, with most events centering on the Grand Palace and Sanam Luang, a public square in the historic quarter.
Supawan Tanomkieatipume, president of the Thai Hotels Association, told Reuters, “Many Thais wishing to attend the cremation feel it would be more convenient having a place to stay nearby, so most hotels have been booked out already.”
“We are fully booked during the royal cremation,” said Preechaya Amngeun, 23, a guest services agent at the Ibis Styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtai, part of French hotel group Accor. “Around 80 percent of the guests we have are Thais. The other 20 percent are foreign tourists.”
About 250,000 mourners are expected to attend the funeral, which will feature gold-tipped pavilions built for the occasion, and Oct 26, the day of the cremation, has been declared a national holiday.
Some 70,000 security personnel will aid in controlling crowds during the funeral period, the replicas of the funeral pyre will be placed in various locations around Bangkok to help disperse crowds.
At the moment, the King’s body has been lying in state in the Grand Palace where thousands of black-clad mourners have been queuing daily to visit.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has issued a travel advisory calling for visitors and tourists to be “respectful” and to behave appropriately during the period.
Additional reporting by Reuters.