Colors are essential when celebrating and honoring Buddhist and Hindu mythological traditions in the context of Thailand. The color yellow, for one, is particularly of interest when it comes to the long history of the Thai monarchy and royal families. Moreover, the yellow shines a light on more than just clothing: it gives you a choice for political discussion and opinion.
So, can you wear yellow in Thailand without issues?
As a tourist, you can wear any color on your trip to Thailand. The color yellow is one that is mostly worn on Mondays, to celebrate the birth of the Kings and honor Thai Father’s Day. However, while choosing to respect traditions, you should probably avoid wearing yellow for political purposes.
Let’s look into the history of the color yellow and how it plays a role in the everyday life of Thai people. The month, the day and the symbolism are all critical components that help distinguish yellow and its importance in Thai society. It is also essential to look into why wearing the color yellow can be a good thing but also a dangerous decision on your part.
Yellow in July
July is mainly the month of yellow in Thailand. You might wonder why everyone around the scene is wearing yellow clothing, whether on the streets, in offices, or in malls (4). Thailand emphasizes colors; there are different colors associated with particular days of the week and other Gods. The country holds regard for Buddhist beliefs and Hindu mythology (4).
Yellow is known as the color of Monday, worn by people to celebrate the day when the King, Rama X, and his father were born. On July 28th, in particular, you will see it as an obligation for all people in Thailand to wear yellow on the King’s birthday (4). In the same way, the Thai people wore the color blue on August 12th to show respect for the Queen’s birthday, which happened on Friday (4).
Why You Should Avoid Yellow
Although it is normal for foreigners to wear the colors they desire in Thailand, it is always important to be respectful and mindful. According to The Philippine Embassy in Thailand, the government recently warned Filipinos against wearing red and yellow when visiting or living in Thailand (3). Political colors are often recommended to be avoided as locals will assume you are showing support for opposing political parties (3).
Foreigners should especially avoid going to demonstrations, in large crowds, or nearby protests where people can be seen wearing yellow. These events can often result in violence and fatalities, as seen in the past (3). When choosing to participate in activities and wearing a specific color such as yellow, you encourage hatred against the opposition party and its people.
Yellow in Politics
Similar to the red-shirt campaign, prior Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra initiated the beginning of the yellow-shirt team. These royalists, however, were ultra-nationals and part of the urban middle class. Referred to as the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), yellow shirts opposed Mr. Thaksin and his rulings (2). In September 2006, the yellow shirt protesters held a considerable military coup.
Two years after that, the government pulled Mr. Thaksin and his allies from power (2). The yellow shirt group is led by media activist Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, who has close ties with the King’s senior advisor (2).
The 2006 protest attracted thousands of people and even caused the capital to shut down. The military was forced to oust Thaksin. However, just a bit after, in 2007, Thaksin allies won and formed their government (2). In 2008, the yellow-shirt protests once again argued for a government that was without Thaksin. After weeks of effort, the pro-Thaksin governing party was banned, and a new democratic party under Abhisit Vejjajiva took over (2).
After that period, the yellow-shirt protests were quiet until a group of 2,000 people went against the government again in January (2). The people accused Abhisit of failing to safeguard Thailand when it came to their dispute with Cambodia, their bordering country (2).
Wearing Yellow to Celebrate the New King
In the last few months or even years, you will see the respect for the new Thai King Maha Vajiralongkonr, who was crowned in May 2019 (1). Since then, locals have been wearing yellow shirts to respect his coronation, particularly in government institutions. Many public spaces become a sea of yellow shirts (1).
The government had asked the public to wear yellow for four months until July to express love for the King on his birthday month. Moreover, the color yellow is also associated with the father of Vajiralongkorn, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in October 2016. (1).
However, not everyone was too happy about wearing only yellow for the next four months – some locals did not want to wear a specific color to save their lives. At the same time, due to the praise of the color yellow by monarchy supporters, tourists are also keen on wearing yellow when they visit Thailand during their vacation (1).
To conclude, it is entirely okay to wear the color yellow in Thailand. Especially if you are a foreigner, wearing a particular color will not pressure you. However, when respecting Thai traditions, you will find most travelers wearing yellow alongside the local people.
Mondays, for one, are seen as particularly special when it comes to color. In the long run, yellow has a strong connotation to the country’s political sphere. When thinking of the color in violent terms, it is best to avoid wearing it when approaching political protests or oppositional parties.
1. Anonym. “Learn Why Thai Wear Yellow Clothes for 4 Months.” Teller Report, Teller Report, 1 Apr. 2019, https://tellerreport.com/news/–learn-why-thai-wear-yellow-clothes-for-4-months-.HJlEfGKyYN.html/.
2. “Profile: Thailand’s Reds and Yellows.” BBC News, BBC, 13 July 2012, https://bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-13294268/.
3. Santos, Matikas. “OFWs Warned in Thailand: Don’t Wear Red or Yellow.” INQUIRER.net, 10 Jan. 2014, https://globalnation.inquirer.net/96183/ofws-warned-in-thailand-dont-wear-red-or-yellow/.
4. Travel, Love. “July in Thailand:” Taste of Thailand, https://tasteofthailand.org/july-in-thailand-why-so-much-yellow/.