Holidays and Festivals
Participating in Thai festivals is the best way to experience the culture and tradition of the country.
- New Year- public holiday in deference to Western calendar.
- That Phanom Festival- an annual weeklong to the Northeast's most sacred Buddhist Stupa (Phra That Phanom) in Nakorn Phanom Province.
- Chiang Mai Flower Festival- colourful floats and parades exhibit Chiang Mai's cultivated flora.
- Magha Bucha- held on the full moon of the third lunar month to commemorate Buddha preaching to 1250 enlightened monks. A public holiday throughout the country, it culminates with a candle-lit walk around the main chapel.
- Phra Nakorn Khiri Diamond Festival- this is a weeklong celebration of Phetchaburi's history and architecture focused on Phra Nakorn Khiri Historical Park (also known as Khao Wang), a hill topped by a former royal palace overlooking the city. It features a sound and light show on Khao Wang; the temples are festooned with lights and presentations of Thai classical dance-drama.
Late February - Early March
- Chinese New Year- Chinese populations all over Thailand celebrate their lunar New Year with a week of housecleaning, lion dance and fireworks. The most impressive festivities take place in the Chinese-dominated province capital of Nakorn Sawan.
- Asean Barred Ground Dove Festival- this is a large dove-singing contest held in the first week of March in Yala that attracts dove-lovers from all over Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
- Bangkok International Jewellery Fair- held in several large Bangkok hotels, this is Thailand most important annual gem and jewellery trade show. It runs concurrently with the Department of Export Promotion's Gems and Jewellery Fair.
- Phanom Rung Festival- a newly established festival to commemorate restoration work in the Phanom Rung Historical Park, an impressive Angkor style temple complex in Buriram Province. It involves a daytime procession up Phanom Rung Hill and spectacular light and sound shows at night. It takes place on the last week of the month.
- Chakri Day - this is a public holiday commemorating the founder of the Chakri dynasty. Rama I. It held on 6 Aril.
- Songkran Festival- this is the celebration of the lunar New Year in Thailand. Buddha images are bathed, monks and elders receive the respect of younger Thais by the sprinkling of water over their hands, and a lot of water is generously tossed about for fun. Songkran generally gives everyone a chance to release their frustrations and literally cool off during the peak of the hot season. It held from 13 to 15 April.
- Coronation Day - public holiday on 5 May. The King and Queen preside at a ceremony at Wat Phra Kaew, commemorating their 1950 coronation.
- Visakha Bucha- held on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the 6th lunar month, this day commemorates the date of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and passing away. Activities are centre around the wat, with candle-lit procession, much chanting and sermonising.
Mid May - Mid June
- Phi Ta Khon Festival- one of the wildest in Thailand, this is an animist - Buddhist celebration held in Loei Province in which revelers dress in garish "spirit" customs, were painted mask and brandish carved wooden phalli.
- Rocket Festival- in the northeast, villagers craft large skyrockets of bamboo, which they then fire into the sky to bring rain for rice fields. This festival in the town of Yasothon but is also good in UbonRatchatani and Nong Kai. It's known is Thai as Bun Bang Fai.
- Royal Ploughing Ceremony to kick off the official rice-planting season, the king participates in this ancient Brahman ritual t Sanam Luang in Bangkok.
Mid - Late July
- Asalha Bucha - this festival commemorates the Buddha's sermon.
- Candle Festival- Khao Phansa is celebrated in the northeast by parading huge carved candles on floats in the streets. This is best to celebrate in Ubon Ratchathani.
- Khao Phansa- public holiday and the beginning of Buddhist's Lent, this is the traditional time of year for young men to enter the monkshood for the rainy season and for all monks to station themselves in a monastery for the 3 months. It's a good time to observe a Buddhist ordination.
- Queen's Birthdaypublic holiday on 12 August. In Bangkok, Thanon Rachadamnoen Klang and the Grand Palace are festooned with coloured lights.
- Thailand International Swan-Boat Races takes place on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok near Rama IX Bridge.
Late September - Early October
- Vegetarian Festival- a nine-day celebration in Trang and Phuket during which devout Chinese Buddhists eat only vegetarian food. There are various ceremonies at Chinese Temples and merit-making processions that bring to mind Hindu Thaipusam in its exhibition of self-mortification.
- Loi Krathong Festival- on the proper full moon night, small lotus-shaped baskets or boats made of banana leaves containing flowers, incense, candle and a coin are floated on the rivers, lake and canals. This is a peculiarly Thai festival that probably originated in Sukhothai. At the Sukhothai Historical Park, there is an impressive light and sound held at this time. In Chiang Mai, they call this festival Yi Peng; residents also launch paper hot air balloons into the sky.
- Surin Annual Elephant Roundup- Thailand's biggest elephant show is pretty touristy these days - held on the third weekend of November.
Late November - Early December
- River Kwai Bridge Week- there are light and sound shows every night at the Death Railway Bridge in Kanchanaburi.
- King's Birthday - public holiday on 5 December. It features lots of lights and other decorations along Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang.