Thai Holidays thailand holidays festivals



Thai Holidays you should know

Posted By : Katie Monsell/ 548 0

All Thai holidays are very colorful, eventful and bring the whole community together. Definitely a great way to get culturally educated.

It is to be noted that Thais have these days off, so not many businesses are in action. Therefore transport, banks, shops will not be open.

(It is recommended not to travel during these holidays).

Also on a few events, especially to do with the Royal family, there will be no alcohol served.

New Year’s Day – 1st Jan

New Year’s Day was originally observed on 15th March in the old Roman Calendar. However despite the different religions and calendars, this is still celebrated.

On Koh Phangan

Full Moon Beach (Haad Rin Beach) is the place to be for the countdown. Replicating the Full Moon Parties there are usually more then 30,000 people of this beach, dancing and drinking, waiting for the New Year to begin.

Full Moon Beach (Haad Rin Beach) is the place to be for the countdown. Replicating the Full Moon Parties there are usually more then 30,000 people of this beach, dancing and drinking, waiting for the New Year to begin.

Beach bars play music from different genres; hip-hop, trance, house, dance …

Fit with a beautiful display of fireworks and a huge crowd counting down in unison, this will be a hard place to beat on this date.

Click here – For more info on what it will be like, visit our Full Moon Party page.

Top Tip – Book you accommodation in advance as the prices rocket around this high season.

Feb 05: Chinese New Year – 5th February 2019

Chinese New Year is celebrated by a quarter of the world’s population. It will be a public holiday in several countries in East Asia.

There is no set date, (it changes every year). Chinese New Year ranges from January 21 to February 20

There is a small population of Chinese heritage, here on Koh Penang. A few Chinese Buddhist temples around the island. Not to mention Chinese walking street with the local small shops. So you will see the traditional yellow and red decorations and festive events over the dates.


The origin of the Chinese New Year is itself ancient and obscured by the amount of time. It is popularly recognised as the Spring Festival and celebrations last 15 days.

On the day itself, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes. Then the family begins to say greetings from door to door, first to their relatives and then their neighbours.

Fun Fact – The Chinese decorate everything red for Chinese New Year

Chinese houses are cleaned from top to bottom, to sweep away any traces of bad luck, and doors and windowpanes are given a new coat of paint, usually red.

In traditional Chinese culture, firecrackers were originally used to scare away evil spirits. (This can be set off as early as 7am! So wear the ear plugs).

As the legend goes, a monster called Nian would come out to eat villagers and destroy their houses on each New Year’s Eve. The villagers discovered that burning dry bamboo to produce an explosive sound scared away the monster.


Traditional foods eaten during the Spring festival are fish (the Chinese word for ‘fish’ sounds like the word for ‘surplus,’ so the eating of fish is supposed to bring a surplus of money and good luck); Chinese dumplings (as their shape is said to be like that of silver ingots, which were used as money in ancient Chinese); spring rolls; rice cakes and rice balls.

Fun Fact – You eat dumplings for every meal, every day

Songkran Festival – 13th-15th April

The Songkran festival is the traditional Thai New Year’s Day and is most know to be the biggest water festival in the world, consisting of huge water parties all over the country.

It is a Buddhists tradition so it is also celebrated in neighboring countries, such as Cambodia, Laos, and Burma.


Songkran is often known as the Thai Water Festival. The custom originates from spring cleaning aspect of Songkran. Part of the ritual was the cleaning of images of Buddha. Using the ‘blessed’ water that cleaned the images to soak other people is seen as a way of paying respect and bring good fortune.

April is the hottest part of the year in Thailand, so being soaked is a refreshing escape from the heat and humidity.

Nowadays Thais will walk the streets having ‘water fights’ using containers of water or water guns, or stand at the side of roads with a hose and soak any one who passes by.

You may also get covered in chalk, a custom originating from the chalk used by monks to mark blessings. This combination of water and powder is almost identical to the celebrations of Holi, and indeed, it maybe that the customs originated in India as certainly Songkran is celebrated more widely and longer in the Northern part of Thailand.

Here on Koh Phangan

The area to be in is Thong Sala where the bulk of the water fights will be happening. However if you are driving around you should expect kids (and adults) on the side of the road waiting for you to get a soaking.

A great idea is to hire a truck and have your store of water in the back of the truck, ready to spray everyone.


Driving bikes is NOT advised, as the roads are very slippy due to the water and many accidents happen. So if you want a good Songkran to remember, stick to walking.

Prepare to get very wet!

Yi Peng – 11th November 2019

Yi Peng, (known as Lantern Festival) another light festival, is celebrated on the same day alongside Loy Krathong in Northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. It is different in that lights are placed into sky lanterns. Swarms of sky lanterns, decorated with good luck wishes and prayers are released to the sky. Yi Peng usually starts 2 days earlier than Loy Krathong.

Loy Krathong – 13th November 2019

What is Loy Krathong?

In the Thai language, ’loy’ means to float, while ’krathong’ is a small container, traditionally made from a piece of banana-tree trunk, containing a candle, incense and flowers.

The krathong floating on the water symbolizes one’s willingness to let go of hatred and anger.

Loy Krathong is one of Thailand’s best-loved festivals, occurring at the November full moon to mark the end of the rainy season. On the night of the festival, Thai people make a wish as they launch their krathongs on the rivers. Some people place hair and fingernails inside the krathong: by doing so, they want to float away their past mistakes and negative thoughts. It is a purification ceremony to enlighten the mind.

Where to go?

Chiang Mai, Sukhothai and Bangkok are the best places to celebrate the festival while visiting the country.

However there are still some bars/restaurants still celebrating this when you are join in with the traditions. E.g. Sunset Walk Bar, Ban Tai, Koh Phnagan.

Holidays Related to the Royal Family

May 06: H.M. King’s Coronation

Jul 29: H.M. King’s Birthday

If 28 July falls on a weekend, the holiday will be observed on the following Monday.

The day commemorates the birthday of the King of Thailand, Vajiralongkorn, also known as Rama X.

Known as Rama X, King Vajiralongkorn has reigned Thailand since 13 October 2016, following the death of his father, King Bhumibol.

Vajiralongkorn was 64 when he became king, making him the oldest Thai monarch to ascend to the throne.

Aug 12: H.M. Queens Birthday Holiday

This holiday marks the birthday of the current queen mother of Thailand, Queen Sirikit.

Sirikit was born on 12 August 1932. Sirkit met Rama IX in France in 1946 when he had already become ruler of Thailand. The royal couple were married on 28 April 1950, a week before the King’s official coronation.

Across Thailand, buildings are decorated to honour their queen, with the most splendid are in Bangkok, where many buildings and streets are festooned with coloured lights, flowers and portraits of the queen.

Oct 14: The passing of King Bhumibol (observed)

Dec 05: King Bhumibol’s Birthday

The day commemorates the birthday of the late King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is also Thailand’s National Day and is the day when Father’s Day is celebrated in Thailand.

Known as Rama IX, he reigned Thailand since 9 June 1946 until his death on 13 October 2016, making him the longest-reigning monarch ever in Thailand’s history, ruling Thailand for over 70 years.

Despite being a constitutional monarch, and not legally being allowed a role in politics, Bhumibol made several decisive interventions in the Thai political sphere and has been credited with helping facilitate Thailand’s transition to democracy in the 1990s.

The holiday itself is a colourful affair. Buildings across Thailand will display flags, bunting and portraits of the late King, while around the Grand Palace area of Bangkok, the streets are decorated with thousands of marigolds.

Thailand, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, King Rama X, His Majesty, King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thailand, Rama IX, Peoples King, Thailand, King, Kingdom of Siam

Marigolds are chosen for their colour, as yellow is the predominant colour of the celebrations; as the King was born on a Monday and in Thailand, yellow is the colour for Monday.

Chulalongkorn Day – 23rd October

The day commemorates King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) who passed away on 23 October 1910.

He was the fifth monarch of Siam from the House of Chakri and is considered one of the greatest kings of Siam (now Thailand).

He is remembered as the king who introduced many social and political reforms that helped to modernize Siam including to abolish slavery.

He succeeded to the throne in 1868 when he was 15 years old and was crowned king in 1873. He ruled until his death in 1910. He was known to the Siamese people as Phra Phuttha Chao Luang.

Makha Bucha Day – 19th Feb

Maka Bucha is a public holiday in several Mekong region countries such as Cambodia and Thailand.

The date of this important Buddhist festival depends on Lunar cycle. The holiday may also be known as Magha Puja.

On this day, the full moon of the third lunar month (called Tabodwe); seven months after Buddha began his teachings, over a thousand monks gathered to hear Buddha preach.

Buddha ordained these monks and spread the principles of Buddhism. This marked a key event in the development of the religion.

45 years later, on the same full moon in the third lunar month, Buddha again delivered his teachings shortly before his death.

This third lunar month on which both events occurred is known in Buddhist Pali language as ‘Makha’. ‘Bucha’, means to honour.

How is Maka Bucha Day celebrated?

In the morning many Thai people wake up early to give alms to monks. In the evening, temples are full of people listening to sermons. They often perform a ritual known as the candle ceremony where they walk clockwise three times around the temple. holding flowers, incense and a lighted candle. Each of the three circuits represents one of the three jewels (ideas at the heart of Buddhism) – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Other Thai Holidays to note

May 20: Visakha Bucha Day (observed)

May 22: Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Jul 16: Asahna Bucha Day

Jul 17: Buddhist Lent

Dec 10: Constitution Day

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