Thailand Country Guide

Holidays & Festivals


Besides the Gregorian calendar used worldwide, Thailand also uses the Thai solar calendar, which is 543 years ahead. Thus, the Thai calender year 2554 corresponds to the year 2011. Thai dates in English are often written as B.E. meaning "Buddhist Era". Another is the Thai lunar calender, used to determine some Thai holidays or festivals and their dates change every year. Thailand has a lot of festivals, mostly related to Buddhism as well as the monarchy but not everybody celebrates all the events.

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Chinese Lunar New Year
Thais of Chinese origins (they are numerous in Bangkok) celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year by cleaning their houses and offering food to their ancestors. The festival occurs in late January or early February and mainly a time of abundant feasting. If you are in Bangkok during the period, visit Yaowarat (the city's
Chinatown) to exprience the festivity.

Magha Puja
Magha Puja is a major Buddhist festival occurring in February or March. The festival commemorates the gathering of 1,250 followers before the Buddha, which lead to their ordination and enlightenment. In Thailand, it is the time when Buddhists aim not to commit any sins and purify their souls. At temples in Bangkok and throughout Thailand, Buddhists carry candles and walk around the main shrine.

This is the celebration of the Thai New Year, officially from April 13th to 15th. This is one of the most fun festival in Thailand and started off as a ritual to wash away the sins of the prior year. It has now evolved into the world's largest water fight lasting three days. The best places to participate in the festival are Chiang Mai, Khao San Road area in Bangkok and resorts like Pattaya, Koh Samui and Phuket. This is not a spectator sport and be advised that you will get very wet. It is advisable to wear dark clothing since light colours become transparent when wet.

Celebrating Songkran by Love Krittaya

Coronation Day
Coronation Day occurs on 5 May, which commemorates the crowning of Thailand's current King Bhumibol in 1950 although his reign actually began in June 9 1946.
On Coronation Day, the king is dressed in full regalia and a feast is given to Buddhist monks. There is also a 21-gun salute at noon by the Thai military.

Loy Krathong
This festival usually occurs in November, when people head to the rivers, lakes and even hotel swimming pools to float flowers and candle-laden banana-leaf floats called "krathong". The krathong is meant as an offering to thank the river goddess who gives life to the people. Thais also believe that this is a good time to float away their bad luck. In the city of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, locals have their own unique tradition of floating lit lantern balloons called
Kom. The sight is breath-taking when the night sky is suddenly filled with lights.

King's Birthday
King Bhumibol's birthday falls on 5 December and is Thailand's National Day. Many buildings and homes are decorated with the King's royal flag (yellow with his insignia in the middle) and his portrait. Many government and major commercial buildings are decorated with lights. In the old area of Bangkok (Rattanakosin), particularly around the Royal Palace, you will see brightly coloured lights displayed on trees, buildings and roads.

Floating lanterns during Loy Krathong by Takeaway
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