Top 15 Most Popular Holidays in Thailand
Thailand is a nation of rich culture and traditions, with a myriad of holidays and festivals. They also celebrate a number of familiar Western holidays. Thai holidays offer a wide variety of celebrations – some commemorate significant events in the country’s history, while others are Buddhist religious observances. Fantastic cuisine and local performances are also sure to please any tourists soaking up the celebrations. Thai holidays attract visitors from all over the world, all people flocking to see the grand spectacles and absorb the local culture of Thailand.
Here are the List of 15 most popular Thai holidays:
1. Western New Year Holiday-December 31/Jan 1
2.Chinese New Year-Feb 12
3.Makha Bucha (Magha Puja) Day-Feb 26
4.Chakri Day-April 6
5.Songkran Day and Festival-April 13-15
6.Coronation of King Vajiralongkorn-May 4
7. Coronation Day-May 5
8. Visakha Bucha Day-May 6
9.End of Ramadan-May 24
10.The Queen’s Birthday/Mother’s Day-August 12
11.Chulalongkorn Day-October 23
12.Loy Krathong Day or Festival-November 1
13. King’s Day & Constitution Day-December 5 & 10
14. Constitution Day-December 10
15.Christmas Day- December 25
1. Western New Year Holiday – December 31/January 1
Thailand is known to celebrate the New Year three times over. They celebrate the Western New Year on January 1st, the Chinese New Year, and the traditional Thai New Year. Their Western New Year celebrations involve many of the staples of the holiday that we are familiar with.
On the night of December 31st, there are various countdown events hosted across the country. Festivities include traditional Thai dance performances, modern pop concerts, and the New Year’s classic, fireworks. The holiday also includes the release of ‘sky lanterns’ which are paper lanterns that fly with candles.
An estimate of 12,000 people visits Thailand during the New Year, and there is a good reason – as Bangkok becomes party central for the night! And whether you want to countdown on a cruise down the Chao Phraya River or from a packed live music festival, this city has a New Year’s party for practically everyone! Heck, you could even party with an international crowd with free-flowing drinks or sweat it out in a youth hostel over on Khaosan Road.
This holiday in Thailand is a bit odd. As one thing that the Thai people like to do on this day is to climb Doi Inthanon National Park, the highest mountain in Thailand. But for those of us who do not wish to exhaust our limbs during this public holiday, you can choose to spend the day at home and do nothing. Most Thai people believe that you shouldn’t do any housework or use sharp objects on this day to assure good fortune for the rest of the year.
2.Chinese New Year – Feb 12
The beginning of a new Chinese Zodiac year is when the Chinese New Year begins, which is a Thai holiday. Unlike other public holidays, the Chinese New Year does not have a specific date each year, but it usually falls between January and February. Although this day is not considered a public holiday in Thailand, it is popularly celebrated in Chinatown.
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In fact, Yaowara, Bangkok’s Chinatown district, closes to traffic and becomes decorated with Chinese red lanterns. The Chinese celebrate with the lion dance, dragon dances, and even firecrackers. You can celebrate on the streets with delicious foods, as this celebration last for three days and is often attended by the Royal family.
3.Makha Bucha (Magha Puja) Day – Feb 26
As mentioned before, Buddhism plays a big role in the lives of people in Thailand. Fortunately, the Thai government allows for Buddhist religious holidays to be Thai holidays too! One of these is Makha Bucha Day. It is held in the 3rd lunar month of the year. Buddhists believe that this day signifies the day that the great Buddha delivered his important teachings. It is common for people to refrain from drinking alcohol, meditation, or give food to monks during this day. This holiday in Thailand is special and very important to the monks in the country.
4.Chakri Day–April 6
This public holiday is to celebrate the existence of Chakri Dynasty aka the current dynasty in Thailand. It celebrates the founding of this dynasty and it’s when Thai people spend their moment to pay respect to the past and current dynasty.
5.Songkran Day and Festival – April 13-15
This Thai holiday signifies a new solar year. The first day of this holiday begins with a huge water fight, which is the Thai way to get rid of any bad luck and to start anew. The 14th of April is a day dedicated to spending time with family and loved ones. They pay gratitude to their Thai elders and visit temples for prayer and offerings. Songkran literally means “to pass or move into”. The 15th and final day of this holiday are when people visit Buddhist monasteries to ask for forgiveness.
6.Coronation of King Vajiralongkorn – May 4
This is another of the Buddhist holidays in Thailand. The Buddhists celebrate the 10th King of the Chakri dynasty. It is King Vajuralongkorn, aka Rama X who became King in 2016 after the death of his father. In 2019, the coronation of Rama X took place with all the royal rituals of a Buddhist event.
7.Coronation Day – May 5
Another Thai holiday celebrating a king, Coronation Day is held every May 5th to commemorate the coronation of the current King of Thailand, King Bhumibol. The king was coronated on May 5th, 1946, and is currently the longest-reigning monarch in the world. He took the throne following the death of his brother, and was established as the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty. In Thai, the holiday is known as ‘Wan Chattra Mongkhon’.
The Thai holiday involves three days of celebrations. On May 3rd, a service is held at the Grand Palace by Buddhist monks to honor the Chakri dynasty. Throughout the service, King Bhumibol presents awards to people who he deems to have made contributions to the country.
8.Visakha Bucha Day – May 6
Yet another holiday in Thailand, this holiday in Thailand is one of the most important holidays in the Buddhist religion. That is because it combines three important events of Buddha that occurred on the same day but in different years: The Birth of Buddha, the Enlightenment of Buddha, and lastly the death of Buddha. All three events occurred on a full moon of the sixth lunar month!
The people of Thailand use this day to visit local temples, giving donations, listen to sermons, meditating, and try to eliminate all the negative karma from their life.
9.End of Ramadan – May 24
This is not a Thailand public holiday, but the government allows Muslims to celebrate. And although less than 5% of the Thai population is Muslim, each year this Thai holiday of Eid Al Fitr is celebrated (but not in all parts of Thailand). On the first day following the fasting and prayer month of Ramadan is when Eid al Fitr occurs. The significant parts of this holiday in Thailand include prayer sessions, sermons, and big parties.
10.The Queen’s Birthday/Mother’s Day – August 12th
The celebration of the the Queen’s birthday, as well as Thailand’s Mother’s Day simultaneously. Killing two birds with one stone, ain’t it cool?
11.Chulalongkorn Day – October 23
This important Thai holiday commemorates the life of King Chulalongkorn. The holiday is celebrated every October 23rd, the anniversary of his birth in 1868. King Chulalongkorn is one of the most important figures in Thai history, remembered for his contributions to the modernization of Thailand. He established religious freedom within the country. He also played a major role in maintaining the independence of Thailand in a time of rampant European colonialism.
During this holiday, many visit the countless memorials to Chulalongkorn and leave offerings there in his honor. It is one of the most famous Thai holidays in the country.
12.Loy Krathong Day or Festival – November 1
Loy Krathong is the festival of the floating lantern and is best celebrated in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Sukhothai. This public holiday was created to give thanks to the Goddess of the rain. During this festival, baskets in the shape of the lotus flower are released into the local rivers. The Thai people release these baskets with a piece of hair inside the basket. Or they worship the Buddha’s hair pagoda in heaven by releasing floating lanterns. This represents them letting go of negative thoughts and mistakes.
13.King’s Day & Constitution Day – Dec 5 & 10
This Thailand public holiday is often linked to the late King’s birthday on December 5th. Thailand also celebrates the first permanent constitution in Thailand that was recreated on December 10th, 1932. Each year the Thai people commemorate the re-modified monarch and the new constitution. The Thai people usually take a long recess from work to celebrate both of these holidays in Thailand.
It is interesting to note that the King’s birthday is going to be celebrated on December 11th this year to make it a 4-day long weekend combining it with Constitution day for merrymakers!
14.Constitution Day – December 10
Constitution Day is held every year on December 10th, and these Thai holidays commemorate the reform of Thailand into a constitutional monarchy. Before their constitution, Thailand was an absolute monarchy in which the king held supreme authority over all of his subjects.
Thailand has had a number of different charters and constitutions governing the nation over its’ long history, with many dating back to when the country was still called Siam. Constitution Day celebrates the signing of the 1932 constitution by King Prajadhipok. The constitution replaced a temporary charter and affirmed that the ultimate sovereign power of the nation belonged to the people, not the monarchy.
15.Christmas Day – Dec 25
Although Christmas is considered a holiday to the world, it is not a public holiday in Thailand. This means businesses are open and it is a normal day. Christmas is more for the tourists who visit, as Thai people do not put-up Christmas trees or decorations.
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