The main festivals and public holidays are listed below. There are other events that take place throughout the year, but the main ones which see businesses close are as follows:
New Year Festival: Western New Year is celebrated in Thailand as well. Public Holidays on 31st December and 1st January.
Chinese New Year: Chinese New Year is the most important of all traditional Chinese holidays. Chinese people in Bangkok will spend hard-earned money to buy presents, food, decoration and clothing for the celebration. It’s also a time of cleansing, where families will clean their houses thoroughly in order to ‘clean out’ any bad spirits and bad luck. Doors and windows are decorated with red paper-cuts and popular signs marking ‘happiness’, ‘wealth’ and ‘long life’. Food is traditional Chinese, pigs, ducks and sweet Chinese delicacies. The night ends with fireworks. It’s held in either January or February depending on the full moon; the date changes each year.
Songkran Festival: Of all the Thai holidays, Songkran is by far the most important and widely celebrated. The Songkran Festival marks the turn of the Thai new year and is a Buddhist tradition also celebrated in neighboring countries. The festival lasts for almost one week and is traditionally a festival of Buddhist tradition which has evolved into one big water-fight, particularly in Bangkok. Thais splash water at each other as a form of wishing good luck. The biggest party in town is on Kao San Road, which is definitely something to experience. The festival takes place in April and follows the lunar calendar so dates change each year.
Visaka Bucha Day: This is the holiest day of all Buddhist days as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment and the death of the Buddha. Visakha Bucha Day is one of the important days in Buddhism because it celebrates the three most important incidents in the life of the Buddha, which according to tradition fell on the same month and date.
Buddhist Lent: Starts on the first day of the waning moon in the eight-month of the lunar calendar. Also known as ‘Phansa’, this holiday dates back to early Indian Buddhism. It’s a three month period of seclusion for monks that travel when they take up a permanent, simple refuge for the duration of the period as decreed by the Buddha.
Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday/Mothers’ Day: Public holiday on 12th August. The monarchy is held in very high regard in Thailand and the King and Queen are seen as the father and mother of the country. Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday is therefore celebrated as Mother’s Day as well.
Loi Kratong: Held every November (depending on the full moon), it is a festival of lights and sees many people across the city visit relatives and pray for the next year. ‘Loi’ means to float and ‘Krathong’ is a Thai style raft. During the night of the full moon Thais will set many small rafts with offerings afloat at rivers across the country.
His Majesty the King’s Birthday/Fathers’ Day: Public holiday on 5th December: No one is held in higher regard in Thailand than the King. The world’s longest-reigning Monarch is almost a semi-deity and holds a huge influence on the country. He is seen as the moral leader of the country and the face of Thailand. This day draws thousands of people to celebrations.
List of All Bank Holidays
- Tuesday, 1st January – New Year’s Day
- Monday, 25th February – Makha Bucha Day *
- Monday, 8th April** (6th April) – Substitution Day for Chakri Memorial Day *
- Saturday, 13 – Wednesday, 17 April – Songkran *
- Wednesday, 1st May – National Labor Day
- Monday, 6th May** (5th May) – Substitution Day for Coronation Day
- Friday, 24th May – Visakha Bucha Day *
- Tuesday, 30th July – Asarnha Buch Day *
- Monday, 12th August – Queen’s Birthday and Mother’s Day
- Wednesday, 23rd October – Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
- Thursday, 5th December – King’s Birthday and Father’s Day
- Tuesday, 10th December – Constitution Day
- Tuesday, 31st December – New Year’s Eve
- Wednesday, 1st January – New Year’s Day
- Friday, 14th February – Makha Bucha Day *
- Monday, 7th April** (6th April) – Substitution Day for Chakri Memorial Day *
- Sunday, 13 – Wednesday, 16 April – Songkran *
- Thursday, 1st May – National Labor Day
- Monday, 5th May – Coronation Day
- Tuesday, 13th May – Visakha Bucha Day *
- Friday, 11th July – Asarnha Buch Day *
- Tuesday, 12th August – Queen’s Birthday and Mother’s Day
- Thursday, 23rd October – Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
- Friday, 5th December – King’s Birthday and Father’s Day
- Wednesday, 10th December – Constitution Day
- Wednesday, 31st December – New Year’s Eve
* The religious festivals are determined by the Buddhist lunar calendar.
** Substitution days if the holiday falls on a weekend