Many Thai festivals come from Buddhism, but there are others that are linked to the royal family. Celebrations in Bangkok are one of a kind in this stunning city, and it seems as if everybody were participating in them.
Christmas and New Year
December 25th and 31st
Christmas in Bangkok is like in most other major cities of our world. It is shopping, busyness and decorations. Only, the decorations there might be a bit over the top, as people just love the flashy lights. You might even find tuk-tuks with extra colorful lights.
Hotels, of course, do take part in this tradition, so it is worthwhile seeing the Christmas trees of the big hotels down town, as some of them give just stunning motives to photographers. The best way to get a panoramic view of this fairytale-like wonderland is the Bangkok Skywalk. You can stroll from Amarin Plaza to Central World to enjoy this one of a kind illuminated world.
Central World square is also the place to be on December 31st, since the New Year countdown celebrations are held there. The most well-known and biggest countdown festival in Bangkok is held with spectacular shows and live-on-stage concerts by popular singers and celebrities. Of course, there will be spectacular and magnificent fireworks marking the end of the party.
Chinese New Year
February 5th 2019
Chinese New Year is celebrated in Bangkok's Chinatown in Yaowarat. The main road is closed and countless food stalls line up. A parade is being held just like in China, including traditional dance and drum play.
New Year’s Eve is the time to pray to the gods and pay respect to the ancestors. This is when the whole family enjoys a sumptuous Chinese banquet together at home. On the night of New Year’s Eve, adults will hand red envelopes called ‘ang-pao’, with pocket money inside, to their children as a New Year gift.
A must-do on Chinese New Year is to spend the day exploring Chinatown and watch the dragon parade, acrobatic shows and other live performances. You may also visit Lengnoeiyi Temple on Charoen Krung Street or Kuan Yim Shrine or Dragon Flower Temple and seek your fortune by burning joss sticks or even receiving your blessings from a monk.
April 13th - 15th 2018
Songkran – the water festival – is the Thai new year festival according to their solar calendar. Traditionally, Songkran was the time of year when the rice harvest was in and farmers had to wait for rain to come, in order to plant rice again. It is celebrated on the streets and in the families and most Thai people will return home for this occasion.
Basically, everyone on the streets is splashing water at everyone. All kinds of water guns, buckets and cups are being used, and Khao San Road is the place to go. There is no traffic through that road, and so it almost turns into a war zone of water fights.
When you go out, only take waterproof photo equipment with you. A waterproofed bag is a good idea as well. Do not wear expensive clothing – it will be ruined. Dress as if you were going to the beach.
It is best not to ride a motorbike for obvious reasons and indeed avoid driving any vehicle, as traffic is going at snail pace. Wear sunscreen and apply it regularly as it will wash off. Be aware that Songkran is a peak travel time and availability of flight tickets is affected, as are hotel prices.
9th day of the 9th month of the lunar calendar
Tesagan Gin Je – the vegetarian festival – has Chinese roots. Although it is called the vegetarian festival, its diet is strictly vegan, as the requirements include giving up all fish, dairy, meat and poultry for nine days as a way to cleanse your body. During the festival, yellow and red flags signal that a shop or stall is selling food in line with the festival regulations.
During the festival one should wear white from head to toe, but this is not widely practiced outside temples. Further traditional rules are: Abstain from sexual relationships or alcohol, refrain from harming or killing animals and remain mindful of actions and thoughts.
With its Chinese origin, the vegetarian festival is mainly celebrated in China town along Yarowat Road. Another recommended location is Charoen Krung Road. The best time to enjoy the simple but tasteful food is around 5.00 p.m. You can stroll down in the direction of the river and watch the Chinese opera being performed between 6.00 and 7.00 p.m. each night.
(evening of) November 22nd 2018
Loi Krathong is the Festival of lights and takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. Boats, traditionally made from banana leaves, are carrying candles – and with them prayers and wishes for the families – down rivers and streams, turning them into sparkling streams of light.
Each year, after harvest season, people gather around lakes, rivers and canals to pay respect to the goddess of water for her past year's support, by releasing beautiful lotus shaped rafts, decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto the water.
For enjoying the floating and maybe launching your own Krathong on the rivers and klongs in Bangkok you may go to the following places: Asiatique (Riverside), Wat Saket (Riverside/Old City), Phra Athit Pier (Riverside/Old City) and Maharaj Lifestyle Mall. Or go to one of the lakes in these parks: Lumpini Park (Silom), Benjasiri Park (Sukhumvit) or Benjakiti Park (Sukhumv). Most hotels will have Krathong celebrations as well, maybe even with fireworks.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
May 14th 2018
Farmers believe that an ancient Brahman ritual, conducted at Sanam Luang, is able to forecast whether the coming growing season will be bountiful or not. A furrow is ploughed, rice seed is scattered. The oxen are then offered various choices of food including rice, corn and rice whiskey. Depending on what is eaten, royal astrologers make a prediction about how good the next rice harvest will be.
In Thailand the ceremony dates back some 700 years, but it is originating from India. It was re-introduced by the King in the 1960's.
Location: Sanam Luang Park (Grand Palace).
Trooping the Colors
The King's birthday. Their majesties, the King and Queen, preside over this impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Rama V. Dressed in colorful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite royal guards swear allegiance to the King and march past members of the royal family.
There will be 2,000 troops marching down Ratchadamnoen Avenue to Royal Plaza, a brass band will be playing, and a lot of protocol and fanfare offer some excellent and extra colorful photo opportunities.
Location: Royal Plaza, Dusit Palace.
Celebrate Your Festivals with Asia Highlights
No matter what time of the year you choose to travel to Bangkok, a festival will always be the highlight of your journey, making it a one-off experience. Asia Highlights is helping you to create the dream trip to Bangkok, following all your suggestions and individual requirements with detaileddeddetan tailor made itinerary you will remember. For any questions, please contact us.