If you are planning a holiday in Thailand and want your trip to coincide with a popular local festival, you will need to consult a holiday calendar.
We have put together a guide that will give you the dates for all the public holidays in Thailand, help you understand what these holidays are about, and whether as a visitor you can participate in the celebrations.
Main Public Holidays in Thailand
Currently, there are 16 public holidays in Thailand. Read on to learn more about them and to choose the ones you would like to include in your itinerary.
New Year’s Day
New Year Celebration in Bangkok
International New Year’s Day is the first of the three New Year’s days celebrated in Thailand. This public holiday marks the end of one year and the beginning of another as per the Gregorian calendar.
Events are held nationwide with fireworks displays and New Year countdown events taking place in most towns and cities in Thailand. Even though it is not the Buddhist New Year, many Thais visit local temples to offer alms to monks.
Learn more about Where to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Thailand.
Makha Bucha Day
A Buddhist public holiday, Makha Bucha Day celebrates some of the teachings that the Buddha delivered on this day many centuries ago.
On this day, the Thai people visit their local temples to meditate, make offerings to monks, and to make merit (perform good deeds) in honor of Buddha.
Celebrated just a few days before Songkran or Thai New Year, Chakri Day is a public holiday for the Thai people to commemorate the founding of the Chakri royal dynasty back in 1782.
The festival is particularly popular with Bangkok residents as King Rama I, a Chakri king, founded Bangkok as the capital city. On this day, the Thai people remember the contributions made by all former Chakri kings.
During this festival, the current reigning Chakri king, Rama X, oversees a special service along with his family at the Royal Chapel and pays tribute to all former Chakri kings. Another ritual includes the traditional laying of a wreath by the statue of Rama I.
Songkran Festival in Thailand
The Songkran Festival marks the beginning of the Thai New Year. It is a Buddhist festival that lasts for three days from 13th–16th April, though the dates may sometimes be changed if deemed necessary by the Thai government.
The festival is also known as the festival of water. Celebrants will pour water on each other, which symbolizes the washing away of any sins or bad luck that they may have accumulated in the previous year.
In recent years, the festival has moved away from its traditional roots, especially in the major cities, where celebrations often turn into massive street parties and water fights. The event also attracts many tourists who join this fun celebration of the Songkran Festival.
9-Day Thailand Family Tour：
As in many countries around the world, 1 May is celebrated as Labor Day in Thailand. A public holiday, this day is dedicated to improving workers’ rights and appreciating the social and economic achievements of the labor movement.
However, in Thailand, the day is not celebrated the way it once used to be, with many just treating it as another day off.
Another important public holiday in Thailand is Visakha Bucha Day, a day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.
Devout Buddhists flock to local temples to make merit (practice good deeds) in honor of the Buddha. They make donations and take part in several rituals, including the setting free of birds and fish.
Local businesses are prohibited from selling alcohol on this day. Visakha Bucha is not the most tourist-friendly holiday, although some temples do accept tourists as guests.
The three most famous temples to visit on Visakha Bucha Day are Wat Pho, Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, and Wat Phra Kaew.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day is an annual ceremony in Thailand.
A symbolic rice planting ceremony takes place, where monks from both the Buddhist and Hindu religions bless the planting in the hope of a good harvest year.
Two sacred oxen pull a plow through the field and are offered a choice of foods to eat. Based on what the oxen choose to eat, astrologers predict how good the harvest will be that year.
Asahna Bucha is one of the most important Buddhist holidays celebrated in Thailand every year. This day honors the Four Noble Truths that were preached by the Buddha after his enlightenment.
It is a very religious public holiday, which takes place on the first full moon during the eighth month of the Thai calendar. The dates according to the Georgian calendar may vary, depending on the lunar cycle.
As part of the celebrations, local Buddhists visit temples, leave gifts for monks, and light candles. It is also common for men to volunteer to become monks during the Asahna Bucha Day celebrations.
8-Day Northern Thailand Discovery：
Buddhist Lent Day
Known locally as Khao Phansa Day, Buddhist Lent Day marks the first day of Buddhist Lent. It is a three-month period when many Buddhists abstain from eating meat, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes.
For some, this holiday is also known as the “Rains Retreat” as it coincides with the onset of the rainy season in Thailand. On this day, monks stay inside their temples to meditate and study. They remain inside until the rainy season ends three months later.
Throughout Buddhist Lent Day, there are festivals held all over the country. Various celebrations also take place throughout the full three-month period of Buddhist Lent.
King Vajiralongkorn"s Birthday
This is a public holiday to celebrate the birthday of King Rama X, the reigning king of Thailand. As part of the celebrations, many temples perform ceremonies and hold special events in honor of the king.
The Queen Mother’s Birthday
As the mother of King Vajiralongkorn and the widow of former King Bhumibol, the birthday (12 August) of Queen Sirikit (Queen Mother) is celebrated with much fanfare in Thailand.
This day is also used to honor mothers throughout the country, which essentially means that the day is also the Thai version of Mother’s Day.
Anniversary of the Death of King Bhumibol
King Bhumibol was King Rama IX, who reigned in Thailand between 1946 and 2016. For 70 years, he was the only king that Thailand knew, and since his passing on 13 October 2016, the date has been marked as a public holiday. The day is spent remembering and honoring him as one of Thailand’s most popular kings.
Another former king to have a public holiday in his memory is King Rama V. The day honors his life and accomplishments, as during his reign, he made changes that had a significant impact on the economy, workers’ rights, and human rights in general.
Under his rule, slavery was abolished, freedom of speech was implemented, and by adopting Western economic models, Thai people were able to enjoy improved income levels.
King Bhumibol’s Birthday
Every year, 5 December is a public holiday for Thai people to pay respect to and honor the late King Bhumibol, whose birthday falls on that day. The day doubles up as the Thai version of “Father’s Day,” as this is the day when fathers are honored for their devotion to their children.
Constitution Day is a day to take pride in the Thai monarchy. In the early 1930s, the country was going through an economic depression. King Rama VII struggled to carry the country through these troubled times and thus relinquished some of the monarchy’s power by transforming it into a constitutional monarchy.
Although Christmas is not celebrated in Buddhism, 25 December is still celebrated in many provinces of Thailand. It is not a public holiday in all regions, but in those that attract many tourists, celebrations do take place.
Learn more about Christmas in Thailand.
Tourism During Public Holidays
If you are planning a visit to Thailand during one of the public holidays, be advised that tourist attractions and hotels are quite crowded during these times. You should also account for the fact that banks and government buildings usually remain closed.
However, many businesses remain open on public holidays. So you will still be able to enjoy trips to the mall, restaurants, and popular tourist attractions.
For the reasons above, make sure you book flights, accommodation, and any visits to attractions in advance. We also suggest that you arrive as early as possible for all travel arrangements.
Our professional travel consultants are always on hand to make holiday planning hassle free. We will be happy to put together a dream itinerary for you to ensure that you get the most out of your dream vacation to Thailand. Get in touch now, and get planning!