New Year's Day - Jan 1st
Public holiday. Even if the traditional New Year is celebrated in April (Songkran Festival), the year changes on January 1st. Thai people start counting the years from Buddha's birth, 543 years before Jesus Christ, but they also use the western calendar. So year 2008 is more commonly referred to as year 2551. If you are in Bangkok, the countdown usually takes place at the World Trade Center (Chidlom BTS station).
Children's day is celebrated on the second Saturday of January. On this special day many events are held for children, and parents take their children out, for instance to amusement parks.
On Teachers' Day, all pupils will pay respect to their teachers during a ceremony at school. In Thailand teachers are still very respected, contrary to Europe.
Chinese New Year
Around 10% of Thai people are of Chinese descent, and the Chinese New Year is a big event. If you are in Bangkok, dress in red and join the celebrations in Chinatown!
Public holiday. It commemorates the day when 1250 disciples gathered without prior notice and listened to Buddha elaborate some of his most important teachings in a sermon. Thai people usually go to the temple from early morning, participate in ceremonies, and at night they walk three times around the temple with candles.
Valentine's Day - Feb 14
In a country where public displays of affection are frowned upon and young people are very shy about love, Valentine's Day offers an opportunity to send a love card or ask someone out to dinner. It's the most romantic day of the year!
Chakri Day - Apr 6
Public holiday. It commemorates the founding of the Chakri Dynasty, of which the present ruling monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the ninth king (Rama IX).
For more information, see our page about Thai history
Songran Festival - Apr 13-15
Public holiday. Thai's traditional New Year, and the most important holiday of the year. Water is sprayed on statues of Buddha as a means of purification. If you are in Thailand, prepare yourself to get wet too, as Thai people also splash water on each other!
Labour Day - May 1st
Coronation Day - May 5
Public holiday. Commemorates the coronation of the ruling monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on May 5, 1950.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day
The annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony is held in Bangkok (Sanam Luang) and is presided over by the King. It is designed to give an auspicious beginning to the new rice planting season.
Public holiday. This day commemorates the birth, the enlightenment and the entry into the nirvana of Buddha. Temples throughout the country are crowded with people listening to sermons about Dharma (Buddha's teaching) and in the evening there is a candlelit procession around the main building of the temple containing the Buddha statues.
Mid-year Holiday - Jul 1st
Public holiday. Bank mid-year holiday.
Public holiday. Just before the Buddhist Lent day, Asahara Bucha commemorates the day Buddha preached his first sermon to his five first disciples.
Beginning of the Buddhist Lent. The retreat last three months for the monks, who are not allowed to sleep outside their temple. Some people refrain from drinking alcohol, and there is no major festival until October.
Chinese Ghost Festival
On Sart Chin Day, the three realms of Heaven, Hell and the Earth open up for a whole month so that spirits can roam the earth in search of food and entertainment. People organize food offering ceremonies at home to make merit, and also distribute food and other necessities for those in need.
Queen's birthday - Aug 12
Public holiday. The birthday of Queen Sirikit, who was born in 1932, is also celebrated as Mother's Day. As the Queen was born on a Friday, and light blue is the color associated to Friday, people usually dress in light blue, to show their love and respect.
Awk Phansa - Oct 8, 2014
The end of the Buddhist Lent. Monks are allowed to go out of temples, and people gather to bring them offerings of robes and food, in a ceremony called Thot Kathin, which lasts one month.
Chulalongkorn Day - Oct 23
Public holiday. Commemorates the day the King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) died, in 1910. Under his reign, Siam had become a semi-modern country, and had continued to escape colonial rule. Nowadays Rama V is worshipped as a semi-god, many people bringing offerings in front of his statues or portraits in the hope of having their prayers answered.
Loy Krathong happens on the first full moon day of November. Thai people buy or make a krathong, which is like a small boat made of banana tree and banana leaves, with flowers and a candle in the middle. At night the krathongs are set adrift on a nearby river or pond, as an offering to the spirit of the water to wash away the sins. According to an ancient proverb, when a boy and a girl float a krathong together, they will be lovers either in this life or the next.
King's birthday - Dec 5
Public holiday. This is the birthday of Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great, "the beloved King and father of all Thai people", and it is also Father's Day (like the Queen's birthday is also Mother's Day). All Thailand is dressed in yellow on this special day, as the King was born on a Monday, the day of the week to which yellow is associated. Thai people often wears a yellow shirt on Mondays, throughout the year, or on every occasion where they want to show their love and respect of the King.
Constitution Day - Dec 10
Public holiday. This day commemorates the first constitution of Thailand, which came into effect in 1932. It marks the transformation of Thailand from an absolute monarchy to a consitutional monarchy.
Christmas - Dec 25
Christmas is of course a Christian tradition and doesn't belong to Thai culture. But Thai people love to offer gifts to each other, and Christmas, like elsewhere, has also become a commercial and marketing event. Not surprisingly, Christmas trees can be found in Bangkok's shopping centers, rather than in people's living rooms!
New Years' Eve - Dec 31