Are you a bit of a festival freak or a gala geek or even a carnival crazy? 🧔 Then you are in luck as Thailand has some of the most extravagant festivals every year that attract lots of local and foreign tourists.
Thailand festivals are an intricate part of what makes the nation tick. They are an example of how their colorful culture and ways penetrate every part of life in the kingdom.
Here are the top 10 essential Thai festivals that you simply do not want to miss on your tour for once in a lifetime experience 🧔
When: Full Moon of Every Month through the Year
Where: Koh Phangan (Koh Phangan) Island
In 1985, a group of tourists found out the beauty of the full moon in Koh Phangan and spent a night partying. From that moment on, the Haad Rin cove becomes a party beach every month on the night of the full moon 🧔 The full moon party kicks off at dusk and carries on through the night, making the beach one of the biggest open-air nightclubs till dawn. It receives more than 30,000 visitors. The local and international DJs play loud music, and bars serve drinks and cocktails all night long. If you are in Thailand, you definitely don't want to miss this crazy full moon party. You can get glow-in-the-dark body paint and a drinks bucket which has become a tradition.
If you are a party freak, this is the sort of party you have been waiting for and should be on your bucket list which makes it one of the top 10 Thai festivals 🥇
When: First Day of Chinese Lunar Year between January and February
Where: Chinatown of Bangkok
Thailand has a large Chinese population and the Chinese new year celebration here is a big festival. The main celebrations are held in the Chinatown of Bangkok. It is the beauty of Thailand that different communities live together in harmony and celebrate all the festivals together 🧔 The streets of Chinatown are decorated with traditional Chinese lanterns and filled with crowds of worshipers and dragon dancers. The Chinese new year is celebrated between January and February, which marks the first day of the Chinese lunar year. If you are in Bangkok during Chinese new year celebrations 🏅, you can enjoy discount sales in shopping malls, promotional offers, and cultural performances.
When: 9th Lunar Month of the Chinese Calendar
Where: Phuket Town
One of the most covered Thailand events in media terms is the Phuket Vegetarian Festival 🧔 The festival has become infamous because of the strange acts of self-mutilation that go on, which makes this one of the goriest festivals in the world. Taking place in Phuket Town for a 10-day period in October every year, the festival deals with the darker side of the spirit and supernatural world.
Popularized in men’s magazines such as FHM and Maxim, photos of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival usually center around Thai men sticking all manner of objects into their bodies such as metal poles, machine guns, and even hooks, which takes place in the last couple of days of the event. Over the 10-day period, the streets are closed down in the evening and there are lots of vegetarian food stalls, music shows, and all manner of carnival things taking place.
If you are in Phuket in October, we would strongly recommend you head over to Phuket Town with your camera in hand to enjoy the fun in one of the best festivals here 🏅
When: Last Sunday of November Every Year
Where: Phra Prang Sam Yot temple, Lopburi
If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys! 🧔 Lopburi is located 150km north of Bangkok and is home to the unique Lopburi Monkey Banquet, which is held each November at the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi.
The temple is simply overrun with monkeys, so each year they organize the largest monkey buffet the world has ever seen! The banquet is for 3,000 monkeys and combines 4-ton of fruit, vegetable, and other edibles. It’s like Mad Hatter’s tea party with more intelligent conversation and better manners. The temple grounds are usually a den of tranquility, but not during this unique festival. Do be careful though if you reach for some food or you might be swarmed by primates! Sounds like an all-you-can-eat Thai BBQ buffet!
When it comes to festivals, nobody does it like in Thailand 🥇
When: Every October after the Rainy Season
Where: Chonburi City
I don’t know about you, but I have run away from a few buffaloes in my time 🧔, but have never actually ridden on one. The Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival might seem like a fun and friendly Thailand event, and it is, but do not underestimate how seriously the buffalo breeders and contestants take these races. The racing has been taking place for over 100 years and is a colorful spectacle that attracts lots of local spectators and also many Western onlookers from Bangkok and Pattaya. The races are fun, there are lots of food and drink stalls, live concerts and much more that make this a fascinating experience 🏅
When: Full Moon in May
Where: Phaya Thaen Public Park, Yasothon
Bun Bang Fai or the rocket festival is another great way to experience the rich culture and tradition of native Thailand 🧔 The rocket festival is celebrated in the northeastern part of Thailand in Yasothon on the weekends in the middle of May, just before the start of the crop plantation period. The origins of this festival date back centuries ago, and firing the rockets into the sky means to enchant the rain gods for a good monsoon season. Throughout the three-day celebrations, visitors can enjoy dance and music parades followed by a spectacular competition of rockets fired to the skies. This festival has become so popular that more than 50,000 visitors attend it each year and many foreigners also take part in rocket competitions 🥇
When: Full Moon of the Twelfth Lunar Month
Where: Chiang Mai
Taking place over the same period as Loy Krathong in October and sometimes November, depending on the year, the Lantern Festival (Yi Peng) is quite possibly the most stunning in terms of aesthetics 🧔 This Thai festival takes place on the banks of the Peng River in Chiang Mai and is a remarkable sight you must see at first hand at least once in your life. At the festival, thousands of lanterns are released into the sky, which truly is a sight to behold 🏅 Bring along your camera and you will get some of the most amazing photos imaginable.
When: Weekend of the 6th Full Moon on the Lunar Calendar
Where: Dan Sai, Loei Province
You might not believe in superstitions and ghosts, but Thai people most definitely do 🧔 This three-day festival known as the Ghost Festival (Phi Ta Khon) takes place in Dan Sai, which is in the Loei Province in the north about a 3-hour journey from Chiang Mai. Combining local traditions, spirituality, and a party-like atmosphere, this Thai event is visited by thousands of locals in masks and is a mixture of both Buddhist and animist beliefs. This Thai festival is always held on the weekend of the 6th full moon on the lunar calendar. The festival is supposed to recreate a party that both the dead and the living would like to attend. There are lots of pageants and live music shows.
So if you want to know more about Thai superstitions and ghosts, this event is unmissable and among the top 10 festivals 🏅
When: Full Moon of the 12th Thai Month
Loy Krathong is one of the most fascinating and colorful spectacles of any Thai festival held throughout the year 🧔 The festival is routinely held on the Full Moon of the 12th month of the Lunar Calendar. It usually falls in November on the Gregorian calendar. On the evening of the festival, all stretches of water in Thailand are filled to the brim with decorative floats. They are also called ‘Krathongs’ and are made from a banana tree trunk, banana leaves, and lots of flowers. You can buy them or make them yourself. Casting the floats out across the water signifies casting away the stresses and troubles of the past lunar year. Ready to start anew. It really is an enjoyable experience 🥇 You can take part no matter where you are in Thailand because it’s a nationwide event.
When: 13th to 15th of April
Songkran Thai New Year is the world’s biggest and most exciting water festival. The Thai festival can last a week or more depending on the region.
When you absolutely have to drench everyone on the street and smear them in talcum powder, accept no substitutes 🧔 Songkran is Thai New Year, which is routinely held on the 13th of April and lasts 3-days in most areas. In Phuket, the water festival is just 24-hours. But in places such as Pattaya, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai, it can take a week or more to unfold. The streets will be awash with water pistol-toting badasses who are trying to drench you completely. So make sure you are a hunter and not the hunted. Make sure you leave your valuables in your hotel safe. Or water from the pistols might not be the only kind leaking from your face.
Being the biggest festival it takes the top spot on my list of top 10 Thai festivals 🏆
From self-mutilation and ghostly spiritual happenings to racing buffaloes at breakneck speeds, releasing colorful lanterns to lots of monkey business and everything in between, you have never lived if you haven’t experienced a few of these unique events 🧔. Thai festivals bring together the entire nation, and it is the perfect time to see the local people at their beautiful best.
If you want to sample a real slice of Thai culture and life, visit one of these festivals while you are here on holiday and immerse yourself in the Thai experience 🧔
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