Public Holidays in Thailand

If you would like to experience the real Thailand, then join in and celebrate their holidays. Officially, Thailand has 16 public holidays, but in practice, that number is far higher. Thailand officially adopts the western Gregorian calendar. However, most of its traditional holidays, the Buddhist ones in particular, fall in accordance with the lunar calendar. If a national holiday falls on a weekend, the following working day is a compensatory holiday.

The use of the lunar calendar means that religious and traditional holidays fall on different days every year. Keep in mind as well that no alcohol is sold during religious holidays or holidays celebrating the royal house, and that most government buildings, companies, and schools are closed on national holidays. Also, sleeping accommodation around the time of national holidays will get fully booked more quickly. The majority of shops and tourist attractions will almost always remain open. Here’s an overview of all the Thai holidays.


Date Name Location Occassion
January 1 New Year’s Day Large cities The western New Year. Though not an official public holiday, it’s still celebrated on a small scale in large cities.
Second Saturday in January National Children’s Day Everywhere A special day in honor of children which is widely celebrated. Throughout the country government buildings, but also private institutions, open their doors and organize activities for children. Lots of services, such as tickets to the zoo and public transport, are free for the day.
January 18 Elephant Duel Day (Royal Thai Armed Forces day) Everywhere National holiday also known as “King Naresuan The Great Day”. Commemorates King Naresuan’s victorious elephant duel against the great Burmese crown prince, the Maha Uparaja. On this day, many Thai will gather around one of the many altars and statues built in honor of Naresuan, mostly located near army bases, to bring offerings and sing prayers.
January / February Chinese New Year All Chinatowns Although the Chinese New Year isn’t an official national holiday, it’s still celebrated in all Chinese neighborhoods every lunar year. Some companies and schools close for the day so that employees and pupils can participle in parades or fireworks shows.
Chinese New Year in Bangkok

Chinese New Year in Bangkok. Photo credit: Aleksandr Zykov


Date Name Location Occassion
First weekend in February Flower festival Chiang Mai Chiang Mai Every year, in the first weekend in February, the city of Chiang Mai organizes the “Chiang Mai Flower Festival”, during which flower shows and parades can be enjoyed.
Full moon in the third lunar cycle (usually falls in February) Makha Bucha All temples The national holiday of Makha Bucha commemorates the day, on which 1,250 dedicated followers gathered at the same site, without having been summoned, to listen to a sermon by the Buddha, nine months after his enlightenment. On the eve of Makha Bucha (during the full moon), every temple in the country holds a candlelight procession led by monks and congregation members.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Photo credit: John Shedrick


Date Name Location Occassion
First or second week of March Phra Phutthabat Saraburi The Wat Phra Phutthabat is a temple in the town of Saraburi, north of Bangkok. It’s also one of the most revered temples in Thailand, as it’s the site of the Buddha’s Holy Footprint. In the first or second week of March, many Buddhist pilgrims visit this temple.
Late March/Early April Poi Sang Long Mae Hong Son area An annual ceremony, in which 15 and 16-year-old boys are ordained as monks, is held in the Mae Hong Son area in the north which borders on Myanmar. To commemorate the Buddha’s heritage, the boys dress up as princes.
Poi Sang Long

Poi Sang Long. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Date Name Location Occassion
April 6 Chakri Memorial day Bangkok This public holiday, officially known as the “King Phutthayotfa Chulalok the Great Day” and the “Chakri Dynasty Memorial Day”, commemorates the establishment on the current Chakri dynasty and the founding of Bangkok. The national flag is displayed, while traditional ceremonies, such as the laying of flowers and wreathes at the many statues in front of the Royal Pantheon in Bangkok, are held.
Mid-April Pattaya festival Pattaya The Pattaya festival, held in the coastal town of Pattaya south of Bangkok, is a day full of sports activities, beauty pageants, flower parades, market stalls, cultural performances and other carnival-like activities. The day ends with a spectacular fireworks show on the beach.
13-15 April Thai New Year, Songkran Everywhere Songkran is the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year. This astrological event, which takes place during the hot season, has turned into a huge water party. Brace yourself for three wet days with water balloons, water guns, and buckets of water!
Songkran, Thai new year

Songkran, Thai new year. Photo credit: Wyndham Hollis


Date Name Location Occassion
May 1 International Workers’ Day Everywhere Official public holiday in Thailand.
Early May Royal Ploughing Ceremony Bangkok This ancient rite honors and blesses farmers in Sanam Luang, Bangkok, with fertile land and a good rice harvest.
Second week of May Rocket Festival, Bun Bang Fai Everywhere This holiday sees bamboo rockets being fired in the air in the hope of invoking the goodwill of the Hindu God of rain, encouraging rainfall for the rice fields. People whose rockets don’t work are ritually smeared in mud. The festival lasts three days and is celebrated most lavishly in the town of Yasothon.
Full moon Vesak Everywhere Thailand’s holiest day on which the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha is commemorated. To appease the Buddha and thereby create goodwill, dedicated Buddhists rise early on this day. At night, rituals that involve prayers, incense, lotus flowers and candles are performed in some temples. Government buildings fly a yellow flag on this day.
Vesak Visakha Bucha

Vesak Visakha Bucha. Photo credit: Alex Hanoko


Date Name Location Occassion
Mid-to-late June Phi Ta Khon Dan Sai Phi Ta Khon is part of a larger event called “Bun Luang”, composed of Phi Ta Khon, the Rocket Festival, and Bun Pra Wate, which itself is part of an even larger Buddhist merit making holiday, the main goal of which is to welcome the rainy season. Festivities take place in Dan Sai, in the northern Loei province.
Phi Ta Khon

Phi Ta Khon Ghosts. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Date Name Location Occassion
Full moon Asanha Bucha Everywhere Asanha Bucha is one of the most important Buddhist holidays in Thailand and commemorates the Buddha’s first discourse to his five companions and the establishment of the Buddhist Sangha (a kind of holy community). The day revolves around leaving offerings in temples and listening to discourses.
Full moon Khao Phansa Everywhere Buddhist Lent, marking the start of Vassa. For the duration of three months, monks and aspiring monks must remain in their temples. This time is dedicated to intensive meditation and contemplation. The start of Khao Phanse will see ceremonies with processions of treated, yellow candles, sometimes more than a meter high. The most impressive festival takes place in Ubon Ratchathanee.
Khao Phansa

Khao Phansa. Photo credit: Mark Fischer


Date Name Location Occassion
August 12 Queen Sirikit’s birthday, also observed as National Mother’s day Everywhere On this day the whole country celebrates the anniversary of Queen Sirikit’s birthday in 1932. Buildings and streets are accordingly festively decorated. Also observed as Mother’s day.


Date Name Location Occassion
September Pichit boat races Pichit Annual boat race in Pichit province, with traditional row boats on the River Nan.
Late September/Early October Phuket Vegetarian Festival Phuket This rather bloody festival takes place at the start of the ninth month of the Chinese Lunar calendar in Phuket and is the scene of some gruesome rituals. The highlight is the procession of nagas in which they pierce body parts with objects such as swords and guns, but also with various vegetables.
Vegetarian Festival Phuket

Vegetarian Festival Phuket. Photo credit: Binder.donedat


Date Name Location Occassion
October 13 Anniversary of the death of King Bhumibol Everywhere Commemorates the death of King Bhumibol in 2016.
October 23 King Chulalongkorn day Everywhere This national holiday commemorates the death of King Chalulongkorn, or Rama V, one of Thailand’s most revered kings. Memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.
Full moon Wan Ok Phansa Nakhon Phanom and Ubon Ratchathani Marks the end of the three months of Vassa, plus the start of the Kathina period the next day, and is celebrated with parades of illuminated boats, especially in Nakhon Phanom, on the River Mekong, and in Ubon Ratchathani, on the River Mun.


Date Name Location Occassion
Full moon Loi Krathong Everywhere This holiday on the day of the first full moon of November marks the end of the rainy season and celebrates the rice harvest. The goddess of water, Mae Phra Khongkha, is honored by the floating on rivers, lakes, and ponds of “krathongs”, decorated boats in the shape of lotus flowers with candles. Though an official national holiday, Loi Krathong is observed particularly lavishly in Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and in Bangkok.
Full moon Yi Peng Chiang Mai Festival of lights in Chiang Mai, to celebrate the full moon, that sees the release of brightly lit lanterns into the night sky: a unique and remarkable sight.
Third week of November Surin Elephant Round-up Surin A big elephant show in Surin province, organized in honor of the elephant’s role in the development of Thailand. More than 150 elephants are paraded and re-enact ancient battles.
Late November/Early December River Kwai Bridge Festival Kanchanaburi During the “Week of the Bridge over the River Kwai” in Kanchanaburi, west of Bangkok, the building of the bridge by prisoners of war through slave labor is commemorated.
Yi Peng Festival

Yi Peng Festival. Photo credit: Mark Fischer


Date Name Location Occassion
December 2 Thai Royal Guards Parade Bangkok This impressive ceremony near the Royal Plaza in Bangkok is attended by the king and queen and is a nice marker for the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Thai monarchy. Public holiday.
December 5 Birthday Anniversary of King Bhumibol, also observed as national Father’s Day Bangkok National commemoration of the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1927. Buildings, houses, and streets are decorated festively and the area around Bangkok’s Grand Palace will be illuminated. This day is also celebrated as Father’s Day.
December 10 Constitution Day Everywhere Commemorates the proclamation of the first constitution in 1932; a national holiday on which the Thai people express their gratitude to the king.
December 31 Western New Year’s Eve Tourist towns Many large cities, on this last day of the western year, will host live music performances and huge firework shows. The majority of the festivities take place in the seven most important tourist destinations: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Songkhla (Hat Yai), Phuket, Khon Kaen and Chiang Rai.
New Year in Bangkok

New Year in Bangkok. Photo credit: Nik Cyclist