Find out the most important holidays in Thailand with us!

As do many other countries, Thailand celebrates its own fair share of holidays throughout the year. Especially as a nation deep-rooted into Buddhism, influencing not only their beliefs but also culture and way of life, people celebrate various important Buddhist occasions. What’s more, as one of the few nations that still have a monarchy, many of these holidays pertain to significant events related to the royal family.

So, let’s find out more about these important national holidays in Thailand!

Buddhist Holidays in Thailand

As you know, Buddhism plays a big role in the lives of people in Thailand. Among the many Buddhist celebrations, here are the 3 most important Buddhist Holidays in Thailand based on the Lunar calendar!

1. Makha Bucha Day

The term ‘Makha Bucha’ is from Pali, a language native to the Indian subcontinent. “Makha” means the third Lunar month, while “Bucha” refers to respect or honor. Makha Bucha is one of the most important festivals in Buddhism and is celebrated on the day of the full moon of the third lunar month. This is when Buddha delivered his core teachings to his disciples and the story talks about four special events that occurred on that day:

  • 1,250 disciples came to see Buddha at Weluwan Wannaram without being summoned.
  • All those 1,250 disciples were ‘Arahants’ which means enlightened disciples.
  • All those 1,250 disciples were ordained by the Buddha himself.
  • It was the day of the full moon.
  • Date: February 8th, 2020 (Sat)
  • Importance: ★★★★✰

2. Visakha Bucha Day

Visakha Bucha is short for ‘Visakhapunnamipuja’ meaning ‘ worship of Lord Buddha’ in Pali. This day marks and commemorates the three major events that occurred on the same day but in different years: The Birth of Buddha, the Enlightenment of Buddha and lastly his Death. All three events happened on a full moon of the sixth lunar month which is when this day is celebrated. Not only is it a special day in Thailand, but a day commemorated throughout the world, having been declared an international day by the United Nations in 1999.

  • Date: May 6th, 2020 (Wed)
  • Importance: ★★★★✰

3. Asalha Bucha Day

Asalha Bucha Day is celebrated on the day of the full moon of the eighth lunar month. It marks the day Buddha delivered his first sermon, ‘Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta’ to five ascetics. As a result, all of them attained enlightenment and Buddha himself ordained them as the first group of Buddhist monks. One of the reasons this day is such a meaningful day is because the sermon he delivered then embodies the essence of his teachings which are taught throughout the world until now.

  • Date: July 4th, 2020 (Sat)
  • Importance: ★★★★✰

The Thai government has announced these days as national holidays, so that people may participate in religious rituals and traditions activities at temples. For example, offering food to the monks (Tak-Baat), making merit by freeing fish and birds (Tam-Boon) and taking part in the candlelight procession.

* Note: The sale of alcohol is banned on all these days due to one of the five precepts which states “to refrain from intoxicants that cloud the mind, i.e. drugs or alcohol”.

Traditional Holidays in Thailand

There are also several holidays related to Thai traditions and culture.

4. Songkran Day

Songkran’ is a Sanskrit word meaning transformation or change. It was the official Thai New Year until 1888 and was changed to January 1st in 1940. On Songkran, generally, people will go back to their hometowns to meet their families and participate in traditional activities such as going to temples and Rot Nam Dam Hua, a traditional celebration of elders. They believe that all these rituals will bring them good luck. If you happen to be in Bangkok during this period, you’ll be surprised by how packed the open roads are.

Nonetheless, the highlight of this iconic day is the Songkran Festival, a huge water fight in which people splash onto others and themselves as they believe this will bring about plenty of rainfall in the following year. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Songkran is one of the most famous festivals in Thailand that hundreds and thousands from all over the world visit Thailand to take part in this traditional festival!

Experience the Songkran Festival any time of the year at Thai Thani Arts & Culture Village!

  • Date: April 13th – 15th, 2020 (Mon – Wed)
  • Importance: ★★★★★

5. King’s Birthday

This day commemorates the birthday of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, also known as King Rama X. He succeeded his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, after his passing on December 1st, 2016. In 2017, the King’s Birthday was officially changed to July 28th, making it a public holiday. On this day, people celebrate by wearing yellow, a color associated with Mondays, the day that he was born. Also, the whole nation celebrates with broadcasts of various performances on TV and firework celebrations in his honor!

  • Date: July 28th, 2020 (Tue)
  • Importance: ★★★★★

6. Queen Mother’s Birthday – Mother’s Day

August 1st marks the birthday of her Majesty the Queen Sirikit – the queen consort of the late King (Bhumibol Adulyadej) and mother of the present king. As a queen, seen as being a mother to all Thais, Mother’s Day is observed on this day too in Thailand. A traditional Mother’s day gift is jasmine, a flower that represents motherhood. Kids will give their mothers these flowers to show love and respect.

  • Date: August 1st, 2020 (Sat)
  • Importance: ★★★★★

7. The Late King Bhumibol’s Birthday – Father’s Day

The late King Bhumibol was Thailand’s ninth monarch Rama IX for almost 70 years, making him the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. Even though King Rama X’s birthday is now celebrated as the official Royal Birthday on July 28, after the late King’s passing in 2017, December 5th still remains as a national holiday as well as Father’s day in honor of the late King Bhumibol. Moreover, just like Mother’s Day, there is a flower that symbolizes Father’s Day in Thailand – the canna.

  • Date: December 5th, 2020 (Sat)
  • Importance: ★★★★★

8. New Year’s Day

New Year’s is another holiday when thousands of Thais in the capital go back to their hometown to spend time with their families as they pass into a new year. Many people head to the north such as Chiang Mai as well, climbing to the top of a hill to catch the first sunrise of the year. Various parties, concerts, and firework shows are held throughout the nation for the New Year countdown, especially in Bangkok!

Check out our blog on The Best Places to Spend New Year’s Eve in Bangkok for more!

  • Date: December 31st, 2020 – January 1st, 2021 (Thu – Fri)
  • Importance: ★★★★★

Are there any more important holidays in Thailand you’d like to share with us? Feel free to leave a comment below!

For more travel tips and ideas for your next trip to Thailand, make sure you visit Trazy.comAsia’s #1 Travel Shop!

[Photo Credits]

Vesak Day: Boinghiem

Asalha Bucha Day: Brcar

Queen Mother’s Birthday: Thai Embassy, Moscow, Russia

Late King’s Birthday: Takeaway

One thought on “A Guide to the Most Important Holidays in Thailand

  1. Very nice collection of the most important events for Thais. Interesting to know that the government often moves the actual holidays to different dates within a week or two in order to create long weekends to support tourism. Eg. The King’s birthday is going to be celebrated on the 11th of December this year to make a 4 days long weekend combined with the constitution day that falls on the 10th of December.

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