Planning your trip to Thailand? With so much to do and so much to experience, it can be a little intimidating planning your holiday. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got your back. Check out our list of the top 10 Thai festivals you have to see and join the locals in their celebration.
As the festival dates are based on the Lunar calendar, a whole other world from our Solar Calendar, we can only give you approximations of these events.
SONGKRAN – WATER FESTIVAL
Nationwide, April 13-15
Have fun trying to evade water balloons, splashes from buckets of water and streams from super soakers. Arm yourself with your own choice of weapon and rid the people around you of negative energy and bad karma. This is what the Songkran Water Festival fun is all about.
PHI TA KHON – GHOST FESTIVAL
Dan Sai Loei Province, in June or July
This is the Thai version of Halloween that lasts for three days. Legend has it that this was once a rad 3-day party made to attract the attention of both the living and the dead, so everyone had to wear masks and costumes so that the dead can attend unrecognized. Enter the Ghost Festival to see a good range of locally made masks and costumes: the good, the bad, and the tacky. To get to Dan Sai Town, you can take a 3-hour bus from Udon Thani or a 5-hour bus from Chiang Mai.
YI PENG – LANTERN FESTIVAL
Chiang Mai, in November
Watch the skies fill up with lights from candlelit, paper lanterns. It is so beautiful that even Disney adapted the idea in Tangled. On top of this rare experience, you get to watch a parade and make a wish by releasing a paper float in the river.
BOON BANG FAI – ROCKET FESTIVAL
Yasothorn Province, in June or July
To reach the ears of the gods high above, one must launch the most powerful and loudest rockets, so that the gods may heed the call for abundance. In the farming communities of Issan, these rockets or launched before the beginning of planting season to ask the gods for rain. In this festival, lump sums are given to the best rocket inventors and well, the crappy ones get thrown into a mud pit.
WING KWAI – BUFFALO RACING FESTIVAL
Chonburi, in October
How fast can a water buffalo run? There’s no other way to find out but to check out the Buffalo Racing Festival where buffalos get to show the world that they can also race. And, once you’re done watching the race, try your luck at climbing a greasy pole to get the prize on top. This is a challenge to all the traveling pole dancers out there!
Phuket, in October
While it does come with really good vegetarian food, vegans might protest at the harm participants inflict on themselves. If you are thinking of a peaceful celebration, then you have got it all wrong as walking on hot coals and body mortification are part of this festival as proof of one’s invincibility under the protection of the Chinese gods.
Ubon Ratchathani, in July
Giant wax works usually inspired by elements of Buddhism and Hinduism, these works of art will bring you awe. This is one of those wholesome, non-alcohol festivals, however, most locals do stock up on their booze so that they can take a discrete drink during the festival. It’s a bit like prom night with waxworks.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
Bangkok, in January or February
Head to Yaowaraj, Bangkok’s Chinatown to watch the celebration of Chinese New Year with the acrobatic feats of the dragon dancers and the fireworks.
LOI KRATHONG FESTIVAL – FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Everywhere, in November
Krathong, which actually means a banana trunk decorated with flowers, banana leaves, candle, and incense, is usually released into the river as a means of asking for forgiveness, saying goodbye to negative energy, and making their wishes for the new year. Nowadays, the Krathong is made of bread, which is more available and can feed the fish in the river.
BEST THAI FESTIVAL?
Did we miss anything? Let us know about the best Thai festival you have attended. Maybe you can also send us a few pics.