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THE TOP 15 FESTIVALS IN THAILAND. (PART 1)
If there’s one thing that Thai people do well, it’s throw a fantastic party – or festival, birthday, New Year extravaganza, water fight, religious observation, or just about any other event that entails celebrating in grand fashion. So if you visit Thailand, don’t be afraid to skip the touristy and superficial Full Moon Party on Ko Pha Ngan and opt for a more authentic Thai ceremony. Bring your camera, catch up on sleep beforehand, and get ready for the time of your life with these 15 Thai festivals.
In this blog, we cover the first seven most popular festivals, but you won’t want to miss part two of this blog with the remaining eight festivals, so follow us on social media, subscribe to this blog, or email Beach Republic.
- Monkey Buffet Festival
When: Last Sunday of November each year.
Where: Town of Lopburi, 150 kilometers north of Bangkok
Among the ruins of the ancient city of Lopburi, you’ll see monkeys – a lot of monkeys. If you go during this special festival every November, you’ll get to see all of those monkeys treated to an elaborate buffet served by the locals. Not only are they offered every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable, but the monkeys can also indulge on soda and lollipops. Of course you can see the monkeys any time of year, as they are the main tourist attraction that draw tourists to the city.
The origins of this unique festival are from a Ramayana legend that says Rama created the ancient city of Lopburi along with Hanuman the Monkey King, a Hindu deity. Still to this day, the residents of Lopburi residents consider the macaques descendants of Hanuman, so the festival is certainly no monkey business.
Where: All of Thailand
The most world-renowned festival in all of Thailand is Songkran, held on the Thai New Year. This epic national water fight takes place in April, usually the hottest period of the tropical summer. Thai people take the time to visit temples, splashing water on family and friends as a way of washing away the bad and refreshing and cleansing for the New Year. While it may sound peaceful and calm, Songkran is anything but, especially in Chang Mai or cities with a lot of tourists. In those places, Songkran is an all-day, all-night free for all water fight that spares no one, with buckets, Super Soakers, and plenty of music, dancing in the streets, and Thai beer. Experiencing Songkran should be on every travelers bucket list, just make sure to wrap your phone and valuables in a plastic pouch!
- Phi Ta Khon
Where: Dan Sai, Loei, 500 kilometers north of Bangkok
Known as the ghost festival, Phi Ta Khon is a spooky tradition in the Dan Sai district of the Loei Province in Isan. To pay homage to the region’s strong belief in ghosts and spirits, the Thai people from this area dress up in bright, colorful long-trailing costumes made from strips of cloth sewn together and elaborate masks, dancing and celebrating. The festivities get even more primal, as men carry around giant red wooden phalluses, waving them around suggestively at bystanders as everyone drinks and dances
Although it’s a wildly good time, Phi Ta Khon is based on a more serious event – the ancient legend of Buddha’s reincarnation. The story goes that Buddha took a long journey but was presumed dead by his disciples. When he did come back, the celebration was so vociferous that they woke the dead, hence why they don the masks and clothing of ghosts.
- Loy Kratong
Where: All of Thailand
The annual Loy Krathong festival is a cathartic tradition, a day to symbolically let worries, concerns, and any bad luck float away. All across Thailand, people visit the nearest body of water and set sail to candle-lit floating floral arrangements made of banana leaves and flowers. These “kratongs” in the shape of a lotus are topped with a candle, incense, a lock of hair and a few Baht notes just in case the river goddess required a bribe. Loy Kratong celebrations are held all over Thailand, but perhaps the best place to see the festivities and snap some amazing photos is in Sukhothai, ancient Thai capital.
- Ubon Ratchatani Candle festival
Where: Ubon Ratchatani, 600 kilometers northeast of Bangkok
Thai artisans mold huge wax sculptures depicting religious symbols as offerings to Buddha, which are then paraded on floats through the streets in a grand and colorful procession along with music and dancing. The level of detail, hard work, and pride that goes into each of these statues is mind boggling, matched only by the party goer’s fervor.
- The King’s Birthday
Where: All of Thailand
If you’ve ever visited Thailand then you know the people have the ultimate reverence for their king, considering him something of a benevolent human deity since he became king in 1946, his likeness in every restaurant, store, and home as well as on Baht notes. So to commemorate the December 5 birthday of Bhumibol Adulyadej, the Thai people everywhere decorate the streets in the city center, hold elaborate fireworks displays at the Grand Palace, and celebrate to honor their monarch.
- Chinese New Year
Where: All over Thailand
In many areas of Thailand, there are strong Chinese-Thai communities, and Chinese New Year, happy to celebrate the most important festival of the Chinese lunar calendar in style. It’s also a great time for other Thais to take part in the festivities and take a break from work, enjoying ornate dragon parades, acrobats performing, and fireworks.