There are at least fifteen public holidays in Thailand and most Thai workers will receive additional vacation time on top of this. The Thai calendar also includes many holidays and festivals which are not official holidays.
- Below is the complete calendar of Thai Holidays and Festivals for 2016-2017
The majority of shops and entertainment venues may be open on public holidays but government buildings and offices tend to be closed. Department stores and tourist attractions can be particularly busy on public holidays so it is best for those averse to crowds to keep away.
During these times there is no access to non-emergency government services. Simple banking should not be a problem. Branches in shopping malls normally stay open, and all ATMs operate as usual. Foreign exchange booths normally also stay open. However, remember if planning to renew a visa, or send something from a post office, or use the main branch of a bank, not to go on these days.
Dates of Thai Holidays and Festivals
Many of the important Thai holidays will occur on the same date each year. The problem for foreigners is that some dates will follow the Gregorian calendar and some will follow the Thai lunar calendar. Most of the main Buddhist holidays will occur around the full moon of a particular lunar month. There are also some other festivals and holidays that are determined by astrologers or spirit doctors. To top it off, there are a few events which are determined by other calendars including the Chinese lunar calendar, which can diverge from the Thai lunar calendar.
Family Holidays in Thailand
Some holidays in Thailand, particularly the Buddhist religious holidays, are times when people return to their families and villages, making travel on these days difficult, though many shops and most restaurants stay open. The price of hotels will also usually increase on these days, and transportation on the days leading up to certain events can be sold out.
Changing Dates on the Thai Calendar
Some public holidays are celebrated on the same date every year, for example most of the holidays that celebrate the monarchy or the constitution. If these holidays fall on a weekend, the actual holiday is usually shifted to the following Monday. The religious holidays, on the other hand, are calculated according to the Thai lunar calendar. One holiday, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, is fixed in consultation with royal astrologers. It may be only a few months before the event when the exact date is determined. Occasionally, the government can grant extra holidays due to unforeseen circumstances. These can be determined with little advance notice.
Regional and Special Holidays in Thailand
Apart from the main public holidays, in Thailand there are religious holidays that are only observed by certain minority groups, such as Chinese New Year, Eid Al-Fitr and Christmas. Businesses owned my members of these religious groups can close on these days. There are also local celebrations that are only observed in certain Thai cities, such as Inthakin in Chiang Mai, the Vegetarian festival in Phuket and the Naga Fireball festival in Nong Khai.
School Calendar in Thailand
The school year in Thailand usually begins on the Monday nearest May 16, following a six week break. The year consists of two semesters or terms, broken by a short two week holiday in October. Individual principals have a certain amount of discretion over holiday dates. The above information refers to government nursery schools and kindergartens (anuban), primary schools (pratom) and secondary or high schools (matayom). Colleges and universities may follow different schedules. It is always best to consult the individual institution.
The Thai Buddhist Calendar
The Thai people use the Thai lunar calendar to calculate religious holidays. For other purposes the Western Gregorian calendar is used. The only difference is that the number of each year is calculated from the death of the Buddha in 543 BC, so that 2016 is 2559. This is the system used by the government and in legal documents and is known as the Thai Solar Calendar.
Thailand Public Holidays 2016 (2559 Buddhist Calendar)
These are the main Thai public holidays for 2016 (2559 Buddhist Calendar). On all of these days, (except for Loy Krathong), one generally finds government offices, post offices, schools, and some banks closed. As mentioned, some of these holiday dates are provisional and may be changed nearer the time to be held.
Many Thai holidays are colorful celebrations that provide good opportunities to the traveler for picture taking as well as participating in the festivities. Enjoy.
January 2016 Thai Holidays
New Year’s Day 2016 วันปีใหม่
Friday, 01 January 2016 is the first day of the new year according to the Gregorian calendar. Thailand has its traditional festival for their new year in April, but January 1 has also become a time to celebrate. Most people will enjoy this as a long weekend because New Year’s Eve (also a holiday) is on the Monday preceding.
Bor Sang Umbrella Festival
15-17 January, 2016 the Bor Sang Umbrella Festival is due to occur some point in mid-January 2016. This event takes place on Bor Sang Rd which is about 6km East of Chiang Mai.
Chinese New Year 2016 วันตรุษจีน
Monday, 8 February 2016 is the Chinese New Year, and this is celebrated in many parts of Thailand where there are Chinese communities. This festival always takes place on the first day of the first lunar month so it changes every year according to the Western Calendar.
- Saturday, 28 January 2017
February 2016 Thai Holidays
Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2016
Friday, 05 February to Sunday, 07 February 2016 are the expected dates for this year’s Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Visitors to the event get to enjoy parades, Miss Chiang Mai Flower competition, exhibitions, and of course plenty of flowers.
- Friday, 03 February to Sunday, 05 February 2017 (most likely)
Makha Bucha Day วันมาฆบูชา
Monday, 22 February 2016 is an important Buddhist holiday called Makha Bucha. It commemorates a sermon the Buddha gave to his most advanced students. This event is said to have happened when all of these followers just happened to end up in the same location as the same time. It is celebrated each year on the first full moon of the third lunar month.
- Saturday, 11 February 2017
March 2016 Thai Holidays
April 2016 Thai Holidays
Chakri Day วันจักรี
Wednesday, 06 April 2016 is Chakri Day. This is a public holiday that celebrates the current Royal dynasty.
Songkran วันสงกรานต์ – Water Festival (Thai New Year) 2016
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 to Friday, 15 April 2016 is arguably the best time of year to be in Thailand as this is the time of the Songkran festival. This is a time for water fights, parties, and spending time with family. Chiang Mai is a well-known venue for travelers to experience this, though the celebration is country-wide (actually throughout much of the Mekong region).
- Thursday, 13 April 2017 to Saturday, 15 April 2017
May 2016 Thai Holidays
Labor Day วันแรงงานแห่งชาติ
Sunday, 01 May 2016 is Labor Day. This is a public holiday in Thailand, but not much happens to commemorate this day other than most government and office workers will have the day off.
Coronation Day วันฉัตรมงคล
Thursday, 05 May 2016 is Coronation Day in Thailand.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony วันพืชมงคล
Monday, 9 May 2016 is the Royal Ploughing Ceremony. The actual date is decided each year by astrologers, but it usually occurs at some point in May. This holiday is also a commemoration of Farmer’s Day.
Rocket Festival บุญบั้งไฟ – Isaan
Friday, 06 May to Tuesday, 10 May, 2016 the Rocket Festival in Yasothon (ยโสธร) is 6-10 May, 2016__ is the Rocket Festival which takes place over the second weekend in May. This festival is celebrated in a number of locations in Isaan but one of the best places to visit would be Yasothon. Udon Thani and Khon Kaen also have good sized celebrations. There are parades on the 9th and 10th and the 11th has the rocket firing contest between Thailand and teams from other countries (Japan, Korea, Laos and Vietnam).
- Friday, 05 May to Tuesday, 9 May, 2017 (Estimated Date)
Visaka Bucha วันวิสาขบูชา
Friday, 20 May 2016 is the most important of all the Buddhist festivals in Thailand. Wisaka Bucha Day takes place on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, and it commemorates the day on which the Buddha was born, became enlightened, and died.
Inthakin City Pillar Festival บูชาเสาอินทขีล
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 to Wednesday, 08 June 2016 the Inthakin City Pillar Festival takes place over the course of 8 days in Chiang Mai each year. Inthakin begins on the 12th day of the waning 6th lunar month. This is a uniquely Chiang Mai event that should not be missed and takes place on the grounds of Wat Chedi Luang.
- -Date of Year 2017 still TBA
June 2016 Thai Holidays
Pu Sae Ya Sae Festival สืบสานประเพณีเลี้ยงดง
Wednesday, 01 June, 2016 (expected date) is Pu Sae Ya Sae Festival in Chiang Mai which involves a ritual sacrifice and the consumption of raw buffalo flesh. This is not a good event for the squeamish or animal lovers. This takes place on the full moon of the seventh lunar month
- Thursday, 01 June, 2017 (expected date)
July 2016 Thai Holidays
Phi Ta Khon – Ghost Festival ผีตาโขน
The Ghost Festival is a three day festival that takes place in Dan Sai in Loei province. The exact date of this festival is decided by spirit doctors, but it is usually the first weekend after the 6th Full moon of the year, in 2016 this is from the 6th to the 8th of July in 2016.
- In 2016 this will be held the last week in July, 6-8.
- Friday, 23 June 2017 (most likely)
Asana Bucha วันอาสาฬหบูชา
Tuesday, 19 July 2016 is Asana Bucha, and this commemorates the day on which the Buddha gave his first sermon. This is held on the full moon of the 8th Thai lunar month.
Wan Khao Pansa วันเข้าพรรษา
Wednesday, 20 July 2016 the beginning of Buddhist lent. Wan Khao Pansa takes place at the first day of the waning moon of the eight Thai lunar month.
August 2016 Thai Holidays
(Chinese) Hungry Ghost Festival วันสารทจีน
Wednesday, 17 August, 2016 is the Hungry Ghost Festival, which takes place on the full moon (fifteen day) of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese lunar calendar (usually in August). This festival is celebrated in the towns and cities of Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Chiang Rai, and most places with a Chinese community. In Phuket this is called Por Tor and is a unique celebration.
- Tuesday, 5 September, 2017 (Expected Date)
H.M. The Queen’s Birthday วันแม่
Friday, 12 August, 2016 is the Queen’s birthday, and it is also Mother’s Day in Thailand. Most Thai people celebrate the occasion by spending time with their families.
Saturday, 12 August, 2017
Monday, 14, August, 2017 will also be an official holiday, creating a long 4-day weekend for those with government jobs.
September 2016 Thai Holidays
Festival of Offerings to the Dead (Sart Thai) วันสาทรไทย
- Saturday, 1 October, 2016
- Thursday, 19 October, 2017
Starting on the ninth day of the waxing of the 10th lunar month of the Thai calendar, there is a festival that is not well-known to foreigners, though sometimes it is confused with a non-Thai festival, the Chinese Hungry Ghost festival. The Thai festival is known by different names in different parts of Thailand. In the South of Thailand this is called งานบุญเดือนสิบ (ngan boon duan sib) also called ประเพณีสารทเดือนสิบ (bra pae nee sat duan sib). In the North the name of the festival is ประเพณีตานก๋วยสลาก (bra pae nee da guay sla). In Isaan this is called การทำบุญแจกข้าว (gan tam boon jag khao). In Central Thailand it is not a specific celebration as in the other parts of Thailand.
The English Wikipedia calls this Sat Thai but this is not really used by Thai people to refer to the festival, and it is incorrect to say it is the start of the vegetarian festival. Again, this celebration is still little-known in the non-Thai-speaking world and because it is more of a provincial celebration, there are no large, photogenic activities in Bangkok to provide international exposure (and English translation).
The festival can go until the third day of the waxing of the eleventh lunar month. Traditionally, families come together and visit their local temple and give offerings to their deceased relatives. Also they may give offerings to deceased people to whom they are not related, especially praet, the giant ghosts with small mouths who are always hungry. The offerings are special food which have special meaning, representing clothes, money, jewelry, transportation, and shelter.
This is somewhat similar, but different from the Chinese Hungry Ghost festival (similar in offering food to the deceased relatives and other dead). However, this is not a Chinese festival, but regional Thai festival with local celebrations. Celebrations are bigger in the South, especially in Nakhon Si Thammarat. The 12th through 14th days of the waning of the 10th lunar month are the most important in the festival. In the South there are large parades and other activities.
- In 2016, these are on 18 September
Mid Autumn (Moon) Festival เทศกาลไหว้พระจันทร์
Thursday, 15 September 2016 is the Mid Autumn Festival takes place on the full moon closest to the autumn equinox. The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. It is celebrated with Chinese communities across Thailand. Shops will sell special moon cakes to mark the occasion.
- Wednesday, 4 October 2017
Vegetarian Festival 2016 วันกินเจ
Tuesday, 4 October to Wednesday, 14 October, 2016 the Thailand Vegetarian Festival 2016 takes place for nine days. (Some Thai people will hold the precepts for a total of 10 days.) This festival officially starts on 4 October, but some events begin a day or two before, and can continue a day after, depending on the temples and organizing committee involved. The date is calculated as the 15th day of the waning of the 10th month of the Thai lunar calendar.
The most extreme form of the vegetarian festival is in Phuket where it takes on a macabre aspect and has its own history and traditions. In general, throughout Thailand this is a spiritual festival with abstinence and purity as the central motif. While vegetarian food is widely available throughout Thailand, special menus and dishes are prepared and available for the nine-day festival in many restaurants throughout Thailand. Vegetarianism includes avoidance of certain vegetables such as garlic and onion which are seen to increase agitation. The festival has its roots in Chinese Taoist practices but has become Thai-ified and welcomed by the Thai Buddhist population who (to some degree) also embrace vegetarianism.
-Date of Year 2017 still TBA
Prince Mahidol Day วันมหิดล
Saturday, 24 September, 2016 commemorates the father of modern Thai medicine Prince Mahidol. It is not an official public holiday.
- Sunday, 24 September, 2017
October 2016 Thai Holidays
Wan Awk Pansa วันออกพรรษา
Sunday, 16 October, 2016 is Wan Awk Pansa which signals the end of Buddhist rains retreat. This falls on the full moon of the eleventh Thai lunar month.
Thod Kathin ทอดกฐิน
Monday, 17 October, 2016 is Thod Kathin or Kathina, which is held on the first day after the full moon of the eleventh Thai lunar month. This is celebrated by colorful processions and temple activities especially in parts of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. The presentation of Monks’ robes after the rains retreat is the central Buddhist activity. Note that Kathin is a lunar month-long event that takes place throughout Thailand where people return to their families and go to the Temple events as well as local gatherings.
- Saturday, 7 October, 2017
Naga Fireball Festival บั้งไฟพญานาค
Saturday-Sunday, October 15-16, 2016 the Naga Fireball Festival takes place in Nong Khai around the full moon of the eleventh lunar month (October). This demonstration of what many believe is evidence for the paranormal goes on for two nights. The dates coincide with the day before and the day of the Buddhist holiday of Wan Awk Pansa, the end of the rains retreat.
- Thursday 5 October to Friday, 6 October, 2017
Chulalongkorn Day วันปิยมหาราช
Sunday, 23 October, 2016 is Chulalongkorn Day, and this commemorates one of the most revered of past Thai rulers. King Chulalongkorn is credited with keeping Thailand free while most of the surrounding counties fell under the power of foreign control.
November 2016 Thai Holidays
Loy Krathong / Yee Peng 2016
- Tuesday, 15 November 2016 with celebrations from Monday, 14 November to Wednesday, 16 November, 2016
- Saturday, 4 November 2017 with celebrations from Friday, 3 November to Sunday, 5 November, 2017
Loy Krathong/Yee Peng is one of the most beautiful of all Thai festivals. Loy Krathong is not a public/official holiday (though there very public events). Rather, it is meant as a time for families and friends to come together in the evening to launch small candle lit craft (Krathong) in lakes and rivers, and floating lanterns into the sky. In Chiang Mai events usually begin two days before and extend one day after the holiday. It is not an official Thai government holiday but, especially in Northern Thailand, it is a major holiday. This is on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the 12th lunar month of the Thai calendar (the second lunar month of the Northern Thai calendar, Yee Peng means second month in Kam Muang, the Northern Thai language).
Surin Elephant Festival
- **Saturday-Sunday, 19-20 November 2016, is (most likely) the dates for the Surin Elephant festival, which is usually the third week of November.
- Not yet set for 2017
Lopburi Sunflower Festival
The Lopburi Sunflower Festival can be found in Lopburi, Central Thailand and nearby Saraburi. This festival doesn’t have exact dates, and begins when the weather and the sunflowers announce the beginning. The sunflower fields are an attraction for many Thai visitors as well as foreign tourists beginning in November and can last until January or even February.
December 2016 Thai Holidays
H.M. The King’s Birthday
Monday, 05 December, 2016 is the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumipol. It is also Father’s Day in Thailand.
- Tuesday, 05 December, 2017
Saturday, 10 December, 2016 marks the day in 1932 when Thailand become a constitutional monarchy.
- Sunday, 10 December, 2017 (Substitution holiday will likely be Monday, 11 December, 2017)
Sunday, 25 December, 2016 is not a public holiday in Thailand, but it is celebrated as in most of the world as a secular holiday with festive decorations in the shopping malls. Many of the restaurants and pubs in tourist areas will have traditional holiday food and events to mark the occasion.
- Monday, 25 December, 2017
New Year’s Eve
Saturday, 31 December, 2016 is a public holiday in Thailand to mark the new year. As new year’s day is also a holiday, this is a two-day event. It is possible that Monday, December 30th will be considered a holiday as well (officially or unofficially) as it is a single day straddling two sets of two days off. This could easily turn into a five day weekend.
- Sunday, 31 December, 2017 (Substitution holiday will likely be Monday, 01 January, 2018)