Arriving in Bangkok: Best Time to Visit? Schedule of Spectacular Events and Festivals

Thailand is highly passionate about festivals, so it’s no surprise that the Thai people prioritize socialization and celebrations as the focal points of their culture. Numerous fascinating festivals frequently occur in this country. Below is a list of the top 10 most extraordinary, liveliest, and quirkiest festivals in Thailand, all worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime.

1. THAI NEW YEAR WATER FESTIVAL (SONGKRAN FESTIVAL)

Time: Lunar calendar – April 13-15

Location: Nationwide

Travel Difficulty: 0/5

The Songkran Festival 2017 is a three-day “water-soaked battle” that takes place across Thailand, featuring vibrant and wild scenes, resounding music, traditional dances, alcohol, and people soaked from head to toe. Water guns, plastic hoses, buckets, or anything at hand can be used as effective weapons during this festival.

2. GHOST FESTIVAL (PHI TA KHON)

Time: Gregorian calendar – June or July

Location: Dan Sai town, Loei province

Travel Difficulty: 4/5

Phi Ta Khon is an impressively unique festival combining Buddhist beliefs with exquisite artistic craftsmanship. Lasting for 3 days, it involves the participation of thousands of locals wearing eerie masks, vibrant colors, bizarre forms, and some “ghosts” even carry phallic wooden symbols of varying sizes painted in red.

The Thai ghost festival takes place on the full moon weekend of the sixth lunar month. People dress up as ghosts and parade on Friday, musical contests happen on Saturday, and Buddhist rituals take place on Sunday.

However, reaching this festival isn’t straightforward. Travelers can catch a bus from Udon Thani (approximately a 3-hour journey) or Chiang Mai (around 5 hours). From Bangkok, there are five departures daily from the Mo Chit Northern bus station (about a 7-hour journey).

Due to Dan Sai being a small town, it’s advisable to book accommodations in advance.

3. LANTERN FESTIVAL IN THAILAND (YI PENG FESTIVAL)

Time: December

Location: Chiang Mai

Travel Difficulty: 1/5

During the Lantern Festival in Thailand, thousands of floating lanterns drift along the Peng River, creating an enchanting and romantic spectacle for those who appreciate beauty and photography.

Hotels along the riverbanks are often fully booked during this lantern festival.

4. ROCKET FESTIVAL (BOON BANG FAI)

Time: June or July

Location: Yasothon province

Travel Difficulty: 4/5

The Rocket Festival is one of the most significant events for farmers in the Isaan region of northeastern Thailand. Nearly all villagers participate in this festival, considering it a launch for the new planting season.

The rockets soaring into the sky convey a message praying for rain to the deities, ensuring a bountiful harvest. Hence, the rockets are intricately designed and aesthetically pleasing. The locals parade on the first day before the rocket launching on the weekend. Any rocket that fails to ignite is thrown into the mud as a ‘punishment’.

The main rocket festival takes place in Yasothon province, although other districts organize smaller-scale festivals. Folk music performances, rice wine drinking, and beauty pageants accompany the rocket festival.

5. BUFFALO RACING FESTIVAL (WING KWAI)

Time: October

Location: Chonburi

Travel Difficulty: 2/5

Buffalo racing is one of Thailand’s most remarkable festivals, with a tradition spanning over 100 years and now welcoming participants from abroad. The race spans about 100 meters, with riders bareback on buffaloes amid enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

Chonburi is easily accessible, just an hour’s drive from Bangkok and Pattaya. While buffalo racing is the main attraction, there are various other entertaining activities like Thai boxing shows, a fair, costume contests, and beauty contests for buffaloes. Although the buffalo race can’t be compared to races like the Ascot, Melbourne Cup, or Kentucky Derby, it’s a grand and worth-watching festival in Chonburi every year.

6. MONKEY BANQUET

Time: November

Location: Lopburi

Travel Difficulty: 2/5

Located 150 km north of Bangkok, Lopburi is renowned for its large population of wild monkeys surrounding the central temple area. Visitors often buy sunflower seeds to feed the monkeys.

Especially in November every year, locals organize a grand banquet for over 3000 descendants of Monkey Kings, featuring over a ton of fruits, vegetables, and other food items.

7. VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL

Time: October (Gregorian calendar)

Location: Phuket

Travel Difficulty: 1/5

Despite its seemingly mild name, this festival held in Phuket is notorious among global tourists for its incredibly spine-chilling activities. The most shocking scene is the “body piercing” ritual where devotees skewer swords or sharp metal rods through their cheeks, arms, and other body parts while walking on hot coals. They believe that the gods will protect them from harm if they demonstrate unwavering faith by enduring physical pain.

The festival’s rituals occur both inside and outside the six Chinese temples scattered around Phuket. The primary temple is Jui Tui Temple, not far from the Fresh Market in Phuket town. The annual festival takes place in October, but if you’re sensitive to bloodshed, you might want to skip this opportunity!

8. WONDERFRUIT MUSIC & ART FESTIVAL

Time: December

Location: Pattaya

Travel Difficulty: 2/5

An immensely vibrant music and art extravaganza in Thailand, akin to similar events like the Glastonbury or Coachella music festivals in the US and UK. Wonderfruit usually happens in December on the outskirts of Pattaya and features European, American, and local artists. Additionally, activities like yoga, meditation, art performances, and pop-up restaurants run by renowned Bangkok chefs are part of the experience.

9. CHINESE NEW YEAR

Time: Lunar New Year (around January or February in the Gregorian calendar)

Location: Bangkok

Travel Difficulty: 1/5

Similar to Vietnam, the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations in Thailand, especially in Yaowaraj, the officially recognized Bangkok Chinatown, are lively. Family feasts, lion and dragon dances, fireworks, and traditional candies are integral to the celebrations. The ideal spot for fun during this time in Bangkok is the Wat Mangkon Kamalawat area on Charoen Krung Street, located in the northern part of Chinatown.

10. CANDLE FESTIVAL

Time: July

Location: Ubon Ratchathani

Travel Difficulty: 4/5

This is the most prominent festival in major cities in the Isaan region, encompassing 20 provinces in northeastern Thailand. Visiting Ubon Ratchathani, you’ll witness colossal wax sculptures created by nearly 10 teams from various countries. The grand street parade and procession of these sculptures amid music performances showcasing traditional dances make the Candle Festival a sacred Buddhist event. Devotees donate offerings to monks, and the sale of alcoholic beverages is banned on this day.

Source: Compiled from the Internet.

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