The Ultimate Newbie Guide to Thailand

Holidays and Events in Thailand

Some holidays observed in Thailand may affect your holiday in some ways and others not at all. Holidays in Thailand can be viewed as one of four types.
  1. Government and Bank holidays. Like in the west Thailand has a few of those, including labor day, constitution day, etc. These will have no impact on your holiday, unless you plan to bank inside a branch (money changers are open) or visit a government office.
  2. International Holidays. This includes New Year (1 Jan), Chinese New Year and Christmas. All of these days are observed either as part of the regular Thai holiday calendar or as a business opportunity. Be assured that everything that relates to tourists will be party time. Over the Christmas holiday, expect tourist areas to much busier than normal and occasionally with inflated prices ... whichever way you look at it. In some areas hotel guests may be charged for a special compensatory dinner on Christmas and/or New Years Eve, whether the guests attend or not. This is particularly true in Phuket.
  3. Thai Specific Festive Holidays. This includes Songkran and Loy Krathong.
    Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year and marks the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season. Songkran is officially 13-15 April, however, in many tourist areas it can be a week long or more. One notable part of the days of celebration is that they turn into a water fest were being soaking wet most of the day and some of the evening is par for the course ... love it of hate it. 
    See more details here: Songkran
    Loy Krathong on the other hand is a celebration that everybody loves. Many Thais (especially women) dress up in traditional Thai costumes and part of the celebration is a spiritual launch a floating decoration with flowers, incents and a candle and often a coin for good luck late in the evening and launch lighted flying lanterns.
    For more details see: Loy Krathong.
  4. Buddhist Holidays. While there are more than four Buddhist holidays there are four that significantly affect the tourists that like to drink and party. These holidays are Magha Puja (Makha Bucha), Visakha Bucha / Vesak Day, Asalha Puja Day and Wan Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent Day). Asalha Puja Day and Wan Khao Phansa are back to back and all are based on the lunar calendar so each year they fall on a different day.
    All of these four holidays are marked with restrictions concerning the sale of alcohol and playing music, they are often referred to as "Bar Closure" days although there is no real consistency as to the actual mandated closure of the venue. Most venues that use music and girls dancing to draw people are almost all closed on these days. Many other bars are as well and some are open, but serving non-alcoholic drinks only. You will also find some bars that "in secret" serve alcohol and those that do and magically are not bothered by the authorities. Most retail outlets, such as convenience stores and super markets, also may be banned from selling alcohol while some smaller shops may be an option.
    For more information on specific dates see: "Public Holidays and Bar Closures in Thailand"

The above should help you in your holiday planning, whether that be to aim for a specific holiday or avoid one.

The Ultimate Newbie
Guide to Thailand