September 5, 2016
Festivals through-out Thailand in October 2016
In the wake of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing. Several provinces have either cancelled or delayed indefinitely tourist events and festivals in the wake of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing. Among them were the Illuminated Boat Procession in Nakhon Phanopm (Cancelled), the Yi Peng lantern festival in Chiang Mai (Cancelled) and the Amazing Elephant festival in Surin (postponed). Buffalo Racing in Chonburi is cancelled
October is undoubtedly the festive month in the Thai calendar with heaps of events marking the most important three days; the end Of Buddhist lent on the 16th October, is celebrated right across the Kingdom and goes by a multitude of names. The Vegetarian Festivals kicks off on the 1st October and is celebrated across the Kingdom in communities with a large Thai Chinese community, last but not least, are the numerous festivals taking place through-out the country, celebrating the Walking dead, which start with Sart Thai Day also on the 1st October.
Combine these with the many other events that take place this month and you soon realize why this is the Nation’s busiest month for festivals. Listed here are the Kingdom’s top 40 events
For more on what’s happening each month click on any of the following
The Thord Gathin Festival
This annual 30 day festival is celebrated across Thailand and where its people pay their respects to the Buddhist Faith
When: Annually the day after Wan Ok Phansa (October)
Where: Across the Kingdom of Thailand
The Thord Gathin Festival is a 30 day festival that is celebrated from the last day of Buddhist lent. In Thailand the three month period of Lent (July – October) is called Wan Khao Phansa while the last day is called Wan Ok Phansa . this auspicious time is possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar.
Wan Ok Phansa (Thai: วันออกพรรษา; literally “the Final Day of the Vassa“) falls annually on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month (16th October 2016) This eagerly awaited day is full of joyful celebration and merit-making, for many families it is also the day they welcome back a son into the home and for them to celebrate his successful completion of a term in the temple.
Thord Gathin Festival or Thod Kathin (Thai: ทอดกฐิน) or Kathin Laen or simply as the Kathin Ritual, is celebrated across the Kingdom, with each village, town, city or province adding its own unique twist to the festivities and in some cases an additional name. This is in part due to the many cultures that make up this diverse country and their collective interpretation of Buddhist teachings.
The Kathin Ritual is also celebrated in the neighbouring countries, of Lao, Cambodia and Burma; where it is known as Kahtein. It is a time for temple grounds to be transformed into venues for traditional dancers, music and food stalls. It also allows those attending the Kathin Ritual to earn merit through the offering of robes to the the bhikkhus (Buddhist monks). Thord Gathin takes its name from the “laying down” of new robes to the monks.
For more on this event and what precepts are followed click here
Thailand has its own Nine Emperor Gods Festival and it is a time of abstinence, cleanliness and at times blood-letting.
When: 1st – 9th October 2016
Where: Across the Kingdom
Better known as Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival, the Kingdom celebrates ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival.’
October is when Thailand is set to celebrate one of the country’s most popular cultural celebrations, that of the somewhat ironically named Vegetarian Festival (Thai: Tesagan Gin Je เทศกาลกินเจ). This annual celebration is held for nine days during the ninth Chinese lunar month, with festivals held through-out the entire Kingdom. Vegetarian festivals have a very long tradition in Thailand and are believed to be based on the Chinese ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival.’
While not all the venues relish in blood letting and piecing all manner of body parts, what they all have in common is a close link to Chinese customs and the chance for those that participate fully in the rituals to cleanse both their bodies and minds.
For more on what the festival means to the Chinese Thai, what one has to do to follow the cultural element of the festivities, plus a list of the biggest across the Kingdom click here
King Chulalongkorn is known as the ‘Great Reformer’
King Chulalongkorn Day (Thai: “Wan Piyamaharaj Day” loosely translated as ‘The Beloved Great King’). Is a national holiday in Thailand and is held on the 23rd of October every year.
Born on September 20th 1853; King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) ascended the throne in 1868 at the tender age of only 15. His Majesty passed away on October 23rd 1910 at the age of 57. He had ruled what was then Siam, for 42 years. He is the grandfather of the current King of Thailand, His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX).
Why is King Chulalongkorn one of Thailand’s most loved and revered Kings?
King Chulalongkorn is considered one of the greatest kings of Thailand, his picture can be seen hanging in reverence in many public buildings and Thai homes and still adorns the back of Thailand’s 100 baht note. His reign was characterized by extensive social, educational and economic restructuring and development.
His greatest achievement was started in 1874 and became law in 1905, with the introduction of the “Slave Abolition Act” which made slavery a crime and thus ending the traditional corvee system; unpaid labour imposed by the state on certain classes of people. (The Abolition of Slavery was passed in England in 1833 and in the USA in 1865).
For more on the King and why he is still adored in Thailand click here
Ayutthaya-Venice of the East
A nostalgic steam train ride from the present capital to an ancient former capital
When: 23rd October each year
Where: Hua Lamphong railway station, Bangkok to Ayutthaya
Why not take a nostalgic steam train journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, sedately winding gently through many old towns and villages of rural Thailand.
These somewhat pensionable steam trains only make 4 trips per year, in March to celebrate the anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand, then on 12th August (Queen’s Birthday), 23rd October (Chulalongkorn Day) and 5th December (King’s Birthday).
The new city of Ayutthaya is approx. 40 miles (64 km) north of Bangkok and the normal journey time is approx. 1 hour and 20 mins at a cost of 15 baht per person while the express train is a whole 20 baht per person, by taking the steam train the journey time is slightly longer by approx 30 minutes and the fare is 222 baht return.
For more on this festival click here
Two festivals for the price of one Lak Phra and Tak Bat Thewo: When the people of this southern province celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent
When: 15-16th October 2016
Where: Through-out Amphoe Mueang Songkhla, Songkhla Province. Southern Thailand.
Tak Bat Thewo is held on the first day of the waning moon in the eleventh lunar month, 16th October 2016. The same festival is found in Uthai Thani, west-central Thailand, where it is also known as Tak Bat Devo Festival.
The Lak Phra event starts one day earlier, with a solemn ceremony to wrap a new large red cloth, around the top of the Chedi on the mountain of Khao Tang kuan. In Buddhism the color red symbolizes life-force, preservation, fire, and sacred things or places. This sacred hill-top Dvaravati Chedi housing the Lord Buddha’s relics, was built during the Nakhon Si Thammarat Kingdom, when large swathes of the Malay peninsula were under its domain, today many centuries later it still commands a panoramic view of the city and the Songkhla Lake.
The following morning (16th October), heralds the Thai Buddhist festival of Wan Ok Phansa (Thai: วันออกพรรษา; literally “the Final Day of the Vassa“) which marks the end of ‘Buddhist Lent’ known as Wan Khao Phansa, it is here in this southern city at the foot of the hill, several hundred monks will walk down from Khao Tang kuan to receive alms from the local people (Tak Bat Thewo).
Later in the morning, floats carrying Buddha images from various temples in Songkhla will travel in a procession along the waterfront, enabling the local people, to again take part in the festivities by pulling the floats bearing the Buddha images (lak phra), such acts (including giving alms) are considered highly meritorious, especially on this day, which is possibly the nation’s most revered day of the year.
For more on this festival click here
The Chula Kathin Festival 2016 A simple festival that takes 6 months of hard work and dedication
When: 17 October – 14 November 2016
Where: In many temples in Mukdahan Northeast Thailand
Chula kathin, is a unique Buddhist festival of Mukdahan Province, that is a local adaptation of what is also known in the Kingdom as The Thord Gathin Festival or Thod Kathin (Thai: ทอดกฐิน) or Kathin Laen or simply as the Kathin Ritual.
The national event is to celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent, (known as Wan Khao Phansa), and follows Wan Ok Phansa Day which falls on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month (16th October 2016). This 30-day period of merit-making is a special opportunity for prayers to Buddha and for the presentation of gifts to the monks for preserving the faith. This 30-day span of merit making and religious gift giving is referred to as Thord Pha Gathin.
In this Isaan event, Chula means “a little”, and reflects the Buddhist belief that even small amounts of sharing and caring are welcome and beneficial. It is symbolized in this festival with small pieces of newly made fabric that are cut and then sewn together to form a monk’s robes.
For more on this festival click here
Termite Mushroom & Gem Festival
While not the world’s most exciting of names this month long event is full of plesent surprises
When: 1st – 31st October each year
Where: Bo Pphloi Municipality, Bo Phloi District, Kanchanaburi. North West Thailand
Thailand’s 3rd largest Province of Kanchanaburi is host again to the Het Khone (Termite Mushroom) & Gem Festival. Now in its 17th year, the month long event is a time for this beautiful province to show case two of its precious natural phenomena, both of which are abundant in the district of Bo Phloi, (the districts name actually means gemstone mine).
While gems can be seen all year round and in many parts of the Kingdom, these sort after mushrooms are seasonal, it is only now when you can join in the many events that take place throughout the month, featuring this King of mushrooms. The event features a host of activities from simply letting your taste buds loose and trying all manner of Het Khone dishes, to participating in a gigantic Termite Mushroom contest, plus a range of cooking contests focusing on the delectable fungus. There is also the Termite Mushroom Beauty Pageant, all this alongside a Gem Festival displaying locally made jewellery, many stage entertainment featuring leading Thai artists, and of course a vast array of stalls selling local produce and food.
For more on the festival and this unique mushroom that needs termites to exist click here
Plajan or Loi Ruea Boat Floating Festival. Where the ancient beliefs of an ever adapting group of Sea Gypsies are blended with the music and dance from two continents.
When: On the full moon day in the sixth and the eleventh months (October 2016) of the Thai lunar calendar. The festival is over 3 days and nights.
Where: Phuket, Lanta Island & Krabi
Sea Gypsies The islands and coastal regions along the Andaman Sea are home to a unique group of people, who due to their maritime nomadic way of life are known in Thai as the Chao Lay, (people of the sea) or Chao nam (people of the water) and in English as sea nomads or sea gypsies.
The ceremonies center around the setting adrift of small model boats, (thought to represent the craft the people once used on their migration north). The launching of these intricately carved vessels bearing candles and tokens from the people is held at night, their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck, and it’s also believed that the boat will float back to their ancestral home at Gunung Jerai.
The three day and night ceremony also includes ancestor and spirit worshipping, fortune telling by the local Shaman, music performances and dances, including the Rong Ngeng dance. The dance is considered to be an innovation combining both Western and Eastern forms — Western footsteps with Eastern hand movements.
For more on this festival click here
The Legend of the wandering statue, who’s habit is to find its way back to the river
When: 15 – 16th October 2016
Where: Around Wat Trai Phum, Phetchabun Town. Northern Thailand
Um Pra Dam Nam is a centuries old religious festival which is held annually on the full moon of the eleventh Thai lunar month, when the people of the Kingdom, take to their streets, water ways and seaboard, in joyful celebration, to commemorate the festival of Wan Ok Phansa, which in turn marks the end of the three months ‘Buddhist Lent’ known as Wan Khao Phansa. (Buddhism in Thailand is largely of the Theravada school, and is followed by 93.6% of the population)
The name loosely translated means “Dive the Buddha Image into the Water” The image in question is the ancient bejewelled Buddha image of ‘Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha,’ which is believed to be from the Khmer period 802–1431 and is cast in the Lop Buri style. The festival was known by its full name prior to 1985 that of, ‘Pra Pea Ni Sat Thai Wat Trai Phum’ or the equally memorable ‘Pra Pea Ni Phra Put Tha Rup Song Nam’, thankfully for those of us less than comfortable with the Thai language, the name is a more manageable Um Pra Dam Nam.
While the statues earlier history is cloaked in mystery there is a local legend that surrounds it; the image was first found in the Pah Sak River some 400 years ago and was then taken to be housed at Wat Trai Phum (built in 1557). Magically the statue has disappeared twice from the temple only to found later back in the waters of the Pah Sak River. It is said that the Buddha image, miraculously wandered out of the temple by itself to return to the water. To appease the Buddha Image this colourful and spiritual ritual of the bathing ceremony is held every year, to co-inside with the end of Buddhist Lent and the return of Buddha.
For more on this unique festival click here
Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival & Long Boat Racing 2016
Where Beauty and grace meets sweat and tears, in North East Thailand
When: 13th – 16th October 2016
Where: Sakon Nakhon Province Northeast Thailand
The festival is one of the largest in the Kingdom, falling as it does on the 12th-15th day of waxing moon in October which coincides with the end of Buddhist Lent Wan Ok Phansa (Thai: วันออกพรรษา; literally “the Final Day of the Vassa“) which is on the 16th October 2016. The Wax Castle Festival procession is only on the 14th October but the wax sculptures can be viewed in all their glory the day prior at Ming Mueng sakonnakhon park.
Local Thai sculptors mould and carve bees wax into miniature Buddhist temples and shrines, (wax castles) in order to gain merit, which is believed will determine their future rebirth. Local people also believe that the wax will welcome Lord Buddha, who comes back from the heaven to help all creatures on earth.
Originally, beeswax was given to the monks so as they could make their own candles and light the temples, from this gift the monks moulded and carved the wax into different kinds of flowers and attached them to banana tree trunks, which would in turn be offered to the temples. Gradually over time the offerings became more sophisticated and moulded sculptures were developed into many different shapes, such as castles, temples and shrines. These magnificent and at times massive wax sculptures, are paraded around the city to illustrate the skill of their creators. If you visit the temples in advance of the festival you may be lucky to see the sculptors actually work on these intricate and beautiful works of art.
For more on this Festival click here
Tak Bat Devo Festival 2016
A colourful and auspicious re-enactment of Buddha’s return to earth
When: 16th October 2016 (TBC)
Where: Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri on the top of Sakaekrang Mountain. Uthai Thani Province
The Tak Bat Devo Festival (translated as ‘offering food to Buddhist Monks’) commemorates Won Ok Phansa Day, which is possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar and celebrates the return of Lord Buddha from heaven. The event is a portrayal of his descent from heaven and an imitation of the scenes when he was greeted by his followers and disciples.
This ancient depiction of this most auspicious time in usually only held in the Central Provinces and usually held on high ground emphasizing the descent from heaven, the largest Festival is possibly that of Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri on the top of Sakaekrang Mountain.
On the day of the festival over 500 Thai Buddhist Monks, will leave from the pavilion that is at located at the pinnacle of the temple and descend the 449 steps in single file to receive offerings of a variety of food and fruit, from both local residents and visitors who travel from all over the Kingdom to witness this annual spectacular ceremony.
For More on this festival click here
Singburi Royal Trophy Long- Boat Races
When: Early October
The winning teams will receive HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Trophies. There are 3 categories from the large 55 crew craft, to the smaller but equally impressive 30 oarsmen down to the nippy 12 crew mini boats. There will be a variety of other contests and performances featuring the unique heritage of the local people.
Contact Details: Pho Sangkho City Municipality Tel. +66 3653 5509: TAT Lopburi Office Tel. +66 3642 2768-9
Chong Para Festival 2016
For the Shan people of North West Thailand this is a time of harmony and thanks giving and to embrace their own deep cultural past
When: 12 – 24th October 2016
Where: Mae Hong Son province. North West Thailand
Wan Ok Phansa is the last day of the Thai (and Lao) observance of Vassa. The end of the Thai Buddhist Lent is held annually dependent on the Thai Lunar calendar and is a public holiday. The day is marked by ceremonies and religious activities throughout Thailand. (And Lao) With Thailand’s diversity of ethnic groups there are umpteen regional different and unique festivals.
The Tai-Yai people (originally from Shan state in Burma and still known as the ‘Shan’) and who live predominantly in Mae Hong Son province in North West Thailand celebrate the day with the spiritual and colourful Chong Para Ceremony.
The event centres around traditionally built wooden castles and decorated banana shoots, which once decorated are carried on what you can term loosely as two man stretchers, with the larger creations placed on mobile floats. These towers are known as ‘Chong’ in the Tai Yai dialect with ‘Para’ meaning Buddha image. The elaborate and intricate castles are decorate with colourful paper and illuminate with lanterns, to humbly welcome the Lord Buddha.
The festival brings together the local communities, as on the evening of the full moon for Wan Ok Phansa, the people of different villages often come together to eat and dance, before forming the Chong Para procession and carrying their wooden towers to the local temple.
For more on this festival click here
Phon Lak Phra Festival or khaeng poen larg pra (แข่งโพนลากพระ)
A southern festival that drums up competition between temples
When: 15 – 16 October 2016
Where: The Provincial Hall and Saen suk lam pam Beach Amphoe Muang Phatthalung Province Southern Thailand
Thailand is awash with festivals at this time of year as the Kingdom celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent; Wan Khao Phansa (16th October 2016). It’s possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar, celebrating as it does the return of Lord Buddha, after he spent time preaching to His Mother in the Tavatimsa Heaven. For the people of this southern province it is a time to pray and play as it holds it’s most important annual event to commemorate Wan Ok Phansa Day.
Prior to 1988 each of this provinces many temples would relay to its followers that the three month period of lent had finished, by setting out decorated pedestals, lighting incense and by beating a poen (โพน), a southern musical instrument shaped like a barrel drum. Each temple would then form its own procession accompanied, by its own drum beaters and its very own Buddha image.
When two processions meet, they would offer a friendly challenge on who could knock out the best tune; this tradition has evolved to become a grand festival of Phatthalung, where the majority of temples will parade their own drummers in one grand procession
For more on this festival click here
Fire Boat Procession Nakhon Phanom
A centuries old festival that just gets better with age
When: 9th to 17th October 2016 – In the wake of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing. This event has cancelled
Where: Muang District Nakhon Phanom Province Northeast Thailand
This annual event marks the end of the Thai Buddhist Lent and is held from the 15th day of the waxing moon to the first day of the waning moon in the 11th lunar month of the Buddhist calendar, (usually a month earlier than the corresponding month in the conventional western calendar). The eagerly awaited festival features a dazzling illuminated Fire Boat Procession (Lai Ruea Fai), the same procession has been practiced for centuries here in the province.
In the early evening around fifty Ruea Fai or fire boats of up to 10m in length, are launched into the Mekong River. Each is lavishly decorated with flowers, incense sticks, candles and lanterns, (the latter are arranged on a bamboo structure fixed to the boats) to form illuminated images of temples, the king and dragons.
Originally, these boats were made of bamboo or from banana tree trunks and were far less elaborate, through the generations they have become more impressive and the decorations and lighting on each of the Fire Boats is now, far more spectacular.
For more on this festival click here
Kek River Rafting Festival
When: 1 July – 31 October 2016
Where: Phitsanulok. North Central Thailand Bordering Laos
Last month the same festival took on the name Kaengsong coffee tasting and Kek river white water rafting festival, to raise awareness of Phitsanulok as the home of ‘Kaengsong’ arabica coffee, while promoting the Khek River as the country’s premier white water rafting river, especially during the rainy season which lasts from May to October. While the coffee has been dropped, (it can still be found all over the province), the river still remains one of the top-five white water rafting routes in Thailand. The route covers a distance of 8 km along the scenic view and it takes about 2-3 hours to navigate. This river has many steep turns and thrilling rapids to keep adrenalin levels up. The higher water levels during the rainy season can promise moderate to extreme level of excitement and adventure – a must for any rafting enthusiast.
Chak Phra Festival 2016
A brilliant and colourful festival where you are not hemmed in by hordes of tourists
When: 16th October 2016
Where: Tapi River Surat Thani Province Southern Thailand
Thailand celebrates one of its most important festivals around this time of the year when on the full moon of the eleventh Thai lunar month, the people of the Kingdom, take to their streets, water ways and seaboard, in joyful celebration, to commemorate the festival of Wan Ok Phansa, which in turn marks the end of the three months ‘Buddhist Lent’ known as Wan Khao Phansa. (Buddhism in Thailand is largely of the Theravada school, and is followed by 93.6% of the population)
Celebrations at this time of the year are conducted through-out Thailand, with a vast array of different, vibrant festivals to mark the occasion; each has its own uniqueness and is known by many names. Here in Thailand’s south the people celebrate this most auspicious occasion with their very own festival of Chak Phra Phum Pha Pa, (literally meaning ‘pulling of the Buddhist Monks,’). The north has its spiritual Tak Bat Devo Festival, featuring hundreds of Buddhist monks. The province of Sakon Nakhon features the amazing Wax Castle possession, while in the north east province of Nakhon Phanom you will find the dazzling Fire Boat Possession. Central Thailand offers you the chance to be part of the Lotus Flower Festival and in the Mae Hong Son Province, of North West Thailand you can be part of the uniquely Tai-Yai peoples event, that of the Chong Para Festival.
The ceremony of “Phum Pha Pa”
As is the custom after Lent, Buddhist monks who have been confined to their monasteries for three months, are given offerings (alms) by the local people of essential personal items such as candles, soap, shaving goods etc. along with food and new robes (during the kathin ceremony).
Surat Thani has its own unique version of this ceremony, called “Phum Pha Pa” which sees the local people hanging their offerings on tree branches in front of houses, schools and offices the night before Won Ok Phansa. The hanging of offerings is a celebration all of its own, with locals attentively decorating the whole town with beautifully-packed alms as well as lights and paintings depicting the life story of Buddha.
For more on this festival and the history of alms giving, click here
Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (ประเพณีเทศกาลเดือนสิบ)
A Thai festival to welcome the dead that has been influenced by the Hindu festival of Sarda
When: Annualy on the 1st waning-moon night to the 15th waning-moon night in the 10th Lunar month (25th Sept – 4th Oct 2016)
Where: Nakhon Si Thammarat. Southern Thailand
This ancient festival (also known as the Bun Festival and Red Cross Fair or Tham Bun Duean Sip งานเทศกาลทำบุญเดือนสิบ), is a thanks giving custom and is a time for the Thai people of this province, to make merit and give offerings to the monks, spirits such as the Rice Goddess Mae Posop and deceased relatives. While this time of the year, prior to the new harvest is celebrated across the country and goes by many different names, here in the southern provinces the event is regarded as one of the most important festivals of the year, no more so than in Nakhon Si Thammarat. where the tradition has evolved into possibly the biggest festival of its kind in the Kingdom.
For more on the festival, snatching demons and including similarities with other events across the Kingdom, click here
Thailand & Laos jointly host the annual Boat Race event on the Mekong River
When: 13 – 16 October 2016
Where: Mekong River, in front of Indochina market, Mukdahan Province North-eastern Thailand.
Experience the traditional end of the Thai Buddhist Lent Period; Tee Chang Nam Nong ceremony and the worshiping of the Goddess of the Mekong River. Immerse yourself by watching local performances by the 8 Thai, Laos and Vietnamese tribes of the Mukdahan Province, plus witness a breath-taking amount of Long Boat races between the people of both Thailand and Lao.
If you are fortunate enough to visit the province during the festival you may want to call in on the neighbouring province of Nakhon Phanom and feast your eyes on spectactular annual Fire Boat Procession held around the same time in October and which also celebrates the end of the Thai Buddhist Lent
Contact Details: Mukdahan City Municipality Tel. +66 4261 1027 TAT Call Centre Tel. 1672
Thailand’s Walking Dead – Festival of Offerings to the Dead (Sart Thai) วันสาทรไทย
When: Annualy around the 1st waning-moon night to the 15th waning-moon night in the 10th Lunar month (1st October 2016 – 19th Oct 2017)
Where: Across the Kingdom
Offering food to the dead is a common practice in Asia, while not widely known out-side of Thailand and at times confused with the more famous Chinese ‘Hungry Ghost Festival’, (known to Thai’s as the Por Tor Festival), this purely Thai occasion is celebrated across the Kingdom, but is known by different names in the differing provinces.
Sart Thai also known as Sat Thai
For centuries this time of year is when the crops are at their most bountiful, it is also when families come together, to celebrate the return of the deceased to this world, so they can feast with their living relatives. These wondering spirits are only allowed to visit their relatives once each year and only for a short while, having to return to from where they came, before sunrise of the 15th day.
To feed their dead relatives and other spirits that they are not related to, Thai people will visit their local temple to make Merit and will invite these spirits to dine with them in their homes.
The Thai people have a strong belief in ghosts and the spirit world, especially in ‘Preta’ also known as Praet, Peta or a “Hungry ghost”, who are one of the six modes of existence in the Buddhist ‘Wheel of Life’. Hungry ghosts or ‘Preta’ – ‘departed ones’ in Hindu language of Sanskrit, are pitiable creatures with huge, empty stomachs and pinhole mouths; their necks are so thin they cannot swallow, so they remain hungry. It is believed that people are reborn as hungry ghosts because of their greed, envy and jealousy in their prior life.
For more on this festival, what food is given and why, plus other names and details on the the festival, as it is known across the Kingdom, click here
Royal Trophy Nan Boat Races
Possibly the biggest Longboat racing festival in Thailand, that at its heart is to remind people of an ancient lost Kingdom
When: 16th October 2016
Where: Nan River, Nan province Northern Thailand
This is possibly the Kingdoms biggest Longboat festival with usually around 200 boats competing, from over 100 communities. Each boat can accommodate up to 60 oarsmen, dressed in their individual racing teams uniform, in a double row, this dazzling array makes for an explosion of colour.
The equally colourful-painted boats, are made from whole tree trunks and adorned at the prow, with elaborately-crafted naga heads, which are once again united with the Nan River in this annual event. The event is a poignant reminder of the history of the once ancient Northern Kingdom of Lanna. The vivid colours and noise from the crowds makes for a fun filled, gloriously colourful, spectacle.
For more on the festival, including dates of both parts of the event, other major longboat festivals, a brief history of the Nan people and its city state click here
San Don Ta Festival
A beautiful tradition that embodies the people of the region, their centuries of contact with their Cambodian neighbours and a time to remember those lost in the Killing Fields
When: 30 September – 1 October 2016
Where: Phraya Krai Phakdi Sinakorn Lamduan Park in Khu Khan District, Si Sa Ket Province Eastern Thailand
The two day festival of San Don Ta is a time when the Khmer descendants of this province, pay homage to their dead ancestors. The Festival is known as ‘Ancestors’ Day (Pchum Ben)’ or the Khmer Festival of the Dead, in neighbouring Cambodia. This annual event is actually the culmination of a fifteen-day observance called Dak Ben, throughout which Khmer people are encouraged to visit at least seven pagodas, to make offerings to dead ancestors and light candles to guide the spirits of the dead to these offerings. The first fourteen days are called Kan Ben (“observed celebration”); the 15th day is called Brochum Ben or Pchum Ben Day. During Kan Ben, people give Buddhist monks gifts of food and candles. At night Buddhist monks recite a protective prayer; it is possibly the biggest annual event on the Khmer calendar
For More on the Festival, the food that is offered, the ghosts that play their part and similarities in other festivals across the Kingdom, click here
Wan Ok Phansa Festival
The end of Buddhist Lent when the people of this magical Kingdom both pray and play
When: 16th October 2016
Where: Across the Kingdom of Thailand
This day heralds the Thai Buddhist festival of Wan Ok Phansa (Thai: วันออกพรรษา; literally “the Final Day of the Vassa“) which marks the end of ‘Buddhist Lent’ known as Wan Khao Phansa. The day falls annually on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month and is the Kingdoms most important Buddhist event.
The day is full of joyful celebration and merit-making, for many families it is also the day they welcome back a son into the home and for them to celebrate his successful completion of a term in the temple.
For more on this eagerly awaited time of year click here
Chumphon Traditional Boat Races
When: 17 – 21 October 2016
Where: Mae Nam Lang Suan (Lang Suan River), about 60km south of Chumphon. Southern Thailand
The Chumphon traditional boat race is an annual event held at the end of the Buddhist Lent (23rd October 2016) and is unlike most other of the events in the Kingdom. While the winners of other traditional Thai long-boat races are decided by the teams that cross the finishing line first, here the contestants face an additional challenge, to be declared the winner of the Chumphon boat race, a member of the crew also has to climb up the bow and grasp their own marker flag.
Activities include the presentation of merit-making offerings, contests that draw attention to the various aspects of the hand-crafted traditional long-boats and cheerleading contests.
Contact Details: Tourism Authority of Thailand Chumphon Office Tel: +66 (0) 7755 6190-1 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Raptor Watching Festival
When: October 2016
Where: Chumphon Southern Thailand
Around October every year, when winter encroaches into the northern hemisphere, birds of various species will flee the cold and head for warmer climates, with many choosing to use the Malay Peninsula as a land bridge to their normal nesting and hunting grounds. It is estimated that during the period, Chumphon will see more than 200,000 migrating raptors soaring majestically in its mountainous areas, including; Chinese goshawk, Japanese goshawk, grey-faced buzzard, oriental honey buzzard and the black baza, Many of these same birds of prey will continue their annual migration into Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and even as far as Australia
Such natural phenomenon always captivates bird-watching enthusiasts, and makes Chumphon one of the most important learning centers on migrating birds in Southeast Asia. To mark this special event, Chumphon Provincial Authorities is organising the Migrating Raptors Watching Festival 2016, to boost local people’s understanding of birds of prey and raise public awareness of the importance of environmental protection.
There is a grand opening ceremony is set to take place on 4 October at 10:00 hrs. at the Chumphon Migrating Raptors Learning Centre, Khao Dinso.
Sat Thai – Kluai Khai Fair
When the people of this little known province celebrate the return of the dead with the humble banana
When: 16 – 25th October 2016 (Actual Dates to be Confirmed)
Where: Kamphaeng Phet North Central Thailand
This is possibly one of the Kingdoms least known provinces, sitting as it does in upper Central Thailand, its name literally means the “diamond wall” and refers to the city’s ancient defenses. Apart from its past defense of the Sukhothai Kingdom, the province is famous for a small, round, sweet and aromatic banana variety called “egg bananas” (Thai: kluai khai or mini banana).
This annual event is a celebration of this locally grown fruit, the end of Buddhist Lent and the nationwide celebration of Sat Thai, it features a number of banana contests and competitions on the making of Krayasat. The desert (Thai: กระยาสารท; food for the Sat Rite), is normally prepared for Buddhist religious events and is most commonly served during the Festival of Offerings to the Dead, or Sat Rite.
For more on the festival click here
Long-tailed Boat Competition in Nakhon Sawan
When: Annually around 16th October (Dates TBA)
Where: Chao Phraya River, Nakhon Sawan. Central Thailand
The province of Nakhon Sawan is 2 h 59 min (244.0 km) north of Bangkok, the name of the province literally means city heaven or heavenly city and has been around for roughly 14 centuries. While this particular event has not been in existence for this whole time, long boat racing has an ancient history with the province. This particular event is also known as ‘Boat Races for His Majesty’s Trophy’ (ประเพณีการแข่งเรือยาวชิงถ้วยพระราชทาน), which are held annually at the end of the Buddhist Lent (23rd October 2016) on the Chao Phraya River in front of the Provincial Hall. There are also races at temples along the river such as Wat Ko Hong and Wat Takhian Luan.
Contact Details : Tourism and Sports Department of Nakornsawan Tel. (66) 5622 8735, (66) 5622 8552
Pattaya Vegetarian Festival
While not on the scale and without the blood-letting of the better known Phuket festival this is still a colourful fun filled time for the local people and all those that want to join in
When: 1st – 10th October 2016
Where: Sawang Boriboon Foundation, Nakula, Chonburi. Central Thailand
Vegetarian festivals have a long tradition in Thailand and are believed to be based on the Chinese ‘Emperor Gods Festival’. Those that ‘spiritually’ celebrate the day will leave their daily businesses aside, (it is not a public holiday in the Kingdom) and visit temples dressed all in white, carrying candles and flowers to make merit. The festival is seen as a chance to cleanse the body and to refrain from any acts that would lead to the taking of lives.
For more on the festival the route of the parades etc click here
The Color Run
When:15 and 16 October 2016
Where: Airport Rail Bangkok
The Color Run, also known as the Happiest 5k on the Planet, is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality.
How the event works
Less about your 10-minute-mile and more about having the time of your life, The Color Run is a five-kilometer, un-timed race in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners”, are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. With only two rules, the idea is easy to follow:
1. Wear white at the starting line
2. Finish plastered in color!
The fun continues after Color Runners complete the race with an unforgettable Finish Festival. This larger than life party is equipped with music, dancing and massive color throws, which create millions of vivid color combinations. Trust us, this is the best post-5k party on the planet!
For more on the event see their facebook page
Rafting in Pai River
When: 1 July – 31 December 2016
Where: Pai River Mae Hong Son Northern Thailand
Thailand has a number of provinces which can offer the thrill seeker the chance to take what would seem to most as a hair raising fall into the unknown. Rapids on the river vary from class I to class V on the International Scale of River Difficulty and everything in between, along distance of 50 kilometers. The Pai River offers a scenic view of mountain forest and many choose to camp along the quiet river banks.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Where the act of blood-letting is accompanied by the deafening noise of exploding gun powder
When: 1st – 9th October 2016
Where: In and around Phuket Town. Phuket. Southern Thailand
Vegetarian festivals have a long tradition in Thailand and are believed to be based on the Chinese ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival’. This year’s festival starts and finishes as always with the same ritual when in the late afternoon of the first day “go teng lantern poles” are raised at the participating Chinese shrines. The nine Chinese gods are said to descend down the poles into the shrines, the same gods are then able to ascend the same poles before they are removed on the last night of the festival.
The activities in most parts of the Kingdom are not on the scale of Phuket where the festivities encompasses more unusual rituals. In this event religious devotees will perform ritualized mutilation upon themselves and one another, while under a trance-like state, including but not limited to: impaling through cheeks, arms, face, legs, back etc. With everything from small needles to long swords and other objects such as fire arms and umbrella’s, in fact the size of the item is only restricted to the ability of the pieced person to carry the object.
For more on the festival click here
Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 2016
Where beer and eggs are used to coax the animals and fiery rum is used to sooth the riders bumps and bruises
When: 15th October 2016 In the wake of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing Buffalo Racing in Chonburi is cancelled
Where: Chonburi city hall Chonburi Central/Eastern Thailand
The world famous Chonburi Buffalo Races – Wing Kwai are a fantastic, colourful celebration of these mighty if some-what stupid beasts of burden. Did you know that Thai’s will refer to stupid people unkindly as a ‘Buffalo’ – Khway ควาย? The two week eagerly awaited festival, is closely associated with the end of Buddhist Lent, with the exact date of the festival varying from year to year. As with most festivals in the Kingdom the exact dates are dictated by the Thai Lunar calendar.
Organised buffalo racing has been an event in Chonburi (the name means ‘City of Water’) for more than 140 years, it is believed that racing of these several ton hurtling mountains of beef, has been going on, informally for several hundred years prior to this.
To be fair to the Buffalos they are separated into three different sizes, large, medium and small, all races are run over the same 100 metre track in both rain and shine, with the track perfectly located right in front of the Chonburi city hall. The jockey’s job in this mayhem is to coax the most out of their animals and to try to get their beast to go in a straight line, as fast as possible. To do so they sit almost on the haunches of the buffalo, clinging to the charging animal with only one hand and the strength in their knees, while the other hand wield’s a stick to encourage the beast to go in the right direction. The speed these ungainly animals reach is quite frightening and it is not unusual for riders to become dislodged in their attempt to be the winning jockey.
For more on this Festival click here
Bangkok’s International Festival of Dance and Music
When: September 8th – October 2016
Where: Thailand Cultural Center, Bangkok
Bangkok’s 18th International Festival of Dance and Music is as always is a star-studded delight filled to the brink with a whole range of genres. It is a festival that once again reaffirms Bangkok’s place as a cultural capital. The program includes classical concerts, operas, classical ballets, contemporary and folk dances, jazz and the occasional less common genres of music and dance.
Luang Wiang Lakhon Fair
An ancient Lanna festival that Celebrates the return of Buddha and the end of Lent
When: October 2016 (Prior to 16th Oct: TBC)
Where: Wat Prathat Lampang Luang, Lampang Northern Thailand
Luang Wiang Lakhon Fair (งานหลวงเวียงละคอน) is held just prior to the end of Buddhist Lent, in the first month of the Lanna calendar (Lanna -“Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields”). It is a celebration of both the Buddha’s return after preaching to his mother in heaven, and the day when the Buddhist Monks can again leave their monasteries, after their 3 months self imposed exile of Wan Khao Phansa.
The event also has its roots in the Buddhist festival of Kathina, where it is a time of giving and for the laity to express gratitude to the bhikkhus (Buddhist monks). In this festival Lay Buddhists bring alms to temples, including all manner of things the monks will require in their daily lives e.g. food, soap, candles, cooking utensils and especially new robes.
he Luang Wiang Lakhon Fair features a wonderfully, colourful procession, with local people dressed in native attire, carrying all manner of traditional household appliances, some of which are very old indeed, plus a range of food dishes for the monks, all of which will be donated to the monks, (excluding the antiquated utensils). The event also includes an evening Light and Sound production, which features dance and music performances that highlight the ancient history of both the province and its people. Through-out the day there will be a number of cultural demonstrations along with a host of stalls selling all manner of local produce and handicraft.
For more on this festival click Here
Kaeng Hin Phoeng White-water Rafting Festival
When: 1 June – 31 October 2016
Where: Kaeng Hin Phoeng, Prachinburi Eastern Thailand
White-water Rafting at Kaeng Hin Phoeng Festival is an annual event and during the rainy season, the water level is practically high, providing a faster flow, cleaner rapids, and generally less hazardous conditions. Through-out the event, there are a number of rafting competition.
The Royal Project Market 2016 at Siam Paragon
When: 22-26 September, 2016
Where: Parc Paragon, Siam Paragon, Bangkok
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is proud to invite Thais and foreign tourists to taste, try, and buy fresh and processed organic products from the Royal Projects in the country’s northern highlands which will be on sale at Siam Paragon, during the Royal Project Market 2016 from 22-26 September (10 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
Fair goers can shop for agricultural produces at the market such as portobello and lingzhi mushrooms, avocados, pears, mangoes, beans and rice, coffee and tea as well as processed foods and ready-to-drink fruit juices which were brought to Bangkok to sell directly to city dwellers, so buyers can ensure to receive high quality products, fresh from the farm.
The Royal Project was initiated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1969 with the aim to develop high-altitude, cold-climate crops and prevent slash-and-burn agriculture, deforestation and the cultivation of narcotic plants in the Northern provinces. Several royal projects developments has been introduced throughout the northern region ever since.
Today, there are 38 Royal Project Development Centres spread over Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun and Phayao provinces. Chiang Mai alone has more than 20 sites and these serve as living museums for anyone interested in learning about sustainable alternative living and how poverty can be alleviated.
The products from Royal Project bears witness to the success of the Royal Project Foundation’s extensive study, research and experimentation in bringing sustainable development for local people in each area.
For those interested to know more, there will also be exhibitions for everyone can learn about the Royal Project initiatives across Thailand.
Learn more about the Royal Project Foundation at www.RoyalProjectThailand.com
Hae Krathup Tradition
An ancient tradition of Northeast Thailand that celebrates the Buddha’s return and is also known as the light incense Festival
When: 13 – 16 October 2016
Where: Nong Bua Daeng District Office, Chaiyaphum Northeast Thailand
The annual Hae Krathup Tradition, (งานประเพณีโฮมบุญ ออกพรรษา “แหกระธ ูป”) also known as the light Incense Festival, is a three day event, unique to the area and which takes place annually prior to the end of Buddhist lent; Wan Ok Phansa. This is the time of the year, when Thai Buddhist monks are again able to wander freely, after spending the previous 3 months confined to their monasteries, during the period of Wan Khao Phansa.
Won Ok Phansa Day (16th October 2016), is possibly the most important religious day in the Thai calendar; it celebrates the return of Lord Buddha, after he spent time preaching to His Mother in the Tavatimsa Heaven. This event is in part a portrayal of his descent from heaven and an imitation, of the scenes when he was greeted by his followers and disciples.
The Krathup is a symbolic reference to the Buddhist “island” or “continent” of the terrestrial world and the gigantic Jambu tree, that lays at its center; Jambudvipa.
The Krathup, come in all manner of sizes and shapes, reaching a height of around 3-6 meters. They traditionally have a center spire made from bamboo to which is added further spars and cross beams, from these beams a vast assortment of both plain and decorative coloured paper garlands are hung, these at times immense structures, also contain decorations of intricately folded palm leafs.
The whole structure is then added, to a brightly decorated float, featuring more colourful garlands, along with equally dazzling cloth and at times flowers and plants. The completed Krathup are on display through-out the day and night, where they take on a new life bathed in an eerie glow from the candles carried by many of the onlookers and the small lamps, that are amassed around the feet of the structures.
For more on the festival click here
Phra Samut Chedi Fair
Believed to be the largest & longest running temple fair in the Kingdom, but as yet thankfully, not invaded by hordes of tourists.
When: 21st October 2016 In the wake of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s passing this festival has been postponed until 14 – 25 December 2016
Where: City of Samut Prakarn. Samut Prakarn Province. 30 Kms southwest of Bangkok
This hugely popular annual fair, is held in the city of Samut Prakarn (the city has the same name as the province and is also known by local people ‘Pak Nam’ Thai for ‘Mouth of a River’), it attracts thousands of people from all around the country, who come to join in the fun and to pay homage to the Phra Samut Chedi (Chedi is an alternative term for a Buddhist stupa). The Phra Samut Chedi Fair goes on for 9 days and nights, starting from the 5th day of the waning moon of the 11th lunar month and is believed to be the largest and longest running temple fair in the Kingdom.
Phra Samut Chedi was originally built on a small island in the Chao Phraya River in 1827, it was designed to be the first significant sight for visitors coming to Bangkok by boat. It is said that King Rama II wanted all foreigners entering Thailand to know that the Thai people were Buddhists. The temple is also known as Wat Klang Nam, (วัดกลางน้ำ, ‘Temple in the middle of the water’). Over time the river has silted with the result that the island is now part of the main land located on the western bank of the Chao Phraya River.
For more on this festival, the significance of the new red cloth and how to get there, click here
Lotus Flower Festival (ประเพณีรับบัวหรือโยนบัว)
A unique local festival with a long tradition believed to have dated from as early as 1498
When: 16th October 2016
Where: Bang Phli District, Samut Prakan Province South of Bangkok. Central Thailand
Bang Phli (Bang Phli can translate as The Village of Offerings), is famous for the delighful Lotus Flower Festival (Rap Bua or Yon Bua), which takes place annually on the last day of Buddhist Lent, the fourteenth day of the waxing moon in the eleventh lunar month, the same day is celebrated across the Kingdom as the Wan Ok Phansa Festival.
This unique local festival is a very colourful and spiritual event, with a long tradition believed to have dated from as early as 1498, having been introduced by the Mon people, who fled persecution in their own home land in Burma and who once ruled these lands, from their city state at Nakhon Pathom (85 kms west of Bang Phli).
While this is a three day event, the main feature of the festival is the respect and reverence shown to the replica image of ‘Luang Pho Toh’ Buddha which is first paraded on land through the town, finishing on the water in an elaborate floating procession that gets underway by 07:00 on the final day and features intricately decorated wooden boats rowed by local people in traditional Thai costumes.
For more on this festival, the legend of ‘Luang Pho Toh’ and what else to see and do locally click here
Celebrating Halloween in Thailand
When: 31st October annually
Where: Throughout the more touristy areas of Thailand
While many more western countries are celebrating the yearly (and now almost wholly commercialized) event that is Halloween, here in Thailand outside of the more touristy areas, it is pretty much little understood and therefore pretty much ignored.
The reason Thai’s in general ignore Halloween, is in part due to the fact that we hold our own unique festivals in September and October, to celebrate the dead returning to this world, listed here are details on the biggest across the Kingdom including; where, when and what they entail.
Reverence for the dead is common practice in Asia and the multitude of peoples that make up the rich tapestry of Thailand also have their own unique festivals to celebrate family returning to this realm once a year, to see more click here
With all these festivals celebrating the dead and the Buddhist beliefs in re-incarnation, it is easy to see why Halloween is not a big thing here in the Kingdom
Amari Watergate & BMW Thailand Charity Midnight Run
This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of Thailand or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from asia-backpackers.com, please contact us.