Thailand has many spectacular charms that never cease to amaze its visitors regardless of how many times they visit. For some, Thailand could be a place full of tropical islands surrounded by pristine waters while others may just want to enjoy the hectic urban lifestyle in cities like Bangkok and Phuket. However, it’s no secret that there is a lot more for those who are willing to discover this beautiful country to the fullest, and get acquainted with its vibrant culture and rich heritage. Hence, we would like to take a glimpse at the junction of Thailand’s deeply-rooted traditions and modern values which can only be experienced during nationwide celebrations – festivals!
1. Songkran Festival
People splash water at each other during Songkran Festival.
The Songkran Festival (Water Festival) is Thailand’s longest-running festival, with its origins dating back to the 14th century. The actual celebration itself can be traced back to the 16th century when it was an occasion for people to visit temples and pay respects to their ancestors. Up until 1888, it was the official New Year of Thailand as it marked the beginning of the Lunar year. The event is held annually from the 13th of April through the 15th and it is one of the nationwide festivals celebrated by all.
In Thai culture, it is believed that when you “pour” your troubles away by splashing water on others you will be cleansed of all your problems. The water fights are started by a ritual pouring of water from a small wooden bucket onto sidewalks or ground throughout Thailand.
The Songkran Festival has grown over time, but there are still some aspects that have remained constant throughout its existence. It’s still a chance for Thais to spend time with family members and friends, as well as for them to celebrate their culture through food and drink. Meanwhile, foreigners get to witness and take part in such a rich cultural event in Thailand.
2. Phi Ta Khon Festival
A group of performers wearing ghastly masks.
The Phi Ta Khon Festival or Ghost Festival is one of the most interesting festivals in Thailand. It is a three-day festival that combines religious traditions, a fun-loving party atmosphere, and local handicrafts. It is celebrated for three days with thousands of locals wearing colourful, ghastly masks with stretched faces and phallic noses, painted in bright, and gaudy colours. The Ghost Festival’s origin is a mixture of Buddhist and animist beliefs. Friday is usually when the main parade takes place, Saturday has music shows and pageants while Sunday is reserved for Buddhist ceremonies.
The Phi Ta Khon Festival originated from the belief that ghosts were still roaming around during this time of year due to leftover spirits from previous years. According to legend, there are two types of ghosts: good ones who have died in heaven but still want to help others on Earth; and evil ones who want nothing more than to cause trouble for humans by stealing their possessions and harming them physically or emotionally. Thai people would wear these ghastly costumes in order to confuse bad spirits into believing they are good spirits themselves so they will leave them alone without causing any harm to humans or animals in their vicinity.
3. Yi Peng Festival
People release lanterns in the air during Yi Peng night.
Yi Peng which stands for Lantern Festival has its roots in Chinese tradition like many other Asian festivals. The Chinese celebrate their New Year each year by releasing lanterns into the sky as a symbol of hope for better times ahead. This tradition has been carried over to other Asian countries as well, including Thailand.
The Lantern Festival is a Thai holiday that celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent, which lasts for three months. The celebration takes place during the full moon in October or November.
The festival carries both spiritual and worldly meaning for the people of Thailand. Aside from celebrating the end of the monsoon season, it is a way of ridding oneself of negativity and seeking goodness in life. Meanwhile, for new generations, it is more of an entertainment where everyone gets together and has fun.
Yi Peng (The Lantern Festival) takes place annually in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The festival is celebrated with fireworks, parades and dancing around the city’s local landmarks such as Wat Chedi Luang Temple, Wat Phra Singh Temple and Wat Si Chum Temple.
4. The Lopburi Monkey Banquet
Monkeys Feasting on Fruits at Lopburi Monkey Banquet
The Lopburi Monkey Banquet is one of the most interesting festivals in Thailand. It takes place over a period of two days in November and has become very popular among tourists in recent years.
The main attraction at this event is a herd of monkeys that reside in Lopburi province and they are fed by visitors all year round. However, in November, the simple treats that they get from visitors are replaced by something a lot grander. A huge banquet is laid out for about 3,000 monkeys that live in this part of Thailand, giving them a chance to feast on 4 tons of fruits, vegetables and an array of other treats.
If you would like to join the party, the location of this festival is not too far from Bangkok to the north and can be reached in less than 2 hours by car or public transport. Be prepared to witness a feast that all creatures in the animal kingdom would be jealous of.
5. Wonderfruit Festival
Wonderfruit Festival (Source)
The Wonderfruit Festival has been around for many years now and it has grown into one of the most popular events in Bangkok for locals as well as tourists alike. Not only does it showcase some of the best bands from around Asia but also lets visitors immerse themselves in an artsy environment that brings them closer to their inner creativity. The festival also offers something for everyone with many activities such as cooking workshops and dance performances for kids as well as adults!
Dianne, Assistant Manager – Marketing visits the London School of Business & Finance in Singapore.
Thai people are naturally optimistic, cheerful as well as friendly nation and festivals are their way of sharing their happiness and positivity with others around and the rest of the world. From what we have discovered so far, they are very good at it. If these festivals weren’t enough to impress you, trust me, there is more left for you to explore in person than what we uncovered today. In case you are wondering how you can do that, well, there are a few options: You could either take a short trip to Thailand which wouldn’t be enough to experience all at once or you can opt for a longer stay which might be quite expensive. However, there is a third option that brings benefits of both together: finding a way to live in Thailand for several months without straining your pocket and RMC Asia does just that! You can have a wonderful time in Thailand while learning valuable skills through our internship programs. We can find you a perfect internship at one of our partner host organizations and set you off for an unforgettable experience in no time. Just don’t forget to submit your application. See you in Thailand soon!