Thailand has many holidays as the holiday calendar must include all the Thai religious holidays, plus certain days connected with the Thai monarchy and political system. These holidays are generally only given to government workers and bank employees. Some other workers may be given extra pay in lieu of a holiday, but they continue working. Unless a customer needs to use the main branch of a bank or use a service provided by the government they may notice little real inconvenience. Banks in shopping centers usually stay open. One thing they may notice is that on certain holidays bars may close and some, though not all restaurants may refuse to serve alcohol. If holidays fall on a weekend, substitution days are used. And if holidays fall near a weekend extra days may be added. This is at the discretion of the government, who may give little prior notice.
Some of these holidays are occasions when people return to their home towns and villages for religious ceremonies or family gatherings. This can cause problems for travellers using bus or train services on these days. The good news is that some of these holidays also provide opportunities for those wishing to view or take part in colorful ceremonies.
Thai religious minorities may observe their own holidays, although these are not part of the official holiday calendar. Examples include Chinese New Year, Christmas and Eid Al-Fitr. Some shops and businesses may close on these days. There are also local holidays such as Inthakin in Chiang Mai, the Vegetarian festival in Phuket and the Naga Fireball festival in Nong Khai.
For kindergartens (anuban), primary schools (phratom) and secondary or high schools (mathayom) the school year generally begins on the nearest Monday to May 16, following a six week break. The year has two semesters or terms, broken by a two week break in October. Principals have some leeway with regard to exact start and finish dates. Also, schools may open a little earlier at the start of the year to allow for teacher preparation and parent-teacher meetings. Universities and colleges follow a slightly different schedule. For exact timings it is usually best to consult with the individual school.
The Thai Calendar
Thailand uses the old lunar calendar to calculate religious holidays. For all other purposes the familiar Western Gregorian calendar is used, except that each year is calculated from the death of the Buddha in 543 BC. Thus, 2010 in the Western calendar is 2553 in the Thai calendar..
Listed are the Thai public holidays for 2010 (2553 Buddhist Calendar). On all of these days, (except for Loy Kratong), you will find government offices, post offices, schools, and some banks closed.
Friday, January 1, 2010 New Year’s Day
On this day, and the previous day (December 31), all government offices are closed.
Monday, March 1, 2010 Makha Bucha Day
The Makha Bucha holiday celebrates the sermon in which the main Buddhist articles of faith were first explained. It is held on the full moon of the third month of the Thai lunar calendar. The actual celebrations are on the previous day, Sunday, February 28, 2010. Monday is a substitution Thai public holiday because this year the full moon happens to fall on a weekend. Full moon days are generally regarded as the most auspicious days of the month, and many Thai people will visit a temple on such a day.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010 Chakri Day
This Thai holiday celebrates the founding of the Thai royal Chakri dynasty, over two hundred years ago.
Tuesday-Thursday, April 13-15, 2010 Songkran
Songkran is the famous (or infamous) festival where water is splashed (or sprayed at high pressure) over just about everyone. Entire villages, towns and cities take part and everyone participates. This Thai holiday takes place over three days, though informal celebrations may begin a day or two ahead of schedule. It can be difficult to find accommodation or transportation all of this week. Book ahead, and bring plenty of dry clothes!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010 Coronation Day
This holiday celebrates the coronation of the revered Thai monarch, His Majesty King Bhumipol.
Thursday, May 13, 2010 Royal Ploughing Ceremony
The actual ceremony is held at the Sanam Luang in Bangkok, but schools and government offices are closed across Thailand.
Friday, May 28, 2010 Visaka Bucha Day
Held always on the full moon of the sixth month in the Thai Lunar Calendar, Visaka Bucha Day celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.
Monday, July 26, 2010 Asana Bucha Day –
This holiday celebrates the first day of the rains retreat when monks return to their temples. It is held on the full moon of the eighth lunar month.
Tuesday July 27, 2010 Wan Khao Pansa
The following day is also the beginning of the Buddhist lent period. Many Thai people return to their home towns and village, so expect the bus and train stations to be busy over this long weekend. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WanKaoPansa
Thursday, August 12, 2010 The Queen’s Birthday
Her Majesty Queen Sikrit‘s birthday is also Mother’s Day in Thailand. Department Stores and restaurants are usually full of Thai families on this Thailand holiday.
Saturday, October 23, 2010 Wan Ok Pansa
Wan Ok Pansa is the celebration of the end of the rains retreat. It is held on the first day of the waning moon of the eleventh lunar month.
Monday, October 25, 2010 Chulalongkorn Day
A substitution public holiday because this year Chulalongkorn Day falls on the same day as Wan Ok Pansa. Travel over this long weekend may be difficult. King Chulalongkorn was a modernizing monarch who is credited with saving Thailand from French and British imperialism. His picture can often be seen in shops, next to those of the current royal family.
Sunday, November 21, 2010 Loy Kratong
Loy Kratong is the Thai festival of lights, when candles and incense offerings (Kratong) are floated down rivers and small hot air balloons (Khom Loy) are launched into the air. Not an official public holiday, but nevertheless a very popular one, especially in Chiang Mai, Ayudhya and Sukothai, where celebrations take place over several days.
Monday, December 6, 2010 The King’s Birthday
His Majesty King Bhumipol‘s birthday. This is also Father’s Day in Thailand. This public holiday is a substitution as the King’s actual birthday falls on Sunday December 5th.
Friday, December 10, 2010 Constitution Day
This holiday marks the adoption of a system of constitutional monarchy in Thailand in 1932.
Friday, December 31, 2010 New Year’s Eve
Yes, New Year’s Eve is also a Thai public holiday and all government offices are closed. Happy New Year!