Some public holidays you could maybe encounter while on tour with us;
1 + 2 January - New Year's Days, quite often 3rd as well, especially Banks / Offices
9 February - Makha Bucha Day
Maha Puja (particularly Wat Benjamabophit in Bangkok and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai; Feb full-moon day). A day of merit-making marks the occasion when 1250 disciples gathered spontaneously to hear the Buddha preach, and culminates with a candlelit procession round the local temple's bot.
Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai Poy Sang Long (early April). Young Thai Yai boys precede their ordination into monkhood by parading the streets in floral headdresses and festive garb.
6 April - Chakri Day
April 13 - 15 (12+16+17 in some areas) Songkran Days
Chiang Mai is the best and busiest place in the country to see in the Thai New Year, Songkhran, which takes over the city between April 13 and 16. The most obvious role of the festival is as an extended "rain dance" in the driest part of the year, when huge volumes of canal water are thrown about in a communal water-fight that spares no one a drenching. The other elements of this complex festival are not as well known but no less important. In the temple compounds, communities get together to build sandcastles in the shape of chedis, which they cover with coloured flags – this bestows merit on any ancestors who happen to find themselves in hell and may eventually release them from their torments, and also shows an intent to help renovate the wat in the year to come. Houses are given a thorough spring-clean to see out the old year, while Buddha images from the city's main temples are cleaned, polished and sprinkled with lustral water, before being ceremonially carried through the middle of the water-fight to give everyone the chance to throw water on them and receive the blessing of renewal. Finally, younger family members formally visit their elders during the festival to ask for their blessings, while pouring scented water over their hands.
1 May - Labour Day
5 May - Coronation Day
8 May - Visakha Bucha Day
Visakha Puja (particularly Bangkok's Wat Benjamabophit and Nakhon Si Thammarat; May full-moon day). The holiest day of the Buddhist year, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha all in one go; the most public and photogenic part is the candlelit evening procession around the wat.
8 July - Buddhist Lent Day
12 August - H.M. The Queen's Birthday
23 October - Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
Thais honour the memory of their patron-king Rama V with a son et lumière and a beauty contest staged entirely in nineteenth-century dress.
Loy Krathong: the Festival of Light
Every year on the evening of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in November), Thais all over the country celebrate the end of the rainy season with the festival of Loy Krathong. One of Thailand's most beautiful festivals, it's held to honour the spirits of the water at a time when all the fields are flooded and the canals and rivers are overflowing their banks.
Loy Krathong (particularly Sukhothai and Chiang Mai; full moon in Nov). Baskets (krathong) of flowers and lighted candles are floated on any available body of water (such as ponds, rivers, lakes, canals and seashores) to honour water spirits and celebrate the end of the rainy season. Nearly every town puts on a big show, with bazaars, public entertainments, fireworks, and in Chiang Mai, the release of paper hot-air balloons; in Sukhothai it is the climax of a nine-day son-et-lumière festival
5 December - H.M. The King's Birthday
10 December - Constitution Day
31 December - New Year's Eve
Alcohol sales are banned during many of these events, but the rules are fairly relaxed. The main exception being the King's Birthday on 5th Dec.
Alcohol sales are most certainly not restricted during Songkrahn, the Thai New Year festival, which is basically a week-long party and waterfight! We ride with exceptional care during this period. Wear light clothes under your armour to aid drying off quickly, as without doubt you'll be getting wet!!