Public Holidays and Important Festivals in Phuket, Thailand

by Mama Loves Phuket

When planning your trip to Phuket, Thailand, it’s essential to be aware of upcoming public holidays, festivals and events in Phuket, most coinciding with the rest of Thailand.

While many occasions may pass without much notice if you are a tourist, it’s important to note that on certain religious occasions, alcohol sales – from hotels and retail shops – will cease for 24 hours.

Important Dates Observed in Phuket

The following are the most important dates to be aware of (remember that the exact dates for religious events will vary by year as they’re based on moon cycles rather than Gregorian calendar dates; more on these below).

  • New Year’s Day – January 1
  • Chinese New Year – January or February (dates vary)
  • Makha Bucha Day – February or March (dates vary)
  • Chakri Day – April 6
  • Songkran (Thai New Year) – April 13-15
  • Labor Day – May 1
  • Visakha Bucha Day – May or June (dates vary)
  • H.M. the Queen’s Birthday – June 10
  • Asanha Bucha Day – July (dates vary)
  • Khao Phansa Day – July or August (dates vary)
  • H.M. the King’s Birthday – July 28
  • Phuket Vegetarian Festival – September or October (dates vary)
  • King Bhumibol Memorial Day – October 13
  • Chulalongkorn Day – October 23
  • Loy Krathong – November (dates vary)
  • Father’s Day – December 5
  • Thailand Constitution Day – December 10
  • Christmas Day – December 25
  • New Year’s Eve – December 31

Not all dates above are public holidays but rather internationally recognized dates, such as Christmas Day.

The Buddhist Year

The Buddhist year is based on the lunar calendar and is commonly used in Thailand and other countries with a significant Buddhist population. It is also known as the Thai solar calendar or the Siamese version of the Indian Vikram Samvat calendar.

The Buddhist year starts from the day of the full moon in April, which is usually around the 13th or 14th of the month. This day is called “Songkran” and marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The current Buddhist year is 2566 BE (Buddhist Era), though note as a quirk, they start using the new year from 1 January!

The Buddhist calendar is approximately 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar, the world’s most widely used civil calendar.

One significant difference between the two calendars is that the Buddhist calendar has 12 lunar months, each starting from the full moon and lasting approximately 29 or 30 days. This means the Buddhist year is shorter than the Gregorian year, which has 12 months based on the solar cycle and is approximately 365.24 days long.

Another difference is that the Buddhist calendar uses a system of animal signs and elements to represent each year, similar to the Chinese zodiac. The 12 animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig, and each animal sign is associated with an element (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) that rotates in a 60-year cycle.

Overall, the Buddhist year is an integral part of traditional Thai culture and marks significant religious and cultural events throughout the year.

Religious Festivals in Phuket

If you are unfamiliar with the Buddhist culture, many of these festivals and events may be new to you. We’ve included a detailed description of the importance of each and when you can expect these dates to occur on the Gregorian Calendar.

More About Makha Bucha Day

  • 2023: Saturday, February 25th
  • 2024: Saturday, February 24th
  • 2025: Thursday, March 6th
  • 2026: Tuesday, March 3rd
  • 2027: Sunday, February 21st

Makha Bucha Day is a Buddhist holiday commemorating a special event during the Buddha’s lifetime.

Religious festivals Makha Bucha Day candles

According to Buddhist legend, on the full moon day of the third lunar month, 1,250 disciples spontaneously gathered to see the Buddha and hear him give a sermon. The Buddha ordained these disciples, and they became arhats, or enlightened beings.

The holiday is celebrated throughout Thailand, and many Thai people will visit temples and participate in merit-making activities to commemorate the event.

More About Songkran

  • April 13 to 15

Songkran is the Thai New Year festival, celebrated nationwide, including in Phuket. The festival takes place in mid-April and lasts three days, from April 13th to 15th.

During Songkran, people participate in a water festival, which involves splashing water on each other as a symbolic way of washing away bad luck and sins from the previous year.

Songkran in phuket

In Phuket, the festival is particularly lively in the areas of Patong, Kata, and Karon, where there are large crowds and lots of water fights. There are also parades, cultural events, and traditional ceremonies, such as water pouring on Buddha images and the elderly.

Many shops and businesses may have reduced operating hours or be closed during Songkran in Phuket, especially on the main days of the festival (April 13-15). However, some shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions may remain open to cater to tourists during this time. It’s best to check with specific businesses for their operating hours during the Songkran period.

Songkran is a fun and exciting festival that offers a unique cultural experience for visitors to Phuket.

More About Visakha Bucha Day

  • 2023: Thursday, May 18
  • 2024: Monday, June 3
  • 2025: Saturday, May 24
  • 2026: Wednesday, May 13
  • 2027: Tuesday, June 1

Visakha Bucha Day is a Buddhist holiday that commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvana), and death (Parinirvana) of the Buddha. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month, which usually falls in May.

religious festivals visakha bucha day

The holiday is observed in Thailand and other countries with large Buddhist populations.

On Visakha Bucha Day, people typically visit Buddhist temples to make merit, perform rituals, and listen to Dharma teachings. It is also a day for practising meditation and abstaining from worldly pleasures.

More About Asanha Bucha Day

  • 2023: August 1st
  • 2024: July 20th (Observed July 22nd)
  • 2025: July 10th
  • 2026: July 29th
  • 2027: July 21st

Asanha Bucha Day, also known as Dhamma Day or Asalha Puja Day, is a Buddhist holiday that commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon. According to legend, the Buddha gave his first sermon to five disciples in the Deer Park in Sarnath, India, on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month.

The sermon is considered the starting point of Buddhism, and its teachings are considered the foundation of Buddhist beliefs. Asanha Bucha Day is observed on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in July.

The day is an opportunity for Buddhists to reaffirm their commitment to the Buddha’s teachings, meditate, and perform acts of merit.

religious festivals asanha bucha day

More about Khao Phansa Day

  • 2023: August 2nd
  • 2024: July 21st (public holiday July 23rd)
  • 2025: July 11th
  • 2026: July 30th
  • 2027: July 19th

Khao Phansa Day, also known as Buddhist Lent Day or Asalha Bucha, is a significant Buddhist holiday celebrated in Thailand. The term “Khao Phansa” translates to “the beginning of the rains retreat.” The holiday marks the start of the three-month Buddhist Lent period, which lasts from the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month (usually in July) to the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eleventh lunar month (usually in October).

During the Buddhist Lent, monks traditionally retreat to their temples for a period of intensive meditation and study. This practice dates back to ancient times when monks were prohibited from travelling during the rainy season to avoid harming crops and small creatures in the fields.

On Khao Phansa Day, Thai Buddhists participate in various religious activities. They often visit temples to make merit, offer alms to monks, and participate in candlelit processions known as “wian tian.” During these processions, devotees walk around the temple’s main hall carrying lit candles, incense, and lotus flowers, while meditating and reflecting on the teachings of the Buddha.

Khao Phansa Day is considered a day of spiritual renewal and dedication Visaka bucha day loy krathong An to the Buddhist path. It is a time when Buddhists recommit to observing the Five Precepts and deepening their understanding of the Dharma through meditation and reflection. The day holds great significance in Thai culture and is observed with reverence and piety across the country.

More About the Phuket Vegetarian Festival

  • 2023: Sunday, October 15th to Tuesday, October 24th

The Vegetarian Festival is a popular annual event held in Phuket. It is a traditional Chinese festival celebrating the Chinese community’s belief in abstinence from meat during the ninth lunar month.

phuket vegetarian festival

The festival involves elaborate processions, street parades, and rituals that showcase a range of firewalking and self-mutilation performances.

More About Loy Krathong

  • 2023: November 28th
  • 2024: November 21
  • 2025: November 11
  • 2026: October 30
  • 2027: November 18

Loy Krathong is a Thai festival celebrated annually on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month (usually in November).

It is a festival of lights also known as the “Festival of Floating Bowls”. During this festival, people make or buy small boats, called “krathongs”, made of banana leaves and decorated with flowers, candles, and incense. These krathongs are then floated on water, usually rivers or lakes, to pay respect to the goddess of water and ask for forgiveness for polluting and damaging the water.

Loy Krathong is also a time for people to make wishes and to express their gratitude for good fortune.

Religious festivals Loy Krathong

Other Dates of Note in Phuket

Whilst not always marked as a public holiday, there are other celebrations you will note observed.:

Chinese New Year

  • 2023: January 22 (Year of the Rabbit)
  • 2024: February 10 (Year of the Dragon)
  • 2025: January 29 (Year of the Snake)
  • 2026: February 17 (Year of the Horse)
  • 2027: February 6 (Year of the Goat)
  • 2028: January 26 (Year of the Monkey)

Father’s Day

  • 5 December annually

This day marks the birthdate of the man considered the country’s Founding Father, His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It is a national day of celebration of father figures and forefathers.

Many will wear yellow on this day as a sign of respect and gratitude.

Thailand Constitution Day

  • 10 December annually (public holiday observance may vary)

Thailand Constitution Day, also known as “Wan Ratthathammanun” in Thai, is a national holiday in Thailand that commemorates the promulgation of the country’s first permanent constitution in 1932.

Explore Events by Month in Phuket

We have created a detailed guide for each month in Phuket to help you plan not only for festivals and events happening in Phuket but also expected weather and travel tips relevant to your planned time of year.


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© Mama Loves Phuket 2024

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