Public holidays and special days

Diary  Public Holidays and Pattaya Events...



8th February Makha Bucha Day


Buddhist special day.

Bars closed (even when it falls on Valentine's Day). The prohibition runs from midnight to midnight and so some GoGos simply delay opening until midnight.

10th February Makha Bucha Public Holiday

Public Holiday

Public Holiday

Bars open

6th April. Chakri Day Bars open
13-16th April (Naklua/Pattaya local days 18/19th) Songkran. Songkran runs from 13-15th with the 13th being Songkran Day. Other days are added depending on days falling on weekends. Bars open and very wet
1st May  Labour Day. Bars open
11th May Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day. Civil Service holiday but not public holiday. Bars open
4th May Anniversary of the Coronation of King Vajiralongkorn
6th May Visakha Bucha Day. Buddhist special day.  Bars closed. The prohibition runs from midnight to midnight and so some GoGos simply delay opening until midnight.
3rd June Queen' Suthida's Birthday Public holiday new for 2019. Bars open
1st July Mid Year Bank Holiday Bank holiday but not public holiday. Bars open
5th July Asarnha Bucha Day Buddhist special day. Bars closed.
6th July Khao Pansa . Buddhist Lent Day Civil Service holiday but not public holiday. Bars closed. The prohibition runs from midnight to midnight and so some GoGos delay opening until midnight.

This is the Asanha Bucha Day public holiday in 2020

28th July King's Birthday Public holiday starting form 2018. Not yet clear about whether the bars will open but in 2018 it coincided with a dry Buddha day.
12th August Queen Mother's Birthday (Mother's Day) Bars open
October End of Buddhist Lent (Auk Pansa). Buddhist special day Not a public holiday. Bars previously open but law change mandates closing from 2015. The prohibition runs from midnight to midnight and so some GoGos delay opening until midnight.
13th October Bhumipol Day Anniversary of the King's death and now remembered as a permanent public holiday

Bars closed in 2017, 2018, open in 2019, but the decisions seems to have been last minute.

23rd October Chulalongkorn Day. Public holiday. Bars open
November Loy Krathong Not a public holiday. Girls dress up in national dress and float boats out to water spirits. Bars open
5th December, King Bhumipol's Birthday (Fathers Day). Bars open 2016, 2015, 2012, 2011, 2008, 2006 Bars but closed 2014, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2007.  Mixed in 2017 when the bars were open in central Pattaya, but not the dark side.
5th December King Bhumipol's Birthday Holdiday Bars open
10th December Constitution Day Bars open
25th December Christmas Day Not a Thai holiday but it is surely a special day in Pattaya. Bars open
31st December New Years Eve Bars open


1st January New Years Day Bars open
January/February Chinese New Year February Not a public holiday.

Bars open and visited by dragons



Makha Bucha Day   Enlightenment ...

First and last lessons about Buddhism

A major Buddha day when the bars are invariably closed.

From Pattaya City Expats Club

Makha Bucha gathering of monksMakha Bucha day commemorates two separate events that occurred on the same date 45 years apart, during the Buddha's lifetime 2,500 years ago. The first event was the coming together of 1,250 monks from all locations and directions, to meet and be ordained by the Buddha. This event occurred seven months after the Buddha began his teachings.

The second event, which occurred 45 years later, was the Buddha delivering his teachings shortly before his death.

Both of these events occurred on the day of the full moon of the third lunar month, a month known in the Buddhist Pali language as 'Makha'. The 'Bucha', also a Pali word, means to venerate or to honor. Thus, Makha Bucha Day is for the veneration of Buddha and his teachings on the full moon day of the third lunar month.

The first event occurred nine months after the Buddha had been expounding his doctrine for only seven months. Of his 1,340 disciples, 1,250 of them came to the Buddha spontaneously, without communication from him – and at that meeting Buddha laid down the three main principles of his religion in the Patimokka, or the 'monk way', which document crystallizes the wisdom of all the Buddhas that came before him. These principles are:

1. Give up evil and refrain from sinning.
2. Cultivate good - and make merit
3. Cleanse one's mind.

The second event occurred on the same day forty-five years later. The Buddha foresaw that due to the state of his health, his attainment of Nirvana, or the escape from the cycle of rebirths, was approaching and would be within three months. On that day, he formulated and preached his Dhamma formulation for the responsibility of an individual or organization. These precepts state that a person or organization should:

1. Enjoy work or responsibility,
2. Be diligent in work,
3. Concentrate on the job while working,
4. Check all unfinished work thoroughly.


Chakri Day
6th April
   A Change of Family Seat ...
Chakri Memorial Day

PantheonApril 6 is Chakri Memorial Day, a national holiday. It marks the date of the founding of the Chakri Dynasty on April 6, 1782 after the death of King Taksin.

The Royal Pantheon at Wat Pra Keo has life-size wax figures of all the past kings. Traditionally it was only open on this day, but in past years it has been open on other days as well.

King Rama the First ascended the throne on April 6, 1782, after the death of King Taksin of the Thonburi Kingdom. Appointed as King Taksin’ s top warlord, he was formerly called Chao Phraya Chakri. Realizing that Thonburi on the West Bank of the Chao Phraya River would always be threatened by enemy attacks, King Rama the First moved Thailand’ s royal capital from Thonburi to Bangkok on the east side. His reign has been called a “reconstruction” of the Thai state and Thai culture, using Ayutthaya, old capital, as a model.

In 1918 King Rama VI decided to use a building in the center of Wat Phra Kaew to display statues of previous kings. The building was restored and renamed Prasat Phra Dhep Bidorn or the Royal Pantheon. In 1919 King Rama VI declared April 6 of each year as Chakri Day. On that day an official ceremony would be performed in the Royal Pantheon to honor the dynasty.


Mid April
  Civility or Civil War ...

Celebrating Songkran

Thanks to jj, April 2007

Pouring water on a BuddhaAnnually in mid-April, the sun and the earth align such that at high noon the sun is directly over Thailand. This also happens to coincide with the official beginning of the rainy season and the rice planting season. Hence, too, the closing of schools to allow all the children to lend a hand planting the rice. Except today, the children only seem to plant themselves in front of the TV or computer game console.

Culturally, there are a number of traditions associated with Songkran. One of them is a thorough cleaning of the house. Another is paying respect to the elders. Somewhere, between the two of these, the ‘throwing of water’ became part of the culture. If you are fortunate enough to accompany your Thai significant other to her ‘home’, you will likely see these events in their original and meaningful manner.

Line up of eldersThe entire village will gather at the customary place: the square, the village meeting room or temple. The elders of the village will be aligned in descending order of age and the entire village will pass in front of them showing their respect by gently pouring lustral water on their hands. The elders thank them by calling blessings down on those so offering this honor. Immediately following this ceremony, the villagers pour (not throw) water on each other and their Buddha – here too as a gesture of respect. Of course, this is just another excuse to eat so the ladies have arrayed all sorts of goodies for all to enjoy. The men then retire to get drunk, while the ladies clean up.

In the most traditional of places, a similar ceremony is held for the monks. At the very least, the monks are given their morning alms by just about everyone on the village on Songkran.
Thus Songkan is a very respectful, civil day of respect and fun.

Water fightsNot so in the modern Thai urban centers; here it is has become more like civil war. In a complete reversal of Thai tradition and culture, it has lost all respect for anyone. The gentle Thai-ness of the pouring of lustral waters has given way to PVC cannons that can knock over a small child. Drunkenness will abound. Some of the ladies treat it more like a wet-t-shirt contest than a day of respect. Guys will use it as an opportunity to gape and grope the ladies. Hoses and water cannons are used to inundate innocent by-standers. Water is blasted through the open windows of busses on the street. All respect for people going to work, for their clothes or their possessions is forgotten.

Songkran revellers soak motorcyclistMotorcyclists are the most vulnerable. With or without a helmet, having a few liters of water hit you in the face causes a natural reflex to close one’s eyes and swerve. Add the slippery wet streets to the mix and accidents abound. Luckily, most of these are but a minor inconvenience. Yet, the death toll will soar during this same period mostly due to drunken antics.

Once again (see Loy Kratong), modern Thais have found a way to take something gentle and beautiful and turn it into an excuse to maim and kill.

Suggestions for newcomers: Many farangs adopt a typhoon mentality for the week of Songkran. They lay in a supply of food and water (and abundant alcoholic beverages) and hunker down in front of the TV. Should you brave the storm and venture forth, it is highly advisable to place all items like your wallet, passport or any electronics in plastic bags. YOU WILL GET WET!

Although, Thailand is a country the approximate size of a postage stamp, some areas like Pattaya have decided that they can split an astrologic hair and determine that here the sun isn’t directly over head until a week after it happens in Bangkok – barely 150 kms away. So the majority of the civil warfare here will not occur until 19-20 APR. To make matters even worse, the entire city will be enveloped in grid lock as water-laden pick-up trucks full of fun-seeking teens will clog the streets. Do NOT plan to drive anywhere. You simply can’t move. Luckily, such mayhem subsides with the setting of the sun, so a visit to your favorite source of alcohol and groping is still in play.

Update: A Return to Civility

April 2 2007 by jj

A return to civilityLike many other ole farts, I chose to hunker down for 'water week', but I did venture as far as my favorite neighborhood bar to watch the festivities on the main soi near my home. I was amazed how civility abounded!

Revelers from 6-60 were lined up enjoying the day. And being quite civil about the process. Water was being arced over the road in the path of vehicles rather than aimed at their faces. Bowls, not buckets and water cannons, were the most common means of dispersing water. I nary saw a PVC cannon all day! Powder was respectfully layered on the old and young alike.

Motorcycles were being flagged down and the occupants dowsed and dusted not drenched. Pick-ups were exchange broadsides as they passed but the disinterested and street vendors were being spared.

A few hours later, those same pick-ups came lumbering back, riding a bit higher with ammunition and energy expended. Unlike Soi 7, nary a boob was flashed -- Oh darn!

All in all, it was more akin to the time-honored Thai day than the recent civil wars.
The revelers, young and old, will sleep well tonight.

The Astrology of Songkran

From the Bangkok Post , April 2008

Astrology chartIf the Culture Ministry has its way, the next Songkran festival will not necessarily start on April 13.

Wattana Boonchab, an expert at the Culture Ministry, said the ministry is considering reviving a tradition in which Songkran Day is determined with the help of an ancient calendar that is common in most Southeast Asian countries, rather than fixing the date on April 13.

By tradition, Songkran Day is determined based on a suriya yatra sacred book which describes the passing of the sun.

Songkran is a Sanskrit word, meaning the passing of the sun from one zodiac to another. The passing happens every month, but the most important passage is in April when the sun leaves Pisces to enter Aries, which traditionally marks the beginning of the new year.

That Songkran is fixed on April 13 makes people forget the other two important days during the traditional new year. They are wan nao and wan thaloeng sok, which literally means celebration of the new year, on April 15 or April 16, Wattana said.

Nao, he said, means stay in Thai. In this sense, it specifically means the lapse of the sun passing: That's exactly the period when the sun is between the two zodiacs. Nao when pronounced by people in the North is a word that gives this particular date an inauspicious meaning. It sounds like the word for rotten so people usually skip this day if they are to hold an important event, to avoid bad luck.

But since we no longer recognise wan nao, we inadvertently conduct auspicious ceremonies on an inauspicious day. The revival of the tradition will help people know when to avoid this date,that is, a day between Songkran and wan thaloeng sok.

Wattana said wan thaloeng sok this year falls on April 15 and it will fall on April 16 for the next three years. In 2012, it falls again on April 15. Thereafter, thaloeng sok will be on April 16 for the next 80 years

Warning: Out of Hand

April 2008, from Pattaya Secrets

Water fights[My wife has a salon near the beer bars of sois 7 and 8].

Yesterday most people were playing Songkran in that area so she decided that she and her staff would join in. She came home about 8 p.m. and reported that she never wanted to play Songkran again.

She said that there were roving gangs of up to 10 drunken farangs – mainly Brits – who were abusive and very rough. The carried illegal power water guns, and buckets of ice. When they reached her shop they would physically grab her and her staff so that they couldn’t escape and blast them with water and ice.

If they tried to resist, they were subjected to profanities and abuse. She said that normally on that side of the street there would only be a trickle of farangs wandering along, but yesterday the road was full of farangs looking to make mayhem.

A 4 year old boy wasn’t spared. The more he cried the more they taunted him and soaked him. They had to put him inside the shop for his own safety.

My wife’s arms are covered in bruises where these louts had grabbed her.


Visakha Bucha Day   Birth, Enlightenment and Death ...

Marking the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha

A major Buddha day when the bars are invariably closed.

See full article from Wikipedia

Death of BuddhaVisakha Bucha is an annual holiday observed by practicing Buddhists. The exact date of Vesak varies according to the lunar calendar. It falls on a full moon

Sometimes informally called "Buddha's birthday," it actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment Nirvana, and passing (Parinirvana) of Buddha.

On Visakha Bucha day, devout Buddhists and followers alike are expected and requested to assemble in their various temples before dawn for the ceremonial, and honorable, hoisting of the Buddhist flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples).

Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their teacher. These symbolic offerings are to remind followers that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks would soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction.

Devotees are enjoined to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day.

Some devout Buddhists will wear a simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the observance of the Eight Precepts.

1. Not to kill
2. Not to steal
3. Not to engage in improper sexual activity
4. Not to indulge in wrong speech
5. Not to take intoxicating drinks and drugs
6. To abstain from taking food at unreasonable times
7. To refrain from sensual pleasures such as dancing, singing and self-adornment
8. To refrain from using high and luxurious seats in order to practice humility.

Devotees are expected to listen to talks given by monks. On this day monks will recite verses uttered by the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago, to invoke peace and happiness for the Government and the people. Buddhists are reminded to live in harmony with people of other faiths and to respect the beliefs of other people as the Buddha had taught.


Coronation Day
5th May
  Coronation Day ...

Wan Chatramongkhol:
Anniversary of the King's coronation

From Chiang Mai Mail

Corontion DayKing Bhumibol Adulyadej ascended to the throne on June 9 but finished his studies in Europe before returning to Thailand for his coronation on 5th May 1950. He was crowned King during an elaborate and highly intricate ceremony that outshone all previous coronations in Thailand.

The annual remembrance of the coronation ceremony is currently a three day affair, starting with a ritual “tham bun” ceremony on May 3 to honour the King’s ancestors. Later on the first day, another ceremony is performed, whereby flags of honour are issued to distinguish various military units.

The following day, Buddhist ceremonies continue with chanting rituals, prayers and Brahman priests announcing the auspicious occasion forthcoming on May 5 itself. On that day, a national holiday, King Bhumibol Adulyadej conducts a merit-making ceremony, presenting offerings to Buddhist monks, and leading a “Wienthien” ceremony, walking three times around sacred grounds at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

On the same evening, the King conducts a further sacred ceremony; the changing of the yellow cloth on the Emerald Buddha, the guardian symbol protecting the Thai people, transferred from Thonburi to Wat Phra Kaew by Rama I.


Asarnha Bucha Day   Commemorating the Triple Gem ...

Marking the first sermon given by Buddha

A major Buddha day when the bars are invariably closed.

From The Pattaya Mail

Asalaha Bucha DayThe Buddhist Holy Day of Asarnha Bucha falls on the 15th night of the full moon during the eighth month of the Buddhist Lunar calendar.

Asarnha Bucha Day is worshipped because of three important events occurring on the day. Called the Triple Gem (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha).

Firstly the day commemorates the first sermon given by the Buddha, called the Dharmachakapavattama Sutta concerning the Four Noble Truths presented to the Buddha’s first five disciples. The sermon set in motion the Wheel of Dharma .

The sermon concluded that:

  1. All things are a source of suffering from the constant cycle of birth, disease, old age and death.
  2. Desire or the inability to obtain what one desires is the cause of suffering resulting from cause and effect.
  3. Freedom from suffering can be obtained after the complete cessation of desire.
  4. The last of the Four Noble Truths is the Middle Way , or the path between extremes of asceticism and indulgence leading to the eliminating of desire. The Eight-Fold Path consists of possessing the correct: Views, Resolve, Speech, Conduct, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Meditation (or Concentration).

Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of Buddhism, as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his enlightenment two months earlier and then, coming to a forest area in the city of Pharansi, he showed favour to five ascetics who became his followers.

The third of the Triple Gems is the Sangha. On this same day, the first person listened to the Buddha’s sermon, realising the truths contained therein and becoming the first Buddhist monk. This created the Buddhist order “Sangha” and the day is also known as “Sangha Day”


Khao Pansa
Buddhist Lent Day
  Monks Go Home ...

Monks return to their home temple to contemplate the rainy season

A major Buddha day when the bars are invariably asked to close but some open anyway

From The Pattaya Mail

Temple full of monksThe day following Asarnha Bucha Day is called Khao Pansa or Buddhist Lent Day. This day falls on the first full moon of the Buddhist Lunar calendar during the eighth month of every year.

The term “Khao Pansa” can also translate to entering the months of the rainy season when monks return to the temple for the duration of the rains, usually to the temple where they were ordained. They stay there for approximately three months. The monks are not supposed to depart the temple, or stay overnight at any other location during the months of rain.

For those people having devout faith they may adhere to more of the Buddhist rules than usual (5 rules for lay people and 8 for more serious adherents). A typical sacrifice may be to give up alcohol (banned by one of the 5 rules)

The two main items presented to monks during Khao Pansa are the candles and garments worn by monks, specifically the bathing robe. The candles were essential in former times and needed for ceremonies, studying scriptures and performing various other functions. The candle offering has developed into a custom still followed.


Chonburi Buffalo Races   A Bum Steer? ...

Chonburi Buffalo Races

No mention of useful things like betting facilities and the availability of form guides though.

From www.thailand.com

Held at Chonburi City Hall

Around the time of the full moon in the 11th lunar month, usually the first weekend in October, farmers from all over the province bring their buffalo to Chonburi City for a festival that dates back centuries. Costumed dancers move to the music of traditional Thai songs amid flags and banners. General merriment prevails as local beauties vie for the title of "Miss Farm Maiden". Judges also award prizes to the best decorated buffalo.

The races themselves are preceded by a parade of colorful buffalo-drawn carts through the central part of the provincial capital. Then the contestants are led to the stadium while farmhands run along side and throw buckets of water on them to keep them cool. The buffalo are fed a mixture of beer and eggs to enhance their performance, and the riders probably consume one of the ingredients to gather their courage for the bareback ride of the rampaging beasts. Crowds whoop and roar and dive for cover as the numerous rounds narrow down the field to four finalists. Finally in the late afternoon the winning buffalo is festooned with garlands and prizes are awarded to the rider


Awk Pansa   End of Buddhist Lent ...

End of the rainy season

A Buddha day that is neither a public holiday nor a day when bars are asked to close

See article from chiangmai-chiangrai.com

Temple full of monksAwk Pansa means leaving the period of rain and normally falls on around early October till early November.

The occasion is to mark the end of Lord Buddha's retreat to heaven in the wet season, during which he preached to his mother. Upon his return to Earth, his followers presented Lord Buddha and his disciples with gifts of food. This event is celebrated today by the presentation of food and other gifts to the nation's monks as they emerge from their rainy season retreat in temples across the land. The monks prepare for this occasion by shaving their heads and eyebrows, and donning fresh robes before leaving their temples and travelling throughout the countryside.

Awk Pansa falls on the night of the full moon when Thai people will visit their local temple to pray and to pay respects to the sacred relics and structures within the temple grounds. Candles will be lit and placed outside homes and in temple compounds across the country. This is to mark the end of the rains that have brought sustenance to the land. This occasion comes on the eve of Tawd Gathin, a thirty-day period of merit-making for the people of Thailand.

The Royal Barge Procession

As keeper of the Buddhist faith in Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is, by custom, the first person to present new robes to the monks; presiding over a Gathin ceremony at a temple of royal rank, such as Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), or Wat Po in the capital, Bangkok.

The king will travel there aboard the Royal Barge accompanied by an impressive fleet of escort barges along the Chao Phraya River from the Grand Palace to Wat Arun, where he will present the new robes to the abbot. The Royal Barge Procession is a splendid affair, comprising as it does of more than fifty barges manned by some two thousand colourfully dressed crewmen; the bulk of whom man the oars of these ornate vessels.

Naga fireballs

The phenomenon known as the Naga fireballs, in which glowing egg-sized balls rise out of the Mekong river, is most often reported around the night of Wan Awk Pansa. A clear reason for the fireballs has yet to be determined.


Chulalongkorn Day
23rd October
  Chulalongkorn Day ...

The King of Siam

See article from en.wikipedia.org

King ChulalongkornChulalongkorn (Rama V) was the fifth king of the Chakri dynasty of Thailand. He is regarded as one of the greatest kings of Siam, as he is also called by Thais as "The Great Beloved King".

King Chulalongkorn modernized the government by introducing a cabinet system, and the semi-feudal provincial administration was changed into a modern administration with provinces (changwat) and districts (amphoe) as it still is today. He declared amnesty for all political prisoners, and also gradually abolished slavery. This liberation is often misunderstood but was intended to weaken the power of the Bunnag, a noble family that strictly controlled the Chakri dynasty at the time. In addition, the liberation was intended to weaken regional governors and centralize the country.

Thailand's first railroad was opened in his reign in 1896 from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. It was during his reign that the western calendar replaced the traditional lunar calendar. In 1896 the British diplomat Alfred Mitchell-Innes took up a three-year appointment as Financial Advisor to the King, who also introduced the modern system of banknotes to Siam. Chulalongkorn also declared religious freedom, allowing Christianity and Islam to be practiced in the Buddhist country.

He was born on September 20, 1853 He ascended to the throne on October 1, 1868 and died on  October 23, 1910). The date of his death is commemorated as a national holiday.


Loi Krathong

  Loi Krathong: Festival of Lights

Loy KratongAs the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in mid-November) lights up the night sky, throughout the Thai kingdom, hundreds of thousands of ornately-decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called Loi Krathong - the 'festival of lights". This is one of the Kingdom's oldest and best-preserved traditions.

The Loi Krathong tradition we know of today has evolved from the royal rituals of the early Rattanakosin period in which several types of lanterns were set afloat in the Chao Phraya River and its waterways. The practice was subsequently adopted and adapted by common folk.

Krathong floats are made from basic materials easily found around the village and reflect the simplicity of life beyond the palace walls. They typically take the shape of lotus in full bloom, swans, chedis (stupas), and Mount Meru from Buddhist mythology. However krathong floats in the shape of lotus blossoms are most popular.

There are various accounts about the origins of Loi Krathong. It is not known as to when the tradition first began but authorities speculate that it is of Indian origin and based on the "Deepavalee" ritual which is also accompanied by floating lights in an act of worship of the Brahmin gods. According to another school of thought, the ritual is said to be based on ancient Buddhist tales and is undertaken to pay respect to the sacred footprint of the Lord Buddha on the bank of the mythical Nammadhammahantee river.

However, given the river-based culture that formed the foundation of the traditional Thai way of life, Loi Krathong evolved into a ritual in which offerings are made to Mae Khongkha – Mother of Waters, the Thai equivalent of the Hindu goddess of water, in an expression of gratitude for providing life-sustaining water throughout the year. It is also believed that the offering are made in an act of appeasement to beg her forgiveness for Man's carelessness in polluting the pristine water that nourishes all life. Over time the tradition spread throughout the country.

Some believe that by setting the krathong adrift, one symbolically casts away one's grief, misery and ill-fortunes to the extent that there are bizarre tales of the superstitious placing tufts of hair or clipped finger-nail into the krathong in the hope of ridding themselves of a spell of bad luck or misfortune. Coins are also placed in the krathong as offerings.

For the romantic at heart and young couples, Loi Krathong is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love.

At dusk, as the full moon begins to rise, the krathong is decorated with fresh flowers and the candles and incense sticks are placed in the krathong. The float is then taken to a waterway where the candle and incense sticks are lit and the krathong set adrift. The floats are carried downstream by the gentle current, candlelight flickering in the wind.

The lighting of fireworks is undertaken in the same spirit as when lighting candles in an act of worship so fireworks displays are very much an integral element of the secular and religious rituals performed.

Soon after, attention turns to celebration. The evening's festivities consist of impressive firework displays, folk entertainment, stage dramas, song and dance.

Loi Krathong customs and traditions reflect local beliefs and cultural evolution. Interesting regional variations can be seen. In Tak province, the banana-leaf floats are replaced by coconut shells which are threaded together and launched simultaneously so they appear as long chains of hundreds of glittering lights on the Ping River, hence the origin of its name, Loi Krathong Sai.

In the Northern Thai provinces that were once part of the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom, the Yi-peng Northern Lantern Festival is still being celebrated. Tubular lanterns, resembling hot air balloons, are lit and released into the night sky as an offering the Lord Buddha. As hundreds of illuminated lanterns drift into infinity, this conjures the same sense of wistful closure as the krathong float downstream.

  Comment: Another amplified holiday?

Loy KratongWe are fast approaching another Loy Kratong. Loying (floating) your Kratong (basket) is an ancient and beautiful Thai tradition of ridding yourself of all your cares and woes. You are supposed to place all your worldly concerns and those few sins you have committed in the past year in the basket and let them float peacefully away. Who can forget the sight of thousands of candled kratongs floating down the Chao Phya at the King’s 60th celebration? It is a true family day. Why is it then that the modern Thais have to amplify the tradition?

Last year, I took the entire family over to the Pattaya’s Map-pra-tan reservoir to rid ourselves of worldly concerns. At just about dusk, we loyed our kratongs -- no mean feat when there is no current – and then retired across the road to have dinner in one of those many "lake-view" restaurants. No sooner had the sun set and the food arrived than they plugged in a set of speakers the size of small houses. We were 100 meters away but the music helped us chew our food. Even at that distance it was tooth-rattling!

Why is it that "modern" Thais have to push all the ancient traditions to the brink? Song Kran was once a time to pay homage to the elders and to wash away the cares of the hot season in preparation for the new planting season as the rains arrived. Now it is little more than a battle of the pick-ups laden with talc powder and icy water. New Year’s Day was once a time of gift-giving and family reunions. Now it is just an excuse to get drunk and kill-off young people on motorcycles. Loy Kratong, too, is now just another over-amplified excuse to party. Thailand is less for the conversion.
I think this year we’ll loy in the swimming pool.

    Comment: Pattaya out of Control

Loy Kratongby David, October 2006

I have visited Thailand for over 20 years and lived here for 12.

This previously peaceful and reverent city is now totally out of control as far as holidaymakers are concerned.

Traditional holy days. such as Loy Kratong have degenerated into chaos, violence and mayhem.

Tourists - please ! stay clear of Pattaya. You will get ripped off, mugged or worse. The Thai people here are no longer interested in showing you Thailand's character but only in profiteering, scams, robbery with violence and so on.

The criminality here is beyond belief. Do not trust ANYBODY.


Constitution Day
10th December
  Constitution Day ...

Sovereign power ceded to the people of Siam

See article from en.wikipedia.org

King signs the constitutionOn 24 June 1932, the People's Party, a coalition of civil servants, princes, and army officers, seized power from the King in a bloodless coup. A provisional constitution was sent to King Prajadhipok along with an ultimatum from Party leaders. On 26 June, the King met the Party leaders and refused to sign the charter. The next day, the King met the leaders again and signed the charter.

The People's Party leaders generally followed the British parliamentary structure for the temporary charter. However, there were key differences, particularly regarding the powers of the monarch.

The charter began by stating that sovereign power belongs to the people of Siam. Empowered to exercise power on behalf of the people were the People's Assembly.

The monarch was not held to be infallible. He had a limited degree of sovereign immunity: although he could not be prosecuted in an ordinary court of law, the Assembly could impeach and try him. The monarch did not have the right to grant pardons.

In practice, the People's Party made many concessions to the palace in putting together the new government.  Despite this, the charter provoked fierce resistance from the palace. The new government reduced the palace budget and passed a taxation law that burdened the Kingdom's largest landowners, who were mostly nobles.

In September 1932, a senior prince threatened the King's abdication if a permanent constitution did not grant the palace greater power.

The People's Party, facing an internal power struggle and opposition from the King, promulgated a permanent constitution in 10 December 1932 that gave the monarchy a significant increase in authority compared to the temporary charter. The day is currently celebrated as Constitution Day.

The constitution continued to state that sovereign power belonged to the people of Siam. However, unlike the temporary charter, the monarchy would now be the direct exerciser of that power, rather than the branches of government. This royal power would be exercised by and with the advise and consent of the People's Assembly, the State Council (the cabinet), and the Courts. However, the monarchy lacked any say in the composition of any of the branches of government and the royal veto could still be overruled. The monarchy was also made "sacred and inviolable", in contrast to the temporary charter.


Election Days   Sex, Drugs and Nanny-State Politics...

Dry election days in Thailand's bars

no drinks signAugust 2007

There seems to be some uncertainty as to whether or not the 19 August election day will be a dry day. As always, the Thai government seems to be unable to make up its might until the last minute on such matters. But such actions lend themselves to analysis anyway.

Human beings turn to a variety of outlets for solace, among these are sex and drugs. The nanny-state Thai government seems to feel that it has to control access to these outlets – alcohol in particular -- on a periodic basis. Many Thai holidays are declared dry days. When such holidays are based on the tenets of Buddhism, this makes some sense. But other times the need to control access to alcohol (and sex) is less well-defined. Election days are in that category. The Thai government has a tendency to arbitrarily declare dry days for a variety of reason or perhaps no reason at all. They also tend to wait until the last minute before making such pronouncements. For example, there does not seem to be a published calendar of dry days for the year that bar owners, staff and patrons can use as a planning guide. When the final "dry or not dry" decision is made hours before the deadline, word inevitably fails to reach the intended audience accurately.

Draft Thai Constitution BookThe up-coming referendum on the Thai Constitution is a perfect example. Many sources have assumed that as with previous elections, it will be a dry day but that may or may not be true. It all depends…on what the nanny state can’t seem to decide.

Let’s drop back and examine the basic motivations for such a dry day declaration on election days. Is the nanny state afraid that voters will show up at the polls in an alcoholic stupor? Are they afraid that there will be drunken brawls over who voted which way? How exactly does closing bars preclude any of these? Can’t those most susceptible to alcoholic stupor simply lay in a supply of alcohol prior to the dry day? Seemingly the ban is on the sale of alcohol not its consumption!

All eligible Thais are supposed to vote in all elections or suffer certain losses of political rights. Few Thais could tell you precisely what rights they lose by not voting – but that is a question to be asked of the Education Minister -- yet the Thai law does not allow absentee voting by mail. Because of the system by which voters are assigned to a voting point, hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of Thais are effectively disenfranchised but virtue of the fact that they live and work far from their assigned voting point. One stated reason for holidays surrounding election days is to permit voters to travel across country to vote and then return to their place of employment. However well-intended, the government fails to consider that many employers are not so in tune with this nanny state concept. A young female staffer of a Pattaya bar who chooses to travel back to Buriram to vote is likely to find her pay docked or lose her job all together for her failure to be present when the dry day is over and her place of employment reopens.

Buddhist monksThis leads naturally to another key point. Within Thailand there are two primary consumer groups for alcohol: Thais and all others. The bars in which these two groups engage in alcohol consumption tend to be completely different. What good does it do the nanny state to declare that all foreigners must be deprived of access to alcohol and sex by declaring that all bars they frequent must close during the elections? By definition, foreigners are not participants in Thai elections. If the nanny state feels it imperative to control access to alcohol among its voters, a simple ban on the sale of alcohol to Thais could be imposed, not involving non-Thais in any way. Such a clear declaration would simplify life for bar owners and staff. If your clientele is primarily Thai, you might find it convenient to close on dry days. If your clientele is exclusively farang, no need to close. The sole exception would be religious-based holidays. It would seem reasonable to close all bars and ban the sale of sex and alcohol on such days, but even this could be subject to another debate.

old Walking Street sign





Nightlife Latest