Public Holidays in Phuket
Government offices and most commercial offices will close on public holidays. Small shops may also close though most larger shops and department stores will remain open. Bars and pubs are usually obliged to close on royal and religious holidays.
- January 1st – New Year’s Day
- February (lunar) – Magha Puja*
- April 6th – Chakri Day
- April 13th – Songkran, (3 day holiday)
- May 1st – Labour Day
- May 5th – Coronation Day
- May (lunar) – Visakah Puja*
- July (lunar) – Asanha Puja*
- July (lunar) – Khao Phansa*
- August 12th – HM the Queen’s Birthday
- October 23rd – Chulalongkorn Day
- December 5th – HM the King’s Birthday
- December 10th – Constitution Day
- December 31st – New Year’s Eve
*Thai Buddhist holidays are based on the lunar calendar so the exact dates vary every year.
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year when images of the Buddha are bathed and water is sprinkled on the hands of monks in order to cleanse and purify. Children also show their respect by performing this ritual on elders. Generally, people sprinkle water on each other as a way to confer blessings.
Songkran is also the premise for a huge water fight. The mayhem usually lasts for one day in Phuket, as opposed to three days or more in other parts of Thailand. But if you venture outside on the 13th of April, expect to get soaked.
This is the most important date in the Buddhist calendar as it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha on the same day, the first full moon in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June.
All over the country, Thais visit the temples to listen to sermons by revered monks and make merit. In the evening, worshippers take part in a candle-lit procession, in which they walk around the main chapel of the temple three times.
This falls on the full moon of the eight lunar month. The ceremony commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon, which took place in the Deer Park near Benares, after he had attained enlightenment.
Since this occasion marks the first ever ordaining of a Buddhist monk, many Thais choose to become ordained on this day.
This is the day after Asanha Puja and marks the start of the Buddhist Lent, which lasts for three lunar months. During this period monks are not allowed to venture outside the temple grounds. This was originally to prevent monks from trampling on crops as they went out to receive offerings from the people.
On Khao Phansa day, worshippers make donations in the form candles and other necessities to temples.
This Buddhist holiday falls on the full moon of the third lunar month. Magha Puja commemorates the gathering of 1,250 enlightened monks to hear the preaching of the Buddha. These monks were all ordained by the Buddha, and all arrived to hear the sermon without prior arrangement. The ceremony culminates in a candle-lit procession around the main chapel of the temple. Wat Chalong has a particularly beautiful ritual.
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