This is a round-up of some of the main events taking place around Thailand in March 2018. For details of what else is happening in Thailand later this year, please check the events and festivals page.
Makha Bucha Day (nationwide)
Makha Bucha Day is a public holiday in Thailand with government offices closed. This important Buddhist holiday commemorates the event where 1,250 of the Buddha’s followers spontaneously gathered to hear him preach. Temples are busier than usual, particularly in the evening, as people take part in religious ceremonies to make merit. Makha Bucha Day also sees restrictions in place on the sale of alcohol.
when: March 1
Winter Festival at the Royal Plaza, Bangkok
The winter festival, ‘Un Ai Rak Khlai Khwam Nao‘ (‘Love and Warmth at Winter’s End’) continues in Bangkok until March 11. The event is being hosted at the Royal Plaza in front of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. The event also pays tribute to King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) with cultural performances, exhibitions and floral displays. To celebrate the bygone era, Thai people in attendance are being encouraged to wear period costume or traditional Thai clothing. The event is open daily from 10.30am until 9pm (10pm at weekends) with free entry.
when: now until March 11
where: Royal Plaza in front of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, Bangkok
Thailand International Balloon Festival, Chiang Mai
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Thailand International Balloon Festival. With elaborate balloons on display in the day and illuminated balloons at night, it’s a colourful event to attend. There will also be a number of musical performances ranging from classical to contemporary with a mix of international and local musicians. Food is never far away from any festival in Thailand and at the event in Chiang Mai the usual food stalls will be accompanied by celebrity chefs and a coffee carnival.
when: March 2-4
where: Cowboy Army Riding Club, Chiang Mai
Sak Yant Tattoo Festival, Nakhon Pathom
Thousands of people will be in attendance for the annual Wai Kru Ceremony and Sak Yant Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra in Nakhon Pathom. Those who believe in the supposed mystical abilities of the Sak Yant ritual, claim that getting a traditional tattoo at this temple is particularly powerful and protects the person whose skin is inked. The Wai Khru ceremony pays respect to the late monk, Luang Phor Boon, and provides the opportunity for people to have their existing tattoos blessed again to top-up the protective powers of the yant. Every year the event produces extraordinary scenes with some people entering into feverish trance-like states as they become ‘possessed’ by the spirits of their tattoos.
when: March 3
where: Wat Bang Phra, Nakhon Pathom
The Thai phrase ‘wai kru’ translates as paying respects to the teacher. A Wai Kru ceremony may honour a school teacher, a Muay Thai coach or any other teacher who passes on their knowledge including those who teach others the ancient art of the Sak Yant tattoo.
King’s Cup Elephant Polo, Bangkok
Raising millions of Baht for elephant welfare, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Bangkok is conducted under the guidance of the much-respected elephant expert, John Roberts. Although some people may instinctively dislike the notion of elephant polo, the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) say the well-being of the animals taking part is paramount. The money raised from the event has helped provide an elephant ambulance and a mobile blood centrifuge for the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) in Lampang. Money from the event has also enabled the building of elephant shelters and provided housing for mahouts and their families.
when: March 8-11
where: by the Chao Phraya River, next to Anantara Riverside Hotel, Bangkok
National Thai Elephant Day (nationwide)
The Thai elephant is celebrated with the annual National Thai Elephant Day on March 13. Various events are held at zoos, elephant parks and sanctuaries around Thailand with elephants treated to banquets of fruit and sugar cane. At some locations, special Buddhist ceremonies are held for the elephants and their handlers.
when: March 13
Thailand International Kite Festival, Hua Hin
Kites of all shapes and sizes take to the skies in Hua Hin with teams from Thailand and around the world showcasing their skills at the Thailand International Kite Festival. And on the ground there will be plenty going on to keep young ones amused with the chance to make a kite or paint one with your own designs. Food trucks and music add to the atmosphere making this an excellent day out for all the family.
when: March 23-25
where: Army Non Commissioned Officer School, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan
National Muay Thai Day (nationwide)
Thailand commemorates National Muay Thai Day annually on Mach 17. Special events are held at Thai boxing stadiums and gyms around the country.
when: March 17
Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony, Ayutthaya
National Muay Thai Day has added significance in Ayutthaya because this is the home town of the legendary fighter, Nai Khanom Tom. The annual Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony attracts Thai boxing aficionados and fighters from around the world who come to Ayutthaya to honour the memory and legacy of Nai Khanom Tom.
when: March 16-17
Transmission Festival Asia, Bangkok
For the second year in succession the electronic trance music extravaganza, Transmission Festival Asia, returns to Bangkok.
when: March 17
where: BITEC Bangna, Bangkok