Paul first visited Thailand in 1996 and has been retired in Siam since 2007. He has a beautiful and loving Thai wife and can speak Thai.
Long Holiday Weekends in Thailand
Before coming to Thailand, I thought a three- or four-day weekend was a long weekend holiday. This concept was quickly shattered when I started seeing the Thai celebrate five-day and more weekend holidays. As I write this article, people all over Thailand have finished celebrating the fifth and final day of a long Buddhist Lent holiday in July of 2016.
This article answers the question of why there are five-day weekend holidays in Thailand. It also lists the important five-day weekend holidays in Thailand every year, as well as other long three-day weekend holidays.
Why Are There Five-Day Weekend Holidays in Thailand?
Having lived in Thailand as a retiree since 2007, I have observed that the Thai as fun-loving people look forward to all of their holiday time. They are not workaholics like many Americans. The Thai idea of having a good time over a long period, however, is not the only reason for the five-day weekend holidays in Thailand. There are two other important reasons—namely, allowing the Thai extra time to travel and be with their families and the celebration of Buddhist and government holidays.
Although the city of Bangkok has a population of approximately 15 million, about 10 or 11 million people are permanent residents of the city. The remainder is temporary migrant workers from outer provinces 30 to 700 kilometers away. Since the average Thai cannot afford to fly, most of the temporary migrant workers travel by bus, train, car, or pickup truck on holidays. With two days for travel back and forth from their provincial home village, a five-day weekend is only three days for time with family.
Buddhist and Government Holidays
Another important reason for the long five-day weekend holidays is to allow the Thai, who are 95 percent Buddhist, to celebrate Buddhist holidays like the Thai New Year (Songkran) and the beginning of Buddhist Lent. There are also government holidays celebrating the King's and Queen's birthdays.
Important Five-Day Weekend Holidays in Thailand
Since living in Thailand, I have observed four long five-day weekend holidays. Two of these long weekend holidays are related to Buddhist festivals and two are for government and Western holidays.
These five-day weekend holidays are as follows:
- Western New Years
- Thai New Year
- The Candle Festival
- International Labor and Coronation Day
1. Western New Year Holidays
Both New Year's Eve, December 31, and New Year's Day, January 1, are government public holidays in Thailand. If the 31st and the 1st fall on a Saturday and Sunday, three additional weekday holidays are allowed. Consequently, people will be off work from Friday, December 30, through Tuesday, January 3.
Almost all migrant Thai living in Bangkok travel mostly by car and bus to their family home in predominantly northern and northeastern Thailand. In 2013, I remember a 13-hour drive due to horrendous traffic on January 2 from Udonthani Province to Bangkok where I was living at that time.
2. Thai New Year Buddhist Holidays (Songkran Festival)
The Buddhist New Year or Songkran is the most important holiday of the year for the Thai. Although the official government holidays are April 13–15, the government and private businesses are very liberal in their leave policy, and almost all people have five working days off for celebrating Songkran. If the Buddhist New Year holidays fall Wednesday–Friday, the Thai would have a nine-day weekend holiday!
3. The Candle Festival and Beginning of Buddhist Lent
The Candle Festival and the beginning of Buddhist Lent were celebrated July 19–20, 2016. The government gave an extra holiday on Monday, July 18, 2016. Hence, all Thai had a five-day weekend holiday from Saturday, July 16, through Wednesday, July 20. Buddhist Lent always falls during the height of the rainy season in Thailand from around the latter part of July until the middle of October. Traditionally, monks could not leave the temple during Buddhist Lent.
4. International Labor Day and Coronation Day
In 2015, there was a five-day weekend holiday from May 1 through May 5. Friday, May 1, was celebrated as International Labor Day, and May 5 was observed as Coronation Day. The government gave Monday, May 4, to be an extra holiday so that people could enjoy a long weekend holiday.
Other Important Three-Day Weekend Holidays
If the following commemorated holidays fall on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, the Thai are fortunate to have three-day weekend holidays.
- Makha Bucha Day, February 22: This is an important Buddhist holiday.
- Visakha Bucha Day, March 20: This is another significant Buddhist holiday.
- Chakri Day, April 6: This date commemorates the beginning of the present dynasty of kings in Thailand. The present King, Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty.
- The Queen's Birthday, August 12: The Queen's birthday is also celebrated as Mother's Day in Thailand.
- King Chulalongkorn Commemoration Day, October 23: King Chulalongkorn is very respected in Thailand because he freed the slaves and avoided colonial domination. He was the fifth king of the Chakri Dynasty.
- The King's Birthday, December 5: King Bhumibol Adulyadej's birthday is also celebrated as Father's Day.
- Constitution Day, December 10: December 10th is celebrated as Constitution Day each year in Thailand and is a public holiday.
Enjoy Your Long Weekend!
When I worked for the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, I always enjoyed being able to celebrate Thai holidays along with observed U.S. holidays. Now that I am retired, every day is a holiday, and I don't look forward to long Thai weekend holidays like I did when I was teaching English in Bangkok.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: What are the weekly holidays in Thailand?
Answer: Saturday and Sunday are weekly holidays in Thailand just as they are in the United States.
© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn
Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on July 22, 2016:
Thank you very much for the comments. I'm happy you found this hub informative.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 22, 2016:
I'm all for a 5 day weekend:-)
Very informative hub. Wonderfully done.