October is one of the busiest months on the Thailand event calendar with festivals and celebrations that reflect Thai traditions and cultural values, including Ok Phansa or End of Buddhist Lent, Vegetarian Festival, and Sat Day or Bun Duean Sip. The month also sees the fourth edition of the Thai MotoGP.
Ok Phansa or End of Buddhist Lent Day
On the full moon of the 11th Thai lunar month, usually in October.
The Ok Phansa festival marks the end of the Buddhist Lent. It is a time of celebration and merit-making with provinces nationwide set to celebrate the occasion on different days and in distinctive styles, depending on their locality and tradition.
- Illuminated Boat Procession, 20-30 October 2023, over the Mekong River, Mueang District, Nakhon Phanom. Beautifully decorated boats float along the Mekong River to pay respect to the Lord Buddha and make offerings to the mythical Naga serpent said to live in the river.
- Rap Bua Festival, 22-30 October 2023 at Bang Phli City Hall and Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai, Samut Prakan. The one-and-only ancient Buddhist tradition of its kind in Thailand, where the highlight is the barge procession of a replica of the Luangpho To Buddhist image along Khlong Samrong, and the Rap Bua (receiving lotus) activity of the local people of Bang Phli District.
- Wax Castle Festival and Long-boat Race, 23-29 October 2023, at the 80th Chaloem Phrakiat Park, and Wat Phrathat Choeng Chum, Sakon Nakhon. The procession of the intricately carved wax castles portraying the illuminating scenes of Heaven to Wat Phrathat Choeng Chum, and traditional long-boat races on Nong Han Reservoir.
- Naga Fireball World Festival, 29 October 2023, at the Naga statues plaza by the Mekong River in Mueang District, Lan Naga Boek Fa in Phon Phisai District, Lan Boeng Wiang in Si Chiang Mai District, and Rattanawapi District Hall, Nong Khai. One of the more mysterious of events on the Thailand events calendar, this event centres around the as yet unexplained fireballs that annually erupt into the sky from the Mekong River.
- Ok Phansa Festival, 30 October 2023, at Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Park, Roi Et. Famous for the Sorapanya (Homage to the Buddha) Chanting competition, ‘Khao Thip’ (milk-rice pudding with honey) making ceremony, and lantern decorations.
- Chak Phra, Robe Offering, and Long-boat Racing Festival, 26 October-3 November 2023, near the Tapi River on Na Mueang Road and Ban Don Road, Surat Thani. Elaborately decorated floats take part in the hauling of Surat Thani’s revered Buddha images on the Tapi River and on land. The nine-day festivities also include long-boat races.
- Chak Phra Festival, 29 October 2023, at Yala Municipal Youth Centre, Yala. Revered Buddha images are carried in elaborately decorated floats around the city.
- Tak Bat Devo Festival, 29-30 October 2023, at Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri, Uthai Thani. The biggest Tak Bat Devo ceremony in Thailand, where the key element of the day is the offerings made to around 500 Buddhist monks, who descend the 449-step staircase from the temple’s chedi.
- Tak Bat Devo Festival, 30 October 2023, at Wat Phra Bat Phu Pan Kham, Khon Kaen. The highlight is the offerings made to 299 Buddhist monks, who descend the 1,049-step staircase from the temple’s chedi.
- Tak Bat Devo Festival, 30 October 2023, at Wat Khao Phra Ngam, Lop Buri.
Sat Day or Bun Duean Sip (10th Lunar Month Festival)
On the 15th night of the waning moon of the 10th Thai Lunar month (usually in September or October)
Sat Day, also known as Bun Duean Sip or Sat Duean Sip tradition, refers to a Buddhist merit-making tradition where living relatives make merit dedicated to their ancestors by giving food offerings to monks. It originated from local superstition that ancestors, particularly those not yet reincarnated, would be temporarily released from the ‘underworld’, explaining the numerous ‘hungry-ghost puppet’ parades. The tradition is distinctively observed in various destinations nationwide with the event in Nakhon Si Thammarat being the biggest.
- Sat Thai Kluai Khai Mueang Kamphaeng Festival, 5-15 October 2023, at City Hall and Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, Kamphaeng Phet. The annual event marks Sat Day and celebrates Kamphaeng Phet’s best-known fruit crop ‘Kluai Khai’ (Lady Finger banana). Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park will be brightly illuminated at night.
- Sat Duean Sip and Red Cross Fair, 8-17 October 2023, at Sanam Na Mueang and Princess Mother 84 Park (Thung Tha Lat), Nakhon Si Thammarat. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Bun Duean Sip tradition in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
- Kapong Sat Duean Sip ‘Hae Krajad’, 11-14 October 2023, at Kapong District, Phang-nga. Known for the unique procession of ‘krajad’ or basket containing offering to monks at nearby temples to make merit dedicated to the ancestors.
On the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, usually October.
One of Thailand’s most unique and lively events, the Vegetarian Festival – also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival – has its origins in Chinese culture. It is believed that abstinence from meat and stimulants will bring about good health and peace of mind to individuals and the community. Thus, a lot of Thai people, especially those of Chinese lineage, will restrict themselves to only a vegetarian diet for nine days and nine nights as a form of purification of a person’s body, mind, and spirit.
In Phuket, which is Thailand’s most popular place to experience the Vegetarian Festival, stunning rituals take place in which devotees said to be in a trance-like state perform breath-taking feats of self-mutilation like body piercing, walking on hot coals, and climbing razor sharp ladders to demonstrate their devotion to the gods and ancestors. The Phuket Vegetarian tradition supposedly began in 1825.
Taking part in worship rituals, observing a vegan diet, venerating the emperor gods, street processions of God images and of celebrants, fire-walking ritual, and crossing a bridge of purification at these notable locations. Some offer vegetarian dishes free of charge throughout the nine or 10 days.
- Chon Buri, 13-24 October 2023, at Na Jasa Tai Chue Shrine.
- Hat Yai, 14-23 October 2023, at Supasarn Rangsan Park, Songkhla.
- Prachin Buri, 14-23 October 2023, at Bampen Thammasathan Foundation.
- Phang-nga, 14-23 October 2023, at seven shrines around the province.
- Phak Hai, 15-23 October 2023, at Tai Hong Kong Shrine, Phak Hai District, Ayutthaya.
- Maha Sarakham, 15-23 October 2023, at Khun Wiro Kusolsongkroh Foundation (Eng Tek Tung), Kantharawichai District.
- Korat (“jia-chai”), 15-23 October 2023, at the Thai Chinese Vegan Club and the shrines near the Thao Suranari (Ya Mo) Monument, Nakhon Ratchasima.
- Udon Thani, 15-23 October 2023, at Grand Father-Grand Mother Shrine, Thai Chinese Cultural Centre.
- Phuket, 15-23 October 2023, at 31 shrines around the province (click to see the list of shrines).
- Trang, 15-23 October 2023, at the shrines around Mueang District.
- Ranong, 15-24 October 2023, at the shrines around the province.
- Chumphon, 15-24 October 2023, at Pu Ming Tai Si Buddha Hall.
Other events and festivals
Phanom Rung Light Phenomenon (Sunset)
- 5-7 October 2023
- Phanom Rung Historical Park, Buri Ram
This is the fourth and last time this year visitors can observe the sunset through the 15 doors of Prasat Hin Phanom Rung. The light phenomenon happens four times a year – two sunset events occur between 5-7 March and 5-7 October, and two sunrise events happen between April 3-5 and 8-10 September.
Prasat Hin Phanom Rung is perched atop an extinct volcano 60 kilometres south of Buri Ram city. It is the largest and best restored Khmer site in Thailand and offers fine views of the surrounding rice fields.
Phetchabun’s ‘Um Phra Dam Nam Tradition’ and Food Festival 2023
- 10-19 October 2023
- Wat Trai Phum and Wat Bot Chanaman
Translated from Thai, Um Phra Dam Nam literally means ‘diving while holding the Buddha’s image’. Legend has it that local villagers found a Buddha image floating in the river and brought it to the temple, but it then mysteriously disappeared before being found back at its original spot on the river. Hence, the Buddha image is brought back to the river each year, so the villagers can dive into the river holding it in the hope of receiving a blessing of ‘abundance and nature’s balance.’
OR Thailand Grand Prix 2023
- 27-29 October 2023
- Chang International Circuit, Buri Ram
This is the fourth MotoGP event taking place in the Northeastern province of Buri Ram. The event is the 17th of the 20-race calendar. Francesco Bagnaia of Ducati currently leads the 2023 MotoGP season’s world championship standings with 194 points, followed by Ducati-Pramac’s Jorge Martin with 159 points, and Ducati-VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi with 158 points.
Tickets for the event are available for purchase at 7-Eleven stores or at www.allticket.com. Fans are offered a range of seating options, including the Grand Stand, Marquez Stand, Quartararo Stand, Chantra Stand, and Side Stand.
These are just some of the amazing events and festivals scheduled to take place in October 2023. Enjoy your time in Thailand!
This article is sourced from the Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom (TATNEWS.org), and we extend our heartfelt appreciation and credit to them for providing this exceptional piece.