Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the north's most populous and well-known city. Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lanna, now this cultural epicenter is a haven for artists, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs. Despite the city's growth, tradition remains strong, and festivals, holidays and religious gatherings are celebrated heartily.
Festival highlights in Chiang Mai include the grand procession of the charming giant Krathong, the religious ceremony and Lanna cultural performances, the spectacular light and sound show on the River Ping, the Queen Nappamas Beauty Pageant and the Lanna Thai candle-lighting market at Tha Pae Gate.
January – March
- Sunshade/Umbrella Festival: During the third weekend of January, the little village of Bo Sang comes alive with hundreds of vibrant umbrellas as local artisans gather to sell their colorful wares and elect a new Miss Sunshade. This charming village is located just 10 kilometers north of Chiang Mai.
- Chinese New Year: This festival is celebrated with enthusiasm across the country, since more than 15 percent of Thailand’s citizens are of Chinese origin. Chiang Mai is a firm favorite among revelers: the city’s Chinatown area features colorful parades, cultural shows, and hundreds of glowing lanterns. You can also witness beloved traditions like bursting firecrackers for good luck and offering food to respect the ancestors. Chinese New Year is held between January and February every year.
- Flowers Festival: By the first weekend of February, Chiang Mai transforms into an floral wonderland—this is when its exotic flowers are in full bloom. The city takes its blossoms seriously: there are floral exhibitions, parades, contests, dances and musical performances. The highlight is a flowery float parade that winds its colorful way through the streets.
- Makha Bucha: Makha Bucha is one of the most important religious celebrations in Thailand. This public holiday commemorates two important events from the Buddha’s life, which took place on the same date more than 2,500 years ago. To pay tribute to the Buddha, people gather in temples, make merit and participate in candlelit processions. Makha Bucha falls in February or March.
- International Hot Air Balloon Festival: In the first week of March 2018, Chiang Mai will celebrate the magic of hot air balloons rides, bringing together some of the finest pilots in the world. Along with panoramic flights, there will be concerts, sound and light shows, dance performances and activities for the entire family. The festival location is just ten minutes away from Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. Stay tuned for more details.
April – June
- Thai New Year/Songkran: Every year, between April 12 and 15, Thailand celebrates its very own New Year in unique style, from sacred ancestral rituals to spirited water games in the streets. With its citywide carnival atmosphere and week-long festivities, Chiang Mai is the best place to join in the celebration. There are water games from dawn to dusk, and the first day of the New Year witnesses a spectacular parade through the city. The streets overflow with merriment—traditional dance performances, local contests, beauty pageants and sand-castle making. Locals also gather in temples to pray and make offerings to orange-robed monks for their blessings.
- Inthakin/Sai Khan Dok: For a week during May or June, the Inthakin festival is organized around the Wat Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai, which houses “the city pillar”—a sacred shrine for local residents. People place flowers, candles and incense sticks to pay their respects to the city pillar, which is believed to bring peace, happiness and prosperity to all of Chiang Mai. Offerings are also made to monks and important figures of the Lanna era. Outside the temple, you can find cultural shows, fairground-style activities and street food vendors.
October – December
- Vegetarian Festival: The Vegetarian Festival began with a legend: in 1825, a Chinese opera company was visiting Thailand when suddenly all of its members fell severely ill due to a mysterious disease. They decided to pray to their emperor gods and follow a strictly vegetarian diet—to everyone’s surprise, they all recovered. This “miracle” led to the birth of the Vegetarian Festival—a nine-day period in September or October, when believers aim to purify body and mind by avoiding meat products. This is an excellent opportunity to sample the region’s delicious (and often overlooked) vegetarian cuisine.
- Yi Peng & Loy Krathong: In Chiang Mai, Yi Peng (the Northern Thai festival of sky lanterns) coincides with Loy Krathong (the countrywide festival of water lanterns), creating one of the most spectacular sights in the world. For three days, the city comes alive with twinkling lanterns, sound and light shows, ornamental and decorative floats contest and traditional games. Snag a seat inside the Old Town and enjoy the wondrous event like a local, watching hundreds of glowing lights rise and float away into the heavens. You can also release your very own lantern into the river or sky.
- Christmas/New Year’s Eve: These two holidays are celebrated in intimate yet enthusiastic fashion in most of Thailand. While its festivities cannot compare with the grandeur found in Western countries, Chiang Mai offers holidaymakers a great combination of the exotic and the familiar. Yuletide decorations and Christmas carols can be found at the Night Market and other city landmarks—and Santa even stops by for a visit at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. On New Year’s Eve, people write their most cherished wishes in lanterns and release them into the sky
GMT +7 hours
Local voltage is 220 to 240 volts AC. Adapters available; please request through the Concierge.
Sunday to Saturday 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Note: Hours for street shops vary.
Most stores are open seven days a week, except gold shops. Some stores are closed on Sundays.
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
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Public Holidays Thailand 2018
|New Year's Day||January 1|
|Makha Bucha Day||March 1|
|Chakri Day||April 6|
|Songkran Festival||April 13–15|
|Labour Day||May 1|
|Visakha Bucha Day||May 29|
|Asahna Bucha Day||July 27|
|H.M. King Vajiralongkorn's Birthday||July 28|
|Mother's Day||August 12|
|H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej Memorial Day||October 13|
|Chulalongkorn Day||October 23|
|Father's Day||December 5|
|Constitution Day||December 10|