There is much to see and do in March when it comes to festivals and events around Thailand. The month itself is particularly significant as it includes the important Buddhist festival of Makha Bucha Day, which celebrates a gathering between the Lord Buddha and 1,250 of his disciples and is observed on the full moon day of the third lunar month. This year’s Makha Bucha Day falls on 6 March.
This March also sees the return of a number of annual festivals after a hiatus during the pandemic. That means there’s plenty of fun, culture and tradition to be enjoyed at numerous places around the country. Here are some of the key events to visit:
Hok Peng Festival 2023
28 February – 6 March, 2023, Wat Phra That Chae Haeng, Nan
The ‘Hok Peng Festival to Worship Phra That Chao Phu Phiang Chae Haeng’ in its full name is a worship event being held annually on ‘Hok Peng’ (the full moon of the sixth Northern Thai lunar month), which this year falls on 6 March.
The festival features a wide range of Buddhist activities, including worship ceremonies, merit-making and blessing rituals, and paying homage to monks. Local and visitors alike can also enjoy an ancient-style market and shopping street selling local food and handicrafts, folk performances, cultural processions, and competitions for processions, traditional drum performances, and lantern decorations. See more at Nan’s Hok Peng Festival 2023 celebrated throughout the Year of the Rabbit.
Bird and Butterfly Watching Festival
March – May 2023, Kaeng Krachan National Park Protection Unit 4, Phetchaburi
Bird watching activity can be enjoyed along the Ban Krang-KM 17 and Khao Pakarang routes, from 07.00-10.00 Hrs. and 15.00-17.00 Hrs.
Butterfly watching can be enjoyed along KM 10-Ban Krang routes, from 10.00-14.00 Hrs.
Hae Malai Khao Tok Festival
1-5 March, 2023, Maha Chana Chai District, Yasothon
Hae Malai Khao Tok, which is literally translated as popped-rice garlands procession, is held in Mana Chana Chai district every year, preceding Makha Bucha Day. It is a cultural celebration in which tens of thousands of hand-made popped-rice garlands are adorned on floats. The winning float will be presented to nearby Wat Ho Kong, while the rest will go to other temples. There are also workshops and competitions on making Malai Khao Tok.
Prachin Buri Makha Bucha Day Celebration
2-6 March, 2023, Sa Morakot Archaeological Site, Si Mahosot District, Prachin Buri
This annual celebration takes place at Thailand’s oldest and largest bodhi tree. Legend has it that a branch of the bodhi tree, under which the Lord Buddha had sat during his enlightenment, was brought from Buddhgaya, India, some 2,000 years ago, and planted at this temple.
Activities include worshipping the Lord Buddha’s relics and footprints, merit-making and blessing rituals, exhibitions, cultural performances, sales of community products, a local market, and tours of Si Mahosot Ancient town.
Roi Et Bun Phawet (Merit Making Fair)
3-5 March, 2023, Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Park, Roi Et
The Bun Phawet, or merit making fair, is one of Isan’s unique ‘Heet Sib Song’ merit-making traditions that follow the 12 lunar months. Prominent features in this tradition are the Thet Maha Chat (the great birth sermons) on Phra Wessandorn, the name of the Lord Buddha’s last reincarnation before his birth as Prince Siddhartha.
The sermons consist of 13 episodes that must be completed within a day. As per the Buddhist belief, if anyone has listened to all 13 sermons within a day for three days in a row, the person would be blessed in this life and be reborn again in the religion of Phra Si Ariya Metrai – the land of happiness.
Apart from the three-day sermons, the event showcases local culture and traditions including traditional processions on the life of Phra Wessandon, merit making ceremonies, light-and-sound presentations, and ‘Palang’ Isan-style dinner as well as local dishes – Khao Poon (fermented rice noodle) and steamed sticky rice offerings.
Ban Pa Meang Orchid Tree Blossoms Festival 2023
3-5 March, 2023, Ban Pa Meang, Pan District, Lampang
The valley village of Ban Pa Meang is beautifully adorned with the white blossoms of the orchid tree every February to March. To celebrate this special occasion, local public and private sectors put on an annual festival, inviting tourists from near and far to take in the picturesque scenery and immerse themselves in local traditions and experiences.
Kalasin Makha Bucha Day Celebration
3-7 March, 2023, Phrathat Yakhu, Kalasin
Kalasin is home to one of the world’s most unique Makha Bucha Day celebrations, which is held annually at the ancient Phrathat Yakhu, the largest chedi in the ancient town of Fa Daet Song Yong. Makha Bucha Day is the anniversary of a special event that took place nine months after Buddha achieved enlightenment, and Thai Buddhists celebrate by visiting temples, making merit by offering food to monks, and taking part in Wien Tien (candlelight processions).
ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival
4-5 March, 2023, Khwan Mueang Park, Yala
Taking place annually in early March, the main event is the dove cooing competitions in different categories, including small, medium, large, and composite sounds. Adding to the fun are stage performances and a food fair. There is also a red-whiskered bulbul cooing competition at Thetsaban Nakhon Yala Youth Centre.
Takola to Takua Pa 2023
4-6 March, 2023, Takuapa Governer’s Residence, Phang-nga
This event shines a spotlight on the history of Takua Pa, formerly named Takola. Activities include a light-and-sound presentation telling the story of Takua Pa from past to present, and showcases of local culture and cuisine.
Hae Pha Khuen That Festival 2023
2-6 March, 2023, Wat Phra Mahathat, Nakhon Si Thammarat
This celebration takes place annually on Makha Bucha Day at Wat Phra Mahathat, which is Nakhon Si Thammarat’s most important temple. The key event is the procession and wrapping of a long piece of sacred yellow cloth around the base of the temple’s stupa. Other activities include worshipping the Lord Buddha’s relics, merit-making and blessing rituals, Wien Tien or candlelight procession, the traditional making of ‘yacoo’ rice milk, and folk performances.
Phanom Rung Light Phenomenon (Sunset)
5-7 March, 2023, Phanom Rung Historical Park, Buri Ram
This is the first time this year visitors can observe the sunlight 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.
World’s Only Wien Tien Ceremony on Water, Phayao Lake
4-6 March, 2023, Wat Tilok Aram, Phayao
The Wien Tien or candlelight procession on water at Wat Tilok Aram takes place three times a year on Buddhist holidays, namely Makha Bucha Day, Visakha Bucha Day, and Asahna Bucha Day. The Wien Tien where Buddhist devotees hold lighted candles in hand and go around a temple three times is done on water here, making it the only place in the world that has this ceremony. This is because Wat Tilok Aram was built in the water, in the island at the centre of Phayao Lake.
Lamduan Flower Festival – Traditions of the Four Thai Ethnic Groups
8-12 March, 2023, Si Sa Ket College of Agriculture and Technology, Si Sa Ket
This event takes place at Srinakarin Park in Si Sa Ket College of Agriculture and Technology, where there are more than 50,000 lamduan or white cheesewood trees. The peak season for lamduan blossoms is generally in March, hence an annual event is held during this month each year to mark the special occasion and to celebrate the culture and way of life of four Thai ethnic groups – Lao, Khmer, Kuai and Yerr.
The festival also features a light-and-sound presentation on the legend of the founding of Si Sa Ket, cultural shows representing the four ethnic groups, local art and craft making competitions, ‘Palang’ Isan-style dinner, and a fair selling community products.
Don Kai Di Bencharong Fair 2023
10-12 March, 2023, Don Kai Di Village, Samut Sakhon
Don Kai Di village is well-known for its bencharong porcelain techniques, which originated in the Ming Dynasty of China and came to Thailand around 600 years ago. Bencharong means five colours, and denotes the five used for the decoration – black, white, yellow, red and green – though secondary tones are also used.
Bencharong can be seen everywhere at the village, but the real pleasure comes from watching the artisans working. At the festival, visitors can shop for bencharong porcelain, as well as other local products unique to the area, including orchids.
PELUPO International Music Festival 2023
11 March, 2023, Siam Country Club, Pattaya, Chon Buri
In its inaugural festival, PELUPO will feature performances by world-class artists and productions, as well as activities to create a wonderful festival experience. Performances will be spread across two stages amid the green fields of Siam Country Club.
National Thai Elephant Day 2023
13 March, 2023, Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, Lampang
Introduced in 1998, the annual National Thai Elephant Day is held on 13 March to commemorate the special place elephants hold in Thai history and culture. On this day, zoos and elephant parks up and down Thailand arrange events and ceremonies to celebrate the occasion. At the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, this year’s activities include Buddhist ceremonies to bless the elephants, merit making, and a fruit banquet for the elephants.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Festival-Mueang Phetch
17-26 March, 2023, Phra Nakhon Khiri, Phetchaburi
This festival celebrates Phra Nakhon Khiri Historical Park, or as it’s also known locally Khao Wang (meaning ‘hill with palace’) with its palace and temple buildings on a hill overlooking the city. Throughout the 10 days, there is a wide variety of activities ranging from nightly fireworks displays and floodlit illuminations at various locations on Phra Nakhon Khiri to enjoying well-known dishes and desserts that reflect Phetchaburi’s cultural roots and cultural performances.
Thao Suranari Memorial Fair 2023
23 March-3 April, 2023, Thao Suranari Monument, Nakhon Ratchasima
The 12-day Thao Suranari Memorial Fair is held annually to commemorate Thao Suranari, locally known as Ya Mo, a famous heroine of ancient Thai history who courageously led Thai armies to victory when the nation was attacked in 1826.
Highlights include the ritual to pay tribute to the relics of Thao Suranari, the relaying of the event’s opening flame, the procession and dance performance to pay tribute to Thao Suranari, Thai silk fashion shows, and exhibitions on Thao Suranari and the history of Korat City. There are also Korat Song shows and stage performances, a Red Cross Fair, and local food and product fairs.
Hae Pha Hom Phra That – Visit Khao Tha Phet
26-27 March, 2023, City Pillar Shrine, Surat Thani
Salient features of this annual festival are the ritual to pay homage to the Srivijaya-style City Pillar Shrine, the sacred item of Surat Thani, and the procession of a long piece of sacred yellow cloth to wrap around the base of the stupa of Phra That Si Surat, also known as Phra That Khao Tha Phet.
Amazing Robusta @Chumphon 2023
31 March-2 April, 2023, Arpakorn Kiattiwong Park, Chumphon
Chumphon is well-known for its locally grown Robusta coffee (Coffea canephora), and this festival features Robusta coffee shops from different plantations and coffee-related activities including coffee tasting, a coffee battle, DIY workshops, seminars and coffee omakase, as well as music performances.
Prasat Muang Tam Festival 2023
31 March, 2023, Prasat Muang Tam, Buri Ram
Prasat Muang Tam, or Prasat Hin Muang Tam, means literally ‘stone castle of the humble city’ and is considered the third most significant Khmer complex in Thailand in terms of size, sophistication of architecture and quality of restoration. It was constructed during the late 10th and early 11th Century under King Jayavarman V with the deities worshipped being Shiva. The festival features a light-and-sound presentation, merit-making ceremony, cultural shows, beauty pageant, and fair selling local products and food.
Ranong Hot Springs Festival 2023
31 March, 2023, Mueang Ranong Municipal Office, Ranong
This festival celebrates Ranong’s health-giving Thai-style onsen in hot springs that have been ranked among the best in the world. It also promotes the province’s wide variety of lush, natural attractions, such as marine hotspots, historic landmarks, and great places for eco-tourism, including a biosphere reserve and hot geysers.
At the festival visitors can take advantage of Ranong’s natural hot springs which offer health boosting benefits such as pain and stress release and improved blood circulation. Other activities include cultural performances, a folk song contest, ancient style market, and Red Cross fair. Visitors are encouraged to wear traditional ‘Baba-Peranakan’ outfits.