Thailand’s capital city is teeming with cultural activities and interesting events. Even if you show up in Bangkok and strike out on your own in pretty much any direction, you’re likely to happen upon something that will entertain you. However, the experienced traveler knows that preparation is your watchword. The following annual events should help you select the ideal time to plan your visit.
1) La Fete - February 2 – March 29
Designed as a celebration of all things French, this festival features performances by French artists and Thai practitioners of traditional French arts. The best of the best have been making their way to Bangkok every spring since 2004 for this festival. La Fete is not to be missed by even the most minor Francophone with plans to visit Southeast Asia.
2) The Songkran Festival – April 13-15
This extraordinary happening coincides annually with the Thai New Year. Essentially a no holds barred water fight, this event involves young Thais seeking the blessing of their elders by pouring scented water over their hands (and bathing images of the Buddha), after which all bets are off and a good-natured aquatic battle ensues. Many an unsuspecting tourist has been caught unaware and ended up soaking wet. If you’re not afraid to get wet, Songkran can be a great deal of fun.
3) Vegetarian Festival - October 14-23
The Thai variation on the Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods is known as the Vegetarian Festival (Tesagan Gin Je). Celebrated for nine days beginning on the eve of the ninth lunar month (on the Chinese calendar), this hotly anticipated event sees the population turn out to bask in the spectacle of religious revelers performing a wide array of colorful, bizarre, and often violent observances and rituals. Revelers torture themselves with special weighted piercings, wield sword ladders, engage in fire walking and other activities. There is a special emphasis on pierced cheeks and tongues, fishhooks, needles in the arms and other horrific testaments to the practitioners’ belief that being possessed by the gods prevents them from feeling pain. You may not want to actually participate, but you’ll certainly want observe.