Annual Festivals celebrated on Koh Samui
There are several Thai festivals both cultural and religious held annually on Koh Samui, but the most interactive from a foreigner’s perspective are Loy Krathong, and Songkran which is the Thai new year. On this page we give you a taste of what happens during the festivals, so you can plan your holiday to coincide with them, and enjoy the cultural experience.
Loy Krathong, known as the ‘festival of light’, occurs on the night of the full moon in November. ‘Loy’, is the Thai word meaning ‘to float’ and ‘krathong’ is the name give to the small floats, painstakingly crafted by locals. During Loi Krathong festival, all bodies of water including the sea, hotel swimming pools and, the lake in Chaweng, or at Wat Plai Laem, become a hive of activity as locals come to float their homemade lotus-shaped Krathongs into the water. It is a spectacular and peaceful experience to watch hundreds of colourful banana leaf receptacles filled with incense and candles floating under the full moon.
Songkran Thai New Year
Songkran, otherwise known as the Thai New year is held on 13 April. Although it is supposed to be a gentle and peaceful expression of cleansing away of the old in preparation for the new, in reality, it is the world’s biggest water fight as the younger generation have taken the idea behind the cleansing considerably further.
Nobody is exempt from a drenching, as cars, trucks, scooters and pedestrians troll the streets with buckets and water guns targeting all within aiming distance. The latest trend is to load the barrels with ice water, so beware!
Buy a brightly-coloured Songkran shirt and a water gun at a supermarket or market stand and join in the fun. As this is the hottest time of the year, the drenching brings much relief too.
Chinese New Year
Many of Samui’s residents are of Chinese descent, so the Chinese New Year in February is celebrated with a bang – literally. The Chinese temples and shrines in Mae Nam and Hua Thanon are the centre points of celebrations, and are well worth a visit at this time. The smell of sulphur hangs heavy in the air from the thousands of red crackers going off. Communities complete, putting on impressive shows of lion dancing, acrobatic performances and drum playing. Be sure to bring the earplugs! The night appeals to all senses, from the raucous crackers and crowds, to the colourful outfits.
Christmas & New Year
Thais love to have fun, so they celebrate three New Years – Thai New Year over Songkran in April, Chinese New Year in February, and the universally recognised New Year on 1 January. Being on Samui for New Years Eve is like being in the opening of a Disney movie, as fireworks go off endlessly all over the island. Most resorts will have an organised function for their guests, usually by way of a buffet dinner and entertainment. If you are looking for a party, you won’t have far to look.
Although Christmas is a Christian holiday, you won’t have to do without your traditional Christmas dinner on the island. Again, resorts will host gala dinners with entertainment, and the shops will display Christmas decorations. Due to the large number of expats on the island, there is no shortage of restaurants putting on a Christmas lunch or dinner spread, complete with roast and stuffing. Kids can build a sandman instead of a snowman, and be sure to email Santa to let him know where you are for the holidays!