February is a great time to visit Thailand. It is relatively cool and dry, with lots of sunshine and little rainfall. Events include Makha Bucha – an important domestic holiday, Chinese New Year, flower festivals in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and local festivals in other cities.
One of the driest and coolest months of the year, February can be an excellent month to visit Thailand.
Be forewarned, however, that because Chinese New Year falls in February this year, Thailand will be awash with Chinese tourists, so hotel rooms can be difficult to book, and bargains will be difficult to find.
While Chinese New Year is not an official holiday in Thailand, it is widely celebrated, and it can be great fun for Chinese culture buffs!
There are colourful parades, lion dancing, playful dragons, cultural performances, fireworks – the list goes on.
But there are important Thai celebrations, as well.
After Thai New Year, Thailand’s second most important domestic holiday, Makha Bucha, falls in February. There are also flower festivals in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and some interesting local festivals in other parts of the country – many of which are far off the well-beaten tourism track.
February Weather in Thailand
February is at the end of Thailand’s so-called “cool season”. The average daily high in Bangkok is 33 Celsius, or 91 degrees Fahrenheit, with an average low of 23 degrees Celsius, or 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are similar temperatures throughout the country, although some spots are a few degrees higher, and others a few degrees lower.
Ayutthaya and Krabi, for example, have an average high of 93 degrees Fahrenheit in February, whereas Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, and Udon Thani have an average high of 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
February is also the dry season, with an average of only two rainy days and about 10 millimeters of rain.
What to See and Do Thailand in February
Here’s a short-list of some of the Thai festivals and holidays that take place in Thailand in February.
Scroll down for a list of Chinese New Year festivals in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and other communities across the country.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Suan Buak Hat Park in Chiang Mai is transformed into an open-air exhibition centre with floral displays and agricultural exhibitions. There are also contests, and plants can be purchased.
A highlight of the festival is a parade of floral floats that make their way through city streets accompanied by celebrants marching in traditional Thai costumes.
At Suan Buak Hat Park, Chiang Mai Municipality, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. From 1 to 4 February.
The second most important festival of the year in Thailand, Makha Bucha (also spelled Magha Puja) celebrates a gathering that was held in Northern India between the Buddha and 1,250 of his first disciples 10 months after his enlightenment.
According to tradition …
- All of the disciples came without being summoned.
- All of them were enlightened.
- All of them were ordained by the Lord Buddha himself.
- It was the full-moon of the third lunar month.
Makha Bucha is a day during which lay people make merit by holding processions, lighting candles, and making offerings.
Candlelight processions and other activities are held at most temples.
As a Buddhist holiday, the sale of alcohol is strictly prohibited during Makha Bucha. That means you can’t buy alcohol for a period of 24 hours!
The third of February is also celebrated as Veteran’s Day in Thailand.
Celebrated nationwide. On 3 February.
Ban Chiang World Heritage Festival
The archaeological site of Ban Chiang in Udon Thani Province, and the area that surrounds it, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.
In celebration, Udon Thani province organizes the Ban Chiang World Heritage Festival each year with an eye to highlighting the rich history of this nearly forgotten culture.
There is a trade fair of five-star OTOP products Tai Phuan activities, the ceremony of paying homage to sacred entity (Pu Khun Chiang Sawat), a cultural parade, and light and sound performances of Tai Phuan in Ban Chiang.
At the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site and National Museum, Nong Han District, Udon Thani Province, Thailand. From 1 to 28 February.
King Narai Reign Fair
The era of King Narai the Great is re-enacted during the nine-day King Narai Reign Fair, which celebrates King Narai the Great (1580–1655).
Highlights include a regal ceremony and a spectacular procession of floats, horses, and elephants.
There is a changing of the guards performance, a light-and-sound presentation, various cultural displays and dance performances, and a “retro” market featuring shops offering traditional food and beverages in exchange for ‘ancient’ Thai bullet money.
At King Narai’s Palace, Lopburi, Thailand. From 8 to 17 February
Maga Puja Hae Pha Khuen That Festival
The Hae Pha Khuen That Festival aims to promote Buddhist tourism in Thailand.
There are exhibitions, a procession, the draping of a very long piece of holy cloth around the base of a stupa that contains sacred relics and other merit-making activities
The pagoda is considered to be the representative of Lord Buddha. Local devotees believe it possess a tremendous amount of righteousness of the holy relics it contains.
The festival is held twice a year during Makha Bucha Day (the 15th full-moon night of February) and Visakha Bucha Day (the 15th full-moon night of May).
Book hotel rooms in Nakhon Si Thammarat early as this festival is very popular.
At Royal Park Si Thammarat, Soi Wat Mahathat Woramahawihan, Nai Mueang, Muang Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, Thailand. From 13 to 19 February.
Nai Lert Flower and Garden Art Fair
Thailand’s first and Asia’s best floral show, Nai Lert Flower and Garden Art Fair features 20 floral installations, an exhibition of floral garlands, an art market, and exhibition gallery of jewelry, decorative items, local textiles, and more.
Restaurants such as Ma Maison and Lady L Garden Bistro, which are located in the park, serve dishes featuring floral ingredients. More than 20 food vendors and food trucks will also offer mouth-watering edible treats.
At Nai Lert Park, Bangkok, Thailand. From 21 to 24 February.
Chinese New Year Celebrations in 2019
A total of 1.03 million travelers are expected to visit Thailand over the Chinese New Year period this year, and more than 330,000 of them will be from China, where 4 to 10 February are official holidays.
Official Chinese New Year celebrations will be held this year in the three Thai travel destinations most popular with young Chinese travelers: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
Reflecting the seriousness the Thai government is placing on the promotion of CNY festivities, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the festival to be held in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
There will be cultural performances in all three of these cities as well as demonstrations of various Chinese art forms such as paper cutting and calligraphy.
Other highlights will include fairs selling snacks and souvenirs, performances by popular artists and singers, the list goes on.
China is sending performers from seven provinces, including acrobats from Shanxi, puppeteers from Fujian, and traditional Chinese dance troupes from Yunnan, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, and Qiandongnan.
Shandong province alone will send Chinese opera troupes, traditional dancers, acrobats, and martial arts practitioners.
In addition to the official Chinese New Year celebrations sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the tourism body is also supporting independent festivities organized by Sino-Thai communities themselves, many of which are quite lavish, with a long history.
Most of the Chinese New Year celebrations will be held from 4 to 10 February, but some locations celebrated CNY in late January, and others will celebrate the festival from 10 to 12 February.
Where to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket
First a look at the Chinese New Year celebrations being held in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.
Scroll down for an alphabetic listing of CNY celebrations being held in other cities and towns across Thailand.
Bangkok is the nation’s capital and Thailand’s largest city. Located in Central Thailand, the City of Angels has a large Chinatown, and Chinese temples and shrines are scattered around the city.
Shopping malls throughout the Big Mango will be decked out with Chinese New Year decorations during the CNY period.
You can also expect CNY celebrations at temples and shrines throughout the city.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the Bangkok Chinatown Festival 2019, a two-day celebration with cultural shows from China, dragon parades, lion dancing, street stalls selling Chinese food, lantern decorations, an exhibition telling the story of Yaowarat’s Sino-Thai community, and performances by well-known artists and pop stars.
At Chalerm Phrakiat Gate, Bangkok, Thailand. On 5 and 6 February.
Representatives from the governments of China and Thailand will extend greetings in celebration of the Year of the Pig at Siam Square, where three of Bangkok’s toniest shopping malls as located: MBK, Siam Square One, and Siam Paragon.
There will be cultural shows from both countries. Examples include demonstrations of paper cutting and other Chinese art forms, a fair selling goods and auspicious foods, and live entertainment.
At Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand. From 4 to 6 February.
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The city of Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand. It is the capital of Chiang Mai Province. Tucked away in a mountainous region, Chiang Mai enjoys a cooler climate than most parts of Thailand.
Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center
Cultural shows from China and Thailand, performances by well-known artists and pop stars, and a fair selling Chinese food, products, and fashion items will all take place at this upscale shopping mall.
At Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre, Chiang Mai Municipality, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. On 5 and 6 February.
Chiang Mai Chinatown
A spectacular procession of dragons, lion dancing, Chinese cultural and musical performances, a Miss Chiang Mai Chinatown beauty pageant, Chinatown Kids talent contests, and a food and souvenir fair will be held in Chiang Mai’s Chinatown.
At Kuang Men Road (Lao Zhou alley), Chiang Mai Municipality, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. On 5 and 6 February.
The city of Phuket is the largest city of Phuket Province, which comprises 33 islands, including the eponymous island of Phuket, which is Thailand’s largest island.
Located off the West Coast of Southern Thailand, Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations.
Central Phuket Floresta
Cultural shows from China and Thailand, performances by well-known artists and pop stars, and a fair selling Chinese food, products, and fashion items.
At Central Phuket Floresta, Phuket, Thailand. From 25 January to 28 February.
Phuket’s Old Town
There will be a colourful procession through Phuket’s Old Town as well as lantern decorations, cultural performances, and a food fair featuring traditional Phuket-style dishes.
At Phuket’s Old Town Plaza, Phuket, Thailand. From 10 to 12 February.
Trang Clock Tower
A Who’s Who of chefs at nearby restaurants will cook up a variety of auspicious Chinese bites. There will also be do-it-yourself workshops and fruit carving as well as a special merit-making package tour
At Trang Clock Tower Circle in Phuket, Thailand. From 3 to 5 February.
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Where to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the Provinces
An alphabetical listing of Thai cities and towns with significant Chinese New Year celebrations follows.
Ang Sila is a small fishing village in Chonburi Province in Central Thailand. The town is home to an extravagant Chinese temple, which contains a four-storey with building with statues of Nacha Sa Shai Chue, the 1,000-hands Chinese Goddess of Mercy, and other Chinese deities.
Chinese New Year is celebrated at the Nacha Sa Thai Chue Shrine with an extravagant ritual, which includes paying tribute to Nacha Sa Thai Chue, the god of the shrine. There are also merit-making rituals.
At the Dhamma Rasmi Maneerat Foundation, Nacha Sa Thai Chue Shrine, Ang Sila Municipality, Chon Buri Province, Thailand. From 4 to 10 February.
Established in 1350, the historic city of Ayutthaya is the capital of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province in Central Thailand. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Devotees will pay homage to the guardian spirits of Ayutthaya at 108 shrines in the ancient city.
There will be a shrine parade contest from 16 districts, a lantern decoration contest; a spectacular procession of lion dancers, dragon dancers, and acrobats; Miss Chinatown and Little Miss Chinatown pageants; and cultural shows and performances by well-known bands and singers.
At Naresuan Road, Ayutthaya Municipality, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. From 6 to 11 February.
Ban Chak Ngaeo
Ban Chak Ngeo is small village located in Chonburi Province in Eastern Thailand. Because of its large community of Sino-Thais, it is sometimes referred to as the “Chinatown of the East”.
Chinese New Year celebrations in this town feature the painting of Chinese opera masks at an ancient opium den and opera house, performances of traditional Chinese dances at a local school, lion dancing, Chinese calligraphy, and a local community fair.
Ban Chak Ngaeo, Chonburi Province, Thailand. From 2 to 10 February.
Hat Yai is the largest city and the commercial hub of Songkhia Province, which borders Malaysia. Located in Southern Thailand, the town has a sizable Sino-Thai community.
There will be dragon parades with a 20-metre-long giant dragon and lion dancers from Nakhon Sawan, cultural performances from China, a Chinatown Kid talent contest, a Miss Hatyai Chinese beauty pageant, and an authentic Chinese food fair.
At the Sri Nakhon Foundation School, Hat Yai Municipality, Songkhia Province, Thailand. From 5 to 8 February.
Ko Si Chang
Located in Chon Buri Province in Central Thailand, Ko Si Chang is a small offshore island anchored in the Gulf of Thailand. The island is also spelled Koh Si Chang. It should not be confused with Ko Chang, an island in Trat Province.
Chinese New Year is celebrated by paying homage to Chao Pho Khao Yai, the guardian spirit of the island, as well as other guardian spirits and Chinese gods.
Ko Si Chang Municipality, Chon Buri Province, Thailand. From 26 to-27 January.
One of the four major cities in Isan, as the Northeastern region of Thailand is known, the city of Nakhon Ratchasima is also called Korat. It is located in the eponymous province of Nakhon Ratchasima, which is Thailand’s largest province.
The Korat International Art and Culture Festival features local and international art and cultural shows, demonstrations of various Chinese art forms including traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, and a Chinese food eating challenge.
At Chomphon Road (from Chompho Gate to Suanmak Night Bazaar), Nakhon Ratchasima Municipality, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand. From 4 to 7 February.
The city of Nakhon Sawan is the capital of Nakhon Sawan Province, which is located in Central Thailand.
The 103rd Pak Nam Pho Chinese New Year Festival will feature processions, including the procession of Chao Pho-Chao Mae Paknam Pho and Chao Mae Kuan-im (Guan Yin), lucky draws, acrobatic performances, dragon parades, lion dancing, angel parades, cultural performances from China, festive lighting, a light-and-sound show, and performances by well-known artists and pop stars.
At Riverside Beach at the beginning of the Chao Phraya River (Paknam Pho), Bangkok, Thailand. From 29 January to 1 February.
The city of Pattaya is one of Thailand’s most popular resort destinations. Located in Chon Buri Province, Pattaya is 100 kilometres, or 62 miles, southeast of Bangkok.
There will be Sino-Thai cultural performances, lion and dragon dancing, a CNY exhibition, and live concerts starring famous bands and singers.
Central Pattaya Beach and Walking Street, Pattaya Municipality, Chon Buri Province, Thailand. On 5 February.
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The city of Phetchaburi is the capital of Phetchaburi Province in Southern Thailand.
At the Chinese New Year celebration, attendees will pay homage to Chinese gods and the guardian spirits. There will be a charity cooking of auspicious Chinese noodles in a giant wok, lion and dragon dancing, traditional Chinese dancing, and acrobatic performances. Young people and well-known bands and singers will also perform.
At Surin Ruechai Road (18 Road), Phetchaburi Municipality, Phetchaburi Province, Thailand.
The town of Ratchaburi is the capital of Ratchaburi Province in Western Thailand.
The Chinese New Year celebrations in Ratchaburi will be held’s in the town’s Chinatown. There will be cultural performances, a light-and-sound show, a fireworks display, a Mister and Miss Chinatown beauty pageant, Little Mister and Miss Chinatown Kids contest, a spectacular Chinese New Year procession, and a charity cooking-off featuring auspicious Chinese noodles in a giant wok .
At Raj Pracha Pattana Dam, Ratchaburi Municipality, Ratchaburi Province, Thailand. From 4 to 7 February.
The town of Suphanburi is located in Suphanburi province in Central Thailand.
Celebrants will pay homage to the province’s guardian spirits at Suphanburi City Pillar Shrine. There will be “Dragon Descendants” performances, which will include lion dancing, drumming, dragon dancing, martial arts demonstrations, thousand-hand Guan Yin dances, and face-changing opera performances s as well as a local fair.
Dragon Descendants Museum, Suphanburi Municipality, Suphanburi, Thailand. From 5 to 7 February.
The city of Udon Thani is one of the four major cities in the Isan region of Northeastern Thailand. It is a gateway to Laos, Northern Vietnam, and Southern China.
Chinese New Year is celebrated in the town with good luck rituals, a spectacular procession of lion dancers, a Chinatown Kids talent contest, a Miss Udon Thani Chinatown beauty pageant, and street stalls selling Chinese food.
At Wat Sunthorn Pradit Chinese Temple, Prajak Sillapakom Road, Udon Thani Municipality, Udon Thani Province, Thailand. From 5 to 7 February.
Thailand’s China Connection
Chinese New Year is not an official holiday in Thailand, but the popular festival is still widely celebrated in the kingdom thanks to close cultural and commercial ties between China and Thailand.
An estimated 10% to 14% of Thais have Chinese or mixed Sino-Thai ancestry, and the ratio is probably higher in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, where Chinese cultural influences are strong.
China has also become Thailand’s largest source of tourism in recent years. An estimated 10 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand in 2018, setting an all-time record. The previous record was set in 2017, when 9,805,753 Chinese nationals visited the Land of Smiles.
The attractions are many: Thailand is relatively close to China, there are direct flights to Thailand from many Chinese cities, Thailand is considered more affordable than other nearby travel destinations, and Thai food suits the taste of Chinese foodies.
Then there is the issue of culture. As a predominately Buddhist society, Thailand offers an undeniable sense of familiarity for Chinese tourists, many of whom are Buddhist themselves.
Chinese tourists now account for fully one-third of Thailand’s in-bound tourism!
With Thailand’s growing popularity among Chinese tourists, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is going to great lengths to encourage even more visitation from the world’s most populous country, operating offices in five Chinese cities: Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Kunming, and Shanghai.
This post contains affiliate links. It is the first in a series of monthly travel and sightseeing guides to Thailand