Festivals & Events
Here on Koh Tao we have an incredible community connection where both Thai, Myanmar, and western residents come together to celebrate some of the most important milestones throughout the year, whether that be Buddhist holidays or general island events…
Buddhism is the dominant religion throughout Thailand, and the Buddhist calendar year is filled with many important dates. Buddhist holidays often combine secular and religious elements, meaning the way they are celebrated can differ significantly between various traditions and cultures. To make matters a little confusing, the same holidays can be observed at different times throughout Asia. This is why, for example, you may encounter many and varying dates for Buddha’s birthday.
To add a further element of confusion, the Buddhist calendar itself is very different from the Gregorian calendar that is used elsewhere in the world. The Buddhist calendar is lunisolar, meaning it combines lunar (moon) and solar (sun) cycles. More specifically, the months are based on lunar months and years are based on solar years. This means that many Buddhist holidays do not have a fixed date as they are determined by specific phases of the moon rather than an arbitrary calendar date. Buddhist holidays that are based on the solar cycle, however, will retain the same date every year.
The biggest Buddhist holiday days are Songkran, Loy Krathong, and Visakha Bucha, but there are several more scattered throughout the year, many of which are designated public holidays meaning official offices like immigration services are closed. So if you have a Visa Trip due, it is worth checking to make sure this will not affect your travel plans. Also, tourists should note that the sale of alcohol is prohibited on many Buddha days and public holidays.
Koh Tao is home to a unique blend of Thai and international residents all with a shared passion for the island, its people, and its ecosystem. So there are several community-driven projects ongoing at any one time around Koh Tao. Conservation issues and projects, in particular, are something that the whole island tends to come together on, and over the years we’ve hosted regular fundraisers for various municipal causes too. This includes events to benefit our local primary school, the Koh Tao Animal Clinic, rescue services, and many more besides. These types of event continue to be scheduled on an ad hoc basis throughout the year. So if you happen to be on Koh Tao when there is a fundraiser or event scheduled, be sure to attend and spend some of your Thai baht on a worthy cause.