Rhythm & Sands Festival, Koh Phangan, Thailand

  • If you think the scene on world renowned party island Koh Phangan is all about the moon parties, think again! Rhythm & Vines and Rhythm & Alps of New Zealand, bring a monthly festival under the sun and stars, changing the stereotype of the island from minimal psy-trance to a unique blend of fresh new music styles and DJs. Set in a secluded yet accessible beach venue amidst the palms of Baan Tai, and three days before the full moon party, R&S is the next level of the Thai Beach Party Experience: a daytime event in the sunshine going through to a full night-time festival until sun-up with a huge tropical pool as the centre point of the dance floor, alongside white sandy beaches and views of surrounding islands.

KhaoPhansa (Buddhist Lent) – Myanmar, Laos, Thailand

  • KhaoPhansa is one of the most important occasions in the Buddhist calendar that also marks the beginning of the rainy season across the kingdoms of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Also known as the ‘Buddhist Rains Retreat,’ it’s a time when Buddhist monks retreat to the temple where they must remain for a period of three months. Traditionally, this was so that they would not be in danger of treading on young plants, which sprout during this season of growth and new life. It’s a time for study and meditation and is also considered an auspicious time for ordinations into monk hood. Celebrations take place across the country to commemorate the beginning of KhaoPhansa.

Metatah (Tooth Filing Ceremony) – Bali, Indonesia

  • Metatah is an interesting ritual carried out by Balinese Hindus, that generally takes place during this time of year. The ceremony marks the passage from childhood to adulthood and filing the teeth is said to cleanse the body and mind of invisible evil spirits. Balinese belief systems view teeth as a symbol of lust, greed, anger and jealousy, among other vices.

Ramadan – Indonesia

  • For Muslims all over the world, Ramadan is of huge importance. Particularly in Muslim nations Indonesia and Malaysia you will come into contact with Ramadan as a traveller. During this period all Muslims observe fast from dawn until dusk and in many parts of the country restaurants will be closed during the day. Ramadan is also a time when Muslims offer prayers to Allah, ask for forgiveness for sins and attempt to purify themselves of impure thoughts and deeds. According to tradition, Ramadan marks the time when the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The fasting period ends with ‘Eid’ a huge celebratory feast, commemorated by over one billion Muslims around the world as they say thank you to Allah for all they have been given.

Indonesia Independence Day

  • Each year, every neighborhood holds friendly contents of hilarious games, such as climbing oily trees to reach gifts placed in the branches, the sack race (jumping race with your feet inside a bag), biting the krupuk (using your mouth to collect coins from a melon covered in black slippery oil… Good wholesome family fun where everyone from the old to the young gets involved.

Hungry Ghost Festival  – Chinese Communities in South East Asia

  • Every year for a whole month, Chinese people believe that the ghosts of their ancestors descend to earth to wander the earth in search of food! Although you may not actually bump into one of the actual ghosts, you will encounter the festival alive and well in Chinese communities all across South East Asia, for example Malaysia’s Penang.You will see offerings left outside temples and houses to appease the hungry ghosts, as Chinese people believe that their ancestors can bring them good luck. There are also Chinese Opera performances and puppet shows taking place in lively Chinatowns everywhere.

Taung Byone Nat Festival – Taung Byone Village near Mandalay, Burma/Myanmar

  • This festival is known as the major gathering spot for spiritual mediums. Hundreds of mediums (Nat-Kadaw) and thousands of pilgrims come once a year to Taung Byone, where the statues of two brothers (who died mysteriously after forgetting to provide two bricks for the Pagoda of Wishes), are placed in a shrine and there stands still the “Pagoda of Wishes” with the two missing stones. It is the most impressive Nat (spirit) Festival in Myanmar. Offerings and dances, the inflow of merchants, the constant arrival of pilgrims and the intensive use of loudspeakers continue day and night.

Merdeka Day – Malaysia

  • Throughout the country, Merdeka day is a day of national pride and a celebration of cultural heritage. The event commemorates Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. Particularly in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, there are parades, performances and events taking place on this momentous day. Head to Independence Square to witness the celebrations.