The King’s Birthday – Thailand (5th December)

  • The 5th December marks a national holiday throughout the country as Thailand’s beloved King celebrates his birthday. Streets and villages across the land will be adorned with decorations and flags and the Grand Palace in Bangkok shall be lit up in his honour. Also, in the capital, there’s an alms-giving ceremony, followed by a large festival of music and Thai culture held at Sanam Luang.

Hmong New Year – Laos, Vietnam and Thailand

  • Early December sees a New Year celebration unique to the culture of the Hmong people, one of the largest ethnic groups residing in Northern Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. The event takes place at different times each year as the timing depends on the harvesting of the rice. The superstitious beliefs of the Hmong people mean that the festival must be at least three days long, as it is bad luck for events to last for an even number of days. Celebrations have been known to proceed for a month and a half! Existing as both a religious and social event, it’s a huge festivity for the Hmong people, as it’s one of the only times that they have a break from farming during the year. Traditional performances, games and events are enjoyed by everyone in the community, so it’s also the perfect chance for the singletons of nearby villages to meet prospective spouses.

River Kwai Bridge Week – Kanchanaburi, Thailand

  • Cultural performances, folk dances and a carnival atmosphere pervade the town of Kanchanaburi during the remembrance week of the world famous, River Kwai Bridge. Historical exhibitions and displays explain more about the history and a light and sound presentation enacts the World War II legacy.

Christmas – All over South East Asia (25 December)

  • Dreaming of a white Christmas? Although snow may be a little light on the ground and there ain’t a mince pie in sight, you’ll be sure to find the twinkle of Christmas Spirit in many places across SE Asia. Glitzy tinsel, plastic reindeer, Santa hats and even fake snowflakes may seem a little strange in the likes of Hanoi and Bangkok, but it seems the fun loving locals, don’t mind celebrating festivals traditionally deriving from other cultures; if it’s a jolly good excuse for a party that is! The big question is, where’s the best place for a homesick backpacker to fill their stockings with festive cheer in SE Asia? You can Full Moon it, Khao San Road it, or even tube it! Maybe you fancy a quiet one, just a few beers with a few friends on the beach? Guaranteed, the welcoming people of this part of the world and the joyful atmosphere will ensure you have a merry time wherever you are! (Parts of the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia hold traditional Christmas celebrations, (known as Hari Natal) amongst the large Christian populace.)

Christmas in South East AsiaAll I want for Christmas is South East Asia Backpacker Mag!

Sunburn Festival – Goa, India

  • Taking place over three days, the Sunburn Festival is India’s biggest Electronic Dance Music Festival, held in Goa, India. Sunburn is Asia’s Premiere Dance Music Festival and was voted the World’s Number 9 music festival by CNN. Now in their 5th year, the 2011 festival expects an incredible crowd of up to 46,00,000 people. With Goa being one the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Sunburn attracts enthusiasts from all over the globe to share the experience and their passion for Electronic Music. Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond and Axwell are a few of the names from previous line ups. This year there is a line up of over 90 artists from around the world, playing on 7 stages.

International New Year

  • As you backpack around Asia, you’ll find yourself at more than one New Year’s celebration…the lunar calendar, the Buddhist calendar,  the Chinese calendar. However, the 31st is a big night everywhere in the world. Wherever you’ve chosen to spend the night, rest assured you’ll have a ball! Fireworks in cities, carnivals in towns, house parties in villages. Beach destinations cram with backpackers revved up for a night they plan to remember (but probably won’t after the first bucket!) Popular places include Koh Phangan for Full Moon Party, Koh Tao, Koh Chang’s Lonely Beach or chilled out Sihanoukville, Cambodia.