April isn’t just another month in Thailand. Not only is the Songkran New Year Festival celebrated, it is also the month that Thais observe Chakri Memorial Day.
Officially called ‘King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke the Great Day and Chakri Dynasty Memorial Day’, Chakri Day commemorates the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty in 1782. It falls on April 6 each year, with the public holiday on the following Monday if it falls on Saturday or Sunday.
Chakri Day commemorates the coronation of Rama I, Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, but it is also a day for the people of Thailand to celebrate the much-revered Royal Family. Rama I is widely known for establishing Krung Thep, modern day Bangkok, as the capital of Thailand.
Since Rama I’s death in 1809, the Chakri Dynasty has gone on to transform and modernize many aspects of Thai society. The current King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) succeeded King Bhumibol Adulyadej after his death in October 2016.
In general, Chakri Day day celebrations are low key, particularly compared to the Songkran Festival to follow. While not an outright Buddhist holiday, ceremonies are held at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) in Bangkok and other temples around the country. Many Thais celebrate the dynasty by placing flowers on statues of Rama I.
If you are holidaying or volunteering in Thailand on Chakri Day, you will probably not notice too much out of the ordinary. Government offices, schools and many banks will be closed, but most other businesses should be open as usual.
You may, however, notice a lot of people traveling over the Chakri Day public holiday. Falling about a week before the three-day Thai New Year Songkran Festival, many people travel during the month of April to visit with family and friends. It may be a good idea to plan any travel within Thailand during this time well in advance.
April is probably the quietest month for volunteer in activity. Between the Chakri and Songkran holidays, many projects may be closed, at least for a few days. Schools and government offices will definitely be closed during the holiday days, but volunteer activities at orphanages, hospitals and other projects will likely continue as usual.
For anyone visiting Thailand, Chakri Day provides an excellent opportunity to observe the people of Thailand’s renowned love and respect for their Royal Family.
At Friends For Asia we close our offices and projects for the month of April. This allows our hard working staff to get some quality family time and take a well deserved break. It also gives us the opportunity to prepare the exciting and varied volunteer projects that are open from May to March.
We offer a wide range of exciting volunteer opportunities in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Whether you want to work with elephants in rural northern Thailand or help disadvantaged children in the nation’s bustling capital, we have something to suit you. Contact us today to find out more about our volunteer in Thailand projects.