Khao Phansa the second of two important religious holidays Thailand and its predominantly Buddhist population will celebrate this weekend. Khao Phansa follows Asarnha Bucha and falls on Sunday the 9 July. It heralds the start of the annual three-month-long period of Lent (Vassa).
Thais mark the occasion with trips to their local temples to make merit with donations and to listen to monks giving invigorating sermons. In olden times, monks used to stay in their temples until Ok Phansa (end of Buddhist Lent) and the full moon three months later signalled the end of Vassa. This practice is not strictly followed nowadays and the sight of monks in saffron robes out on city streets is fairly common.
A significant proportion of Buddhists still give up eating meat, drinking alcohol or smoking for Vassa. In keeping with this tradition, the Thai government has enacted a law which prohibits the sale of alcohol on both Khao Phansa and Asarnha Bucha.
The ban on alcohol means bars in Chiang Mai will be closed on Saturday the 8 and Sunday the 9 July. Asarnha Bucha is an official public holiday and as it falls on a Saturday, Monday is the substitute day for it. Government offices and some bank branches will be shut for the day.
Read more about Festivals in Chiang Mai.