If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of a country when you move abroad, festivals can be a great place to start—you can learn a lot about a country by they way they celebrate. Each year Thailand hosts a variety of festivals that range from beautiful to just plain crazy! Here are just a few of the most interesting festivals in Thailand.

Phi Ta Khon – June in Dan Sai

Phi Ta Khon, sometimes referred to as the Ghost Festival, is the three-day annual celebration based on a tale of Buddha’s reincarnation. The story is that Buddha went on a long journey without warning his followers who presumed him to be dead. When Buddha finally returned the celebrations were so loud that it awoke the dead.

Today this story is celebrated with re-enactments of the story, parades, costumes, and games. The final day of the celebration concludes with sermons given by Buddhist monks.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival – October in Phuket

If you’re a vegetarian the name of this event might sound great, but don’t be fooled, this festival is not one for the faint hearted.

Thai-Chinese residents observe this religious event each year by partaking in a 10-day vegetarian diet, devotees – “Ma Song” put on interesting acts to say the least. Some people walk over coals with their bare feet (I’m sure we’ve all seen that on TV at least once), but others go a step further by piercing their cheeks with large swords or putting umbrellas through cheek holes… yeah, it gets a bit crazy.

So what’s the reason for this Thai celebration? It’s believed that the rituals at the vegetarian festival grant good fortune on observers.

Loy Kratong – November Nationwide

All over Thailand people flock to the nearest body of water to launch floating floral arrangements that are either made themselves or bought from local vendors. These floating arrangements are equipped with small candles, which can make for a beautiful scene when floating atop the water.

This festival is a way for the Thai people to symbolically let go of their worries. The small floral rafts, along with the candle, will also have a small lock of hair and a small monetary bribe to the river goddess.

Monkey Buffet – Last Sunday of November in Lopburi

Love monkeys? How about a visit to Lopburi, Thailand? This small town is filled with monkeys! Once a year the residents of Lopburi leave treats of all kinds out for the furry little animals. The monkey “buffet” includes a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, and even soda and lollipops!

Songkran – April 13-15 Nationwide

The Songkran, which is the Thai New Year, has become known for it’s epic water festival. This holiday started out with friends and family celebrating the New Year by visiting temples and splashing water on each other for goodwill, but it has evolved into something much bigger—an all out every-man-for-himself water fight!

Whether you’re planning a trip to Thailand, or you’ve decided to take the leap and move abroad, these Thai festivals will be an experience you’ll never forget.