H.M. the King's Birthday (Wan Chalerm)

Their Majesties the King and QueenAn important public holiday is held on 5 December to celebrate the birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest reigning monarch. Known in Thai as 'Wan Chalerm', the occasion is marked by an outpouring of love and reverence by Thai people throughout the kingdom and around the world.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, ascended the throne on 9 June 1946. The King has won a special place in the hearts of the Thai people through his combination of devotion to the welfare and development of his people, and a keen understanding and awareness of political and social issues. As an institution, His Majesty has provided a firm foundation for the country to weather the trials and turmoil that have beset the region since the end of World War II. Today, His Majesty continues to play a central role in a wide spectrum of national and social development schemes.

On 5 December, buildings and homes all over the country are elaborately adorned with flags, portraits of His Majesty and bunting, predominantly in the color yellow. Around the Grand Palace and Ratchadamnoen Avenue areas of Bangkok, thousands of vividly colored marigolds decorate the streets. On the evening of the holiday itself, the streets around Ratchadamnoen and Sanam Luang are closed to traffic and thousands of people take to the streets. Spectacular fireworks displays are held and the atmosphere is joyous and festive. The best way to enjoy the atmosphere is to take a bus to the Rattanakosin area, and just stroll along the crowded but traffic-free streets for a truly memorable experience.