The Mid-Autumn Festival is widely celebrated in Thailand due to its large Chinese population, which makes up roughly 10-12% of the people living in the country. Also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, this festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. This year, that day falls on September 29, which is fast approaching!
On the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, family and friends get together to thank the gods for a good harvest, feats on moon cakes, and carry lanterns through the streets. Of course, we’re all pretty familiar with the festivities. But not many of us know its origins, how people celebrate it, and where to go to join in the festivities. Here’s everything you need to know about the Mid-Autumn Festival in Thailand, including where to eat the best mooncakes in Bangkok.
A brief history of Mid-Autumn Festival
- 1 A brief history of Mid-Autumn Festival
- 2 How Mid-Autumn Festival is Celebrated in Thailand
- 3 Where to Go for the Best Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations in Thailand
- 4 Where to find the Best Mooncakes in Bangkok in 2023
- 5 5. Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel
The exact origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival is largely unknown. However, historical records indicate that it was derived from the practice of worshipping the moon that started in the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600 – 1046 BCE), more than 3,000 years ago. Ancient Chinese emperors worshipped the harvest moon because they thought it would ensure a bountiful crop the following year. However, the festival only started to gain popularity in China during the Tang Dynasty (618 -907 CE). It was then made official during the Northern Song Dynasty. At this time, the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar is officially designated as the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The tale of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Thailand is a little bit different. Legend has it that Eight Immortals fly to the Moon Palace on the night of the festival to give birthday greetings to the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. To bring success and prosperity to the people of Earth, they present her with peaches.
How Mid-Autumn Festival is Celebrated in Thailand
In China, the Mid-Autumn Festival is the second most important holiday after the Chinese New Year. The Mid-Autumn Festival is just as important and widely celebrated in Thailand. Although there are some differences, the celebrations are very similar.
Traditionally, people celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival as a time to thank the gods for a good harvest. Today, however, it has been infused with many more meanings. Aside from thanking the gods for the yearly harvest, people also celebrate the modern-day Mid-Autumn Festival as a time for family and friends to gather together to pray for good health and happiness. Since family reunions are an essential part of the festival, many people compare it to Thanksgiving in the US.
In Thailand, families usually pray to the moon and give each other peach-shaped cakes. Moreover, they eat mooncakes together with family and friends. Many people also give the sweet round cakes to family and friends to express their love and best wishes. Mooncakes in durian flavour are especially popular in Thailand. Pomelo is also a common food you’ll find during the festival since its round shape symbolises reunion and family gatherings.
Besides gatherings, Mid-Autumn Festival in Thailand is also celebrated with Lantern parades, cultural shows and performances, food stalls, contests, and even beauty pageants. Some people also celebrate the festival by boarding a cruise at Siam Bay by Koh Chang island to watch the moon.
Where to Go for the Best Mid-Autumn Festival Celebrations in Thailand
If you want to experience the best Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, go to areas with the highest population of Chinese people and Thai people of Chinese descent. Trang and Hat Yai usually hold elaborate celebrations and parades. However, you can find big celebrations in areas like Phuket, Chanthaburi, Songkla, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Bangkok.
Where to find the Best Mooncakes in Bangkok in 2023
On the days leading up to the Mid-Autumn Festival, you’ll find numerous stores around Thailand selling all kinds of mooncakes. The round cakes come in a variety of flavours, such as lotus seeds, durian, black sesame, chocolate, and even mint.
Whether you want to load up on mooncakes to enjoy by yourself or to give away to friends and families, consider going to the following places if you’re looking for the most delicious ones.
- Box of 1 mooncake: 220 THB
- Box of 4 mooncakes: 1,188 THB
- Box of 8 mooncakes: 1,588 THB
The first place you need to check out if you’re looking for beautiful mooncakes is the recently reopened InterContinental Bangkok. The team at the Summer Palace Chinese restaurant at the hotel have assembled a selection of four enticing mooncake flavours: durian custard, coffee custard, red bean with egg yolk, and lotus seed with egg yolk.
Aside from the delicious mooncakes, you can also expect a beautiful packaging. The box takes inspiration from a traditional Thai jasmine garland, otherwise known as a Phuang Malai, boasting beautiful clay floral tassels. It’s an effortless combination of the traditional Chinese mooncake with a Thai twist.
- The Treasure Box: 1,288 THB
- The Luxury Box: 2,288 THB
- The Lunar Box: 11,888 THB
When it comes to catering for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Pagoda Chinese Restaurant at Bangkok Marriott Marqui Queen’s Park knows a thing or two about mooncakes. This year, their menu is a symphony of both traditional and contemporary flavours. Our top picks include classics such as Chantaburi durian with white lotus seeds, white lotus and melon seeds with egg yolk, and an irresistible medley of macadamia nuts and white lotus seeds.
Venturing beyond the familiar, they’ve also lined up an exciting trio of signature flavours; expect the deliciously unique caramel espresso, malted chocolate rocher and pork bak-kwa and assorted nuts. And as a grand crescendo, every purchase is smartly packaged. There are three options to choose from, but if you want something truly special, go for The Lunar Box. It comes with sets of a wooden knife, fork, and Pu’Erh Gold Tea to really make a statement.
Price: 2,488 THB per box
Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok has teamed up with renowned local artist, Jeep Kongdechakul, who has breathed life into the beautiful packaging through her interpretation of the Chinese folktale of Moon Rabbit and Chang’e. The box, donned with Jeep’s vibrant floral designs, opens up to reveal four tempting varieties of mooncakes: lotus seed with egg yolk, durian with egg yolk, creamy custard, and a fruity surprise of cranberry.
Not only is the packaging a sight to behold but it’s also reusable and comes in an origami-like bag. Each individual mooncake arrives in a stylish hot pink and lime green box. Therefore, Kimpton Maa-Lai’s mooncakes are just as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the palate. These delightful treats are designed to show love, convey appreciation, and bring good fortune this festival season.
4. W Bangkok
Price: 1,599 THB per box
Known for embracing the unconventional, W Bangkok offers eight unique mooncake flavours this year. It’s split into two mouthwatering categories: snow skin and classic.
In the snow skin selection of W Bangkok’s ‘The Curious Rabbit’ mooncakes, you’ll find the sweet combination of banoffee, the zest of citrus, the indulgence of rum and raisin, and the richness of red velvet. The classic baked collection delivers a delightful salted caramel, the always popular Durian Delight, an inviting mix of nuts and fruits, and a simple yet satisfying chestnut.
Packaged in an elegant white box adorned with a rabbit design, a symbol of good fortune, these mooncakes will immerse yourself and your loved ones in positive vibes and prosperity throughout the Mid-Autumn season.
- Ruby Celestial Box: 1,188 THB
- Emerald Celestial Box: 1,788 THB
- Per piece: 168 THB
It’s a celestial affair this Mid-Autumn Festival at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel. Showcasing a harmonious blend of elegance and tradition, Anantara presents two beautifully designed mooncake packages, the Ruby Celestial and Emerald Celestial. Laden with symbolism, they are an excellent statement gift that resonates perfectly with the festival’s atmosphere. For an added touch of opulence, consider the Emerald Celestial box. It includes sustainable Cacao Tea courtesy of Kad Kokoa alongside the four mooncakes.
In terms of flavour, choices range from traditional flavours such as lotus seed single-yolk, durian single-yolk, and jujube single-yolk, to more unique combinations like cranberry macadamia nuts and a divine custard mooncake.
The mooncakes in these hotels are only available for a limited time, so be sure to snatch some before they’re gone. Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
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