Today, Theravada Buddhism is the professed religion of over 90% of the Thai people, and profoundly influences everyday life. It finds expression in the Thais' tolerance and kindness towards their fellow men, regardless of race, creed or nationality. It is visibly strengthened by the close daily contact the laity enjoys with Buddhist monks during morning food collections and casual meetings. People acquire 'merit' by donating food to the monks; by building and renovating temples; by constructing hospitals; and by showing kindness and compassion to all living creatures. Such merit favorably affects one's present as well as future incarnations.

All major Buddhist holy days are national holidays. These include Magha Puja (commemorating the miraculous occasion when 1250 disciples gathered spontaneously to hear the Buddha preach); Visakha Puja (commemorating the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and final passing away); and Khoa Phansa (the commencement of the annual three-month Rains Retreat when all monks stay inside their monasteries to study and meditate).