Fabulous Festivals To Catch In Thailand (Part 1 of 2)

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It’s time to liven up your next holiday in the Land of Smiles.

Get your party hat ready – we’ve rounded some of wacky (and slightly bizarre) festivals in Thailand that attract travelers from all around the world. The rule of thumb? The wackier the affair, the better.
Here are nine of the best Thai festivals to see and be seen at.

1. Phi Ta Khon
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Image Source: http://www.tat-la.com/destinations/loei

When: June 28-30
Where: Dan Sai, Loei province, 500 kilometers north of Bangkok

Phi Ta Khon is an annual celebration based on an ancient tale about Buddha’s reincarnation and subsequent elation at his return. During the festival, the Dan Sai menfolk dress as masked spirits in colourful patchwork clothing. Things get cheeky as well with some of the men carrying giant red wooden phalluses, which they aren’t shy about swinging around and pointing at bystanders — particularly ladies. The celebrations culminate in a wild party with music and dancing on the first two days. On the last day, the villagers listen to sermons from Buddhist monks.

2. Ubon Ratchatani Candle Festival
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Image Source: http://hale-worldphotography.blogspot.sg/2010/08/over-my-head-ramakian.html

When: July 22-23
Where: Ubon Ratchathani, Isan, Thailand

One of Thailand’s oldest festivals dating back over a hundred years, this yearly festival sees Buddhist artisans creating large, elaborately carved candles. The more elaborate versions show scenes of Hindu and Buddhist mythology sculpted in wood or plaster and coated with wax. Of course, these candles are never burned. The finished candles are shown off on floats during a parade through the city center, accompanied by dancers, musicians and the candle creators.

3. Phuket Vegetarian Festival
When: October (Exact date to be announced)
Where: Phuket, Thailand

The 10-day Phuket vegetarian festival celebrates the belief that abstinence from meat and self-mutilation will encourage good health and peace of mind. These include taking baths in hot oil, walking on burning coals or piercing their cheeks with any number of objects in myriad acts of devotion. Over the years, the festival has grown into an annual spectacle that now draws thousands of visitors. Many fly in from China and other Asian destinations to witness the grisly public performances of piety. (Due to the gruesome nature of this festival, pictures are not show. A quick search with Google will yield many result, but be warned, the pictures are not for the faint-hearted.)

4. Loy Krathong
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Image Source: http://resaeaves.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/thegoodthebadandthefacts/

When: November 17
Where: Nationwide

The annual Loy Krathong festival celebrates the symbolic release of negative feelings and worries as people float beautiful floral arrangements on rivers, canals and ponds, making a wish as they do so. Usually made of banana leaves and flowers, they can be handmade or purchased from vendors. Many of the rafts hold a small candle, incense sticks, a lock of hair to release accrued badness and a 10 to 20 baht bribe for the river goddess. Though celebrations are held nationwide, the best place to experience a traditional Loy Krathong festival is in the ancient Thai capital, Sukhothai.

5. Surin Elephant Roundup
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Image Source (including the one at the top): http://www.worldfestivaldirectory.com/2012/06/15/surin-elephant-roundup-parade-surin-thailand/

When: November 16-17
Where: Surin province, Thailand

Both elephants and people alike flock to Thailand’s northeastern Surin province every November for the annual Surin Elephant Roundup. The two days of the festival feature special elephant-themed events, including the giant elephant buffet, elephant races, an elephant football game, tug of war matches between elephants and humans and war re-enactments recalling the days when elephants were used in battle.

This concludes Part 1 of the Fabulous Festivals To Catch In Thailand. Stay tuned for Part 2 for even more crazy and wacky festivals only available in the Land of Smiles.

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