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Cover story : 25 Jan 2003
Vol.19 No.20
Thailand’s Flower-Related Festivals
By Thawat Wattana

One of Some Best Buys


Since Thailand is located in the tropical zone where the land is fertile and plants grow well, you can find a great variety of beautiful flowers in this country. Thai people do not only seek pleasure from growing and viewing them, but also hold some events to highlight their attractiveness or to make use of them.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival

It is a colourful annual festival of Chiang Mai, 696 km from Bangkok, with the official name of the Chiang Mai Festival of Flowers and Ornamental Plants. It was first held in 1977 at the initiative of


Mr. Chalo Thammasiri, then governor of the province, as a way to increase the income of the local inhabitants through tourism and to promote the cultivation of flowering plants as a commodity.

One of the beautiful ladies in a floral float
procession in Chiang Mai Flower Festival.
Chiang Mai holds this annual festival on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of February when the flowers bloom at their best. The festival brings two most beautiful creatures of nature--girls and flowers--together for people to admire.
There is a floral float procession, a contest for selecting the most beautiful float and a beauty contest to select the Miss Flower Festival of the current year from among the beauties sent by the various sponsors to sit on the floral floats.
All kinds of handicrafts and other native products are displayed for sale at the site of the show.
Dok Khun Flower & Khaen Melody Festival
It has long been said that Khon Kaen, 449 km from Bangkok, is a place of dok khun flowers (yellow cassia) and khaen melodies (khaen is a reed mouth organ played in the northeastern region). This is because Khon Kaen is the centre of northeastern region, including that of northeastern culture, of which the khaen is an important part, and dok khun is the flower of this province.
The festival is normally held in April as part of the local traditional New Year celebrations. During the period after the harvesting season, farmers have much free time for entertainment and dok khun are blooming at their best with strings of these yellow flowers hanging from the trees, giving a beautiful decoration to the roads in the province.
There is a big khun tree garden on the west bank of Kaen Nakhon Marsh where many khun trees are growing. The event features paying homage to revered Buddha images and shrines, respectfully pouring water on elders' hands, offering food to monks, beauty contests, floral floats and northeastern folk entertainment.
Tak Bat Dok Mai
Tak Bat Dok Mai is a merit-making festival held in Phra Buddha Bat*, Saraburi Province, 108 km from Bangkok, yearly on Khao Phansa Day, i.e. the start of the three-month Rains retreat or Buddhist Lent, during which Buddhist monks must spend the nights in their monasteries.
Khao Phansa flowers
Tak Bat Dok Mai means making merit by presenting flowers to Buddhist monks. It originated from a Buddhistic legend about a man named Malakan in Ratchakhrue Town, who made merit by presenting jasmines instead of food as usual to the Lord Buddha. So this is a very old tradition of the
Worshippers presenting "Khao Phansa"
flowers to Buddhist monks as offerings
Buddhists everywhere, but only those in Phra Buddha Bat have observed it as a festival. In former times, Phra Buddha Bat people would go to present food to the monks at the temple on the early morning of Khao Phansa Day. Later on, they also went to pick Khao Phansa flowers, which blossom only in the early Buddhist Lent month, in the mountains of the province, and offered these flowers with incense to a procession of monks, who then ascended to the shrine of the Holy Footprint where they presented the offerings as tribute.
A beauty queen on a float decorated with
bai-si, a kind of traditional Thai offerings
made of banana leaf
Nowadays, there are not enough Khao Phansa flowers to meet the demand of people some of whom come from other parts of Thailand. So some other kinds of flowers are also used for making merit on this occasion. The festival also includes a parade of beautifully carved beeswax candles which are presented to Phra Buddha Bat Shrine and other temples in the province after the parade.
Mexican Sunflower Blooming Season
Tourists are welcome to visit Mae Hong Son in the period from November to December to see a sea of golden Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia Diversifolia) blooming over the rolling hills along Highway 108 after passing Khunyuam. These wild flowers called Buatong in the northern dialect, look exactly like sunflowers but are much smaller.
There is a lesser Thung Buatong in Mae Sariang District, also along Highway 108. The scene of blooming sunflowers is at its most photogenic at Doi Mae U-kho in Amphoe Khun Yuam. Tours to admire the natural beauty and to visit hilltribes will be organized in the blooming season.
Lop Buri Sunflower Blooming Festival
Lop Buri, especially Phatthana Nikhom county has vast areas of sunflower fields which are the substitution for maize plantations during the dry season. Before harvesting, the golden fields with the clear blue sky as a background are really photogenic. Thus, they become a major attraction of the province.

The festival is held annually around December when sunflowers are in full bloom. It features fascinating processions of floral floats, local entertainment, sun flower product presentation and a Miss Sunflower blooming contest. To reach the sunflower fields from Bangkok, go first to Saraburi, then travel along Saraburi-Lop Buri Road for 30 km, then turn right onto Highway no.21 and go for a further 15 km.

*Phra Buddha Bat is the name of a temple and also of a county where the temple is located. The name means the Holy Footprint of the Buddha.

For more information, please contact your travel agency or TAT, Tel: 0 2250 5500.


For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see
Romanization System of the Thai Language.

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