Phi Ta Khon, also known as Ghost Festival, is a vibrant festival that brings thousands to the otherwise sleepy village of Dan Sai in Loei Province. Visitors to the festival are swept into a netherworld roamed by goblins, demons, and other dark creatures. But don’t worry! There’s also plenty of delicious food, fun carnival games, live music, and free activities for those of all ages.
The celebration takes place over 3 days and includes parades, musical performances, dancing, create-your-own-mask booths, and much more. The first day is the most famous and features parades with the iconic masks. Subsequent days bring in everything from homemade rockets to Buddhist rituals.
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• There are very few hotels in Dan Sai, so we strongly suggest you book early
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- There is no public transport or taxi service in the village, so you should rent a car from the airport.
- If you are unable to drive, you should take a taxi from the airport and stay in the town center, where distances are walkable.
Those who are bold and adventurous enough to venture off the beaten path and make their way to Dan Sai are handsomely rewarded with a rich and entertaining celebration that combines ancient Buddhist traditions with local lore and plenty of fun. Also known as Ghost Festival, Phi Ta Khon is part of the local celebration of a Buddhist merit-making festival (known as Bun Phawet).
Phi Ta Khon was a challenge to plan. We found it difficult to get detailed and accurate information about the festivities online. Luckily, we happened to meet one of the organisers for 2018’s Phi Ta Khon, through a combination of luck and an overheard conversation. We realised belatedly that there was even more to the festival than we anticipated — including the launching of homemade rockets.
Due to the crowds and heat (and a sick crew-member), we joined the festivities for a few hours in the morning to see the main attractions. We achieved more than we’d planned. I painted a mask that a local tried to buy from me because she liked it so much, and I managed to convince a troupe of masked men to chase me down the street (to add to the thrill and provide a great video opportunity). Phi Ta Khon epitomised for us the Thais’ famous friendliness – behind all those masks, we knew there were many smiles. Thailand is known as the ‘Land of Smiles’ and the smiles of Thais shine especially bright in the countryside during the days of Phi Ta Kon.
Despite being sick for the big day, I still forced myself out of the door of the hotel to ensure I didn’t miss the awesome spectacle that is Phi Ta Khon!
My favorite thing about Phi Ta Khon festival is that there is something for everyone: music, dancing, crazy masks, wacky parades, performances, live bands, great food, carnival games, free mask painting, and the list goes on and on and on! For that reason, you can make Phi Ta Khon whatever you want it to be, and can tailor it to any desires, limitations, or personal preferences.
If you’ve never been to Thailand, the Thai people are notorious for their kindness and welcoming attitude! Not to mention their amazing food!
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