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Phi Ta Khon

Where
Dan Sai, Thailand

(Northern Taiwan)

When
3 days between March-July
Great For
• Culture Vultures
• Photographers
• Parade Lovers
Ticketed?
Free! No tickets required!

Basics

Snap a selfie with some friendly ghouls

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.

Every year, Dan Sai’s mediums determine auspicious dates for the celebration of the iconic Phi Ta Khon (also known as “Ghost Festival”), which is a part of the larger Buddhist Merit-making event, known as Bun Luang (or Bun Phawet). For this reason, the date changes each year, but will always fall within the March-July timeframe.

Visitors will be delighted by the festival’s fun spirit and Thailand’s splendor and friendliness. They note, however, that lack of public transportation and limited accommodations in town mean visitors should plan their visit well to avoid logistical challenges.

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Accommodation

• There are very few hotels in Dan Sai, so we strongly suggest you book early

Search below for hotels, hostels or homestays in & near Dan Sai. This is a one-stop search engine that allows you to compare all accommodation options across many sites, including those on Agoda, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com. Starting your search here helps support our site–at no additional cost to you–so we can continue bringing you Eventful Events!

Transportation

The nearest international airport is in Chiang Mai (CNX) and nearest domestic airport is in Loei (LOE).

Search for flights below.

  • 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.

Tips

Book Early
Book accommodation early – hotels are limited
Car
Rent a car (no public transport or taxi)
Museum
Visit the Phi Ta Khon museum – open year round!
Free Souvenir
Make your own Phi Ta Khon mask (for free!)

Additional Info

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).

On the first day, monks and villagers wake up during the wee hours (around 3-4am) to observe the chosen one dive into the local river to retrieve the Phra Upakhut amulet. According to the local legend, Phra Upakhut is the son of Buddha, conceived when a fish swallowed some of Buddha’s seed when Buddha washed in the river. Once retrieved from the river, the Phra Upakhut amulet is blessed and brought into the town, representing Phra Upakhut’s spirit bringing protection to the village.

Once the sun rises, the major festivities begin as intricate masks (made of coconut husks) are paraded around town, along with large phallic amulets representing fertility. Throughout the town, one can find music, dancing, games, parades, and plenty of food.

The second day is the local rocket festival, where fireworks and other projectiles are launched into the sky as part of the retelling of the Buddhist story of Vessantara Jataka, where the celebrations are meant to be loud enough to wake the dead.

The third and final day takes a more pious turn, as villagers and attendees listen to sermons and stories from Buddhist monks.

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Stories

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