While chilling in my hostel in Bangkok around July last year, I chanced upon a local travel magazine and saw an upcoming festival in Thailand that immediately caught my interest. Luckily, the festival would start a couple of weeks from the date I saw the information and I told my friend that we should check it out.
Prior heading to Dan Sai (the place where the festival was), we visited Sukothai for a few days to visit a friend. After a few days, we then proceeded to Dan Sai.
Dan Sai is a quaint little town in Loei, Thailand and it’s not usually part of the itineraries of most travelers. But once a year, it holds a three day festival that attracts tons of local and foreign tourists alike. And that festival is known as Phi Ta Khon (or Pee Ta Khon).
The first day is the ghost festival itself (which some say a fertility festival as well) wherein locals dress up wearing masks made of coconut leaves, rice husks and other local materials. They also wear bells and wooden phalluses.
According to the local folklore, the festival originated from he story of Buddha wherein in one of his past life was Prince Vessandorn. The prince is know for his kindness and generosity. But one day, the prince gave away his white elephant (believed to be a symbol of rain) and coincidentally, the town suffered drought afterwards and famine followed.
The town was angry at the prince and asked the prince to leave the village. The prince left and embarked into a long journey. After some time, the town folks forgotten their anger and asked for the return of the prince (whom they’re not sure if he’s still alive or not). The invite to return reached the prince and returned to his homeland. And a celebration was held for his return. The celebration was said to have been so loud that it awoken the dead who then also participated in the celebration.
My Stay in Dan Sai
We arrived in Dan Sai the day before the actual celebration. We spent an hour or two looking for “cheap accommodation” which unfortunately did not seem to exist at that time (it was their peak season). And most hostels that usually charge below 400 baht/night are now charging 1000 baht plus. We found a room at the riverside for 1200 baht where we agreed to stay for four nights.
But upon settling in we counted the number of days left with our allowable stay in Thailand and realized that we might not have enough time to go to Laos border before it expire. The four night stay turned into just an overnight stay in Dan Sai.
For our first day, we explored the town where most folks seem to be excited preparing for their festival. Visitors are also started to slowly pour in.
The following morning, we went straight to the bus stop where we waited for our bus to Udon Thani. Luckily, while we were waiting, the parade started and we caught a short glimpse of the Phi Ta Khon festival.
Here are some pictures I took while in Dan Sai: