About our Thailand Tour Company All Thailand Experiences and Founder Mr. Randy Gaudet
I first came to Thailand in 1968 while in the U.S. Air Force stationed in Udorn Thani in east Thailand. I was stationed here for 2 years before being stationed in Japan and Korea. I Loved Thailand so much I cried when I left and promised myself I would return.
In 1989 I had the offer to volunteer at Payap University in Chiang Mai Thailand for 2 years and accepted. Here I was supervisor of the communications department at Christian Communication Institute at the university where I supervised installing and training staff of the audio and video studio at CCI. While at the university I took the opportunity to take Thai language and Lanna Thai (North Thailand) history, culture and music classes.
After my commitment was finsihed at Payap University I lived in a remote area of north Thailand at Wat Thaton temple in the town of Thaton on the Myanmar border for more than 3 years. I taught English to Monks, novices, high school students, the Thai Army, local and tourist police. I also did hill tribe programs by taking a small number of tourists to hill tribe villages to spend the evening. All the money for the trek went to the villagers. I bought clothes for the children, medicines and blankets for the families I paid the villagers to build a bamboo schoolhouse and paid a teacher to teach Thai at the school who could speak their language. I taught them how to dispose of waste properly, keep the children and village clean and to use spoons instead of their fingers when eating which was a big source of their health problems. I provided seeds and Logan and lychee fruit trees for planting.
This was fine until I left the temple then the school stopped and the health problems returned. I talked with the Abbot of the temple and he now has a school for the children at the temple. He has a nurse looking after the children and takes those to the clinics that have problems.
While I was there I help start a guest home where travelers could stay in a Lisu hill tribe village and go trekking in the jungle and visit primitive hill tribe villages in the area. This was not easy, as the villages we visited didn’t want visitors as they wanted to maintain their lifestyle and culture. They have seen other villages who accept tourist turn into a village without harmony and lost their culture. These villagers were farmers and didn’t want to look at tourism as a source of income. I understood the problem as I have seen what a tour operator can do to a village. To them money is first and they don’t care about the hill tribe people or their way of life.
I stayed in these villages and met with the village headmen many times. I learned about their culture, way of life, religion, and do’s and don’ts. We then came up with a plan that worked out well for the villagers and our clients.
We can only stay in a village 1 night per week and no more than 6 persons. There are 35 villages in this area so we always have a village to take our clients. Nothing is allowed to be given to a villager directly by the visitor. It must be given to the guide who then gives it to the villager. No candy for the children and no photographs without permission. No money is allowed to be given for a photograph. The guide must be from the local area and must also be hill tribe and speak the language of the village.
I then trained 3 hill tribe men from the local area who speak English to be our guides. None of these men drink or smoke and their families are very well respected by all the villages.
For the Jungle portion of the trek I had to teach the guides to use a different trails so it could grow back. They make a hut out of bamboo and banana leaves for sleeping and I taught them not to clear cut and not to return to an area for at least two months. No more hunting of birds or wild animals.
Without the local culture we would not be able to give our clients the experience they are looking for. We also encourage our clients in helping the local people we visit.
Most of our clients want to help the poor villagers that they visit. We take them to a market here in Chiangmai to buy shirts and pants for the children before we visit. Shirts or pants can be purchased for a little as $1 USD, blankets for about $3 USD. We have had groups including one from Singapore who stayed at 3 different hill tribe villages. They brought medicines, blankets and clothes. They repaired playground equipment and repainted the school. We follow God’s word in Isiah 58: 7 “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?”.
Our company buys clothes and blankets every year when cold season arrives to give to needy villagers. We also help orphan and abandoned children in 3 different children homes here in north Thailand.
We have trained and employed hill tribe people and families to be guides for us and host our clients. We helped Asa, a Lisu Hill Tribe man who has the guest home, photo right, get started and now has a very successful business. He handles all our treks for us along with other guides and porters he has hired. He used to get only 50 baht per day per group and now gets more than 1800 baht per person for taking our clients. We have a loving relationship with all the people that work with us and those we visit. To us they are family and our clients notice this and is mentioned often.
There are hundreds of tour operators in Thailand and most take their clients to the same areas and places. Most of these areas have more tourists than Thai people so there is no cultural experience to speak of. We won’t do that to our clients. We want them to enjoy a wonderful experience they will remember for a lifetime.
We specialize in quality and service with as much interaction with nature and culture as possible. I have been living in Thailand since 1989. I have traveled extensively throughout the Kingdom and wanted to share my wonderful experiences of Thailand with others. I talked with many travelers here in Thailand and saw a need to take visitors away from the normal tourist areas filled with large tour buses and groups. The biggest complaint I heard from visitors is “there is no real Thai culture”. “Everything is staged for the tourists”. This is because they keep following each other around using their guide books.
It took about 2 years of research to find the areas that were safe and could handle visitors. I spoke with village headmen, temple Monks, Hill Tribe villagers, National Park officials and local bird experts. I then had to train a staff that would take care of our clients with excellent service and provide correct information about Thai and hilltribe culture, Thai food, Buddhism, birds of Thailand, etc.
All our guides are registered with the Tourism Authority but that is not enough. Our training program is by far the best in the Kingdom. They must not only study the subjects but also go to each area, town or village and learn first hand about the people their culture, birds and animals of the region along with any festival or event and when it takes place.
Our main and only goal is to provide a great experience our clients could not enjoy with any other guide or tour operator. From the comments in our “Guest Book” at our web site, email from previous clients and the large number of referrals we are meeting our goal. What we all enjoy is when our clients finish their tour they tell us “It was one of the best holidays we ever had and thank you so much”. “I will surely recommend your services to others”.
To us conservation is more than the natural environment. We take many clients to very cultural sensitive hill tribe villages. This is a very difficult balance of very different cultures but can be maintained. We follow 4 basic rules to maintain harmony in the villages and help the environment
Since we do only private custom excursions we want to know the needs of our clients. We then email back to them what we will and will not do for them. Most of our clients know only what they read from agent brochures about what to do in Thailand and these tours might not be the best for them. We explain to them that we do not go to these places and why.
We send several email messages back and forth asking and answering questions before an itinerary is approved. We then do many follow up email messages about what they will experience, cultural do’s and don’ts, and answer any question they may have. By the time they arrive they have an excellent knowledge of all aspects of their journey with us.
Many of our clients are families and have special needs. We ask many questions about the children such as favorite foods and their interests as we want them to enjoy their holiday also. We want to know if anyone in the group is having a birthday or anniversary while they are with us so that we can make their day special.
Once our clients arrive we are on call 24 hours a day for them. They can telephone us anytime about any questions they may have. From the time they arrive at the airport to the time of departure back to their home we are there for them.
After they return home most of our clients stay in contact with us. Not only do they thank us for a wonderful time but they ask about the people they made friends with while with us. I am happy to say we have made many good friends from all over the world with those who have been with us.
I have talked with other tour operators and the Tourism Authority of Thailand about being responsible in maintaining hill tribe culture. No one seams to care, as money is the bottom line. Exploitation of the hill tribe people and their way of life are common here. I have been able to give lectures at guide classes for the TAT. I try to teach them about being responsible for maintaining the hill tribe culture. After all it is the guides who are in contact with the villagers and clients not the tour operators.
Randy Gaudet Founder/Director All Thailand Experiences
Here are our short streaming Videos of Festivals in Chiang Mai Thailand.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
This is the Thailand version of the Rose Bowl Parade in the USA. Colorful floats made with colorful flowers, orchids and seeds are used. Read more about the Chiang Mai Flower festival The festival is always the first weekend in February.
In this part of the Chiang Mai Thailand Flower festival video we look at the different flowers on display and close up look at the floats.Read more about the Chiang Mai Flower festival The festival is always the first weekend in February.
Songkran or Thai New Year. “The largest water fight on the planet”
Songkran or Thai New Year is the largest water fight on the planet. However, it is much more than that to the Thai people. The celebrations in North Thailand lasts about 5 days. Each day has a different ritual the locals perform. Here are the events of the Thai New Year festival.
All Thailand Experiences changing lives in Thailand for 30 years.
Changing lives in Thailand with the Grace of Christ
Hello again, I’m Randy Gaudet, founder and director of All Thailand Experiences. Those who have read my profile know how I first came to Thailand and my association with missions and churches since 1989. I am now staying in Laos and have been here since Feb. 2020. The last tour we had was early Feb. last year so we have completely ran out of funds.
I came here to Savannakhet Laos in Feb. 2020 to get a new Thailand visa when they closed the border because of Covid-19. At that time my mission objective was to move to Muang Gnam 20 kilometers east of Thaton in Mae AI district of Chiang Mai. My good friend Pastor Daom who I have known for more than 25 years asked me to move there and help him in his ministry.
Pastor Daom is Karen hill tribe. He speaks all the hill tribe languages for the area plus reads, writes and speaks English perfectly. He was trained as a Baptist minister more than 30 years ago and now wants to study about God’s Grace and preach the good news of the Holy Trinity to his congregation. A Christian group from Korea just built him a new church that can hold more than 100 persons but he only has about 12 members. He wants me to teach him more about God’s Grace and how to reach more persons for Christ.
There are about 35 different villages in the area and they all know me as I have tours and helped several villages in this area. We planned to have Sunday evening church service with a meal. We will show videos of Abundant Grace Church service (scroll down to see videos) and give out New Testament written in Thai.
How the All Thailand Experiences Mission started.
After my first mission trip to Thailand from 1989 to 1991 the Lord placed upon my heart to help the needy and orphans in Thailand. At that time my position was audio and video supervisor at Christian Communication Institute, Payap University in Chiang Mai Thailand. I traveled all over north Thailand taking video of baptisms, church events, Christian events, revivals, orphanage homes, etc.
I attended many church services from well-established churches in big cities to small hill tribe village bamboo churches. I met and had conversations with the church pastors several times, Christian mission leaders, Christian organization representatives big and small. What I saw, heard, was told and experienced to me did not represent the kingdom of God at all. What I felt in my heart was these pastors and missionaries were not in Love with God. To me it seemed for them it was just a job. Never did I hear any new covenant teaching or preaching.
Thailand is one of the most unsaved areas of the world. Less than 3% of the population in Thailand professes faith in Christ although Christian missionaries have been visiting since1518. These populations thrive on Buddhism, which denies a personal God, promotes benevolent works, and emphasizes reason and enlightenment as a means to salvation. Spirit worship and traditional religion have taken an enormous toll on the spiritual well-being of the Thai people, promoting a culture of fear and power. , the majority of the Thai people feel that to be truly Thai means to be Buddhist. Consequently when someone becomes a Christian, or embraces another religion, he usually experiences considerable family pressure and village opposition
The main problem at the time was most pastors and missionaries in Thailand preach the Law and not Grace. They are teaching fear and God’s wrath rather than Love and Grace because of Jesus Christ. Who wants to receive Christ and then fear God’s wrath and trying to make God happy day after day by following an impossible law? Teaching legalism does not work.
One example is I was visiting a large Christian orphanage home for their church service one Sunday near Chiang Mai. They had a visiting missionary there from the Philippines who were preaching in English and a Thai pastor was translating. He was telling these young children that God will punish them if they break the law of the commandments. I was in shock as he shouted the commandments at the children from the pulpit.
After the service I was invited to eat lunch with the staff where I confronted the missionary about his preaching. Using the bible I tried to show him that we are now under Grace not the law because of Jesus. He then gave me a mouth full if insults telling me I don’t know anything.
The pastor who is also the caretaker of the orphanage walked me to my vehicle and told me I was not welcome to return any more. He told me the missionary who preached that day is from a church in the Philippines that donates lots of money to the orphanage so he has to let him preach and doesn’t want me there anymore. Oh, OK?
Most churches that I visited back then were more like going to a funeral instead of rejoicing, praising God and listening to the good news of the Gospel. The old hymns of the sweet by and by or the glorious Heaven are being sung in Thai. Preachers are telling their congregation how their suffering and troubles are because they are carrying their cross for Jesus and God is responsible for both the good and bad in their lives, so sad. Thais are spiritual people. If you explain the Holy Spirit, Grace, Jesus resurrection and why to them using scripture they will want to know more.
This is not what I expected I thought people were going to accept Jesus Christ because of the good news of Grace and Love, instead the old covenant law was being taught and that Grace was not available to you if you break the law. I prayed about all this and asked God to lead me and the Holy Spirit to show me on how I can reach these people into God’s peace, love and grace. I was so discouraged I prayed about it and the Holy Spirit led me back home to Texas after 2 years with CCI was finished although they wanted me to stay longer. At the time I didn’t know the Lord would send me back to Thailand. This time to spread the Good News of the Holy Trinity, Love and Grace because of Jesus Christ and to tell Christians they are free from the Law, sin and death.
While in Texas I had a job working at a ranch. I lived in a small trailer by myself and had a truck I could use whenever I needed. When not working I spent most of my time at our church and studying the bible. I had many conversations with my pastor and deacon about me returning to Thailand to continue my mission. I attend a spirit filled church that teaches the Grace of God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit so they understood my concerns about some of the Christian churches and missions in Thailand.
I wanted to start my own mission but to do that I needed support. My pastor and other church pastors I approached for support told me I need a degree in theology plus mission training which would take at least 3 years and cost money I did not have. I then prayed for months for the Holy Spirit to show me a way to do my mission. A few months later I walked into church for Wednesday night service and bible study and my pastor took me aside with one of the deacons. They told me “Do tours in Thailand, this will support you and your mission.”
For the next couple of months I looked at doing tours in Thailand. I had worked with a river cruise company here in Texas for several years just before my mission to Thailand in 1989. We started with 1 small deck boat that held 6 persons and in three years grew the river cruise to hundreds of tourists a day with 2 boats holding 70 person each. I worked every position from boat captain to guide and promotion and marketing so I had the experience.
About six months later with prayer and enough money to last about 1 month in Thailand, a visa and a 1 way ticket I returned to Chiang Mai Thailand in May of 1992. While at Payap University 2 years earlier I learned the Thai language so I could travel anywhere and speak with anyone in the Thai Kingdom. I rented a motorbike for a month and traveled all around north Thailand visiting and staying in small towns and remote villages. If there was a road my motorbike could ride on I took it.
One of my stops was in the village of Thaton where I visited Wat Thaton Buddhist temple on top of a mountain which has spectacular views of the Me Kok River and the Fang valley below. While enjoying the view a well-dressed Thai gentleman about 35 years old came up to me and introduced himself in English as the secretary for the temple. He asked me a few questions and I answered him in Thai about my history living in Thailand. He then asked me if I could teach English at the temple and that they would pay me 4000 Thai baht a month plus food and a bungalow to live in.
I told him I was a Christian and not a Buddhist. He answered that’s OK. I then said I will let him know in about a week. I want back to Chiang Mai and prayed about it. I called my pastor in Texas and asked him what I should do. He said if God is calling me to go ten go. I was also almost out of money so I had to do something. A week later I took the bus to Thaton and wound up saying there for more than 2 years.
While at the temple I taught English to Monks, novices, high school students, the Thai Army, local and tourist police. I also did hill tribe programs by taking a small number of tourists to hill tribe villages to spend the evening. All the money for the trek went to the villagers. I bought clothes for the children, medicines and blankets for the families. I paid the villagers to build a bamboo schoolhouse and paid a teacher to teach Thai at the school who could speak their language.
. While I was there I help start a guest home where travelers could stay in a Lisu hill tribe village and go trekking in the jungle and visit primitive hill tribe villages in the area. This was not easy, as the villages we visited didn’t want visitors as they wanted to maintain their lifestyle and culture. They have seen other villages who accept tourist turn into a village without harmony and lost their culture. These villagers were farmers and didn’t want to look at tourism as a source of income.
I understood the problem as I have seen what a tour operator can do to a village. To them money is first and they don’t care about the hill tribe people or their way of life.
I stayed in these villages and met with the village headmen many times. I learned about their culture, way of life, religion, and do’s and don’ts. We then came up with a plan that worked out well for the villagers and our clients.
I had to follow God’s word in Isaiah 58: 7 “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?”
As I was helping these villagers one question kept coming up. The villagers kept asking me “Who is your spirit?” Now I had to be careful as the temple where I was staying at and was paying me told me do not try to convert villagers to Christianity. I told the villagers a little about the Holy Spirit and Jesus but I could not speak their hill tribe languages. What I did was telephone a hill tribe pastor working and living in Chiang Mai. I told him about the village and he would send a hill tribe pastor to their village to explain to them about God and Jesus I had to stay out of the evangelism process however this was working out well.
I was able to use the computer at the temple so I bought the URL All Thailand Experiences.com. Taught myself the HTM language so I could make my own web site. I made the web site, put it on line and now I could do tours to help those in need and orphan children.
For the tours I was conducting we can only stay in a village 1 night per week and no more than 6 persons. There are 35 villages in this area so we always have a village to take our clients. Nothing is allowed to be given to a villager directly by the visitor. It must be given to the guide who then gives it to the villager. No candy for the children and no photographs without permission. No money is allowed to be given for a photograph. The guide must be from the local area and must also be hill tribe and speak the language of the village.
I then trained 3 hill tribe men from the local area who speak English to be our guides. None of these men drink or smoke and their families are very well respected by all the villages. For the Jungle portion of the trek I had to teach the guides to use a different trails so it could grow back. They make a hut out of bamboo and banana leaves for sleeping and I taught them not to clear cut and not to return to an area for at least two months. No more hunting of birds or wild animals.
Without the local culture we would not be able to give our clients the experience they are looking for. We also encourage our clients in helping the local people we visit.
Many of our clients want to help the poor villagers that they visit. We take them to a market here in Chiang Mai to buy shirts and pants for the children before we visit. Shirts or pants can be purchased for a little as $1 USD, blankets for about $3 USD. We have had groups including one from Singapore who stayed at 3 different hill tribe villages. They brought medicines, blankets and clothes. They repaired playground equipment and repainted the school.
Everything I set up in the Thaton area was doing well including churches being built in Lahu and Akha hill tribe villages that we help and visit. The hill tribe speaking pastors from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai and now preaching in the villages and training new pastors so I moved back to Chiang Mai in 1996.
I then concentrated on Doi Inthanon National Park where there are 7 hill tribe villages both Karen and Hmong. Here I trained 2 guides for trekking and home stay and 1 for bird watching. I helpa1 family build a coffee and waffle shop. I loaned them the money then designed the shop, purchased the equipment and make everything. 2 years later they paid me back. The real good news is there is a church in their village and they accepted the Lord and were baptized.
At the same time I was trying to reach the lost in Chiang Mai by talking about the Lord Jesus and giving free new testaments in Thai and English that were available from Payap University. I would give them my phone number so that if they needed anything or more information to call me. No one ever called me but I prayed that someone was touched by the Lord while reading their new testament I gave them.
All this was about to change in about 2005 mainly because of two new churches in the Chiang Mai Area that were and still are growing rapidly.
I heard about a church that was meeting at a hotel in Chiang Mai so one Sunday I decided to attend. I went early so I could meet the pastor. The pastor’s name is Jonathan and Judy Vickers from Australia and the church is House of Praise. Talking with Jonathan he also had a mission called Christian Outreach Center and Haven Children’s Homes.
I settled in for the service and was blown away. The worship music was upbeat at times with modern songs. The preaching was about the Grace of God using scripture with examples of how God’s Love can change our life in everyday circumstances. You could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit during worship. Praise God I found a church that I could take people to and receive blessing. Several locals that I brought to House of Praise Church excepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and was Baptized including a family of 5. Praise God
House of Praise had a 10 AM service in English then a 1 PM Thai service in the afternoon. They were having a problem with the sound during service so I volunteered my engineering service to help every Sunday. When they purchased their new church building about a year later I gave advice in what sound equipment to purchase and I helped install it. I also taught the Thai staff n how to work the sound system. After 3 months or so my help was not needed any longer.
While talking to Pastor Jonathan I learned a lot about Havens Home for children. I asked him if they needed anything and he said always and whatever I good give would be greatly appreciated and Blessed. A week later I loaded my pick up with everything from meet to milk, vegetables to cookies and took them to Havens Homes. actually they had 2 homes close together, one for the guys and one for the girls. Every time our company, All Thailand Experiences, was making money we would telephone the care takers of the Haven Homes which were 2 couples with children and ask what they needed and we would supply whatever they needed when we could.
It was about 3 years later I heard of another new church that was meeting at a hotel in Chiang Mai every Sunday at 10 AM called Abundant Grace Church. The big difference was the service was in English and Thai at the same Time. I waited outside the meeting room as the doors were closed and was very surprised on how many Thai people were showing up and some young missionaries. Looking around I saw they had a room for the children’s church.
They opened the doors and I walked in and was greeted by very friendly locals handing out communion cups and crackers. The room was large and could hold at least 300 or so persons. There was a large projector screen on the back of the stage and 2 large screen monitor on the sides of the room. Everyone will be able to see the stage no matter where they sit.
The praise and worship music during the service was modern with some upbeat songs and some songs the worship team wrote by themselves. The team would go through the songs in English and Thai and the words were put on the screens. The preaching was in English and Thai. The pastor Nathan Gonmei would preach a sentence in English then his wife Salila would say the sentence in Thai. They preached with excitement and vigor with shouts of Amen from the congregation. Now this is a spirit filled church. This is the church I belong to today.
We were blessed by Stephanie and Gary sellers who did a bird watching tour with us and wanted to help. They provided new testaments in Thai and English to Abundant Grace Church to give out. Now new converts and those wanting to know more about Jesus Christ can get a New Testament free. Today Abundant Grace Church has campuses in Chiang, Mai, Chiang Rai, Bangkok and Nakon Sawan. Stephanie and Gary also help me financially at times when needed. I am so blessed knowing them.
I am writing this as we need your temporary help until the border to Thailand is open again and tourists start returning. We have gone through bird flu, SCARS, Tsunami, riots, coups in the past here in Thailand and never needed help. Covid-19 has gone on now for about 16 months and no mission without some financial support can last.
I am asking to receive $500 USD a month so I can stay in Laos until the border to Thailand opens, tourists can return to Thailand and I can resume the mission given to me by God. We already have several clients that want to go bird watching with us at All Thailand Experiences in Feb. 2022 and others just waiting to book other tours with us when they can come.
Five examples and teachings from the Old and New Testaments about the validity of God’s ministers being supported by others:
The example of the Levites (Numbers 18:24)- The Jews gave their tithe to the priests for support.
The example of Jesus (Luke 8:2,3)- Many people supported Jesus and the disciples.
The teaching of Jesus (Mt. 10:9,10)- A Kingdom worker is worthy of his support.
The example of Paul (Acts 18:4,5)- He stopped tentmaking to preach full time on support.
The teaching of Paul (1 Cor. 9:1-18)- He had the right to be supported by the churches.
If the Lord is touching your heart and His Holy Spirit is guiding you to give pleaee use the form below to contact me. Please keep me in your prayers and God Bless you. with Jesus Love Randy Gaudet
One of the most enjoyable things to do while visiting Northern Thailand is to take a “Long-Tail” boat ride. The most popular ride is on the Mae Kok river from Thaton, in far north Chiang Mai province, to Chiang Rai.
Most ride the local bus from the Chang Puak bus station departing at 7 and 9 am for the 3 1/2 hour bus journey to Thaton. It’s much better to take your time and stay in Thaton for the evening. The reason is 95% of the people riding the boats start in Thaton
Most of the boats from Chiang Rai go only as far as the touristy village of Rhummit just a 30 minute boat ride away for elephant riding. For this reason most boat drivers cannot go all the way to the villages and Thaton because they do not know the area farther up river with rapids. Only the boats from Thaton and up river villages can make the full journey. Local hill tribe people who live along the river also take this boat as it will stop for them if they wave it down. The boats from Thaton filled with tourists going to Chiang Rai won’t stop but those who live along the river with boats and provide a ferry service to Chiang Rai do.
NOTICE: There are no longer river taxis. You have to hire a private long tail boat and find others to join you to keep the price down. This should not be difficult as most who are on Thaton want to take the boat to Chiang Rai. Another thing you can do is to take the 1 day guided tour from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai that includes the boat ride and visiting hill tribe villages with local English speaking guide who knows the area well.
Another possibility is you can charter a boat and spend the evening on the river at the hot springs next to an Akha hill tribe village before going on to Thaton. This is a great way to enjoy the river for a group of two to four persons. This will require a local English speaking guide as the boat drivers do not speak English.
Good food can be had just across the river from the hot springs at the Karen village of Rhummit where you can also arrange for riding elephants. Your guide and boat driver will take you there when you want to eat.
The boat trip from Thaton to Chiang Rai takes around 3 hours. On our 1 day boat trip we start further down the river at the start of the mountain canyons which shortens the trip to 2 hours. We start the trip by picking you up in Chiang Mai then visit Chiang Dao Cave Shrine. We then visit a primitive Lahu hill tribe village then Wat Thaton temple with a magnificent view of the Fang valley and Mae Kok river below. We have lunch and visit a Shan hill tribe village famous for cotton weaving then board the long tail boat to Chiang Rai. We will then transport you to your hotei or guest house or you can ride with us in the air conditioned van back to Chiang Mai.
If you don’t speak Thai it is best to arrange for a guide from one of the tour companies or your guest house in Chiang Rai. They can also provide things like blankets or sleeping bags and food if you would rather eat by campfire. Sleeping is aboard the boat which has plenty of room and comfortable. The hot springs has toilets and showers along with a small store. The springs run into the river which is a good place to take a refreshing bath as the water is not too hot. The Akha hill tribe village next to the hot springs is very authentic with most dressed in their traditional costumes and all living in Bamboo houses. Not many tourists visit the village as most go to Rhummit to do elephant riding and trekking which leaves this area peaceful and mostly unspoiled.
In this video (Above) we visit our hill tribe friends in Chiang Mai Province away from the normal tourist route including Akha, Lahu, Lisu and Karen.
The last bus from Thaton to Chiang Mai leaves at 2:25 in the afternoon. Don’t be in a hurry to leave as Thaton has many things to see and do along with accommodations from 60 to 2000 baht. The Tourist Police in Thaton will help you with any information you may need. They are located along the river not far from the boat landing.
Hundreds of people each day during the busy season ride to boats from Thaton to Chiang Rai. They all leave about the same time in a large convoy one behind the other. For a better experience be different and see the river in the opposite direction. When you see the boats full of people passing just smile and wave from your uncrowded boat as they are sure to be envious.
Chiang Mai Loy Krathong “Yee Ping” Festival Nov. 7 – 10, 2022
The history, traditions and events of Loy Krathong “Yee Ping”.
Loy Krathong “Yee Ping” has an unequaled charm and mystique, whether it is celebrated on a grand scale in a major city or quietly in a small village, but for a truly breathtaking experience, the north of Thailand is the place to go.
This festival is held on the night of the 12th full moon of the year (in 2021 is November 19) in most of the countries where it is celebrated, except in Laos, where it coincides with the 11th full moon at the end of the rains retreat, the Buddhist Lent. In many of the Thai provinces facing Laos across the Mekong River, there may also be a major festival of floating lights at that time, such as Nakhon Phanom’s spectacular Lai Rua Fai (many illuminated boats). Loy Krathong may have originally been timed to coincide with the end of the life-giving rains, as a kind of harvest festival giving thanks for the abundance of the crop now filling the granaries and wishing for further bounty in the year to come. There is also a great deal of symbolism involved in the floating away of the Krathong, representing a cleansing of sins.
Loy Krathong has an unequalled charm and mystique, whether it is celebrated on a grand scale in a major city or quietly in a small village of just a few rude huts, but for a truly breathtaking experience, the north of Thailand is the place to go. Even from the end of Lent, the build-up starts with firecrackers banging and booming in the night and, gradually, there appear what seem to be moving orange stars in the sky. As Loy Krathong itself nears, coconut frond archways spring up at the gates of houses, earthen lamps glow in the night, and paper streamers and lanterns appear everywhere.
With the rainy season gone, the night sky is clear and coolness fills the air. On the night of Loy Krathong itself, the full moon sails over the horizon into a sky filled with light and sound, for the Lanna folk celebrate Loy Krathong in three dimensions. Giant hot air balloons, called Kome Loy, rise into the sky, their fires visible, like some galaxy of orange stars, into the far distance. Traditional rockets known as Bok Fai outdo the myriad of other fireworks crackling and popping everywhere in the crisp night air. And beneath this frenzy of noise and light, the gentle, quiet, and touching act of floating (loy) one’s Krathong.
The traditional months of Lanna are different from the rest in Thailand, and Loy Krathong is always celebrated in Duan Yee – the second month – and the period of the festival is called Yee Ping. It is an important time with Krathong and a different Buddhist ceremony, called Tang Tham Luang, falling within this month. The decorations around houses and temples come alive during Yee Peng with the Kome paper lanterns glowing a host of bright colours. Walls surrounding compounds are decorated with the earthen lamps called Phang Patit. The number of these lamps must correspond with the total age of all family members combined, and their flickering yellow flames give warmth to the cool evening.
The Krathong are traditionally made from cut sections of bamboo, with neatly folded pieces of banana leaf around the edge, giving the appearance of a lotus leaf. Each must be decorated with a candle, an incense stick, and some flowers, though many are more elaborate. Often some grains of sand and good luck charms are placed on the Krathong, and a few coins are often added; though these usually end up as some young boy’s extra pocket money. At home in the water, they swim from Krathong to Krathong and a little brown hand gropes around for what it may contain. These days the convenience and buoyancy of banana tree trunks replaced traditional materials.
This year, 2021, the Loy Krathong festival is from November 17 to 20. In Chiang Mai, there are raft races on the river on the first day, and boat races for the next two days. The Yee Peng opening ceremony takes place at Tha Pae Gate early on the first evening, followed by a lantern parade and contest at the Night Bazaar. Beauty contests will be held at Tha Pae Gate on the second and last evenings, and parades of individual Krathongs and giant Krathongs start from there on the second and third evenings. Every night, there will be fireworks, Kome Loy launchings, Lanna cultural performances at the Municipal Offices near the river, and, of course, there is nowhere better to loy your own Krathong.
The origins and Traditions of Loy Krathong “Yee Ping”
Tradition has it that the very first Krathong was made by a beautiful young lady at the royal court of the ancient Kingdom of Sukhothai some 700 years ago. Her name was Naang Noppamart, and she was blessed with great artistic skills. Others imitated her and there was a competition on the night of the 11th full moon of the year. The king judged the competition. Naang Noppamart’s talents were repaid as her Krathong was declared the clear winner. The king decreed that henceforth this one night of the year should become a festival of thanks and should be celebrated by the floating of boats in the shape and form of lotus leaves. The legend lives on and the beauty queen selected at each of the Loy Krathong celebrations around Thailand is, to this day, the winner of the Naang Noppamart parade.
Dating back to ancient days, the decorative ceremony of lanterns was based on Brahmin beliefs, or Brahmanism. At this ceremony, the people of long ago paid respect by worshipping three different gods. These gods were Pra I-Suan, Pra Narai, and Pra Prom. For this reverent ceremony, the candles used to light up the lantern were made from cow’s fat or a wax that came from within the royal gates of the reigning monarch. Usually these candles were made by a Brahmin priest, and of course, the process of making the candles strictly followed the requirements of a Brahmin ceremony.
Formerly, lantern decorations were commonly seen hanging on all mansions in the grand palace. The great numbers and the beauty of the lanterns reflected the status of the royal family members. (Next to the king, the titles of royalty were Jow Fah, Pra Ong Jow, Mom Jow, Mom Rajawong, and Mom Luang). There were also three classifications of lanterns, which were the Kome Chai, the Kome Pra-Tiab, and the Kome Boriwan.
Up until the present time, a tradition developed wherein people sacrifice their time to design and assemble various kinds of strong, beautiful, and creative lanterns. The worshippers donated the lanterns to the temples, asking their wishes to be fulfilled. Usually the person would say a prayer requesting his desire to be a sharp, brighter, and more clever person in the future. This belief is based on the comparison that a bright light would lead a person out of his present darkness into a lustrous future.
As mentioned earlier, these lanterns were devoted to the three different gods. The lanterns were also presented to high ranking officials and wealthy people. It is then interesting to understand why Komes were so presentable and how these lanterns are made. The main structure of these lanterns are usually made with bamboo and covered with a coarse palm paper or cloth. Inside, a bamboo cylinder was necessary to protect the possible burning of the paper, since, altogether, 24 candles were required to light up the lantern. This large number of candles made illumination possible for about three hours. Candles were not always used to light these lanterns. Oils, such as sesame seed, castor, or coconut oils, were also used. The creation of these lanterns is open for the public to see and study during this festival.
People thought that lanterns could only be lit during Buddhist holidays or ceremonies, but, actually, lanterns can be lit every evening or night. These lanterns can be hung on gates, fences, doors, windows, or the roof, or any place an individual wants to adorn with these delightful creations. There have been four different purposes for the northern Thais to hang lanterns. They are for beauty, to pay respect to Buddha images, to make one’s home or mansion brighter, and for propitious purposes.
The Four Traditional Komes (Lanterns)
Nowadays, there are four traditional Komes in the north that attract visitors every year. They are 1) Kome Thuea (carrying lantern) or Kome Gratai (a rabbit’s ear), 2) Kome Kwaen (hanging lantern), 3) Kome Paad (revolving lantern), and 4) Kome Loy (hot air floating lantern).
A Kome Thuea or Kome Gratai has a lighted candle inside. A Buddhist believer will carry it along during the Yee Peng Parade. When the parade is over, the worshippers will take the lanterns and decorate the temples, vihara, and other buildings. If there are other celebrations other than the Yee Peng Festival, beautifully made lanterns are used to decorate a stage. Usually, a lantern shaped as a lotus is used to pay respect and the citizens will pray to the Buddha images and make offerings to the monks.
Kome Kwaen are also offered to pay respect, and prayers to Buddha images are made. There are several shapes of this certain lantern. They are the Baat Pra (Alms bowl), Dow (Star), Ta Gra (Basket), and Tammajak (the wheel of law, which means to have a thorough knowledge about religious discourses). The Buddhists will hang these lanterns around a temple, vihara, alms-house, sala, or house.
The Kome Paad is an interesting lantern since it revolves on an axis. This is done with the aide of the heat from the candle’s smoke. In order to make it revolve, the candle is placed inside the lantern where little gadgets take the energy from the smoke and then revolves. The lantern is shaped like a circle, almost like the earth. Usually there are pictures glued on, such as the 12 characters of the horoscope. This revolving lantern will give the effect of shadow puppets. Kome Paad can only be seen during the Yee Peng Festival. It is placed in the temple gates and is not allowed to be moved from one place to another.
The Kome Loy is a lantern that is similar to a hot-air-balloon. It is also quite similar to that of a normal lantern except it does not require 24 candles for illumination. Because the air lantern must rise up to float in the air, it must be lightweight; therefore, it does not have a bamboo cylinder inside. In order to send the lantern into the air, it requires a method to heat the air. This is done by tying a small bowl underneath the open section of the lantern. Oil is then placed into the bowl along with a cotton cloth. As the oil catches fire and commences burning, the hot air quickly travels into the lantern and it soon rises into the air.
It is believed that by sending off these lanterns an individual can send one’s sins and bad luck into the air. Usually before the lantern soars into the sky, an individual will pray that one’s sin or bad luck will be transported on the lantern and floated away high into the sky. Sometimes an address is left inside. The purpose of this is when the lantern come back down to the ground, and individual can follow an address and seek for money from whoever wrote the address. Or even sometimes, the maker will put some money inside the lantern. The purpose of the hot air lantern is to worship and pay respect to the Phra Ged Kaew Ju La Manee. An old legend tells that during war, these lanterns were sent into enemy territory and exploded.
Today in the city of Chiang Mai the release of the Khome Loy (Sky Lantern) is no longer allowed. A few yeas ago fire have broke out in the city when the Khome Loy landed on roofs of shops and houses so the release of these lanterns into the sky has been band.
The Mass Sky Lantern Release events happening takes place at the temple grounds of Lanna Dhutanka Temple, behind Maejo University, at Sansai District some 20 kilometers northeast of the Chiang Mai.
The 4~5 hours’ programmes normally include cultural and religious activities as well as Buddhist ceremonies like the group prayers, meditation and monk procession. And then at the command of the organizer, everyone let go of their lanterns at the same time.
Ticket prices for these events could costs buyer anywhere from $90 (standard) to $350 (VIP). And due to their popularity, the sky lantern release events are held for 2 nights with the same theme and activities. Thousands of tourists attend the event and tickets sell out quickly. For this reason the Local Thais do not attend this event any longer.
You can release sky lanterns with the locals free of charge at Wat Lok Moli. This temple with a nicely decorated big garden is located on the north side of the old city.
In Chiang Mai, visitors will be treated to an air of festivity in the weeks leading up to Loy Krathong. People begin constructing their Krathong, a small raft to float down the river as an offering. They are traditionally cut in a circular slice from the trunk of a banana tree and decorated with intricate leaf-patterns and flowers. A candle, incense sticks and a few small coins are typically placed as offerings. Archways of banana stems suddenly appear outside homes and businesses, and hanging lanterns, or Kome, are hung anywhere possible. With their beautiful colors and delicate paper streamers, these lanterns glow with a warm charm in the night, along with yellow flames of thousands of miniature terra-cotta nightlights flickering on walls and gateposts in the city.
While Kome are put up all over the city, hot-air balloons, or Kome Loy, are set off into the sky during the festivities. Be careful: there are also fireworks, and the locals often set off their own with no rhyme or reason. And there’s a lot of drinking.
Chiang Mai Thailand’s Ancient City of Wiang Kum Kam
Located just few Kilometers south of the city of Chiang Mai is Wiang Kum Kam.
Wiang Kum Kam was founded in 1286 before King Mengrai established Chiang Mai in 1292.
In 1558 floods ravished Waing Kum Kam and the town was deserted and little was known about the settlement until ruins were found by villagers plowing their fields in 1984.
With the exception of the odd temple standing on higher ground, the entire township had been buried under at least two meters of silt, gravel and debris from the flood. And so it remained for centuries. Talk of the place continued for years but slowly the knowledge of Wiang Kum Kam drifted from people’s memories leaving only some mention in chronicles of that time. The soil, which now covered Wiang Kum Kam, settled, dried and was eventually used for agricultural purposes rice paddies, fruit orchards and many residential homes were built atop the buried city.
The name had been mentioned in chronicles of long ago but, aside from that, not a lot was known. The name was originated from the term of Kum Kum, Kum means Royal Residence meanwhile Kam means area or territory. And so it might have remained had not the Fine Arts Department (responsible for archeology) started digging in and around Chiangmai during the mid 1980’s. Thanks to a lot of research, hard work and effort the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam is, once again, enjoying the light of day and a tremendous amount of archeological and religious interest.
Mengrai was a Shan Prince of the Tai people; he became King of Lanna in 1259. Lanna at the time included Yunnan China up to what now the city of Khunming, western Laos and eastern Burma (Myanmar). King Mengrai was both a warrior and a wanderer; he made a point of building fortified towns to consolidate and protect his kingdom. The cities of Chiang Saen (on the Mekhong River) and Chiang Rai were both settled by King Mengrai and pre-date the founding of Chiangmai. King Mengrai had taken Lamphun (the Old Kingdom of Hariphunchai) in 1281 but, after spending a few years there, he wanted a “New City” (Chiangmai) on the rich, fertile flood plain of the River Ping. He moved north from Lamphun and established a fortified settlement on a river-bend which would give protection on two sides and flood a moat dug around the remaining two sides. This was Wiang Kum Kam and the year was 1286.
The Lanna Kingdom was mainly ruled by the Mangrai Dynasty, and can be divided in to 3 periods which are the Early Kingdom (1259-1355), The Golden Periods–of art, culture, power and economy (1355-1525) and the Decline and Fall of the Kingdom (1525-1558).
The ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam is quiet and peaceful. Narrow roads wiht small strams and old houses dot most of the area along with 2 temples used today. So far 34 ancient sites have been identified and unearthed. Archeologists are confident that more will follow.
To visit Wiang Kum Kam on a weekend you can partake in making local handicrafts, taste local food or get a traditionl massage. You can lso visit a home constructed just as it would have been during the period of King Mengrai. There are trams to tke you to the mny ruins or you can hire a horse driven carriage.
The best way to tour Wiang Kum Kam is by horse and buggy with your guide or by bicycle. You can rent the horse and buggy with driver at Wat Mengrai and Wat Nan Chang at Wiang Kum Kam.
For an excellent Thai dinning experience, a traditional Lanna Khantoke dinner is a must.
Many believe this north Thailand dinner with music and dance was invented for tourists, but the Khantoke dinner dates back many centuries. Locals celebrate festivals and holidays in their homes with the Khantoke dinner today.
Sitting down to a well-presented meal of good and delicious food is something most of us enjoy. Then there are those stand-up occasions where we mix and mingle with other guests and enjoy cocktails and finger foods. Finger foods? Eating with one’s fingers? Considered as neither polite nor hygienic in some circles, eating with our fingers is as old as the human race. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, as we all do it perhaps without thinking.
In Thailand, many people still eat with their fingers and this has nothing to do with social strata. It depends, rather, on the place, the occasion and the meal that is being served. A Thai hostess will follow a set etiquette when offering a meal that will be eaten with the fingers, and those eating will be polite and delicate as they partake of the meal.
Traditional Thai meals are rarely one plate experiences, so the Western concept of having meat, two veggies, and gravy all on one plate is alien to Thai dining. Likewise, the use of an array of cutlery seems to be overkill in Thai minds (most Thais settle for a fork and spoon when not using their fingers). Unless one is invited to a Thai home, the closest most visitors get to dining a la Lanna (northern Thai) is at a Kantoke dinner, so this is something you might like to try.
Visitors who have been to a Thai dinner show in Bangkok usually decide to give Khantoke dinners a miss because they think the two are similar. The Khantoke Dinner Dance Show is much more enjoyable than other dinner shows because of the pervading informal atmosphere, really different style of cooking, and gentle slow-tempo dance entertainment.
Khantoke is a Lanna Thai tradition, not just something invented for tourists’ amusement. Thai Lanna was a civilized Kingdom that existed in the area of present-day northern Thailand. King Mengrai was the king who founded the capital and the dynasty. He accomplished and contributed to the prosperity of the kingdom in several aspects, e.g. political science, Buddhist religion, art, and culture.
There are several traditions that eventually became northern heritage one of which is Khantoke. Even today, khantoke implies dinner or lunch offered by a host to guests at various ceremonies or parties, e.g. in the home – weddings, housewarmings, celebrations, novice ordinations, life extensions, or funerals. At the temple celebrations for buildings in a temple’s compound, namely bhote, wiharn, sala; Grand Sermons annual festivals such as — Khao Pansa, Og Pansa, Loy Krathong, and new year.
Trays, spatulas, big spoons, and food containers are the essential implements required for eating. Wood, bamboo, rattan, and coconut shell have been used as raw materials for making the food tray and container products. Coconut shells are used to make spatulas and big spoons. Bamboo is used to make dishes, bowls, boxes, trays, and so forth.
Dimensions of the pedestal tray, Khantoke are low, round tables with several legs connected to the top tray that has a round base. Khantoke (or it is sometimes called toke) was originally made with a big solid piece of teak wood. Lathing and carving techniques are employed. After lathing, carving, and polishing, coating with natural polymers was then applied. Bamboo and rattan can be also used instead of teak wood.
Therefore, khantoke lacquer-ware, which has bamboo as a base, is also popular. Kian is a northern Thai word (similar to central Thai for word of gluing) that means lathe. Therefore, Baan Chang Kian or Wat Chang Kian used to be the community that was the residence of lathe craftsmen (chang) in the old days.
The wonderful thing about a traditional Lanna Khantoke dinner is the combination of classical Thai dance and music with excellent food. To describe Thai Classical Dance, in words, can never do justice to the art form. To view a performance, especially if many dancers are involved, reminds me of a field of sunflowers, or wheat, swaying in unison at the whim of an evening breeze. Or perhaps the soaring of seabirds as they ride the thermals, at one with the wind. Thai Dancing is a pageant of poetry in motion.
Stemming from the Royal Courts of Old Siam (not necessarily within the geographic boundaries of present-day Thailand), the influence of which extended as far East as the Khmer capital of Angkor, Classical Dancers entertained and soothed their local royalty as well as performing before visiting royals and nobility.
When you arrive for your Kantoke dinner, you will have to remove your shoes before entering into the spacious hall built of teak where decoration is from original materials and motifs only. Your hostess in traditional attire will guide you smilingly to your place, comfortably seated on cushions on the carpeted floor or at nearby tables if you prefer. Within moments, the attentive staff will bring your drinks and Khantoke. The Khantoke is the circular wooden tray set on pedestal that serves as a table. It will carry one of the most delicious meals you have ever eaten.
Using the fingers of the right hand, a small portion of sticky rice that is served in little woven bamboo baskets is kneaded into a bite-sized ball (it takes a little practice!) and the ball is dipped into the desired main dish (a portion can be melded onto the rice ball) before being popped into the mouth. The fingers shouldn’t really enter one’s mouth (the food shouldn’t be crammed) as the movements are politely delicate. A rinse of the fingers and the process is repeated again and again. Thais from the humblest to the highest continue to dine in this traditional manner when the cultural or home occasion arises, and they are adept at making it look easy and gracious.
Start with the fried pumpkin as hors d’oeuvres and then alternate as you like between the mildly spicy red chili, tomato and minced pork dip, the succulent fried chicken, and a mouth-watering Burmese pork curry that is so gentle, so soft that you will gladly accept a second helping.
The chili dip is called Nam Prik Awng and is teased from its bowl with pieces of deep-fried crispy pork skin or freshly sliced cucumber, whichever you prefer. The chicken and Hangleh, as the pork curry is called, go well with the stir-fried cabbage and either the sticky or plain cooked rice. The Khantoke also contains a bowl of crispy fried noodles to complement the rice. Dessert, served separately, consists of fried rice crispies and, if you dare to break the spell of tradition, either coffee or tea.
About halfway through your meal, a classical orchestra will begin to accompany troupes of dancers in gorgeous costumes, or occasionally a solo dancer, as they perform the graceful movements of Thai classical dance for your pleasure. These are absolutely authentic Northern Thailand dances, quite distinct from those performed in Bangkok and Ayutthaya. They are rooted in the region’s history, literature, and way of life.
While some, like the Fingernail Dance, which is usually performed only on special occasions such as a state visit, are slow, stately, and exquisitely graceful; others, such as the solo Sword Dance, have a flashing, ferocious beauty. Performances, such as the Magic Fowls Dance, meanwhile, are taken from local folklore and literature while a fourth genre that includes the Silk Reeling Dance depicts various aspects of daily village life.
In some cases, the dances were originally either choreographed or polished by northern court poets and dance instructors to celebrate a particular event such as the royal visits of King Prajadhipok and King Rama the Seventh to Chiang Mai in 1927. In others, members of the old Chiang Mai royal family were themselves the inspiration.
The Shan and Burmese courts are represented in other dances such as the Mahn Mui Chiangta Dance, while the Thai Lue Dance is originally performed by the Thai Lue people of Nong Bua village in Nan Province. The final dance is the Ramwong, or Circle Dance. This is a typical Thai folk dance that was popularized some 60 or 70 years ago. After a few introductory rounds so that you, the guests, can see how it is done, the dancers will invite you to join in on a cheerful, friendly finale to evening’s program.
The total time takes about two hours to eat and enjoy the music and entertainment. This is a dinner you must do at least once while visiting Chiang Mai. Many Thai people from Bangkok and other parts of Thailand always visit a Khantoke Dinner restaurant when in Chiang Mai.
Each year, the four-day celebration of Songkran in Chiang Mai consists of many activities, and these are briefly explained below.
Songkran, or the Thai New Year, is still the most important of all the Thai festivals and holidays. We usually have loads of friends from other countries to our home and we love to have them participate in all the traditional activities with us. Although we are not Buddhists we love to go to the temples to watch the activities, eat, drink, throw water and just have fun.
“Songkran” derives from the movement of the sun from one position to another in the zodiac. According to its literal meaning in Sanskrit, a songkran occurs every month. However, the period that Thai people refer to as songkran happens when the sun moves from Pisces to Aries in the zodiac. The Thai New Year, or “Songkran” festival is April 12 to 15
The Thai New Year, or “Songkran” festival, is the largest water fight on the planet. However, it is much more than that to the Thai people. Here are the events of the Thai new year that we enjoy each year.
April 12 is :Wan Sungkharn Lohng”. This is a day for house cleaning and general preparation for the New Year. In the evening it is traditional for Thais to dress up as a signal of the coming new year.
April 13 is “Wan Nao”. On this day a grand new year begins with early morning merit-making at the temples. Preserved and cooked foods, fresh fruit, monks’ robes and other offerings are made at the temples. In the home, people do the final cleaning of Buddha images using scented water. Traditionally this is the day that the pouring of water begins. It was once the practice to pour scented water gently on the hands of elders, but the fun-loving Thais have transposed this into a relative water free-for-all.
Also on this day people prepare cooked meals and preserved food for the Buddhist merit-making that takes place on the following day. Activities at Wat Prasingh temple in Chiang Mai continue on this day and in the evening local residents go to the banks of the Mae Ping River and gather sand to be deposited in piles topped by flowers in the temples. This practice is the ancient “raising the temple grounds” ritual, which was necessary in the old days because then Thai New Year was held at the end of the rainy season in the first month of the old Thai Lunar Calendar.
April 14 is Wan Payawan. In Chiang Mai, the Songkran procession is held on this day. This is a parade through Chiang Mai comprised of Buddha images and attendants on floats, which are accompanied by minstrels and the town’s people.
Today a grand new year begins with early morning merit-making at the temples. Preserved and cooked foods, fresh fruit, monks’ robes and other offerings are made at the temples. In the home, people do the final cleaning of Buddha images using scented water. Traditionally this is the day that the pouring of water begins. It was once the practice to pour gently, but the fun-loving Thais have transposed this into a relative water free-for-all.
Today we load up the pickup truck with 50-gallon drums filled with water. After the parade we go to the ice house for a large block of ice to put in the water barrel. We then travel around the city joining others in the largest water fight on the planet.
April 15 is Wan Parg-bpee. On this day homage is paid to ancestors, elders and other persons deserving respect because of age of position. This is called ‘Rohd Nam Songkran’, meaning ‘The Pouring of Songkran Water’, and the water is sprinkled on the elder persons while uttering wishes of good luck and a happy future.
In Chiang Mai, this is the final day of the celebration and the day on which people have built up to a crescendo of water throwing. It is the day when all family and religious obligations have been completed and the people are totally dedicated to having fun.
This season The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is Feb. 4 – 6, 2022.
Every year during the first weekend in February is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. The city is awash with vibrant colors ranging from the electric orange and lilac colors of the bougainvillea to the velvety blossoms of petunias in all shades of pink, white and purple. The strident red of the poinsettias, bought by many at Christmas and New Years, is echoed by beds of scarlet Salvias. Homes and shop owners alike line the city streets with colorful flower boxes. The sheer profusion of color that the flower festival and carnival brings to Chiangmai aptly gives the city its name “Rose of the North”.
On all three days of the festival, prize blooms are on display at Suan Buak Haad near the city center. Every type of flower, miniature tree and orchid is put on display for the judges to choose the best of the species. Landscape specialists put on an elaborate display, which includes patios and waterfalls with exotic decorative plants and flowers.
The best part of the flower festival is on Saturday. This is when we load our lawn chairs and ice chest in the pick-up and head to D.K. Bookstore along the moat in the city center. We go there because there is plenty of parking and excellent coffee and pastry shops.
On the way we passed the flower covered floats, Hill Tribes and Thais in their traditional dress and uniformed marching bands all getting in line to start the parade. We had to leave the house before 8 AM as the parade start around 9 AM. Although it would not be until 10 AM until the parade reached us we had lots of fun eating food from local vendors, relaxing in our lawn chairs at curbside and watching the world go by.
The parade lines up from the train station to Narawatt bridge so the police close most of Jarenmuang Road around 8 AM. The VIP viewing stand is right next to the bridge in front of the Chiangmai Governor’s home. The Parade route goes down Thapae Road to the Gate and turns left and follows the moat to Suan Buak Haad City Park.
The parade moves at a slow pace and stops several times so there is plenty of time to take pictures of the colorful floats, pretty girls and hill tribe people in costume. The people in the parade hand out roses to spectators lining the road.
When the parade finishes everyone heads to Suan Buak Haad where all the floats, award winning flower growers and landscapers projects are all on display. There are plenty of food stalls located in the park and in late afternoon the Miss Chiang Mai Flower festival starts. The party goes well into the evening until the new Flower Festival Queen is chosen.
If you are intersted in viewing flowers from all around the world a trip to the International Ratchaphruek Flower Gardens should be in your itinerary. Also a trip to Inthanon National Park for bird watching where all the trees are in full bloom should not be missed.
This is a great time to visit Chiang Mai, as the air is cool and the evenings fresh and clear. If you want to see the festival make sure you book your hotels and flights well in advance.