Bangkok, 25 April 2019 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has revealed that tourism revenue earned from international visitor arrivals to Thailand and domestic trips during the 2019 Songkran holiday all showed year-on-year increases over the same period in 2018.
TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said that during the holiday period of 12-16 April, 2019, total revenue from the international arrivals and domestic trips amounted to 22.07 billion Baht, an increase of 15 percent year-on-year.
The number of international arrivals reached 543,300 (up eight percent year-on-year) and generated revenue of 10.23 billion Baht (up 14 percent). There were 3.27 million trips by domestic tourists (up three percent) generating 11.84 billion Baht (up seven percent).
According to Mr. Yuthasak, international visitor arrivals performance was, overall near the projections. The East Asia market accounted for the majority of foreign arrivals during the Songkran Festival. Arrivals from Hong Kong and India were higher than expected thanks to the visa-on-arrival fee waiver in place.
The domestic market also performed close to the expectation.
To showcase local traditions of the annual Thai water festival, TAT staged Songkran 2019 festivities in the three emerging destinations of Tak, Mukdahan and Ranong. It also supported activities in 10 other provinces (Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Lampang, Udon Thani, Songkhla and Phuket).
“Together these destinations saw 1.03 million domestic trips during the holiday period with 5.11 billion Baht generated for the local economy. Hotel occupancy in these destinations averaged 80 percent,” Mr. Yuthasak said.
While the Songkran or traditional Thai New Year holiday normally takes place from 13-15 April every year, there are some locations that stage unique local festivities a little later. These include in Samut Prakan’s Phra Pradaeng district in the Central Thailand region, where the local Mon people observe New Year traditions from 19-21 April.
In the Na Haeo district of Loei in Northeastern Thailand, locals celebrate the Thai New Year with a procession of flower trees – the only tradition of its kind in the country. This year the procession is on 19 and 27 April.
In the Eastern region, Chon Buri’s Pattaya-Naklua districts celebrate Wan Lai (water day) on 18-19 April, Map Ta Phut in Rayong’s Songkran is from 19-21 April (with 21 April being Wan Lai), and the country’s easternmost Songkran celebration takes place at Laem Ngop in Trat on the last Friday of April (26 April 2019).
Photo gallery ofSongkran 2019 festivities at various destinations throughout Thailand.
Bangkok, 4 April 2019 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is promoting Songkran 2019 festivities in three emerging destinations – Tak, Mukdahan and Ranong – and is supporting activities in eight other provinces (Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Ayutthaya, Phuket and Songkhla) to showcase local traditions of the annual Thai water festival.
TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said secondary destinations offer a different take on the uniqueness of time-honoured Thai traditions at this most important time of the year.
“Thailand’s emerging destinations and secondary cities have a unique charm that is often found in smaller towns around the world. Some traditions are maintained in these places that might have faded in larger more established destinations like Bangkok or Pattaya.
“While international tourists see Songkran as a boisterous fun festival, for Thais it is a traditional time to place family first, pay respect to one’s elders and visit temples. Visitors should get more out of Songkran if they take time to embrace its origins and traditions,” he added.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor (centre), and on his right, Mrs. Sujitra Jongchansitto, TAT Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business, in a group photo with traditional Thai dance performers
Tak province is home to spectacular natural attractions including the largest and arguably most beautiful waterfall in Thailand. This small town in the Lower North of Thailand also serves as an important crossroads for travellers between Bangkok and Chiang Mai and is an important westerly route into Myanmar at Mae Sot (Thailand) / Myawaddy (Myanmar), with cross border access now possible due to relaxed restrictions.
Mukdahan is one of the northeastern provinces of Thailand bordering the Mekong River, across which lies Savannakhet Province of Lao PDR. Roughly 4 km north of the city’s centre, the second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge connects it with Savannakhet city.
Ranong is Thailand’s most northern province along the Andaman coast sharing a land border with Myanmar. Varied attractions and activities make this a great place for anyone wanting to experience one of Thailand’s lesser-visited Southern provinces. Dense forest and lush agricultural lands cover much of the province, and there are numerous islands, big and small, off the coastline.
According to Mr. Yuthasak, TAT continues to support celebrations in other key destinations as it always has. Nationwide in Thailand, top locations to experience Songkran, region-by-region, include: Central and Eastern Region: Bangkok and Pattaya; Northern Region: Chiang Mai; Northeastern Region: Khon Kaen; and Southern Region: Hat Yai.
Bangkok, 20 March 2019 – The 15th World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony attracted a record number of participants to Ayutthaya with over 1,500 Muay Thai practitioners from 70 countries attending the event from 16 to 17 March.
This eclipses the largest previous attendance of over 1,400 participants in 2017. The Ayutthaya Historical Park was a hive of activity with multiple events at Wat Langkha Khao and the sacred Wai Kru ceremony held at Wat Mahathat with the temple’s ruins serving as a dramatic backdrop.
Muay Thai practitioners paying respect and getting blessed with the white headbands from the masters
Similar to religious pilgrimages, Muay Thai practitioners should participate in the annual World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony on 17 March at least once in their lifetime.
The event gathers Muay Thai practitioners from around the world who express their gratitude to master teachers and trainers in the time-honoured ritual known as the Wai Kru ceremony, while celebrating the aged-old martial art of Muay Thai. It also pays homage to Nai Khanom Tom, a local hero, famous for his victory over 10 Burmese fighters in a boxing bout that took place in 1774 and who remains a hero of Muay Thai boxers to this day.
This year event kicked off as usual at 5 p.m. with Muay Thai practitioners from around the world attending a Brahmin ceremony paying respect to ancient Thai kings and warriors; namely, King Naresuan the Great, Phrachao Suea, and Phraya Phichai Dap Hak.
Then, the Wai Kru ceremony started with the 1,500 Muay Thai practitioners paying respect and getting blessed with the white headbands from the masters. They are from all ages, from as little as a baby to a senior person. After the ceremony, the newly blessed Muay Thai practitioners joined a mass Wai Kru dance, led by four Thai Muay Thai champions.
Prior to the sacred ceremony, Muay Thai practitioners and the public learned more about the different styles of Muay Thai from various parts of Thailand, including Muay Chaiya, Muay Korat, Muay Thai Sao, Muay Lop Buri during the two-day Miracle Muay Thai Festival at Wat Langkha Khao.
There were also booths offering Yantra tattooing by famous tattoo masters, which were very popular among international visitors. In addition, there were stalls in the Thai food pavilion, selling local delicacies, as well as booths offering instruction in Yantra writing, Aranyik sword making, Thai martial art performances, and traditional Thai massage.
Chairman of the ceremony, Mr. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for International Marketing – Asia and the South Pacific
Chairman of the ceremony, Dr. Sujin Chaichumsak, Governor of Ayutthaya Province
One of the four Thai Muay Thai champions who led this year’s mass Wai Kru dance
The newly blessed Muay Thai practitioners joined a mass Wai Kru dance
The newly blessed Muay Thai practitioners joined a mass Wai Kru dance
The statue of Nai Khanom Tom was prominently displayed in front of the ceremony’s venue.
Bangkok, 30 January, 2019 – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) was proud to be one of the co-sponsors of a major international conference organised at the Siam Society between 25-26 January, 2019, on the theme “Heritage Protection: The Asian Experience”.
The conference brought together thinkers, professionals and practitioners in the field of cultural heritage protection from Thailand and 12 Asian nations for two days of thought provoking discussions on how best to preserve and conserve cultural heritage within the context of the sweeping economic, technological, and social changes occurring across Asia and the world.
The organiser was the Siam Society, set up in 1904 under Royal Patronage to promote knowledge of the culture, history, arts and natural sciences of Thailand as well as those of neighbouring countries. The Society’s activities are guided by its motto: “Knowledge Gives Rise to Friendship”.
TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said: “TAT was proud to join the Thai Ministry of Culture and PTT Global Chemical PCL as a sponsor of what clearly turned out to be a ground-breaking event in considering issues of cultural heritage protection in Asia.
“We were glad to see that the linkage between tourism and cultural heritage came up repeatedly during the discussion. This is exactly in line with our marketing concept of “Open to the New Shades”, which is based entirely on Thailand’s ability to welcome people of all cultures.
“We will be taking careful note of the conclusions and recommendations in formulating our future tourism development and marketing strategies, especially in promoting the new generation of emerging destinations around Thailand,” he added.
According to the Siam Society, the conference was designed to provide a platform for Asian speakers to describe cultural heritage from an Asian perspective, recognising the diversity of cultures and cultural heritage protection experiences across the Asian continent.
The speakers looked at various aspects of the Asian experience of cultural heritage protection within diverse Asian settings to determine what are the main obstacles to successful heritage protection; what works and what does not; what lessons can be drawn for Asian people from Asian experiences.
They also suggested cultural heritage protection strategies most likely to be effective within the Asian socio-cultural and political contexts, focusing on community involvement, the role of law, and entrepreneurs’ contributions.
A book compiling the conference papers will come out by the second quarter of 2019 for widespread distribution throughout the Asian region.
Mrs. Pikulkeaw Krairiksh, President of the Siam Society, said: “Thailand faces many challenges in conserving its cultural heritage, particularly vernacular, community, and intangible heritage, which have been the focus of the Siam Society’s cultural heritage conservation efforts in recent years. We were very pleased with the strong level of attention it attracted both within Thailand and the ASEAN region.”
Thailand is a land of festivals and celebrations that reflect Thai traditions and cultural values. Most Thai festivals derive from the Buddhist and Brahman beliefs, with many being originated from local traditions, folklore and the way of life. Many have taken place over the course of a year for centuries.
Two internationally known festivals are Songkran or the Thai New Year with its water-based fun and the charming full moon festival of Loi Krathong. And among many religious events tourists are encouraged to witness include the ‘Khao Phansa’ and ‘Ok Phansa’ festivals that respectively mark the beginning and the end of Buddhist Lent.
Each Thai festival has its own outstanding features, which differ from region to region, and here are just some of the many events and festivals celebrated annually in Thailand.
World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony
17 March, Ayutthaya
The annual World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony, held annually at the Ayutthaya Historical Park, allows the opportunity for hundreds of Muay Thai practitioners from around the world to express their gratitude to their masters in the time-honoured tradition known as the Wai Kru ceremony, as well as to celebrate the aged-old martial art of Muay Thai.
The event begins with an afternoon Muay Thai fair featuring unique Thai traditions including sword-making, Thai tattooing and calligraphy and Thai martial art shows. Taking place thereafter is the highlight: the ceremony to pay respect to ancient Thai kings and warriors who protected the sovereignty of the land; namely, King Naresuan the Great, Phrachao Suea, and Phraya Phichai Dap Hak, with a Wai Kru dance performed by all participating Muay Thai boxers.
Hundreds of Muay Thai practitioners from around the world perform dance in the time-honoured tradition known as the Wai Kru ceremony
Poi Sang Long Festival
March-April, Mae Hong Son
The annual Poi Sang Long Festival is an aged-old ordination ceremony undergone by boys between seven and 14 years of age of the Tai Yai ethic group in Northern Thailand, but mostly synonymous with Mae Hong Son province. Usually, a large group of boys are ordained as novice monks at the same time. The three-day ritual is believed to help gain more merit than an ordinary ordination.
On the first day, the boys enter a tonsure ceremony and dress up in the Sang Long dress. On the second day, the boys are carried on the shoulders of their male relatives or mentors, as their feet are not allowed to touch the ground except at home and in the temple. On the last day, the novice monks enter the temple for a period, which can vary from a week to many months or more.
The Sang Long or novice monks getting ready for the aged-old ordination ceremony
13-15 April, nationwide
Songkran Festival is an event where boisterous fun and ancient traditions go hand-in-hand. For tourists, the event offers a chance to enjoy a huge celebration where water parties break out in the streets of Thailand’s towns and villages. For locals, it is a time when they can spend precious moments with their families and visit the temples to observe ancient rites and make merit.
Some of the best locations to celebrate the Songkran Festival, region-by-region, are: Central and Eastern Region: Bangkok and Pattaya; Northern Region: Chiang Mai; Northeastern Region: Khon Kaen; and Southern Region: Hat Yai.
Locals and visiting tourists sprinkle water onto Phra Phutthasihing during the Songkran Festival at Tha Phae Gate, Chiang Mai
Bun Bung Fai (Rocket) Festival
May or June, some provinces in the Northeast and South
Among the most spectacular festivals to be experienced in the Thailand is the annual rocket festival, which takes place in the Northeast as the rainy season begins. Known as Bun Bung Fai, the festival is seen as a way of encouraging the rains to fall and to help the local rice crops to grow. It also allows people to have a fun and festive break before the hard work of planting and harvesting begins.
The celebrations differ from province to province, but mostly involve the firing of homemade rockets up into the sky with teams competing against each other to send their rockets the highest. There are also parades with floats and displays of traditional costume and dancing.
The Festival can be enjoyed in many provinces of Isan including Roi Et, Yasothon and Kalasin. There is also a rocket festival in Sukhirin district in the southern province of Narathiwat, initiated by people who moved south from Isan.
An elaborate ‘Bung Fai (rocket)’ float during the Bun Bung Fai parade in Yasothon
Bun Luang and Phi Ta Khon Festival
One of the most vibrant, and distinctly unique festivals in Thailand’s Northeastern Region is the Bun Luang and Phi Ta Khon Festival in Dan Sai district, Loei. The three-day event normally takes place during the first week after the sixth full moon of the year (in June or July).
The entire event is traditionally called Bun Luang, a mass merit-making ceremony organised with the aim to celebrate the return of Prince Vessandorn (the last incarnation of Lord Buddha) and to worship Phra That Si Song Rak, the highly-revered Buddha stupa for both Thai and Lao people.
But the highlight is the Phi Ta Khon masked-dance procession. Villagers, mostly male, dress in ghost costumes and wear huge masks made from carved coconut-tree trunks, topped with wickerwork and sticky rice steamers, dance and strike amusing poses to the cheerful crowds as they parade around town. Other activities include Phi Ta Khon costume competition and the firing of Bung Fai (rocket).
Phi Ta Khon Festival, Loei
Khao Phansa or Buddhist Lent Day
On the day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month (normally in July), nationwide
One of the most charming festivals celebrated in Thailand is Khao Phansa, or Buddhist Lent Day, which marks the start of the rainy season and the period when monks traditionally retreat to their temples for a three-month period. Traditionally, candles were donated to temples enabling monks to continue their studies into the evenings. Nowadays, these offerings take the form of huge wax effigies, which are shown off in local parades accompanied by folk dances, displays of local crafts, and sound and light performances.
Khao Phansa day itself is a day of special celebration and is held on the day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month (normally in July). But many of the celebrations to mark the festival will take place over several days during the week. Some of the best locations to witness spectacular candle parades are Ubon Ratchathani, Saraburi (Tak Bat Dok Mai or flower offering), Ayutthaya and Nakhon Phanom.
Ubon Ratchathani International Wax Candle Festival and Wax Candle Procession
OK Phansa or End of Buddhist Lent Day
On the full moon of the 11th lunar month (normally in October), nationwide
The Ok Phansa festival is celebrated on the full moon of the 11th lunar month and marks the end of the Buddhist Lent. It is a time of celebration and merit-making with provinces nationwide set to celebrate the occasion on different days and in distinctive styles, depending on their locality and tradition.
Among the notable Ok Phansa celebrations include Nakhon Phanom Illuminated Boat Procession, Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival, Naga Fireball Festivals in Nong Khai and Bueng Kan, Chaiyaphum ‘Ti Khli (fireball croquet)’ competition, Samut Prakan Rap Bua (receiving lotus) Festival, Uthai Thani ‘Tak Bat Devo’ Ceremony, and Mae Hong Son ‘Chong Phara’ procession of the Tai Yai ethnic group.
In the Southern region, several provinces including Surat Thani, Phatthalung and Trang are famous for their unique Chak Phra, Lark Phra or Hae Phra ceremony, where a highly-revered Buddha image is carried on beautifully decorated floats and hauled in the river or on the road, allowing Buddhist devotees to join in making merit.
The locally famous ‘Tak Bat Devo’ Ceremony at Sangkat Rattanakhiri Temple or Sakaekrang Temple, Uthai Thani
Long-boat Racing Festivals
Normally held coinciding with the Ok Phansa Festival at selected locations nationwide
There are many long-boat racing festivals organised in Thai provinces where big rivers pass; such as, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, Saraburi, Pathum Thani, Nan and Surat Thani.
The Phichit Traditional Long-boat Races is the first type of such festival held in Thailand as well as one of the oldest. It is also regarded as one of the grandest and most spectacular boat races in the country. Meanwhile, the Nan Boat Races, initially organised to mark the end of the Buddhist Lent, has become a fixture on Thailand’s annual festival calendar, having the most numbers of boats entering the races or about 200 boats from over 100 communities. In the South, the annual Surat Thani Long-boat Races is held alongside the Chak Phra Festival.
The long-boats are in preparation for the race of the year
Normally held for nine days during the period of the ninth lunar month (around October), nationwide
One of Thailand’s most unique and lively events, the Vegetarian Festival has its origins in Chinese culture. It is believed that abstinence from meat and stimulants will bring about good health and peace of mind to individuals and the community. Thus, a lot of Thai people, especially those of Chinese lineage, will restrict themselves to only a vegetarian diet for nine days and nine nights as a form of purification of a person’s body, mind and spirit.
Phuket boasts Thailand’s most famous Vegetarian Festival celebration, also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, with notable ceremonies including the processions of god images and of celebrants in a trance-like state displaying awe-inspiring supernatural power. Other locations with unique celebrations have included Krabi, Trang, Phang Nga, Hat Yai, Surat Thani, Chumphon, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Sawan, Chon Buri (Pattaya) and Samut Sakhon.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Loi Krathong Festival
On the full moon night of the 12th lunar month (normally in November), nationwide
Nearly all visitors to Thailand agree that in this land of festivals, it is Loi Krathong that stands out as the most charming.
The annual ceremony is a time of special celebration in Thailand. The rains have mostly ended, and the weather is cool, so people take the chance to get out for the evening, socialise and enjoy many fun activities as well as making and floating krathongs. These are candlelit floats, traditionally made from banana stalk and leaf or coconut shell and decorated with incense, offerings, flowers and candles. They are then floated out onto the water as a way of paying respect to the water spirits to thank them for their bounty as well as to apologise to rivers and streams for pollution and for their use of water over the year.
Some of the best locations to see Thai people at their most fun loving while enjoying a genuinely beautiful spectacle include Bangkok, Samut Songkhram (Loi Krathong Kap Kluai), Tak (Loi Krathong Sai), Sukhothai (Candle Festival), Chiang Mai (Yi Peng Festival) and Roi Et (Somma Nam Khuen Pheng Seng Prathip).
Floating out krathongs onto the water
River Kwai Bridge Week
The River Kwai Bridge is one Thailand’s more recent historical attractions. It commemorates the sacrifice of British, American, Australian, Dutch, and New Zealand prisoners of war, in addition to the many Thai, Burmese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Malays, and Indians, who were part of the estimated 61,700 people who died there.
The River Kwai Bridge Week pays respect to their memory while also balancing the freedom all who attend enjoy. It is known for staging one of Thailand’s most spectacular sound and light shows that tells the stories of the World War II in honour of the prisoners of war who built the infamous Death Railway, the Bridge on the River Kwai and Hellfire Pass. The event normally takes place for 10 days around November and December.
A scene from the spectacular sound and light shows during the River Kwai Bridge Week
For more information on other events and festivals in Thailand, call the TAT Contact Centre on 1672 or log on to www.tourismthailand.org.