Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival, also known as the Ghost Mask Festival, is one of the most vibrant and memorable festivals celebrated in Thailand. Believed to be rooted in local beliefs and traditions, this festival celebrates the marriage of a northern prince, Nang TDaung, and is a unique combination of animistic beliefs, Brahmanism, and Buddhism. During the festival, locals don colorful clothing and homemade masks to represent the ghosts of the departed. Despite being a traditional festival, the Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival has become a magnet for tourists from all over the world who want to see and experience this incredible cultural event for themselves. It is a delightful celebration of life, death, and renewal that provides a rare peek into the local traditions and folklore of the people of Isaan.
Where is Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival
Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival takes place in the small town of Dan Sai in the Loei province of northeastern Thailand. This festival is celebrated yearly, based on the lunar calendar; it typically occurs in June or July and lasts for three days. The festival consists of traditional customs, such as dancing, wearing of colorful masks and costumes, parading through town, and setting off loud firecrackers. Additionally, locals visit local temples and make merit. The Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival is part of a larger celebration called the “Boon Luang” festival.
This event is celebrated by the Isan people in order to commemorate a historic victory in war and the celebration of a royal birth. All of these activities are intended to honor the local spirits in a festive and joyous matter. This festival is a great opportunity for visitors to experience the traditional Thai culture and learn about the local beliefs and practices of the Isan province.
History of Phi Ta Khon Festival
Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival is deeply rooted in local folklore. It is believed to be a celebration to welcome the spirit of Prince Vessandorn, an incarnation of the Buddha, who was believed to have returned to his city after a long absence. The loud celebrations and ghost masks are said to be a way to make the prince’s return more lively and memorable. The festival also incorporates elements of animism, seeking blessings for rain and a good harvest
How to Get to Dan Sai
Dan Sai, a small town located in the northeast of Thailand, is approximately 500 kilometers from Bangkok. It is the primary destination for the Phi Ta Khon Festival. For travelers looking to attend this festival, the most convenient way to reach Dan Sai is to take a flight from Bangkok to Loei, which takes about 1 hour. From Loei, one can take a bus or rent a car to reach Dan Sai, which is about 80 kilometers away, a journey of about an hour and a half. Alternatively, there are direct buses from Bangkok to Dan Sai, but the journey is longer, taking around 9-10 hours, so taking a flight is recommended.
Hotels in Dan Sai during the Ghost Festival
Dan Sai, being the epicenter of the Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival, has several accommodation options ranging from budget to luxury. Some of the recommended hotels include:
- Phu Pha Nam Resort & Spa: A luxury resort offering serene mountain views.
- Mountain Green Resort: A mid-range option with comfortable amenities.
- Suanmon Resort: A budget-friendly resort with basic facilities.
Prices during the Ghost Festival
The prices for accommodation can vary based on the proximity to the festival venue and the type of amenities offered. During the festival, it’s advisable to book in advance as prices can surge due to high demand. On average, budget accommodations can range from 500 to 1,000 THB per night, mid-range hotels from 1,000 to 3,000 THB, and luxury resorts can go upwards of 3,000 THB.
The Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival is a captivating blend of history, religion, and local traditions. It offers a unique insight into the rich cultural tapestry of Thailand. Whether you’re a cultural enthusiast, a photographer, or just a curious traveler, this festival promises an unforgettable experience. If you plan to attend, make sure to immerse yourself in the local traditions, try the local delicacies, and, most importantly, respect the local customs and beliefs.