is a tourists paradise for North Eastern Thailand. The town itself, being as it is in the center of the Province, is the tourists base for visiting and experiencing every exotic, historic and cultural event held in this exciting area. Every month of the year something unique happens. The very nature of Thai culture insists that celebration is the right respect to be given to the ever-changing cycle of events that rule their everyday life and their very existence. Nongkhai Province is largely rural and therefore it is no surprise that festivals throughout the year are directed towards promoting good luck or thanksgiving for whatever the seasons bring.
Each individual community in the Province relies on its Buddhist Temple for guidance in its celebrations therefore each Festival has a religious or philosophical ingredient to bind it together. Thus they are profound and colorful events, a delight to the eye and to the soul.
The following Calendar of Events has been compiled to assist the discerning tourist to choose which time of the year they would prefer to enjoy their visit to the full
A simple guide of events month by month.
Phra That Bang Phuan - a colourful fun filled festival.
Bronze Buddha festival - celebration of this mystical Buddha attributed with miraculous powers. 22 - 27th, Tomato Festival - exhibition of the hundreds of different types grown in Isan. 9 - 14th
Prap Ho Monument festival. 5 - 14th Typically Thai. Sopisai Festival. 8th
Song Kran Water Festival. Biggest and best in the Province. 6 - 18th Parades, floats, and great fun.
Rocket Festivals and parades throughout NongKhai.
Competition and exhibition of fruits at Pak Kad followed by a Rocket Festival. 19th Candlelight procession for Buddhist Lent. 24 - 25th
Buddhist Lent. Candlelight processions. Monks go into retreat for three months from 6th October.
Her Majesty the Queens birthday celebrations. Big events throughout Isan, particularly NongKhai.
The World famous boat races on the River Mekong. 21 - 22nd.
GA Banana Festivals throughout Nongkhai Province. The month of the Paya Naga. Mysterious fireballs from beneath the Mekong. Light and sound shows.
Colourful Loi Kratong Festival - the Mekong river lit up with floating candles. 19th
Exhibition of Prehistoric relics and rare animals of 500 years ago. Marathon and sports. 18 - 21st Ponchaeoen District Festival 24 - 25th
For more detailed informations month by month take a look
at the table on the right.
June - The season of fruit
This is the beginning of the summer months when the rice planting season starts if there has been sufficient rain to moisten the land to allow the soil preparation.
By this time of the year the many and varied fruits of the region have ripened and are harvested - over forty different kinds, many of which are unknown to the tourist. In Pak Kad, in the eastern part of Nongkhai Province, a very special and colourful exhibition and competition of the best fruits in the region is held on the 19th of June. The fruit of the province is exquisite and different from other areas in that the inner juices are retained when the skin is removed - no messy sticky hands. Thus all the goodness and taste is retained in the fruit for your delight.
Fruits such as Rambutan, Mangosteen, Lychee, Pineapple, Longan and the notorious Durian are judged for their superior quality of colour, size and taste. The pungent, fleshy fruit of the Durian has an aroma that tourists may find unpleasant. However, get the tasty flesh past the nose and into the mouth and the taste buds will delight in both the texture and the taste of this addictive, healthy and beneficial fruit.
Not content with having one visual spectacular the people of Nongkhai delight the tourists with yet another - a display of the Thai-style rockets. These are giant-sized pyrotechnic marvels that are propelled into the heavens and create enormous explosions and cascades of colours in the night sky.
If you are present when these are launched stand well back for it is not unusual that such beasts explode prematurely! A great and colourful display for the tourists to feast their eyes on. Thai creativity at its best and a suitable beginning to the onset of the Buddhist period of lent.
June 24th - 25th sees the preparations for Khao Phansa, the Buddhist lent, when all monks are required to stay inside their Temple. This tradition has its origins in a dictate from the Lord Buddha himself - a very practical order to prevent the everyday habit of monks walking everywhere to collect the offerings of the people and destroying the carefully tended fields of newly planted rice seedlings.
Being confined to the Temple however meant that the monks could not go out to collect food and therefore the people had to bring their daily sustenance to the temple. However, the people's gifts of food are so generous that they provide far more than the monks could possibly eat and therefore the excess is given back to the people to enjoy as a social event. A communal feast.
A spectacular procession around the town of decorated floats rounds off this period. Giant, elaborately decorated and carved candles are the central features. It is a high spirited procession of colour and imaginative decoration that concludes with the presentation to the temples. This is an event that is repeated in every district in the Province. A true example of Thai culture and the Thai people's natural instinct to "sanuk" - enjoy!
Sanuk is also the main element of festivals in some of Nongkhai's surrounding Bans (villages). These festivals, locally organised and presented are similar to the Pi Ta Khon (Ghost Procession) with floats of various kinds with different themes competing for the title of the"most original", people wearing colourful masks and boys coated with mud demanding participation very boisterously. There are many street parties along the way of the procession. Quite what the origins of such events are nobody knows.
Some say that this is the time of the year when the spirits of the dead return to chase away bad fortune; others say it is a fertility ceremony passed down the ages by those who came from Laos. Everyone agrees though that it is very definitely "sanuk"!
Tourists are very welcome to participate - that is if you can find out exactly which dates each Ban is throwing the party! But this is Thailand and one thing you can rely upon and that is that some friendly soul will point you in the right direction.
JULY Seka Mini Marathon
During the week of July 15th 21st a very special event takes place in the area of Seka, not far from Nongkhai. This will be of special interest to those of a sporting inclination. This year, for the first time ever, the Seka Mini Marathon will be open to visitors to participate. However, this is not the kind of marathon that Westerners know it is unique. All marathons are an up-hill struggle for the contestants, an endurance test of not only physical ability but also of stamina and willpower. But the Seka Mini Marathon really is up-hill, a very big hill in fact a small mountain that feeds the very beautiful Seven Colours Waterfall.
This remarkably spectacular natural phenomenon is aptly named because the formation of the falls creates rainbows formulated by the suns rays striking through the water haze. A truly beautiful sight.
This is an ideal time for the tourist to visit Seka for in addition to the Mini Marathon event and the spectacular waterfall it is also the time when the local population demonstrate and exhibit their handicraft skills of furniture making and rattan work.
This is also pineapple territory. Here the Thais grow this remarkable fruit most successfully. All along the roads hereabouts you can not fail to notice stall after stall stacked with this very delicious fruit. Pineapples (Zepalot) are sold fresh or used to prepare juice or canned in syrup.
The Pineapple has extraordinary qualities for it contains a particular enzyme that cleans the liver. A one-day diet of just fresh Pineapple will clean out all of the impurities in this factory of an organ in the human body.
Another food specialty of Seka is demonstrated and prepared for you to taste on the spot. This is young rice grains, shredded of their green husk, pounded to a pulp and then steamed. It can be eaten in the same way as sticky rice or prepared as a sweet with sugar and young coconut. Delicious!
This week in Seka provides a feast for the eyes, for the palate and for the intrepid athlete a challenge for his body and spirit.
In July there is another great rural event. Projak is situated just outside Nongkhai between Tabor and Si Chang Mai. Here the most remarkable talents of the local people are demonstrated a displayed.
Necessity is the mother of invention and in Prajak it is evident that the Thai craftsmen are truly inventive. They have created and invented many unique agricultural tools, all by hand and out of the creativity of their own minds, spurred by necessity.
They are also skilled woodworkers as witnessed by the fine array of Thai furniture. Basket weaving and wickerwork are of very high quality in Prajak.
Not to be left out the Prajak women have also created very special skills. This, being Thailand and rural their talents are in food creation. Nuts! No, I am not being rude for nuts of every kind are treated in a very special way here, particularly peanuts. This very nutritious food is baked in hot sand mixed with herbs a unique preparation. The nuts are then covered or glazed in a special sugar mixture, which is as clear as glass. This is done in many shapes, all created by hand and the result is mouth-wateringly delicious.
Dont miss this opportunity in the month of July to observe, experience and enjoy the Thai rural communitys offerings to the culture of this extraordinarily land.
August Season of Monsoons
August is the season of Monsoons all over Thailand heavy downpours of rain feeding the newly planted rice fields. The bright green carpets of the young rice plants wafted by the light winds create fascinating wave patterns and formations across the acres and acres of rice fields a beautiful and soothing sight.
Tourists in the know come prepared for this season but very often they are surprised because the rain when it comes arrives mostly at night or early in the mornings. The daytimes are, more often than not, sunny and warm.
While many tourists might be put off from visiting Thailand during the so-called rainy season. The more discerning tourists takes the opportunity to visit Isans spectacular attractions that are sheltered from the elements inside a myriad of Temples and Pagodas. Nongkhai is rich in these historic and Holy places.
Do you believe in miracles? You might well once you visit the biggest bronze Buddha at Wat (Temple) Nam Mong. It is believed that if you concentrate for some minutes on the stunning eyes of this massive Buddha your cares and troubles will diminish and sometimes disappear altogether. It is indeed a very powerful image and even if you do not believe in its miraculous powers the tourist will undoubtedly be impressed and delighted.
Arsaruha Bucha Day August 3rd is said to be the first sighting each year of the World famous King of the Nagas. The Loch Ness type of serpent like fish that appears to celebrate the Buddhist lent at this time.
On August 3rd 1996 many people saw the King of the Nagas in front of Wat That, a stones throw from the Pantawee Hotel. This is the site of a large Chedi or Pagoda that sank in the Mekong River hundreds of years ago. On this particular very holy day during Buddhist lent, Arsarnha Bucha Day in 1996 it rained ferociously heavily. So, if you come to NongKhai at this time of the year, pray for rain!
13 August is the Queen Birthday. We also call it mothers Day. The People go back home to pay respect to their mother all over Thailand. There will be celebrations everywhere in Thailand.
September - Boat Racing in Bung Kan District
For Tourists and Boat Racing fans
This is the time of the year when boat races proliferate, the time when the Mekong river is full and the conditions for the boats is best. On September 13th to 15th in Bung Kan in Nongkhai Province there will be three major events. The course for these races will be 1,200 metres long and will take place on the Mekong opposite the Bung Kan District offices.
Participants will be from four nations, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The first event will be for the big boats with crews of some 46 to 55 thrusting a lot of power into these spectacular craft. The winners will receive a trophy plus a cash prize of 100,000 Baht. Second place will receive 70,000 Baht, third 50,000 Baht and fourth place will be awarded 30,000 Baht. Participants who do not win a place will receive a consolation prize of 5,000 Baht.
King's third daughter will present the Trophy.
The second event will be no less spectacular and of great interest to the locals for this race is also to be of big boats but with a difference. All entrants will be boats designed and built locally and promise to be visually very impressive with a variety of designs featured. They will be powered again by crews of 46 to 55 oarsmen with a first, second, third and fourth prizes of the same value as for the first event.
A representative of the District of Bung Kan will present the trophy.
The third event is for the smaller craft of 15 to 25 crew. They may be smaller but they will surely be fast! The first prize will be for a trophy and a cash prize of 30,000 Baht, second prize 20,000 Baht, third 15,000 Baht and the fourth 10,000 Baht. All participants who do not win one of the four places will receive a consolation prize of 2,500 Baht.
A representative of the District of Bung Kan will present the trophy.
Lord of the Mekong River In Nongkhai City
Nongkhai is the centre for these spectacular boat races to determine the best team from Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
This year however this event has become a new and bigger attraction in that it is now expanded to six countries. It is being sponsored by the Governor of Nongkhai, Mr.Tawat Satiennam, and the Tourist Authority of Thailand.
October - Bang fai Paya Naga:
The month of October is a very special month for tourists. It is the month of the Bang Fai Paya Naga the mysterious and unexplained phenomenon of the fireballs bursting from beneath the waters of the Mekong River.
The Legend of the Bang fai Paya Naga
Pra Kru Udom Phisaikanarak, the head monk of Wat Chomthong and Phon Phisai District Head monk (Cha Kana Amphoe) eaplained the history and legend of the Bang fai Paya Naga the natural and unexplained phenomenon of the fireballs coming from beneath the waters of the Mekong River.
On the last day of the Buddhist Lent the people of each village located near the river at Amphoe Phon Phisai floated their fire-boats as a mark of respect and tribute to the Lord Buddha on this the last day of Buddhist Lent. They then placed torches made of a substance of insect waste collected from trees on their 20 30 meters long bamboo boats to illuminate them. The people all gathered together at the harbor (Tha Nam) in front of Wat Phadung Suk Nue. Once everything was ready they would light up their torches and launch their boats.
In order to make their boats look more spectacular some team members fired small Bang fai (rockets) and the circular Bang fai known as talai into the sky. It was then that a curious and so far unexplained phenomenon occurred some Bang fai were fired as if from under the water, as if the Paya Nagas wanted to participate in the event.
This story has been passed down from generation after generation from father to son as witness of this natural phenomenon that occurs every year on the last day of the Buddhist Lent. It is as mysterious as it is spectacular. And the only place in the World where such a thing happens.
It is also said that it is not only beneath the river that the underwater town or cities exist. The Muang Badan as they are known are said to run throughout the whole geographical area of Nongkhai Province the home of the Paya Nagas.
There will be many local celebrations to commemorate this period with demonstrations of dancing, a Beauty Contest and a very impressive Sound and Light show. It vies with Songkran in the popularity stakes and many tourists are expected to visit and take advantage of the Pantawee Tours around this time. He Pantawee provides a special viewing area in order that its customers might get the most advantageous position to sit in comfort the watch the Bang Fai Paya Naga.
Colourful Loi Kratong Festival the Mekong river lit up with floating candles. 19th
Exhibition of Prehistoric relics and rare animals of 500 years ago. Marathon and sports. 18 21st
Ponchaeoen District Festival 24 25th
Phra That Bang Phuan a colourful fun filled festival.
Bronze Buddha festival
celebration of this mystical Buddha attributed with miraculous powers. 22 27th
exhibition of the hundreds of different types grown in Isan.
Prap Ho Monument festival. 5 14th Typically Thai. Sopisai Festival. 8th
Song Kran Water Fesival. Biggest and best in the Province. Parades, floats, and great fun.
Rocket Festivals and parades throughout NongKhai.
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