Traditional boats racing festivals season about to start in Thailand

Every year towards the end of the rainy season in Thailand, many cities and communities organize festivals around traditional long boat races. In this article, I give you the dates of the main longboat races festivals that will take place between September and the end of November for those who would like to attend… (see the end of this article)

traditional boat races thailand


Traditional boat racing in Thailand

This is quite logically when the water level of the rivers is the highest that traditional long boat races take place in Thailand. Most of them are organized in September and October but there are also some of these festivals in November (like Phimai festival for instance).

It is one of the oldest traditional festivals in Thailand. It goes back more than 4 centuries ago. The longboats, made entirely of wood, can be up to 30 meters long. Long wooden boats ending in long decorated prows have also been used for centuries for royal processions. These royal boats can be seen at the Royal Barge Museum in Bangkok.

The boat racing festival consist in competitions with boats lined up with a crew of rowers more or less numerous according to the competitions. The most common distance for a race is 500 meters.


Where to see these boat races ?

The destinations where these very popular races are the most important are Phichit (near Phitsanulok), Phitsanulok, Nan, Chumphon, Buriram, Saraburi and Ayutthaya.

Personally, I recommend the Phimai Festival because in addition to the boat races, you will have a nice light and sound show in the Khmer temple of the city every night and other activities. And I really like this small town 3 hours drive from Bangkok. But obviously, it will depend on your travel dates.

Festival de Phimai
Festival de Phimai show in the Khmer temple

Here are the dates of the main traditional boat racing festivals in Thailand for those of you who would like to discover this tradition and live the fervor of these races little known by foreigners tourists.

  • Phichit: 1-2 September 2018
    On Nan River in front of Wat Tha Luang temple
  • Phitsanulok: 15-16 September 2018
    On Nan River in front of Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat (Wat Yai)
  • Phimai Festival : 7-11 November 2018
    On the Mun River. There are also boat races that take place on weekends, a whole festival with a nice sound and light show in the Khmer temple of the city.
  • Nan: 22-23 September and 2-4 November 2018
    The races take place in town at the Pattanapaknuar Bridge
  • Saraburi: 22-23 September 2018
    On the Pasak River, Saohai District.
  • Ayutthaya: 18-19 September (to be confirmed)
    On the river at the Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center
  • Nakhon Si Thammarat:10th October 2018
  • Surat Thani Chak Phra Festival and Boat Races: October 2 to 10
  • Sakhon Nakhon: 16-24 September 2018
  • Buriram: normally the 1st weekend of November but I do not have an official date yet
  • Chumphon : No official date yet

You can find all the dates in the Events and Festivals section of the site. I will add those I miss today as and when. And as usual, I will communicate and remind a few days before on Twitter ( @MikeThailandee).

Mike Thailandee