On the first weekend of February each year is the largest flower extravaganza in Asia featuring tropical flowers of all shapes and sizes that takes place in Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai caters for the influx of visitors with ease as it is a major tourist destination in Thailand, with no shortage of international standard hotels and facilities.
Where Is It?
While most people know that the city of Chiang Mai is about 700km north of Bangkok, you should also be aware that it is also the name of the province it is located in. The festival is actually spread out throughout the entire city which is located in a large valley, however the center of the festival is situated at Suan Buak Haat Park, which is very central and only a 50 baht tuk-tuk (motorised pedicab) ride from most of the well known tourist hotels. It is next to the large moat on the southern side and is well shaded from large old trees.
Flower Float Parade
This is the highlight of the weekend, it starts at 8am on Saturated morning where dozens of floats decorated with hundreds of thousands of tiny flowers wind their way through-out the cities streets. It goes for several kilometres, so there is no need to worry about a great position for photographs, the flower parade moves very slowly and stops many times on its journey. Between the moving floats are beautiful Thai dancing girls, women from the hill tribes in their traditional outfits and you may even see the freakish looking ladies with golden stretched necks that are now a tourist attraction in the area. The parade starts near the Chiang Mai train station, heads up past Gate, then parallels the water filled ancient moat to the park where judging results of the competition are announced and the awards presented.
For many visitors, the most memorable part of the Thai flower festive is the judging and activities assisted with the crowning of “Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival”, the Thais sometimes come up with tongue twisting titles in English, this is why it is nicknamed, “Ting-lish” by resident expats.
The candidates are pretty girls who often where traditional Thai silk clothing and either walk near or ride on a display as it moves along the parade route. The judging of these beauties is conducted on the Saturday afternoon, it is a great time by all. It is a very relaxed atmosphere with lots of really great tasting and cheap food available from the many food vendors and of course, lots of beer and whisky is flowing and consumed well into the night.
Getting to Chiang Mai
Chaing Mai is north of Bangkok in the Lana region of Thailand. There are decent roads between the two centres, mainly a four lane highway most of the way. Most visitors fly in to the Chiang Mai International Airport. Several airlines have hourly departures from Bangkok, with flights costing an average of $80USD each way. A favourite is also by train, these run during the night in sleeper carriages and seats ranging from comfortable airliner standard to wooden boards.