Exploring the Chiang Mai Flower Festival

chiang mai flower festival decorated floatThe Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a fun event with lots of eye candy and plenty of good photo opportunities. It’s held each year during the first weekend of February. If you missed it this year, then you can make plans to see it Feb 6-8, 2015. The beginning of February is a nice time to visit Chiang Mai as the weather is still not so hot and the worst of the smoggy season has yet to start.

The main festivities are centered at Suan Buak Haad, a city park located at the southwest corner of the Old City inside the moat. It’s a pleasant park to visit just about any day of the year, with a couple small artificial lakes and lots of shady trees. You can rent a bamboo mat and lay down in one of the grassy areas for a picnic.

suan buak haad city park chiang mai

Suan Buat Haad is a refreshing green space in Chiang Mai's Old City

Suan Buat Haad is a refreshing green space in Chiang Mai’s Old City

Along the street outside the park they hold a flower competition, with a number of very nice orchids on display for the public to enjoy.

spotted white and purple thai orchidswhite and purple orchidsviolet orchids flower contestOn Saturday afternoon, there is a parade that runs up the length of Thaphae Road from the river heading to the Old City. The parade floats are put together by the different districts within Chiang Mai province. Each will have one or more pretty local girls dressed in traditional costume riding up front. Most of the girls are contestants in the Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival beauty pageant, which is held in the evening at Thaphae Gate.

The floats are covered in flowers and other botanical materials such as seeds and leaves from a wide variety of plants. They’re a little bit like the floats in the Tournament of Roses Parade in this way, although the rules of float design are not so strict.


face of sphinx beans

The face of the Sphinx is made of beans touched up with spray paint. While his headdress consists of folded leaves and petals.

The floats in the Flower Festival parade draw heavily on characters from religious mythology. You’ll see a number of Hindu gods such as Rama, Ganesha, and Hanuman. There are always a number of fantastic creatures such as the Naga serpents and winged elephants that could be found in the Himmaphan Forest.


The Naga serpent represents water, so it is a natural choice to appear on parade “floats”.

giant made of flowers chiang mai festival

A Yaksha giant, often found as a guardian statue at Thai temples

vishnu flower festival float

The Hindu god Vishnu rides the majestic Garuda bird, flanked by 7-headed Naga.

hanuman monkey god flower float

The float from Fang district features the monkey god Hanuman and a pair of Naga.

If you happened to miss the parade on Saturday, don’t worry because all the floats will still be on display through Sunday. A few will be parked around Thaphae Gate, with the rest in the area of Suan Buak Haad.

Botanical portrait of the Thai King

Botanical portrait of the King

A bean covered Buddha

A bean covered Buddha

elephant and thai orchidsIf you made it down to the Flower Festival this year, what was your favorite part?

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