Photo: Ubon is a fabulous eating destination.

Hae Thian (Candle Festival)

4.5 1

Throughout Thailand and other Theravada Buddhist countries, communities have long gathered to offer requisites, including candles, to monks as they embark on the rains retreat, or Khao Phansa.


Photo of Hae Thian (Candle Festival)

Ubon turns this Asanha Bucha ceremony into a two-day Candle Festival, or Hae Thian, complete with a parade of floats featuring detailed wax sculptures. Drawing over 200,000 visitors, it’s one of the largest festivals in Thailand.

Most of the city’s major temples support large groups of artists -- international wax-carving champions down to humble villagers -- who work together to cover plaster molds in finely carved beeswax depictions of the Buddha, characters from Hindu/Buddhist legends and a wild array of dragons, gods, devas, nagas and more. With some of Ubon’s artists often grabbing the top prize in international contests, competition is stiff.

On the eve before the big parade, finished floats are parked along the streets around Thung Si Muang Park. On the following day, the floats highlight a huge procession accompanied by dancers and musicians dressed in their best traditional garb. Markets, carnival rides, games and crafts ensure that the fun keeps going into the night. At a certain point, everyone pauses to find out which temple’s float has taken home the top prize.

The actual festival runs for only two days over the full moon of the eighth lunar month (some time in July or August), but you can stop by local temples during the roughly six weeks prior to see the artists working on their floats. Some of the best venues include Wat Nong Bua, Wat Si Phradu, Wat Chaeng and Wat Burapharam. Countless pieces come together to compose a whole float; don’t be surprised if someone hands you a piece of wax and tells you to start carving!


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Ubon Ratchathani.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Ubon Ratchathani.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Ubon Ratchathani.
 Read up on how to get to Ubon Ratchathani, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Ubon Ratchathani? Please read this.

Best Thailand tours

 Browse tours in Thailand on Tourradar.com

By


Hae Thian (Candle Festival)

Centre of town
Full moon of the eighth lunar month; usually the end of July or early August

Like what you see? Then you’ll love our newsletter

The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.