Photo: Eyes skyward.

Yasothon Rocket Festival (Bung Fai)

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Yasothon’s Bung Fai (“Firing Rockets”) festival is a wild and spectacular event that’s well worth experiencing if you’re in the vicinity. It’s the most famous of many rocket-launching celebrations held in cities and villages all around Isaan during the sixth lunar month.





Usually held at the tail end of dry season over the second weekend in May, Yasothon’s festival attracts pyromaniacs and amateur rocketeers from around Thailand and beyond. It kicks off with dancing and a parade featuring the largest rockets carried on elaborate floats to the festival grounds at Phaya Thaen Park. Expect plenty of drinking during the only weekend per year—other than Songkran—when sleepy Yaso lets loose.

At the rocket factory in Ban Sa Kaeo. Photo taken in or around Yasothon Rocket Festival  (Bung Fai), Yasothon, Thailand by David Luekens.

At the rocket factory in Ban Sa Kaeo. Photo: David Luekens

The festival is based on the god of rain, Phaya Thaen, who gets distracted in his heavenly realm during dry season and needs to be reminded that the water he controls is needed for cultivating rice down on earth. What better way to get his attention than to launch hundreds of rockets into his clouds?

Joining the rockets are phallic symbols signifying abundance along with depictions of the toad king, Phaya Khan Khak, who hangs out with Phaya Thaen. Yasothon’s main toad sits just north of the festival grounds and we suspect it’s the largest depiction of a toad found anywhere in the world. In its belly is a museum explaining the relationship between toads and rockets and rice.

The festival has parades as well as rocket shows. (2003) Photo taken in or around Yasothon Rocket Festival  (Bung Fai), Yasothon, Thailand by Stuart McDonald.

The festival has parades as well as rocket shows. (2003) Photo: Stuart McDonald

The festival spans five days but the real shebang takes place on the final two days, with the parade taking place on a Saturday and rockets launched throughout the following Sunday. Each of the districts in Yasothon province enter their own rockets in the hope of winning the prize awarded to the one that stays in the air the longest. It’s about more than pride—the competition brings its share of ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Yasothon Rocket Festival (Bung Fai)
Phaya Thaen Park, Yasothon
May 9-11, 2014
Admission: Free

Location map for Yasothon Rocket Festival (Bung Fai)

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Yasothon.
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