Festivals play a key role in the social calendar of towns and cities across Thailand – and Udon is no exception. Once a sleepy town nestled amid the plains of northern Thailand’s Isan region, Udon is now a bustling hub and an important gateway to the country’s North East, and to neighbouring Laos. Each December, the city comes to life during the Thung Sri Muang Festival, a celebration that marks the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Thung Sri Muang Festival
Starting from 1st December each year, the festival lasts between 12 and 15 days. It’s one of the biggest annual events in Udon, which makes it a great time to visit the city. An extravagant parade of epic proportions kicks off proceedings. Beginning at Rajabhat University, the colourful procession makes its way up to the Fountain Roundabout, the Clock Tower Roundabout and towards Nong Prajack Park. For about two hours, the streets are packed with dazzling costumes and marvellous dance performances, making this the perfect opportunity for visitors to feast their eyes on some authentic local culture. A second parade also takes place on the 5th December, the bank holiday that marks’ the King’s birthday.
The festival itself takes place on the grounds next to the City Pillar Shrine. Hundreds of stalls are set up selling an array of local delicacies, in addition to shops, mini rollercoasters, giant wheels and bumper cars. There’s also plenty of entertainment in the form of Muay Thai competitions, dancing contest and musical performances.
Getting to Udon
As an important gateway to the northeast of Thailand, Udon is easy to reach by air, rail and bus. Daily flights link the city to Bangkok, in addition to several trains per day. Buses from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Terminal take 8-9 hours to reach Udon. Once you arrive in the city, it’s easy to navigate on foot or bicycle. There are also plenty of tuk-tuks, in addition to songthaew routes around the city centre if you don’t fancy walking.