Trip to Phetchabun for the Rocket Festival

One of the last major festivals that I haven’t attended is the annual Rocket Festival that takes place at the start of the rainy season. The event takes place at many locations across Northeastern Thailand with the one in Yasothon being the biggest and most popular. Phetchabun in Northern Thailand also has a rocket festival. And it was to this event that the TAT invited me to go and take pictures over the weekend. The following photos were posted live on social media during the trip.

Date of trip: 18-21 May 2018

This weekend I’m on a 4-day media trip with TAT (Northern Division) to Phetchabun for the Boon Bangfai Rocket Festival (งานประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟพุเตย). This is my first time for this festival and I’m really looking forward to it.

Boarding Nok Air DD8414 from Bangkok to Phitsanulok in Northern Thailand. Flight time is about one hour. Our final destination will be in Phetchabun province.

Dinner at Wirot restaurant (ผักบุ้งเหิรฟ้า) in Phitsanulok. Map:

DAY TWO: Good morning from Phitsanulok in Northern Thailand. We will check out at 7am and travel to Phetchabun province to take photos of the Rocket Festival.

A popular snack in Lomsak district of Phetchabun is this charcoaled grilled chicken on a stick that has been coated in a chili paste that includes garlic, ginger, and black pepper.

The Phetchabun Intrachai Archaeology Hall, which used to be the city hall of Phetchabun, is now used to display items of interest about the history and culture of the province. The bilingual exhibit is open every day and is free to enter. Map:

Lunch at House 66 in Phetchabun. An interesting place with lots of memorabilia. Popular in the evenings as it has live music. Map:

Rocket Festival parade is taking place this afternoon in Ban Phu Toei in Wichian Buri district of Phetchabun province.

The Rocket Festival is a merit making event that takes place ahead of the rice planting season in Thailand.

Rocket Festivals take place across Northeastern Thailand and parts of Northern Thailand between May and June. They vary in size, but the biggest and best known takes place in Yasothon.

Drone photos of the floats in the Rocket Festival parade this afternoon in Ban Phu Toei in Wichian Buri district of Phetchabun province.

The beautifully decorated rocket launchers taking part in the parade today in Phetchabun are all for show. They don’t actually fire any rockets. The firing of real rockets will take place tomorrow.

Dinner at บ้านคนซื่อ Route 21 in Bueng Sam Phan District of Phetchabun. Map:

DAY THREE: Good morning from Phetchabun. The weather is looking good today for the launching of rockets at Ban Phu Toei in Wichian Buri district. Local teams will be competing to see how high they can launch their homemade rockets stuffed with gunpowder. What could possibly go wrong?

At Yang Sao in Wichian Buri District of Phetchabun, they have discovered shellfish that are believed to be 15 million years old. It’s in the middle of nowhere & there’s not really much to see. So hardly worth a special trip unless you’re a geologist. Map:

In a gorge in Yang Sao, Wichian Buri District of Phetchabun there can be found some igneous rock that are shaped like columns. These are not man made, but we’re naturally formed when magma cooled down many thousands of years ago. Map:

The Department of Mineral Resources has a plan to develop Phetchabun province as Thailand’s second international Geopark. There are said to be 21 outstanding geological sites including ancient fossils, stone pillars and a large cave.

An Isaan lunch at Bua Tong restaurant (นิวไก่ย่างบัวตองสาขา สอง) in Wichian Buri district of Phetchabun. Map:

At Bua Tong restaurant in Wichian Buri district of Phetchabun, they have three kinds of restrooms. The third toilet is for #LGBT people.

Launching of homemade rockets at Ban Phu Toei in Wichian Buri district of Phetchabun. This takes place every year in Isaan at the start of the rice planting season. In its simplest form, it’s farmers signaling to the gods for the rainy season to start.

These days, the Rocket Festival is very competitive as it’s more about who can launch a rocket that stays aloft the longest. There are two classes or sizes of rockets. The smaller ones can stay up the longest.

There are a team of spotters with binoculars watching each launch to accurately log how long the rockets are up in the air. While I was watching, the longest to stay in the sky was 365 seconds.

This is the ninth year the festival has taken place in Phetchabun. The date varies but it is always around mid-May. It takes place in a field behind the Phu Toei municipal buildings. Map:

Tonight, I’m staying at the Blue Sky Resort in Khao Kho, Phetchabun. Nice rooms with beautiful panoramic views & lovingly tended gardens. It’s more European in style than Thai and so probably appeals to locals & expats more than foreign tourists. Map:

Drone photos of the gardens at The Blue Sky Resort in Khao Kho, Phetchabun.

DAY FOUR: Good morning from Khao Kho in Phetchabun province.

Wat Prathat Phasornkaew in Khao Kho, Phetchabun is probably one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand. It certainly has one of the most impressive Buddha images. Not easy to reach here but definitely worth the effort. Map:

Drone photos of Wat Prathat Phasornkaew (วัดพระธาตุผาซ่อนแก้ว) in Khao Kho, Phetchabun. Map:

The latest tourist attraction in Phetchabun is the wind farm in Khao Kho. In total, there are 24 wind turbines with a height of 110 meters. They have a total power capacity of 60 megawatts. A tour of the site costs 60 Baht. Map:

There are two spots on the tram tour of the Khao Kho wind farm that you can stop to admire the view and buy local products.

That’s a wrap on my 4-day trip to Phetchabun in Northern Thailand for the Rocket Festival. I hope you enjoyed my pictures and I’ve inspired you to visit. Click here for photo highlights of all of my trips this year so far:

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