Trip to Phetchabun for the Um Phra Dam Nam Festival

Although I have travelled around Thailand for many years now and have attended many festivals, there are still some major events that I haven’t yet photographed. One festival that I have been wanting to attend for several years now is Um Phra Dam Nam in Phetchabun. This is a bathing ceremony for the sacred image Phra Buddha Maha Dhammaraja. Every year, around October, the governor of Phetchabun dives under water six times with the Buddha image.

Date of trip: 6-9 October 2018

DAY ONE: Today I’m driving up to Phetchabun in the lower half of Northern Thailand. It is about a five hour drive from Bangkok. I’m going there for the Um Phra Dam Nam Festival which starts today. More info on my travel blog.

For the next few nights, I’m staying at Maneechan Villa 1 in Phetchabun City. I chose this hotel as it’s a short walk to where the parade starts. It’s clean & comfortable. Best of all, it’s only 350 Baht ($10) per night. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/EF1qQAokGPo

A giant replica of the revered Phra Buddha Maha Dhammaraja image at Phetchabura Buddhist Park, on the main highway north of Phetchabun city. The bronze image is 16.99 meters high and 11.985 meters wide. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ndVYJALQaoy

A traditional Thai dance performed by 2,003 dancers to show respect to the Buddha image Phra Buddha Maha Dhammaraja at Phetchabura Buddhist Park in Phetchabun. Today is the first day of the Um Phra Dam Nan Festival.

DAY TWO: Good morning from Phetchabun in the lower half of Northern Thailand. There’s no breakfast at my hotel and so I’ve gone for a walk around the neighborhood.

A spicy breakfast this morning. Tom Yum Boran noodle soup at Su Pi (ข้าวมันไก้สู้ผี) in Phetchabun. Only 35 Baht. A newly opened restaurant with a good variety of dishes on the menu. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/2Pg7JjxapLE2

A Thai traditional dance is performed in front of the shrine containing the Phra Buddha Maha Dhamaracha image at Wat Tri Phum in Phetchabun. The annual worship festival, Um Phra Dam Nam, takes place this week. The parade is tonight and the bathing ceremony is tomorrow.

A worship ceremony at Wat Tri Phum in Phetchabun this morning. This marks the start of the Phra Buddha Maha Dhamaracha bathing festival known in Thai as “Um Phra Dam Nam”. Local people believe that this ceremony brings peace and prosperity to the people and land.

Phetchabun Intrachai Archaeology Hall used to be the city hall & 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: https://goo.gl/maps/xo6WBdTFw2J2

Lunch was at Khanom Chin Khun Ta in Phetchabun. This is a rice noodle dish served with various curries. Nam Ya is a fish curry sauce with coconut milk. Nam Phrik is a sweet peanut curry sauce. The noodles are 20B a dish and curries 15B-40B. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/GvVFGKBfTuF2

The Um Phra Dam Nam festival parade in Phetchabun is due to start at 6pm. At the moment they are preparing to transfer the Buddha image at Wat Tri Phum to a float.

The Phra Buddha Maha Dhamaracha image is taken from Wat Tri Phum and paraded through Phetchabun town.

The Um Phra Dam Nam festival parade through Phetchabun town.

DAY THREE: Guay Jub Nam Kon (Rolled Noodles in Five Spice Broth) for breakfast in Phetchabun (หน่อย ขาหมูตลาดค่ายฯ). As well as a hard boiled egg, there were blood cakes and innards. Only 35 Baht for this meal. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/3e114CapxFG2

Good morning from Wat Bot Chanaman in Phetchabun. I’m here for the highlight of the Um Phra Dam Nam festival. Later this morning, the governor of Phetchabun will submerge the Buddha image in the river. Thousands of people are expected so I came three hours early to reserve a spot.

The Um Phra Dam Nam festival in Phetchabun will be live on Channel 9 (30 MCOT HD) from 10.00am – 11.00am

Highlight of the Um Phra Dam Nam festival is the bathing ceremony in front of Wat Bot Chanaman in Phetchabun. The governor, who is holding Phra Buddha Maha Dhamaracha, dives under the water 6 times. It is believed that this brings peace & prosperity to the people of Phetchabun.

According to legend, a Buddha image was found in the Pasak River in Phetchabun by fishermen 400 years ago. It was taken to Wat Tri Phum. It later disappeared & was found in the river again. So, every year, local people take the Buddha image to the same spot for a bathing ceremony.

A late lunch of Pad Thai at Khun Too’s restaurant in Phetchabun (ผัดไทคุณตู่). Only 30 Baht as she had run out of meat. But still tasty. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FWvKxFqNspz

There’s a free light and sound show at Phetchabura Buddhist Park in Phetchabun from now until 12th October. Starts at 8:29pm. The opening ceremony tonight is at 7pm.

A candlelight procession by monks and lay people around the giant Phra Buddha Maha Dhammaraja image at Phetchabura Buddhist Park in Phetchabun.

DAY FOUR: Good morning from Phetchabun in Northern Thailand. Yesterday I bumped into fellow travel blogger Mike from Thailandee. He was here for the Um Phra Dam Nam festival. Check out his blog here

Fried chicken on rice at Che Kae restaurant in Phetchabun (ข้าวมันไก่ทอดเจ๊แกะ). Normal plate is 30 Baht and special is 40 Baht. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9r8snM1YQsj

The ruins in Si Thep Historical Park in Phetchabun date back 1,000 years to the time of the Ancient Khmer Empire. At the park entrance, there’s an information center with bilingual exhibits. You can also join a free tram tour of the park. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/T9fBvyNtUkD2

Entrance to Si Thep Historical Park in Petchabun is 100B for foreign tourists and 20B for Thais. It also cost me 50B to park my car. Not an awful lot to see here. Just some ruins and a few open graves. Certainly not worth a special trip.

That’s a wrap on my four day trip to Phetchabun for the Um Phra Dam Nam festival. I hope you enjoyed my photos and I’ve inspired you to attend this next year. For information on upcoming festivals & events, please visit my travel blog:

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