If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ll notice that Chiang Mai is different from the rest of the country. No, it may not have beaches, but it has everything else you can imagine. From diverse culture to hip cafes, this former capital of the Lanna kingdom is called the “rose of the north” by locals because of its natural beauty.
What is the Chiang Mai flower festival about?
This flower festival began in 1977 and continues to be held annually on the first week of February. This three-day festival is held near the southwest corner of the moat, inside the public garden of Suan Buak Haad Park. The road outside of the park is also closed to traffic.
There, you will find tons of vendors selling plants, flowers and garden decorations. Of course, there is also a ton of street food to try if food is your biggest interest.
Inside of the Suan Buak Haad City Park during the Chiang Mai flower festival
I was excited to visit the flower festival in Chiang Mai in Suan Buak Haad Park. I mean, this park has been on my list to visit when I was living in Chiang Mai. There are groups of expats and locals who host a Sunday meditation which I had all the intentions of joining but never did. So I was glad to be killing two birds with one stone by visiting this flower festival inside the park.
The park has a very local feel and becomes transformed just for this occasion. Everywhere you look there are elaborate flower displays and beautiful landscape designs.
See if you can spot the Damask Rose, a flower that is only found in Chiang Mai. Yellow and white Chrysanthemums are also only found in Chiang Mai, hence the reason why you’ll see them everywhere at this festival. What’s impressive is the fact that these flowers stay plump and hydrated in the hot tropical heat.
The Chiang Mai flower festival parade
This annual tradition tends to start early on Saturday morning, but I will warn you that it runs on Thai time! It’s best to grab a drink and chill out somewhere along the parade path. Most people bring their lawn chair and sit at the curbside to watch the parade.
The flower parade usually has marching bands and locals in traditional costumes. The floats that are part of the flower parade are usually on display at Suan Buak Haad after the parade so not to worry if you miss the parade. The parade usually starts at Charoen Muang Road and goes around the moat towards the park. To be safe though, you should ask a local or your hotel to confirm the details of the parade.
The intricate details of the Chiang Mai flower festival float
If you look closely at the floats, you’ll see that some depict Thailand’s local life. Others will highlight Buddha’s life story while some will display abstract art. Each float has a different display and is a beauty on its own.
Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival
But of course, what’s a festival without a Miss Chiang Mai for the flower festival? You’ll see these beautiful ladies sitting on top of the floats during the parade.
Once the afternoon sets in, the Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival pageant begins.
The food at the Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Food is cheap and abundant at the flower festival since many vendors set up street food around the park.
How much does it cost to attend the Chiang Mai Flower Festival?
Admission to the flower festival is free, and there is no cost to watching the parade. As a result, the only things you’ll spend money on are for purchases or food. We spent the following for food:
- Pad Thai: 80 baht
- Two types of noodles: 40 baht
- Smoothie: 20 baht
- Fried squid balls: 20 baht
- Other snacks: 75 baht
Total food spend for two people: 235 baht ($7.50 USD/$9.75 CAD)
Are there facilities at the Chiang Mai flower festival?
There are clean and accessible facilities once inside the park. You may have to pay a minimal fee, which is common for some washrooms in Thailand.
Should you visit the Chiang Mai Flower Festival?
It is a very low key event that is not very touristy and worth checking out. I recommend it if you live in Chiang Mai or if you happen to be in the city for an extended vacation.