The summer is here! With the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) bringing countries in Southeast Asia – and the three East Asian countries of China, Japan, and South Korea – closer together, a Filipino’s options for an exciting summer vacation has expanded enormously. To really get a feel for these other countries, it’s best to time your visit during a colorful festival when their people and culture are on full display. Here’s a list of five Asian festivals that you should try to experience this summer.
When: April 13-15
Songkran is the Thai New Year’s festival. Like the Chinese New Year, it doesn’t fall on January 1. Instead it occurs every April 13 and the festivities last until April 15. Unlike other cultures, the Thai don’t greet the New Year with fireworks but with water fights! Splashing water is a traditional blessing that has been ramped up to match the festive air. Prepare to make merry and be drenched. The largest parties are in Bangkok, especially on Silom Road, Khao San Road, and RCA.
Boun Bang Fai Rocket Festival
When: May or June (varies)
During every sixth Lunar month, the people of Laos perform a ceremony to bring the rains for rice planting season. The ceremony? Send rockets to the clouds to with a bang! It’s meant to remind the rain god Phaya Thaen to send the rain. The celebrations last for two to three days with dances, floats, and music until the rockets are fired on the last day. Luang Prabang, the former royal capital, is a great place to watch the rockets fly.
Boryeong Mud Festival
Where: Boryeong, South Korea
Since 1998, thousands of people trek to Daecheon Beach in Boryeong to participate in one of the biggest summer festivities in South Korea: the annual Mud Festival. Beginning as marketing vehicle for Boryeong mud cosmetics, the two week festival has become an annual event. Visitors participate in mud games, relax in mud massages, and frolic in mud slides. People who get sick of the mud can easily wash it away in the sea and switch to traditional beach activities. It attracts tons of Korean and foreign guests who party all day and night.
Cherry Blossom Festival
When: Spring (April-May)
Japan’s cherry blossom festival, aka hanami, is iconic of Japanese culture; a simple enjoyment of the wonders of nature. In the spring, the Japanese check the news for the ‘cherry blossom front’, the exact time when the cherry blossoms or sakura bloom in their city. When the flowers open, thousands find a place under a sakura trees, whether in the public parks or a private garden. Underneath the falling blossoms, people enjoy a relaxing picnic and drink to their hearts content.
Dragon Boat Festival
On the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar year, the Chinese set out on large dragon boats to commemorate the death of the poet Qu Yuan, chase away evil, and promote good health. Although, the celebration occurs all over Southeast Asia, the original lies in China, where it is called Tuen Ng or Duanwu Festival. Aside from the dragon boat race, revelers eat zongzi rice treats, drink realgar wine, hang icons of Zhong Kui, a guardian deity. This 2017, the festival lands on May 30.
What festivals are you going this summer? Place a comment below.