Dan Sai Thailand – Your Quick Travel Guide
Nestled in the western part of Loei province, approximately 85 km from the province capital and 500 km north of Bangkok, lies Dan Sai—a small and serene town with a population of less than ten thousand residents. While Dan Sai may seem unassuming for most of the year, there is one extraordinary event that brings this town to life: the Phi Ta Khon festival. This captivating festival, held for three days in June or July, showcases a vibrant blend of sacred and profane traditions, reflecting the profound coexistence of animism and Buddhism in Thai culture. During Phi Ta Khon, the streets come alive with men adorned in eerie masks and terrifying costumes, representing ghosts and spirits. They parade through the town, chanting and dancing, invoking the spirits to join in the celebration. The festival culminates with villagers gathering at the temple to meditate on Buddha’s teachings and strive for spiritual enlightenment. As with any Thai festival, expect an abundance of delicious food, lively dancing, and endless fun.
Why Go to Dan Sai: Experience Phi Ta Khon and Tranquil Village Life
The primary reason to visit Dan Sai is to witness the captivating Phi Ta Khon festival. This event offers a rare opportunity to delve into the unique cultural fusion of animism and Buddhism, immersing yourself in the festivities and witnessing the locals’ devotion. However, outside of the festival period, Dan Sai presents a tranquil village setting amidst breathtaking natural landscapes, surrounded by farms, mountains, and hills. The town boasts a couple of beautiful temples to explore and an extraordinary museum dedicated to Phi Ta Khon. Even if your visit does not align with the festival dates, this museum will provide valuable insights into the event, allowing you to appreciate its significance and cultural richness.
When to Go to Dan Sai: Phi Ta Khon and the Cold Season
Determining the exact dates of the Phi Ta Khon festival can be challenging, as it is not linked to a fixed calendar. The respected individuals in Dan Sai decide the dates a few months prior to the event. In 2023, Phi Ta Khon is scheduled for June 16-18. If you plan to visit Dan Sai at other times of the year, the best period is during the cold and dry season, typically between November and March. It’s worth noting that Loei province is known for its colder temperatures compared to other parts of Thailand, so be sure to pack some warm clothing, especially if you plan to explore the nearby natural parks.
Where to Stay in Dan Sai: Options to Suit Every Taste and Budget
While Dan Sai offers limited accommodation options in town and its vicinity, there are still enough choices to cater to different preferences and budgets, particularly outside the festival season. However, if you plan to attend Phi Ta Khon, it is crucial to make reservations well in advance, as rooms tend to be booked months ahead, and finding a place to stay without a reservation is nearly impossible. This also applies to resorts and guesthouses across the entire province, even if you intend to visit Dan Sai as a day trip from Loei.
Where and What to Eat in Dan Sai: A Gastronomic Delight
Dan Sai features numerous local restaurants where you can savor traditional Thai and regional Isaan cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to try dishes like lab moo (minced pork salad), coconut chicken curry, and grilled chicken, which can be found throughout the town. Pair these delectable dishes with variations of som tam (papaya salad) and a serving of sticky rice. In the northern part of town, a bustling market offers fresh fruits, vegetables, snacks, and ready-to-eat desserts. As the sun sets, street vendors tempt you with noodle soups, chicken skewers, and flavorful Isaan sausages. Prices are generally affordable, with most dishes ranging from THB30 to THB50. English may not be widely spoken, so be prepared to use your creativity to communicate with the vendors.
Getting Around in Dan Sai: Embrace the Small Town Charm
Given its compact size, walking is the best way to get around Dan Sai. The town is delineated by two main roads that run parallel from south to north, with a distance of just 500 meters between them. Most of the attractions are located in the middle, making them easily accessible on foot. Tuk-tuks are available if your hotel is not within walking distance and can transport you back and forth.
Getting to and from Dan Sai: Routes and Transport Options
Reaching Dan Sai from Bangkok is not straightforward, as there are no direct connections. The only bus that passes through Dan Sai is the one traveling between Loei and Phitsanulok, both of which have connections to the capital via bus or plane. Bus tickets for this route cost THB50 in either direction, and buses operate frequently throughout the day. Although Dan Sai lacks a dedicated bus station, there is a small bus stop on route 2013 in the southern part of town.
Several buses heading north to Chiang Mai and east to Udon Thani make daily stops in Dan Sai. If you’re interested in these routes, it’s advisable to inquire about detailed information at your guesthouse.
Near the market, you’ll find minivans departing regularly for Loei. Tickets for these minivans cost THB70 and offer a quicker but less comfortable journey compared to regular buses.
If you require transportation to the nearest airports, many resorts provide taxi services. Be prepared to negotiate prices, as the initial fares tend to be expensive. For a taxi to Loei, avoid paying more than THB1500.
When leaving Dan Sai, consider transferring to Udon Thani or Phitsanulok, which offer connections to various destinations across Thailand.
Safe Travel in Dan Sai: A Peaceful Village with Friendly Locals
Dan Sai is an exceptionally safe village for tourists, with no significant dangers other than potential language barriers when ordering food. During Phi Ta Khon, exercise common sense, especially at night when alcohol consumption is prevalent. By following basic precautions, you can enjoy the festival without any issues.
Immerse yourself in the magical world of Dan Sai, experiencing the captivating Phi Ta Khon festival and the tranquility of this charming village nestled amid picturesque surroundings.