Ox Cart Festival

Ox Cart Festival

Second weekend of February
In Thailand, oxen are conventionally used for plowing rice paddies. But for one weekend in February, they become race animals in a famous competition set in the central region's Phetchaburi Province. A tradition that dates back to the reign of King Rama V (1868–1910), the Ox Cart Festival celebrates an agricultural custom and is an opportunity for Thai officials to promote tourism in Phetchaburi Province and the rest of the country.
According to tradition, rice farmers of Amphoe Ban Laem, a village in Phetchaburi, would mark the end of the harvest season by harnessing oxen to unused carts and racing them for a distance of nearly 1,000 feet. It was, and still is, an occasion for gambling between ox owners and spectators. Wagers typically center around bottles of lao khao, a strong form of rice whisky. Once only a local phenomenon, the competition grew in popularity until King Rama V decided to hold races at Bangkok's Royal Palace, where thousands of people attended. Soon after, it became part of the capital's celebrations to mark the Thai New Year.
The Ox Cart Festival has been an official annual event in Phetchaburi Province since 1998. There are multiple races staged throughout the province, but the best known takes place in Amphoe Ban Laem.
CONTACTS:
Tourism Authority of Thailand
Central Region Office 2
Saeng Chuto Rd.
Kanchanaburi, Amphoe Muang 71000 Thailand
www.tourismthailand.org