Every year in November, as the rains dissipate and the skies return to cobalt blue, Krabi opens the doors on another busy tourism season with a fun and colourful festival known as Boek Fa, or ‘Opening the Andaman Sea’. As the curtain is raised on the surreal beauty of Krabi’s coastal wonderland, visitors and locals alike flock to this town and its beaches for parades, competitions and partying.
Tourism has become the mainstay of Krabi’s economy over the past few years thanks to its amazing beaches, world-class rock climbing and unique karst scenery. Its central location along Thailand’s western coast puts Krabi right in the heart of the incredible diving, snorkelling, sailing and other watery activities for which the Andaman Sea is famous.
Although the Andaman Festival simply marks the start of another tourist season in Krabi, the locals have turned it into a celebration of the unique local flavour of the region, which has its roots steeped in Indian and Muslim culture. This colourful heritage shines through in the food, crafts and performances which fill the three days of the festival.
Boek Fa usually runs from 16th to 18th November; that magical period when the seasonal monsoon rains begin to retreat and Krabi’s infamous idyllic weather kicks in. Locals know that the next five months will bring plenty of visitors to the beaches and islands looking to bask in the pleasantly warm sunny days and work on their tans. To show their appreciation for this economic injection, Krabi’s residents put on a show to remember.
Parades mark the beginning of the Andaman Festival, as colourful floats and costumed locals ride through town on a wave of euphoria. Visitors often jump into the fray, as the homemade Lao Khao rice whisky flows and hospitality beams from every house and business.
On the more serious side of the revelries, Krabi hosts a number of competitions to challenge the skills of the residents. Local food products are put to the test by judges that decide who makes the tastiest satay and peanut sauce, or the most mind-bending rice whisky. Food fairs and craft markets round out the scene, and visitors can eat and drink their fill while browsing the wonderful batik creations and pineapple paper products which are locally-crafted.
Water sport races also feature each day during the Andaman Festival. Longtail boat races help to identify the most skilled sailors, while sea kayaks are used to test the endurance and strength of the competitors. The winners are more interested in bragging rights than cash prizes, and in the end it’s really just about having a good time with friends and family.
Thais love an excuse for a festival or party, and Krabi is no exception as the town becomes the focus of various activities including parades, temple fairs, walking street markets, plenty of food, strange rituals, loud music and more.
Each year the festival focuses on one particular ethnic group in the region to highlight their distinctive culture. The Chao Lay people from Koh Lanta, also known as the Sea Gypsies, feature, as do the resident Indian population. The southern part of Thailand is ethnically quite different from the rest of the country, and this difference is a big part of the celebrations.
With so many natural attractions in the area, Krabi makes a great destination at any time of the year, but visitors who come during the annual Boek Fa Andaman Festival will experience a special treat. It’s a great way to kick off the winter, so plan your next holiday around this fun and friendly event.
Getting to Krabi
It’s quite easy to get to Krabi these days. Direct flights from Bangkok arrive daily into the town’s tiny airport, and Phuket’s international airport is just a short hop away and offers even more options. Comfortable VIP air-conditioned buses run frequently from Bangkok and other cities around Thailand, offering a reliable and affordable travel choice.