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Play Safe for Loy Khratong

Loy Khratong is one of the most beautiful festivals in Thailand, but also the noisiest and most dangerous (apart from the Songkran Road Kill). The often indiscriminate throwing and misuse of fireworks will no doubt lead to some deaths and serious injuries as it does every year. The authorities so called crackdowns launched every year seem to have little effect in dampening high spirits and dangerous behaviour.

Another silent menace is the seemingly innocuous Khom Loy or fire lantern. Whilst these may be beautiful to see, and their release part of ancient traditions to bring good luck. For a few they bring very bad luck, like burning down houses…… And there is the big accident waiting to happen when one gets ingested into an aircraft’s engine with catastrophic consequences. Although, some measures have been taken to reduce the risk, like closing the airport during the peak evening hours of Yee Peng, or making offerings to the spirits before departure to ensure a safe flight. Others, such as orders not to release Khom Loy in aircraft flight paths seem to be totally ignored.

But, if you decide to avoid flying, don’t think the roads will be any safer. It seems hardly a week goes by without at lest one fatal crash involving tour buses or minivans. On the streets of Chiang Mai the biggest danger is people driving under the influence, of both alcohol and Yababa (Metamphetamine), with several serious accidents every night. The dangers from this behaviour increase dramatically during festivals lik.e Loy Khratong

Alcohol Check PointHowever, it seems the Chiang Mai police are taking the issue of drink driving ever more seriously, and we understand this year’s Chiang Mai road safety campaign is quite rigorous. The first phase of this campaign has been running for a few weeks already and we understand has netted some foreigners among the many offenders. Indeed there are rumors that foreigners are being especially singled out for attention at Police checks so make sure you have a valid licence and vehicle documents if driving. If you get caught drunk driving you can expect a night in jail (unless you can make bail) and a lost day in court, as well as a fine.

During Loy Khratong checkpoints will apparently be operating at many major intersections around town, particularly between midnight and 3 a.m. But, we note from what’s been seen about town in the last few days that the stops are quite extensive and extend beyond the times stated above.

In line with the authorities ongoing policies of clamping down on seedy and late night entertainment in the city center access routes to the old town will usually be well policed. Especially around the moat, Thapae Gate, Thapae Road/Narrawat, Changklan and Loi Kroh roads or along the river. If you are planning to visit the Thapae and Night Bazaar areas or old city you would be well advised to leave the car/motorbike at home and take a tuk-tuk. Of course, this is sound advice at any time, not just when the Police are being more active. Much better to pay a few hundred Baht for transport than add to Chiang mai’s horrific road kill statistics. In any case, during Loy Khratong, many roads around Thaape and the river will be closed in the evenings for parades and events. Expect gridlocked traffic! Walking is often the best option.

Have a great Loy Khratong but remember to play safely.

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