PHOTO: Thai Women with Paper Umbrellas at Songkran in Chiang Mai

Thai women dressed in Lanna attire carry traditional paper umbrellas as they bicycle to Thapae Gate in the Old City of Chiang Mai, Thailand, during the Songkran Festival

A highlight of the Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is the cycling parade of parasol-carrying ladies dressed in traditional Lanna attire. From the top of their head to the tip of their toes, they exude elegance. Their long lustrous black tresses are swept up into elaborate buns and decorated with cascades of fresh flowers. Ankle-length silk wrap skirts and cropped, high-necked jackets are topped with a silk sash. Pearl and gem necklaces, earrings, and hair ornaments are added, as are traditional paper umbrellas, handmade for just such events.

Following a monk blessing and alms-giving ceremony that officially opens the Songkran festival, the ladies ride their bicycles onto the plaza at Thapae Gate with paper umbrellas held aloft. Later in the morning they parade on foot through the plaza and take the stage in a riot of color. I’m always amazed that the paper umbrellas they choose never seem to be the same color as their outfits; note the red parasol in this photo, paired with a hot pink top. Despite this, they always seem perfectly fitted out. Though you can see paper umbrellas being made by hand in the nearby craft village of Bo Sang, there is just no better place to see them being used in everyday life than the cycling parade of lovely ladies during Songkran in Chiang Mai.

6 thoughts on “PHOTO: Thai Women with Paper Umbrellas at Songkran in Chiang Mai”

  1. this festival is pretty like the “Cap Nuoc” Festival which happens in February or March in North Vietnam, except that the Vietnamese people celebrate the festival to show their respect and gratitude to the Mother of Nature

  2. “Riot of color” sounds about right Barbara. Amazing how colors pop around this time of year in Thailand. Songkran is much more than water tossing, drinking and partying. I dig the cleansing aspect of the holiday, and heck, last year we got a rare spot of rain during the holiday too as we walked around and got soaked by Thai and farang alike.


    • Hi Ryan: I’ve been off the grid for a week or so, wandering around remote regions of Ethiopia, so I’m a little out of touch. Where are you these days? Hope to catch up with you again sometime in Chiang Mai.


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