Poi Sang Long is a beautiful and colorful festival that lies off the radar, celebrated up in rural northern Mae Hong Son Province in Thailand’s mountainous north. The festival, which occurs at the start of April each year, celebrates the passage of young boys into becoming novice monks. While there are similar festivals celebrated in Chiang Mai and elsewhere, in Mae Hong Son they follow a Burmese Shan tradition, which involves the boys donning brightly colorful costumes, and as they are not allowed to touch the ground for threes days once their heads are shaved, they are carted around town on the backs of friends and relatives, dressed like young princes.
The festival is a very tight-knit affair, with much of the small town involved, and visitors are warmly welcomed, often invited to big block parties which take place each evening, hosted by the families of boys who are becoming ordained that year. It’s a great insight to old Thai traditions, extremely photogenic, and a good opportunity to get off the beaten northern tourist track.