When you are in Thailand after obtaining your Thai visa, you must have met the king of fruits at least once. What’s that? Durians of course! Durians are an extremely fragrant, creamy, and rich fruit that can be added into desserts and/or eaten on its own. If you are new to this infamous and healthy fruit, you can quickly identify it by its unique and formidable spiky appearance. It’s hard to miss its memorable smell as well.
It is a superfruit! Despite its stench, durians are extremely healthy. They are rich in potassium, vitamin C, and iron. When consumed, one can enjoy a myriad of benefits, including lowering blood pressure, improving skin health, and improving muscle strength.
Durians are very common in Thailand. If you happened to venture into Northern Thailand, you might come across the Laplae Durian Festival. Let’s find out more about it!
For the Love of Durians
Did you know that there are approximately 30 different varieties of durian? The fruit is native to Borneo, Indonesia, and Malaysia. However, more durian farms can be found in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Southern India, Hainan, and Sri Lanka today. Thailand is currently the biggest exporter of the fruit and produces more varieties than the original native locations.
Where is Laplae?
Laplae is located in a quiet, laid-back rural town in northern Thailand’s Uttaradit province (about 14 km to the west of Uttaradit). Its name literally means “the hidden place.” In the past, not many people—especially tourists—knew much about the location unless they had close friends who recommended them the name of the place. In recent years, the district made headlines for their expensive and unique durians. Laplae is known to host annual durian festivals approximately in June. While there is the more famous Chanthaburi Durian Festival, Laplae offers a fresh durian adventure in Thailand’s lesser-known north.
Where does this Durian Festival Take Place?
This durian festival usually takes place outside of the city. It’s somewhere near Mae Pool Waterfall. In addition, it lasts for about three days. However, you want to come on the first day as most durian related activities happen then. The flow of the event is pretty simple. It will start off with a speech and a welcome performance by the local children. You can catch them wearing headbands made from water apples, longkongs, rambutans, and other fruits on their heads. Their performance may include hoola-hooping, jumping, and even walking in circles, on their knees! Some of them are as young as six years old. Now that’s impressive.
Check Out the Dancing Durian Salad Competition
Another interesting event item you may across is the dancing durian salad competition. Each village in the area is required to make Som Tum (ส้มตำ), i.e. a Thai salad that’s pounded with green papaya. This salad can also include bits of under ripe durian. As the competition is mostly about presentation, you will notice tomatoes carved into flowery patterns, meticulously braided strands of green beans, and even small whole durians used as decorative elements on the side.
Next, there is a dancing segment so participating villages are required to form their own bands. As the music plays, some villagers are in-charge of dancing while others pound out the salad in stone or wooden mortars, to the rhythm of the music. The village with the most enthusiastic dance, best tasting salad, and best presentation is considered the winner!
Ending the Day on a Cool Note
As the day gets hotter, the festival starts to wind down. During this time, it is a good idea to take a swim or buy some durians from one of the available stalls that line the main street. Be sure to keep an eye out for special durian varieties such as Linlaplae durians and/or Longlaplae durians. You will not regret your purchase!
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