Edited by Anna Popper

To the great delight of Hungarians and foreigners, after a two-year hiatus due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the much-anticipated annual Thai Festival in Budapest took place again on 14 May 2023, organised by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Thailand in collaboration with the Office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Prague, the Thai Trade Centre in Budapest, Thai Presidents Foods (Hungary) Kft., the Hungarian National Museum, and MG Motor Hungary. This high-scale event is part of the cultural diplomacy of the Southeast Asian country full of unique historical, natural and cultural riches.

This year’s edition was held in a historic location, the beautiful garden of the Hungarian National Museum, as the venue of the all-day gastro-cultural event, dedicated to 50 years of Thai-Hungarian diplomatic ties.

Despite the rainy weather, many visitors were attracted by the festival’s rich program, aiming to bring people closer to the amazing lifestyle of Thailand, one of the most popular Asia-Pacific global tourist destinations, which is promoted internationally under the slogan “Amazing Thailand”!

To name just a few programs featured at the festival: the spectacular performances of traditional Thai dancers on stage with their graceful choreography and beautiful Praewa silk attires. The dancers came from the Kalasin College of Dramatic Arts in Kalasin, the province famous for its Praewa silk, woven exclusively by women of the Phu Thai ethnic community, and considered to be the finest silk in the Kingdom. Deserving its title “Queen of Thai Silk”, this legendary fabric is part of Thailand’s heritage.

To highlight the growing ties between Thailand and Hungary, the Royal Thai Embassy invited the Hungarian Muaythai Association to give an insight into the world of the country’s national sport, the traditional martial art of Thai boxing, Muay Thai.

Another attraction during this festival was Thai gastronomy: cooking demonstrations of popular Thai dishes and delicious specialties of selected Thai restaurants in Budapest awaited the lovers of exotic and slightly spicy flavours. You could relax with an authentic Thai massage.

Visitors participating in the quiz shows could win various prizes from Anantara New York Palace Budapest Hotel, Tom Yum Thai Restaurant, Chichaya Traditional Thai Massage, ThaiPiac webshop, Thai President Foods (Hungary) Kft., and Thai Box Akadémia.

The various stalls were filled with quality Thai products of folk arts and handicrafts to take home as a souvenir of this memorable event. And all this was done with kindness and the famous friendly smile of Thai people.

The 5th Thai Festival started with the official unveiling of the logo marking the 50th anniversary of Thai-Hungarian diplomatic relations. This was followed by the speech of H.E. Mr. Nipon Petchpornprapas, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Hungary, in the presence of the ASEAN countries’ Ambassadors of the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia in Budapest.

In his opening remarks, referring to historical moments that signify the long and cordial relations between the two countries, which interested visitors can learn more about at the embassy’s exhibition stand, the Thai Ambassador said:

“It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the ‘Thai Festival 2023’, celebrating the 50thAnniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Thailand and Hungary.

Today we are proud to offer you a glimpse into Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. We are bringing for your enjoyment beautiful traditional Thai dances, Muay Thai fighting demonstrations, Thai cooking demo, a taste of delicious Thai food and a try at the well-known Thai massage, among others.

We are also pleased to have Maestro Vilmos Oláh, a well-known, Emmy Award winner Hungarian violinist (Music Adviser of Thailand Music Educators Association – TMEA), who will entertain us with his classical music performance of Thai and Hungarian composers, as a symbol of the Thai-Hungarian cultural cooperation.

We hope Thai Festival 2023 will give you a unique opportunity to experience the vibrant culture and beauty of Thailand.

Thailand and Hungary have maintained close and cordial relations since the establishment of our diplomatic ties in 1973, exactly 50 years ago. In reality, however, our relationship dates back as far as 126 years ago, in 1897, when King Rama V, the great-grandfather of the current King of Thailand, visited Hungary. At that time, His Majesty was warmly received by the then Prime Minister Baron Dezső Bánffy. Since then, three other Thai kings have visited Hungary, including H.M. King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the present King of Thailand. We have an exhibition of photos on the visits of Thai kings to Hungary at the embassy stand here at the festival.

We are so grateful to all of you for celebrating with us half a century of Thai-Hungarian diplomatic ties. With continued people-to-people contacts and ongoing cultural exchanges as we are doing today, the Thai-Hungarian friendship will continue to flourish for many years to come.

Lastly, I would like to thank the supporters and sponsors of this event, namely the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Thai Trade Office in Budapest, the Thai President Foods Company, the producer of “Mama” instant noodles, the Hungarian National Museum and last but not least members of the Thai community in Hungary. Thank you for your support, sponsorship and participation.

I wish you all an enjoyable and unforgettable experience of Thailand.

Thai Festival was like a meeting point for many people. Over 3,000 Hungarian, Thais, foreigners and people from Budapest and other parts of Hungary attended the full-day event, where they experienced vibrant cultural activities while learning about Thailand. The Royal Thai Embassy aims to continue organising this annual event to promote understanding between the two countries through cultural exchanges and personal contacts.

About Thai Royal Visits to Hungary

The Thai Embassy exhibition booth displayed comprehensive information with photos on the history of Thai-Hungarian relations for the visitors.

Those interested could learn that the friendship between Hungary and Thailand officially started more than 150 years ago, when the Kingdom of Siam concluded the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation with the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1869. It continued with the European voyages of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) – the first Siamese monarch to see Europe – at the turn of the 19th century to bolster support for Siam against aggressive colonial expansion. On the first of his two visits in 1897, which lasted nine months, Rama V visited the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as part of the royal tour to Europe. The visit in Hungary included Budapest, where he went to see the Parliament that was under construction, then Kisbér, Bábolna and Gödöllő.

Friendly ties matured with a follow-up trip to Hungary by Crown Prince Vajiravudh, later King Rama VI, in 1902, and blossomed anew when King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) and his queen consort travelled to Budapest and Mezőkövesd in August 1934.

The two countries formally established diplomatic relations on the 24 October 1973. Hungary opened an embassy in Bangkok five years later and Thailand maintained a representation in Budapest in 1989, along with a commercial office to increase trade. Today, the two countries are trusted and reliable partners and their cooperation covers many fields, including culture and scholarship.

Source: Royal Thai Embassy in Budapest