Traditional Games in Thailand

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

A lot of people go to Thailand on vacation but may miss a wide variety of traditional games being played there. This includes games with marbles, banana stalks, and seeds!

Traditional Games in Thailand

Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia known the world over as an amazing tourist mecca. That's because it has incredibly friendly people, fantastic food, and is relatively cheap to live in for many tourists. But Thailand is also known for its rich culture and traditions, including traditional games. That's what we'll learn about in this lesson, the names and basics of some traditional games you may see people play in Thailand. However, this lesson doesn't focus on famous sports played in Thailand, like sepak takraw.

Games with String

Let's start off with some games that involve string or rubber bands in one way or another. One is called Chan-Angkarn, or Monday-Tuesday. This game uses long ropes made of rubber bands. One player is required to perform a sequence of 6-7 jumps over the long rope. Each jump is more challenging than the last and the player must chant the days of the week as they jump. The person who is most agile wins.

Another game, called Dern Ka La, or Coconut-shell Shoes, uses strings attached to coconut shells. This game is pretty cool in that the player must stand on coconut shells attached to strings as if they are shoes and start moving on them as quickly as they can. The player who can move the fastest wins the game.

Strings are also used to play Ba Kang Wo, or Spinning Top. This game can be played alone or with others. Usually parents or grandparents will make a spinning top or buy one at a cultural event for their children. The player spins a string around a protruding portion of the spinning top and then pulls the string very quickly so it unwinds and spins away. This causes the toy to hum a 'Wooo' sound as it does so. The top that spins for the longest amount of time wins the game!

Games With 'Eggs' & Seeds

This next section of games includes those that use food, like 'eggs' and seeds. The first is called E-Sok, or Scooping Tamarind Seeds. This involves dispersing tamarind seeds on the floor and using paper cones to try and pick them up. The player who picks up the most seeds wins!

Len Saba, or Tossing Saba Seeds, is another seed-based game. This is one of Thailand's oldest traditional games. The purpose of this game is to take a saba seed and then flick or throw it at an opponent's target using your knees, legs, or feet.

Another older traditional game is called Ka Fug Khai, or Crow Takes Care of Its Eggs. Not real eggs, though, just something that can be used instead of real ones; like balls or even empty bottles. And there's no real crow here either. First, a player is chosen to be the crow. The crow stretches their legs out over the eggs. The other players surround the crow in a circle.

The thieves try to steal the eggs without being caught by the crow and the crow tries to prevent the theft. If the crow catches a thief, that thief becomes the new crow and the game starts over. If all the eggs are stolen by the thieves without anyone getting caught, the crow is blindfolded and the eggs are hidden. The crow has the blindfold taken off and goes off to look for the eggs. The thief whose egg is found the first becomes the new crow.

Other Games

Another game known for generations in some parts of Thailand is called Look Keaw, or Marble Shooting. In brief, this game involves throwing marbles into a specific game area. The purpose of the game is to gain as many of your opponents marbles as possible and to avoid losing your marbles at the same time.

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