By The Nation
In Bangkok, huge crowds gathered for big concerts, light-and-sound shows and stunning fireworks at CentralWorld. Many other revellers counted down to 2018 in a celebratory atmosphere at eateries, on Khao San Road and at top venues featuring special events.
In the provinces, holidaymakers camped out at various destinations to celebrate the birth of a new year with their families.
In Phuket province, for example, tourists crowded popular beaches |as they waited for the arrival of 2018.
While many sought out colourful events to greet the new year, so many others opted for a peaceful tone.
In Kalasin province, Sahatsakhan district chief Sub-Lieutenant Thirapol Choknamchai said yesterday that although lively events attracted crowds, several thousand people had opted instead to join prayer rituals.
He said famous local temples, particularly those on top of mountains, had prepared areas for prayers to mark the occasion. Among those temples were the Sakkawan Forest Temple, the Phu Kum Khao Temple and the Buddhanimit Temple.
Many Buddhists consider it auspicious to start the new year with prayers.
“We have prepared shuttle services for prayers,” Thirapol said. “Shuttles run from the foot of the mountain to the temples.”
The shuttle services ran from 6pm yesterday to 5am today.
In Songkhla, at least four temples in the municipal zone hosted overnight rituals to allow people to pray from New Year’s Eve to the early hours of today.
In Chiang Mai, Doi Inthanon National Park prepared prayer areas for people who wished to end 2017 and start 2018 with a marathon of prayers.
While people expect the New Year holiday period to be a time of celebration, relevant authorities in the country have designated last Thursday to next Wednesday as the “seven dangerous days”.
The designation aims to remind motorists to drive safely and promote road safety with millions of people on the road for the holiday period.
Transport Co, which provides interprovincial bus services, reported that it had serviced 158,566 passengers on Saturday alone.
“Up to 2,210 bus trips were added for the day to accommodate the demand,” the bus operator announced.
Saturday saw 649 road accidents, causing 73 deaths and injuring 688 people.
Drunk driving was the most common cause, accounting for 47.92 per cent of all accidents. Speeding came next, accounting for 21.88 per cent.
Of all accidents, 78.77 per cent involved motorcycles and 8.07 per cent involved pickups.
From Thursday to Saturday, a total of 1,702 road accidents killed 167 people and injured 1,793 |people.
Chiang Mai province experienced the highest number of road accidents, while Si Sa Ket province saw the highest number of road deaths with nine killed. Buri Ram province had the highest number of people injured, 69, in road accidents.
Road casualties were reduced overall in the first three of the seven days associated with the New Year holiday period when compared with the same period a year earlier. A year ago, the first three days of the period saw 199 people killed and 2,099 injured in road accidents.