Greasy Pole Climbing Contest

I went to visit the Ancient City again yesterday to take pictures of some of the traditonal Thai games that were being demonstrated. The one I want to show you today is the Greasy Pole Climbing Contest. In Thai this is called been sao nam-mun ( ปีนเสาน้ำมัน ). It is really fun to watch though not easy to do yourself. I have seen this before in Chonburi during the buffalo racing festival. They really greased the pole well there because they have some expert climbers. Basically, what you have to do is climb the pole to the top and collect the flag. The winning team wins 1000 baht. It doesn’t matter how many people help you but you have to share the prize money with everyone. The greasy pole makes it harder than it looks. It was so funny watching them as they kept sliding down on top of each other. I felt sorry for the guy at the bottom. This team never did manage to get to the top. Though they got close a few times. The version I saw being played in Chonburi had banknotes stuck in the pole at different levels. This encouraged them to keep climbing to reach the big prize at the top.

In a few days we will be launching our new video blogs website. You will be able to watch clips of this and other festivals in Thailand. Don’t forget to also visit our sister site at for daily pictures from Thailand.

3 responses to “Greasy Pole Climbing Contest

  1. Well done.

    And more than a little symbolic no?

  2. When I attended Kasetsart University more than thirty years ago, we have the same game that was the most important tradition for freshmen. I think the pole was covered with mud rather than oil. The one who got to the top and got the flag was crowned a “hero” and he got to pick one of the girls, also freshmen, to be a “heroine” and his date for a freshmen’ party. I do not know if this tradition still exists but it was fun and created a strong tie among us KU alumni.

  3. this is soo much better ya ya ya ya