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Crowds pack countdown celebrations

New Year's Eve was cheered in last night by throngs of revellers who gathered at Countdown 2013 parties nationwide, while tourist sites such as mountaintops and beaches were crowded with holidaymakers.

In Bangkok, hundreds of thousands attended Countdown events at CentralWorld, Crystal Park, Asiatique and Sanam Luang - the last for New Year prayers. At CentralWorld alone, at least 200,000 were expected. City police prepared 5,000 officers and volunteers to provide security at these sites.

In Chiang Mai city, more than 10,000 revellers were expected to turn up at Tha Phae Gate plaza's "Chiang Mai Countdown Festival 2013". Some 2,000 police were set to maintain order, while floating lanterns saw a 10-per-cent increase in sales as people bought yi peng lanterns to release for good luck.

In Khon Kaen's Muang district, where the countdown theme was "Nakhon Khon Kaen: Dance City", 500 police were on guard.

In the southern city of Hat Yai, locals and tourists from Malaysia and Singapore attended the "Night Paradise Hat Yai Countdown 2013", despite rainfall that was expected to dampen the festive mood until tomorrow. Officials beefed up security and kept watch for any violence from the restive far South.

Many people enjoyed a break camping in cool or cold weather on mountaintops. Phitsanulok's Phu Hin Rong Kla Park saw 7,000 campers setting up tents to observe the first daylight of 2013.

Nakhon Ratchasima's Wang Nam Kheow and Pak Chong districts, plus Khao Yai National Park, saw more than 60,000 tourists. They helped generate an estimated Bt400 million in revenue at the park over the long holiday.

About 10,000 devout Buddhists went to worship before the world's largest statue of the late respected monk Venerable Somdet Putthachan (To Phromrangsi) in Sikhiu district, before attending the cross-year prayers in the evening.


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