LivingTravelYi Peng and Loi Krathong festivals in Thailand

Yi Peng and Loi Krathong festivals in Thailand

Perhaps one of the most visually fascinating celebrations in the world, the Loi Krathong festival (also spelled Loy Krathong) in Thailand is a favorite with visitors and locals alike. Loi Krathong is undoubtedly the most popular festival in Thailand in autumn.

Thousands of small floats by candlelight are released into rivers and waterways as offerings to the spirits of the rivers. In Chiang Mai and elsewhere in northern Thailand, the Loi Krathong festival also coincides with a Lanna festival known as Yi Peng, which involves throwing thousands of fire-powered paper lanterns into the air for good luck. The sky appears to be filled with burning stars, creating a dream world that seems too surreal and beautiful to be true.

Standing on a bridge in Chiang Mai during Loi Krathong and Yi Peng is truly unforgettable, as both the Ping River and the sky seem to be burning at the same time. In addition to the beauty, perpetual fireworks, both sanctioned and illegal, are on display, further contributing to the fire and bright lights to the stage!

About Krathongs

Krathongs are small decorated floats made of dried bread or banana leaves that are placed in the river with a candle as an offering. The intention is to show gratitude to the Goddess of Water, as well as to ask forgiveness for the contamination as a result of the celebration. Sometimes a coin is placed in the float for good luck, as misfortune floats away.

If you want to make your own offering to the river, street vendors can buy krathongs of various sizes and costs. Avoid contributing to the environmental problems that are dealt with after a big festival by buying only krathongs made from biodegradable materials. Avoid those cheap products made from non-biodegradable Styrofoam.

El festival de Yi Peng

The Yi Peng festival is actually a separate festival celebrated by the Lanna of northern Thailand, however it coincides with Loi Krathong and the two are celebrated simultaneously. Colorful lanterns adorn houses and temples, meanwhile monks, locals and tourists throw paper lanterns into the sky. The temples are busy selling lanterns to raise money and helping people throw them.

Sky lanterns, known as khom loi, are made of fine rice paper and heated by a disk of fuel. When done correctly, large lanterns fly surprisingly high, often appearing as fiery stars once they reach maximum altitude. Good luck messages, prayers and wishes are written on the lanterns before launch.

Throwing your own flashlight is part of participating in the festival. Lanterns can be bought almost everywhere during the Loi Krathong festival; temples sell them to tourists as a way to make money. Light the fuel coil, then hold the flashlight evenly until it fills with enough hot air to take off on its own. Do not force the flashlight up or tilt it too far; thin paper can easily catch fire.

Some lanterns come with a series of firecrackers attached to the bottom. Fireworks go wrong most of the time and explode in unsuspecting crowds, so watch out for launching lanterns.

What to expect at Loi Krathong in Thailand

Chiang Mai will get extraordinarily busy during Loi Krathong, as both tourists and Thais flock to find a place to stay and participate in the celebration. Don’t expect to find deals on hotels unless you arrive very early or stay on the outskirts. Transportation will fill up and many roads are closed for the event. As with Songkran and other popular festivals in Thailand that draw crowds, you just have to have the right mindset and enjoy the mayhem.

Expect the sky to fill with fire as glowing lanterns and fireworks mix. The lanterns fly high enough to look like stars, meanwhile the river below Nawarat Bridge will be filled with floating krathongs and candles. The setting is both mysterious and romantic, as people happily celebrate the unusual atmosphere.

A noisy and colorful procession will pass through the Old Town Square before passing through the Tapae Gate, across the moat and into the river.

Young Thais enter the celebration firing fireworks in all directions; The constant roar and chaos is unlike any “safe” fireworks display you’ve likely experienced in the West. Police have cracked down on illegal fireworks.

With so many additional travelers in the city, the nightlife in Chiang Mai should be lively.

Where to celebrate Loi Krathong and Yi Peng

Although celebrations of some size take place throughout Thailand and even some parts of Laos and Myanmar, the epicenter is possibly the northern capital of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is home to a large population of Lanna people. Fortunately, getting to Chiang Mai and also Chiang Rai (another popular place to celebrate) is easier than ever.

In Chiang Mai, a stage will be built at the main gate of Tha Phae on the east side of the Old City, where the opening ceremony will take place (in Thai only). The procession then proceeds through the city, exiting through the gate and down Tha Phae Road towards Chiang Mai Township. A crowd of people, many of whom will launch their own lanterns skyward, will follow the parade.

Although there will be a lot going on around the moat, the best place to see the floating krathongs, fireworks and lanterns is the Nawarat Bridge over the Ping River. Reach the bridge by walking through the Tha Phae gate and continue straight on the main road for 15 minutes.

After the festival, consider escaping to the quieter town of Pai, just a few hours north. Another great option is to go from Chiang Mai to Koh Phangan; The island should calm down after the November full moon party is over.

Dates for Loi Krathong in Chang Mai

Technically, the Loi Krathong festival is celebrated on the night of the full moon of the 12th lunar month. That means Loi Krathong and Yi Peng generally occur in November, but the dates change each year due to the nature of the lunisolar calendar.

The festival generally lasts around three days, although preparations and decorations take place over a week or so.

Loy Krathong is not an official holiday in Thailand. Most of the activities take place after dark. In 2018, the dates are November 21, 22 and 23. Check out this site for more information on Chang Mai celebrations.

The launching of sky lanterns is only allowed on the second and third days of the festival between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. This year, look for the sky lanterns on November 22 and 23, 2018.

How to get from Chiang Mai to Koh Phangan

To get from Chiang Mai to Koh Phangan, you will practically have to travel all over Thailand. Doing so will require two buses or night trains, in a row

Doi Inthanon National Park: The Complete Guide

Located just 37 miles from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the tallest and most prominent mountain in