Every year, between November and December, Thailand hosts one of the most magical and photogenic holidays in the world. Actually, it’s 2 different holidays that are celebrated on the same day. Loy Krathong and Yi Peng (Yee Peng) They are held during the 12th full moon of a lunar calendar. (3 November 2017 / 23 November 2018). The most spectacular celebration can be admired in northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai.
Loy Krathong (Loi Krathong)
The beginnings of this holiday are not completely known. Some believe that it is inspired by the poem created during the reign of King Rama III. Others say that it is the thanks of the goddess of water Phra Mae Thorani for her role in rice harvest and clean water.
During this festival, people are releasing Krathongs into the river – in a free translation: Floating Crowns. They are small, handmade boats, which were used Lilies, banana leaves, flowers and other ornaments. In the middle, there are candles that light up just before being released into the water. During the day you can buy them basically everywhere, in roadside stalls, as well as directly from the children who made them. In some hostels on this day, there are even workshops to create them. I got my Krathong for free as part of a ticket to the Tiger Kingdom.
In the evening after sunset, people gather around the water reservoirs and release the boats there. In some places, the monks enter the water and help the boats sail away from the shore so that they do not get stuck in the bushes.
Yi Peng (Yee Peng)
Festival of Light / Lanterns Festival – This is the name, Yi Peng. It is celebrated in northern Thailand (as opposed to Loy Krathong, which is celebrated throughout Thailand). It lasts about 3 days, and its crowning is the massive releasing of lanterns. It is associated with the traditions of the Lanna Kingdom that once existed in these areas.
In Chiang Mai, 2 events are organized during this time. The first is always the last day of the feast, in a 12th full moon. People gather in the evening at the Nawarat Bridge, near the center of Chiang Mai. Where, after a predetermined hour, air traffic over the city is stopped and aircraft flights are canceled, and people start to release thousands of lanterns into the sky. Lanterns are also released from other surrounding temples and streets because not everyone is able to fit on the bridge. You have to be very careful and have eyes around your head, because not everyone manages to release the lantern so that it flew up, some of them fly low overhead or even fall. In my life, I have not seen that many lanterns in the air as on the day of the festival. The view was really beautiful.
The second event is Mass Sky Lantern Release. It takes place at the temple of Dhutanka at Maejo University. Usually the day before the full moon or a week earlier. In 2017, it was held on the same day as the city event. It is a commercial festival addressed to foreign tourists and is organized by an independent faction of Buddhists. Tickets cost $ 100-300. However, the high price will not scare tourists, especially from China. Tickets sell out quickly.