Magic or mayhem depending on your cup of Thai iced tea, Chiang Mai’s Loy Krathong or Yee Ping Festival is quite possibly one of the most visually stunning events in Thailand, attracting many visitors and tourists every year.
2018 dates November 22nd to 25th
following the King’s death, Loy Krathong was quiet subdued
2015 dates November 24, 25, 26th
2014 dates November 5, 6, 7th
2013 dates are officially the 16th to 18th November
It’s a popular time for weddings as well. Although when I told my students that I liked Loy Krathong because it’s romantic, they yelled back, “It’s not romantic!”
Why? Because besides the lovely lanterns floating up in the sky, there are firecrackers popping underfoot, when you’re walking or driving a motorbike, or say, rocketing above your head, screaming, giving you the feeling that you’ve entered hostile territory.
But once you pass the fireworks, you’ll see at the Ping River, where they are floating or launching krathongs (little banana leaf boats). They also sell krathongs by the river too. So don’t worry. You can buy them everywhere, it seems. And they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but I hope you will buy the ones that are biodegradable, as this was the original holiday’s purpose – to “give thanks” to the water.
Please see the end of the post for links on the Loy Krathong Yee Ping festival schedule, history, cultural significance, and making of krathongs…
In the meantime, here are some tips I’ve learned over the years:
1) Traffic slows to a crawl. Consider walking, or carpooling as many events and sights are well within walking distances in the Old City. In fact, many events like the parade or concerts can be seen at Tha Phae Gate.
2) Swing by Kad Luang or Warorot market for the fireworks or a “more local feel” or go walking from Tha Phae Gate to Nawarat Bridge (this should be closed to traffic) to the Ping River. The river twinkling with the krathongs holding candles is nice.
3) Stepping inside wats or temples during this time is also recommended. Not all wats do something special, but Wat Pan Tao next to Wat Phra Sing, is quite lovely.
4) There are a lot of red hot firecrackers being set off at night, not just around the bridges, sometimes down random sois where neighborhood kids are playing, so I’d wear shoes. But then again, I like my toes.
5) When launching a lantern (or khom loy), get away from city street wires that hang overhead and steer clear of trees or any other obstructions. One year, my friend caught a tree on fire. Hello, Sara.
6) I can go to the roof of my apartment building. I mention this, not only to brag, but to say, get high! The view will be spectacular…now that being said…
7) Driving up to Doi Suthep during any Thai holiday is simply not worth the wait in traffic. Go another time.
8) Folks selling lanterns sometimes sell lighters, but you might want to bring one, just in case.
9) I noticed that guest houses posted the calendar of events, so don’t worry, the information about what is happening will be around.
10) This holiday gets super crowded. Ladies keep your purse in front of you. Stay safe and keep an eye on your family and friends. Consider planning rendezvous points.
- Learn2SpeakThai’s podcast and blog about Loy Krathong: http://ressources.learn2speakthai.net/thaigirltalk/loy-kratong-festival/
- Chiang Mai Best’s holiday history & calendar of events (very comprehensive and detailed): http://chiangmaibest.com/loy-krathong-yee-peng/
- How to make a krathong via Mike’s blog: http://www.thailand-blogs.com/2012/11/09/how-to-make-a-krathong-for-loi-krathong/
- The often called Maejo University Lantern Release event, aka, Yee Ping Lanna International website: http://www.yeepenglanna.com/event.html
- Yee Ping Lanna International Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YeepengLanna.net
- What I learned from attending the Maejo event in 2012: https://lanivcox.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/what-i-learned-from-going-to-maejos-lantern-release/
- Also check out the post I wrote for Chicky Net (should be up soon) or just check out Chicky Net! http://www.chickynet.com/thailand/blogs
- I’d recommend “googling” flight changes/cancellations due to the Yee Ping Festival.