Thailand

Chiang Mai’s Loy Krathong

3kings-loy-kratongs
Making kratongs at 3 Kings Monument, 2012. A free event, available while supplies lasted.

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.

ladies-loy-kratong
@ “Maejo lantern release,” 2012

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!”

loy-kratong2011
@ 3 Kings Monument, 2010

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.

making-krathong
Making a krathong…harder than it looks! Definitely for the crafty.

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.

wat-pan-tao
@Wat Pan Tao, 2012

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.

Useful Links:

yee-ping-2012
@ the 2012 Yee Ping Maejo event
lantern-lani
Happy Loy Krathong! (@ Tha Phae Gate, 2013)

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11 thoughts on “Chiang Mai’s Loy Krathong

  1. Your featured image is really good! One of your best photos. But the background of your blog blows. You need a custom Gamara Vs. Guiron background post haste. Let me give it a go right now.

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    1. Right. I’ve written about Loy Krathong for Chicky Net, Learn2SpeakThai, as well as for my own site (but in my own quirky way). For this post I wanted to change it up and offer tips and links, not so much history and religion which other sites do better.

      But I’ll go ahead and add my launching of krathong thoughts, for what it’s worth. So it’s more comprehensive. Thanks! 🙂

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    1. Awww, thanks dear. It’s such a photographed event. People out there w/ more fancy smancy cameras will surely be uploading soon!

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  2. Wow, I loved seeing your photos! Different cultural festivals are so interesting. Is that photo of you making your own krathong? Either way, looks cool 🙂

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    1. Thanks! Yes, last year, my friend and I went to the 3 Kings Monument (a local museum), where they were teaching folks how to make krathongs (for free!). And I agree, I enjoy seeing festivals from around the world. My friend Chieni tells me that Taiwan has a similar one to Chiang Mai’s Yee Ping.

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