Visiting Chiang Mai During Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Lantern Festival
If you want to experience Chiang Mai during a time when the city is merry and truly comes to life, then be sure to visit during the full moon of the 12th Thai Lunar month. On this night there are not one, but two festivals being celebrated in Chiang Mai. These festivals are Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Lantern Festival.
TIP: The festivals usually fall around the end of October/ the start of November
To make the most of your time in Chiang Mai and take in the many festivities on offer, read below on how to best experience this.
What is Loy Krathong?
Loy (or Loi) Krathong is a festival to honour the water goddess at the end of the rainy season and is celebrated across the entire Thai region. In preparation, a Krathong (a lotus-shaped float) would be adorned with banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense sticks.
On the night of the full moon, families and friends will gather around lakes and rivers to float their Krathongs onto the water.
What is Yi Peng Lantern Festival?
Yi (or Yee) Peng Lantern Festival is a festival of light that is only celebrated in the Lanna Kingdom, i.e. the northern Thai regions. As the old capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is truly the best place to celebrate the Yi Peng Lantern Festival.
Yi Peng is a Lanna tradition where wishes for good luck and fortune are made for the upcoming year, before lanterns are floated in a bid to release any negative energy.
How To Experience The Festivities in Chiang Mai
Make or Purchase a Krathong
Immerse yourself into the Thai celebration of Loy Krathong and have a go at creating your own. Head down to the local marketplaces where you will be able to purchase everything that you would need.
If you’re staying at a Hotel or Hostel, they may be able to arrange for you to create your Krathong. They will even provide all the materials that’s required and show you how to ceate them.
If you would rather purchase a ready-made Krathong, you will also be able to do so from the local marketplaces and the many stalls that will be open on the night.
TIP: If you’re visiting Bangkok before heading to Chiang Mai, ensure that you visit the Bangkok Flower Market for an unforgettable experience.
Float a Krathong Along The Ping River
As you head to the festivities centered around the Old City, you will undoubtedly see the candles flickering from the water.
Make your first stop here at the ping river, where you will be able to float your Krathong or people watch others as they float there’s. You will probably have to walk down a floating wooden jetty as it gently sways. So, do not light up your Krathong until you are ready to float it!
TIP: Tie back your hair (or hijab) before attempting to light your Krathong up and floating it. And have someone help you if you need it.
Two of the most popular locations where you will find people floating their lanterns are Iron Bridge and Nawarat Bridge.
Attend The Parade
Place yourself somewhere along the route of the parade and take in the sights of the many floats to pass. You may even spot a celebrity or two, so polish up on your Thai celebrity knowledge before attending ?.
TIP: The parade usually starts from Tha Phae Gate and heads down Thapae Road in the direction of the Ping River, before turning left onto Praisanee Road.
Feast on Street Food
You will have every other night, for a good sit down meal, so make the most of this opportunity and try to take in as much of the street food that the Chiang Mai Festival stalls have to offer. From savoury to sweet, there’s a wide variety of Thai classics and modern cuisines to choose from.
TIP: Try the Thai Banana Roti with condensed milk, and yes it comes in other flavours including Nutella and some savoury options.
There are plenty of Halal and Vegetarian food options available during the festival in Chiang Mai, so eat your heart out!
View The Festive Lantern Installations Around The Old City of Chiang Mai
Most, if not all of the most popular sights and temples dotted around the city will be adorned in lanterns. The best way to experience this is to walk around and allow yourself to get lost.
However, for my keen photographer friends out there, I would recommend enquiring with your hotel or the locals for the best sights and photography spots. As the decorations and light installation locations may change from year to year, so may the recommendations.
TIP: Scope out the city during the day to identify the landmarks that will be illuminated come nightfall.
Some locations that may be of interest are:
Here’s 2020’s schedule of events for all the points of interests.
Attend a Mass Lantern Festival In Chiang Mai
For an emotionally moving experience that’s also fantastic to photograph, be sure to attend a Mass Lantern release. With a conscious effort to be more eco-friendly, it will truly be a magical night that you won’t soon forget.
For more details on the Yi Peng Mass Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, be sure to read the post below.
TIP: It is now illegal to float a lantern into the sky around the city of Chiang Mai. If you want to experience floating a lantern, then head to one of the designated events.