Two lantern festivals that are popular in Thailand, Loy Krathong and Yi Peng are truly spellbinding to witness and here’s more on what you need to know.
This is the name given to a water lantern festival in Thailand that falls on the full moon of the local lunar calendar’s 12th month, normally November. ‘Loy’ translates to ‘float’, while ‘krathong’ is in reference to a floating object or container. Thus, it’s no surprise that the key element of this event is the krathong which is traditionally made from the bark of a banana tree; on this small krathong, an incense stick or candle is placed, before being sent down a waterway, generally at night.
Making a Wish
Each person will launch one of these floating lanterns which can also contain food, flowers or garlands and at the same time make a wish in the hope it will be granted; some also consider it symbolic of sending their problems ‘floating’ away. As you would expect, the waterways throughout the country become places to see and join in the traditions of Loy Krathong. This not only includes cities like Bangkok, but destinations such as Koh Samui; 5-star hotels on the island including SAii Koh Samui Choengmon are within easy reach of sites such as Chaweng Lake, one of the places to experience this festival.
An equally captivating and visually stunning festival, Yi Peng is more popular in Northern Thailand since it’s a traditional Lanna (ancient northern kingdom) festival. It takes place on the full moon of the second month according to the Lanna lunar calendar; ‘yi’ translates to ‘two’ and ‘peng’ means ‘full moon day’. Interestingly, it coincides with the date of Loy Krathong so both festivals are celebrated on the same day; however, the key difference is that for Yi Peng, the lanterns float not on the water but up in the air!
A Magical Sight
On this day, people will gather in one place to release what are called ‘khom loi’ which are special lanterns with a flame that makes them float into the night sky against the backdrop of a full moon. By releasing the lanterns, one symbolically releases the misfortunes of the year, while some may write a wish on them believing it will come true. Chiang Mai is one of the best places to witness the stunning spectacle of Yi Peng with the Three Kings Monument being a prime spot. It’s celebrated at other locations and visitors can join too as well as enjoy parades and other cultural events.