Thailand`s Lantern Festival, a festival of lights
The Thailand`s Lantern Festival is magical and is held each year on the twelfth full moon, usually in November. But wait! Did you know that there are two lantern festivals? Yes, it does! And they are celebrated at the same time coincidently, which causes a great confusion. In my first time in Thailand I didn`t knew about the difference.
Thailand`s Lantern Festival:
Yi Peng and Loy Krathong
In Chiang Mai and northern Thailand there is the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, where lanterns are lit and float across the sky in a beautiful festival of lights. But in Bangkok and throughout the rest of Thailand, even in Chiang Mai, there is the Loy Krathong Lantern Festival. It`s when small baskets made of banana leaves with a lighted candle are floated on the river.
Well, Thailand`s lantern festival, both Yi Peng and Loy Krathong take place in other parts of the country, but Chiang Mai and Bangkok remain the most famous places. I always spent the festival in Bangkok. If you’re going to spend Loy Krathong here with us at The Yard Hostel, we’ll handmade and decorate our own krathong all together.
Difference between Yi Peng and Loy Krathong
Often even the Thais get confused by the difference between Thailand`s lantern Festival. Perhaps the easier difference to observe between Loy Krathong and Yi Peng is the lanterns that are used and how they’re floated.
The Yi Peng uses “sky lanterns” or khom lei which are structures made of a very thin fabric in bamboo frame and with an embedded candle. When a candle lit, hot air becomes trapped, causing the lantern to lift off and drift away in the Wind.
To participate of Yi Peng requires good planning as the festival takes place outside the city for safety. You have to buy a ticket and trains usually get crowded during this period. I recommend you start planning as soon as possible. To participate in Loy Kratong you just have to be in Thailand. Come to join us at The Yard Hostel in Bangkok!
Loy Krathong uses a krathong, a basket made of banana leaves in the shape of a lotus flower and decorated with candles, flowers and incense. You can make your krathong or buy a ready-made in some shops and on the streets. Here at The Yard Hostel we handmade ours.
Loy = to float
Kratong = basket made of banana leaves
There is no English translation of krathong, but it`s something like loy = to float; krathong = basket made of banana leaves in the shape of a lotus flower. The basket is decorated with flowers, incense and candles (lights). Nowadays Thai are becoming more creative and there are baskets made of different materials and crafting in other shapes as turtles.
It is possible to attend the to festival with a basket bought in a small shop or from some lady on the street here in our neighborhood Ari. I don’t really recommend it, because here at The Yard Hostel we handmade our own krathong only using natural materials. I believe it`s the most simple way to avoid the pollution of the river and to make this celebration even more meaningful.
Loy Krathong is a way of apologizing to the river for polluting it and when krathong floats, it carries with it all the sins and anguish providing a new beginning to the person. Some people even cut nails or hair to put on krathong as the symbol of breaking with all the negatives of oneself, and I think its a nice way to do it. In fact there are many versions of how the Thailand`s Lantern Festival Loy Kratong began.
The floating of a Krathong in the river is also a way to give respect and thanks to the Goddess of water, Phra Mae Khongkha, for water and abundance in rice harvest. It is also supposed to bring good luck. But there are so many versions and no one knows exactly which one is correct. I tried to figure out, but it`s complicated.
Despite the confusing history, the Thai holiday is widely celebrated as one of the most significant festivals of the year. It`s the opportunity to make “merit”, a Buddhist concept related to Karma and doing “good” in life. And also for apologize for the year’s moral mistakes, as well as hoping for success in the coming year. Me as a farang, I have been participating of Thailand`s Lantern Festival Loy Krathong since 2014 and I love it, it`s always special.
Places to enjoy Loy Krathong in Bangkok
Here in Bangkok a great number of people goes to Chao Phraya river to float their krathong. All condos by the river also have their private celebrations. The big restaurants of the city with piers are also extremely popular amongst the tourists, but also expensive. I checked it before. Asiatique Night Market is open and has fireworks. But in my opinion, near the bridge of BTS Saphan Taksin, at the the public pier is the most beautiful (and busy) place to watch fireworks from luxury hotel, private condos and Asiatique. I think you should go!
We recommend to celebrate at:
- Golden Mount
- Chao Phraya River
- Wat Arun
- Lumpini Park
But if you want a very local experience, read our post about spending Loy Krathong in our hometown by the river.