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Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is a traditional Thai festival that is celebrated annually and is also known as the ‘festival of lights’.

The date of the festival is marked by the appearance of the full moon. This means that the dates vary from year to year. However as a general guide, Loy Krathong is held in November.

Loy Krathong Festival of Lights 2018 Lantern Dates, Chiang Mai Thailand

The name of the event can be translated to mean ‘float a basket’. This is derived from one of the age-old practices of creating decorative baskets which are then released and remain afloat on the river. These specially designed baskets are known as karathongs, hence the name of the festival.

Traditionally, krathongs were designed from banana trunk pieces to ensure buoyancy. Modern krathongs however, are made from either bread or modified plastic (although the latter is discouraged due to water and environmental pollution). The highlight of the event is the inclusion of candles in the krathongs so that the floating baskets create an amazing array of lights that gives Loy Krathong the name ‘festival of lights’.

Locals and visitors alike are enthralled by the sheer delight of setting the baskets afloat. This is usually done as one makes a wish. A number of individuals toss a coin to appease the river spirits and bring good luck their way. Watching the krathongs float away is an exciting experience, especially for first-time visitors. The sight of thousands of lights, drifting away and the gentle breeze causing the flames to flicker in the calm of the night is a breathtaking experience.

To best enjoy Chiang Mai Loy Krathong, head to anywhere along the moat where you will see people letting off lanterns. The biggest crowds gather along Tha Phae Road on the night of the full moon with the biggest crows along the Ping River between Nawarat Bridge and Iron Bridge. Just make sure to buy your lantern in advance, as they do sell out. You may be hard pressed to find a vendor selling them on the street. If you do find lanterns for sale on the evening of Loy Krathong, they may be at wildly inflated prices, so it is best to purchase in advance.

If you are coming to Chiang Mai just for the festival, there is countless accommodation choices available. There are too many hotels, hostels, apartments and guest houses to mention, but you can find a bargain anywhere in the city. If you are interested in browsing the range of accommodation options, click the links below.

Schedule

22 November 2018 to 24 November 2018

Event Times

Sky Lantern Release - 22nd November, 2018
Opening ceremony of “Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival”: 6:30pm - 7pm at Thapae Gate
Yee Peng Lantern Procession Contest at Night Bazaar: 7pm - 10pm from Thapae Gate to Pantip department store
Yee Peng Kids Contest: 7pm - 12am at Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
Large Lantern release: 6pm - 10pm at Mae Jo University

Loi Krathong - 23rd November, 2018
Boat Race: 9am - 3:30pm at Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
Hot Air Balloon Contest (small): 9am - 12pm by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
Handmade Krathong Contest: 9am - 5pm by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
Mister and Miss Yee Peng Contest: 6pm - 12am at Thapae Gate
Floating of Lanna candlelit Krathong: 7pm - 9pm at Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
Boat Procession: 7pm - 9pm at Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
Fireworks display in Honor of H.M. the King: 8pm - 12am at Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality

Loi Krathong Parade - 24th November, 2018
Grand Krathong procession (parade) and contest: 6pm - 12am from Thapae Gate to the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality

Venue

Along The Ping River

Address

Locations around the city. See times below
Chang Moi, Chiang Mai

Prices

Free

26 Comments

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  • I have seen suggestions that there is a parade for the opening of the festivals. But, I cannot find a date and location for the parade. Can you help? Also, I have seen the dates 20th thru 25th, but some sites suggest other dates. This is all very confusing for travelers. Where can I find an actual schedule of events? Even the Board of Tourism does not have answers!

    • Hi Jane,

      As most of the local information is usually in thai and not usually up to date, what i have done is compile information below from a number of other websites so hopefully that will form a consensus of what is actually correct.

      https://www.chiangmai-alacarte.com/loy-krathong-festival/ mentions that “On all three days, there are parades that pass through Thapae Road” and “on the evening of the first day, there is a stunning lantern parade”.

      https://seetefl.com/loy-krathong-yee-peng-chiang-mai/ states “It usually leaves Tha Pae Gate for the Night Market early on the evening of the first day of the festival”

      https://www.thelongestwayhome.com/travel-guides/thailand/chiang-mai/loi-krathong-in-chiang-mai.html says “Day three of Loi Krathong is a rather subdued. The highlight is an early evening (18.00 approx) parade from Thapae Gate to the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality. Everyone can view this parade by lining up along the main road and watch highly decorative floats as they pass by. There is a Grand Krathong procession and contest from 6pm – 12am from Thapae Gate to the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality

      So based on these websites, i would say that the location for pretty much all parades will be along Tha Phae Rd (likely starting from Tha Phae Gate, as this is usually where a lot of events are held and grandstands setup).

      Sorry i couldn’t give you an exact answer; as with a lot of things in Chiang Mai and being a foreigner, everything is a little unorganised and most information is hearsay from other sources.

      Thanks
      Michael

  • Hello, There is a photo here of the lanterns reflecting on the water I have looked at several mas but I do not see a river close to Mae University. Where was this photo taken? Than you for your continued help. Jane Shedron

    • Hi Jane,

      The photo of lanterns floating on the water also appears to have been taken at Wat Phan Tao (a lot of these stock images were sourced from Shutterstock). If you look at the page here, you can see what the temple and the water area looks like during the day.

      Having lived in Chiang Mai and been to Loy Krathong myself, a lot of the festivities take place around the Ping River – both north and south of the Nawarat Bridge.

      Thanks,
      Michael

  • Hi,
    I’m plan to visit Chiang Mai at Loy Krathong Fesstival 2018.
    So could you tell me the exactly day that Loy Krathong Fesstival is taked place?
    As I know, the main day of festival is November 23rd, 2018. Is that true?
    I’m just have book my flight from 17 to 23. So are there any activities are taked place at 22 November?
    I’m very looking forward to hearing you!
    Thank you so much!!!
    P/s: Sorry because of my bad english

    • Hi Tyra,

      I have looked at many websites online and the general consensus is that Loy Krathong (the releasing of the lotus shaped rafts onto water) is on Novemeber 22, while the Yi Peng Lantern Festival is on November 23.

      I have however, seen that there are private events on the 22nd in Doi Saket, so there might be an opportunity to see a lantern release if you want to pay (tickets range between 3000-4000thb and include bus transfers, 1 lantern, 1 krathong and souvenir).

      I would still keep an eye out for any updates, as the dates for the public events are yet to be confirmed 100%, and may be subject to change.

      Hope this helps.
      Michael

  • I see photos of monks along the moat with lanterns around them. They are on the opposite side of the moat from the people. It looks like it is by a temple. Where is this? Please, if someone knows of this area, please let me know where it is. The photos are on this web page.

  • Hi, Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai this year is 21 to 23 november or 22 to 24? Is there an official calendar yet? What’s the best day to be there? I also like to go to Sukhotay, which day do they have Loy Krathong? Thank you, Best Regards

    • HI Davide,

      Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. So, the exact date of the festival changes every year. In 2018, it will be on the 23rd of November 2018.

      Best regards,
      Jess

  • Are there any tickets that I have to book for this event? I can’t seem to find any places to buy a tour guide or anything. Do we have pay for a tour or do we just arrive at the area?

    • Hi Dev,

      Loy Krathong is not an event that you need to book for/require a guide. Simply purchase a lantern from a street vendor and head to Tha Phae Gate or the moat. Those taking part will fill the streets in their thousands, so just get out amongst it!

      Best regards,
      Jess

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