HomeThailandChiang Mai Yi Peng Festival 2019

Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival 2019


What is Yi Peng Festival?

Yi Peng (sometimes written as Yee Peng), the festival of light, or the sky lantern festival, is predominantly a northern Thailand celebration. Chiang Mai, the former capital of the Lanna kingdom in northern Thailand, hosts the grandest Yi Peng lantern celebration every year. It coincides with the nationally celebrated Loy Krathong Festival (floating lantern festival), Yee Peng attracts tens of thousands of tourists every year and is a spectacular event.

Yi peng sky lantern festival

What Are the Dates of Yi Peng Festival?

Yee Peng is celebrated on the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. Though the exact dates vary each year and are only announced around two months earlier, normally it falls in the middle of November.

In 2019, the Chiang Mai Yi Peng festival will be held from November 11th to 13th. 

Yi Peng and Loy Krathong Are Two Different Festivals!

These two 'light' festivals are often confused because they often overlap and are similar types of festival - festival about lights and lanterns! Loy Krathong which is celebrated all across in Thailand coincides with Chiang Mai Yi Peng which is celebrated mainly in northern Thailand, they both fall on the full moon day in middle November every year.

Here's an infographic showing similarities and differences between Yi Peng vs Loy Krathong:

Yi Peng vs Loy Krathong Festival similarities and differences

What is a khom Loi?

Khom Loi is made from a thin fabric, such as rice paper, stretched over a bamboo or wireframe, to which a candle or fuel cell is attached. When the fuel cell is lit, the resulting hot air is trapped inside the lantern and creates enough lift for the khom loi to float into the sky.

What is a krathong?

A krathong is a lotus-shaped vessel made from banana tree trunk, decorated with leaves and flowers and incense and candle in the center.

How Do People Celebrate Yi Peng Festival?

Yi Peng is a "photographer's dream come true, as the opportunities for stunning photos abound through the course of the festival. to witness tens of thousands of shimmering lanterns carrying the good wishes of people released into the dark starry sky.

There are plenty of other activities that happen all over Chiang Mai. These include worship rituals, decoration contests, bazaars, parades traditional Thai dance shows, the official ‘Yee Peng Parade’ around the Old City gate and down Tha Phae Road, live music and handicraft sessions. You can also expect lots of food vendors setting up, firecrackers, fireworks.

During the festival, some people also decorate their houses, gardens, and temples with khom fai, intricately shaped paper lanterns that take on different forms.

Yi peng sky lantern festival celebration

8 Things You Must Know About Yi Peng Festival

1. Book hotels early if you wish to experience the event!

Yi Peng festival time is the busiest time of year to visit Chiang Mai. The small city receives many tourists traveling to enjoy and observe the lantern festival hotel rooms sell put rapidly!

2. Chiang Mai during The Yi Peng festival is very crowded

Chiang Mai basically doubles in population size in the week leading up to Yi Peng festival. It's party time! The street will be packed with tourist crowds, red trucks, and tuk-tuks.

3. You can only release lanterns at certain places and between 7 pm and 1 am on that day as floating lanterns pose a safety threat to planes flying over Chiang Mai’s international airport.

4. Don't release any lanterns outside of Yee Peng festival time.

The government has introduced fines ranging from around $3,000 USD AND jail time.

5. It is free to observe but to get to the best spot, the smart move is to book with a local agency to get you out from the crowd and get you in the right place as painlessly as possible!

6. If you are an avid photographer who wants to capture an iconic shot, get a ticket from a travel agency and their guide will help you find the best spot to avoid crowds for the best photo opportunity.

7. If you have purchased a ticket already, arrive well in advance to get a good spot. Remember to wear respectable clothing (no skimpy shorts or vests).

8. Maejo mass release and CAD mass release, the tickets are both selling out rapidly since they're issued two months before the festival. If you wish to go, it's best to purchase and secure a ticket as early as possible.

The History of Yi Peng Festival

Yi Peng festival was originated from Brahmanic traditions in the Hinduistic religions of Hinduism and thence to Buddhism in Thailand, at the urging of King Rama IV, who co-opted the use of lights and lanterns from this faith as a way of honoring the Lord Buddha, aslo for people to let go of their inner side suffering in the past year.

While those in the central and southern parts of the nation have adopted this practice over the past 150 years, those in the kingdom of Lanna (Northern Thailand) had already been raising rice paper lanterns for a similar purpose since the 13th century, making Chiang Mai the perfect place to experience this world-famous Thai celebration.

Where to See Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai

Lanterns are released into the sky all over Chiang Mai and during the night there are at least four main places where you can enjoy the event for free!

Free: Three Kings Monument, Thapae Gate, the Old Town moat area and the Ping River are the main locations where celebrations take place. Lantern releasing, firework displays and parades will take place and it's free to watch, though these are also to some extent mostly for tourists who aren't "in the know" or haven't been able to get ticket to the mass release show as the limited number of official tickets sells out very quickly every year! These places are not difficult to locate, as the crowds and traffic all head there on those festivals.

Here are the best mass-release spots to go:

1. Lanna Dhutanka Buddhist Center (Mae Jo University) Sky Lantern Mass Release

The classic place for tourists who want to get that iconic photograph for Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. About 15 km north of Chiang Mai.

  • Details:3000 sky lanterns released
  • Ticket price: starts from $260
  • Location: 1-hour drive (20 km) from the Chiang Mai old town
  • What's included:
  • Pick-up and transfer back
  • Thai Buffet Dinner and a Lantern
Yi peng sky lantern festival at mae jo

2. Chiang Mai Cowboy Army Riding Club (CAD) relocated to Chiang Mai Air Sport Farm

  • Details: 4500 sky lanterns released
  • Ticket price:  starts from $ 143
  • Location:  50 minutes drive (19 km) from downtown Chiang Mai
  • What's included:
  • pick-up and transfer back
  • Thai Buffet Dinner 2 Lanterns

The tickets are selling out rapidly, secure your tickets now with Asia Highlights!

vip seats exclusively offered by asia highlights at CAD

1. There is no need to buy lanterns in advance, there are many street vendors selling them during the festival and each lantern is around 50 – 100 baht depends on how good you are at bartering!

2. If you have a ticket to participate in the event at any official releasing spot, a lantern will be provided for you.

3. If you want to write down your wish on the lantern, the lantern sellers usually have markers for you to use.

4. Be careful with the lantern paper when launching, because it is very thin and very easy to catch fire.

5. Launching a lantern on your own is fairly difficult - If you are traveling alone, this is the time to make some friends!

6. Light the fuel coil then hold the lantern evenly until it fills with enough hot air to take off on its own. Don't try to force the lantern skyward and be patient as the air inside heats.

7. Keep the lantern as level as possible.

8. Before launching, set your camera ready for night mode in advance in order to catch the best picture with the other floating lights in the sky and the full moon in the background.

When to arrive: It’s better to arrive around 3-4 p.m. If you arrive too late, you may have to fight your way through the crowds.

Get your candle: try to get a candle as soon as you arrive. There should be people handing them out at the beginning of the evening.

Be prepared: bring a lighter, and a marker for writing your wishes.

If you buy lanterns from outside vendors, be aware that often those lanterns don’t pass security regulations. 

During Yee Peng festival, good hotels are always fully booked. Here are a few nice hotels in Chiang Mai we recommend based on our clients' reviews:

Options for luxury/High-end travelers: 5-stars 

1.Shangri-La Hotel

2.Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort

3.Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort

4.Le Meridien Chiang Mai

Options for couples and vacation travelers: 4-stars

1.Aruntara Riverside Boutique Hotel

2.Kodchasri Thani Hotel 

3.Phor Liang Meun Terracotta Arts Hotel

4.Banthai Village

5.Bodhi Serene, Chiang Mai

Social atmosphere/budget travelers; 3-star hotel

1.Amora Hotel Chiang Mai

2.Goldenbell Hotel Chiang Mai

Learn more about how to choose the best hotels in Chiang Mai.

Experience Loy Krathong and Yi Peng with Asia Highlights

Lantern Festival and yee peng festival all in one package in Chiang Mai:
Tickets to Chiang Mai Lantern Festival 2019

8 Day Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Sukhothai best Loy Krathong experience tour:
A Unique Loy Krathong & Yi Peng Festival Tour