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A Guide to Thailand Lantern Festivals: Yi Peng & Loy Krathong

By CindyUpdated Apr. 22, 2024

Thailand Lantern Festivals, also known as the Thai Festivals of Lights, refer to two festivals in Thailand: Yi Peng Festival (also written as Yee Peng) and Loy Krathong Festival (also written as Loi Krathong). Both these festivals are known for creating beautiful displays of lights and take place on the same day.

Quick Facts about Thailand Lantern Festivals

  • During the lantern festivals in Thailand, you will see two iconic scenes: swarms of sky lanterns flying into the night's sky — that is Yi Peng Lantern Festival; thousands of lotus-shaped baskets with candles and flowers floating on the rivers at night — that is Loy Krathong Festival.
  • The two Thai lantern festivals usually occur on the full moon day in November. In 2024, Loy Krathong will take place on November 16 and Yi Peng will take place on November 15–16.
  • Loy Krathong Festival is celebrated nationwide while Yi Peng is only celebrated in northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai.
  • Chiang Mai is the only place where you can see both Thailand's lantern festivals on the same day.
Yi peng sky lantern festival Yi Peng: Thousands of lanterns rising into the night's sky
Loy krathong water lantern festival Loy Krathong: A girl is releasing a lotus-shaped basket on the river.

Yi Peng — Sky Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai

Yi Peng (or Yee Peng), also known as the Sky Lantern Festival and Floating Lantern Festival, is a celebrated tradition in Northern Thailand, with its largest festivities held in Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom.

Yi means 'two' while peng means 'full moon day'. It is an annual festival celebrated on the full moon in the second month of the Lanna lunar calendar and usually falls in November. Legend traces Yi Peng's origins to India, intertwined with the tale of a bird bearing candles that once visited Gautama Buddha.

During the festival, locals decorate their homes with lanterns and tiny candles known as Phang Pratheep, and gather at temples to participate in monks' prayers. Traditionally, the sky would be dotted with khom loi, or floating lanterns, believed to dispel negativity and invoke good fortune for the coming year.

However, in recent years, due to safety concerns, the downtown of Chiang Mai no longer permits the release of sky lanterns.

The widespread spectacular scene of thousands of sky lanterns soaring into the sky, which has become almost emblematic of this festival, all originates from private lantern release venues located in the outskirts of Chiang Mai. These venues charge admission fees and host events during the two days of the Yi Peng festival each year. 

If you want to experience it, the largest-scale Chiang Mai CAD can be a good option. 

Tickets for Chiang Mai CAD 2024 are selling fast – secure your spot now before it's too late!

yi peng festival>Chiang Mai CAD Khomloy Sky Lanterns Festival
CAD Yipeng Festival Chiang Mai CAD Khomloy Sky Lanterns Festival

Loy Krathong Festival — Lights Festival, Water Lantern Festival

Loy Krathong Festival, known as the Thailand Lights Festival, occurs on the night of the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. It is celebrated to give thanks to the Godness of Water by releasing lotus-shaped baskets decorated with candles and flowers onto the rivers and waterways. It is also regarded as an annual celebration to mark the end of the rainy season and welcome the cool reason.

In Thai, loy means to float and a krathong is a small container. Loy Krathong literally means 'to float a basket'. Krathong is traditionally made from banana leaves and a slice of the banana tree. Krathongs often contain candles, incense sticks, and flowers.

On the night of the festival, Thai people make a wish as they launch their krathongs onto the rivers, canals, and lakes. Some people place hair and fingernails inside the krathong to symbolize letting go of their past mistakes and negative thoughts. It is a purification ceremony to enlighten the mind and bring good fortune.

Where to Celebrate Loy Krathong Lantern Festival

Thailand celebrates the Loy Krathong Lantern Festival nationwide, but there are several notable places where you can experience its grandeur. Here are some top destinations for celebrating Loy Krathong in Thailand:

Chiang Mai hosts one of the most spectacular Loy Krathong celebrations in Thailand. The festivities there include the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, where thousands of illuminated lanterns fill the sky, creating an enchanting spectacle.

Sukhothai: As the historical birthplace of Loy Krathong, Sukhothai holds a special significance during the festival. If you value historical and cultural significance, Sukhothai is the best place, as it has deep roots in the festival's traditions and offers a more traditional atmosphere.

Bangkok provides a mix of modernity and tradition. The city's riverside parks and iconic landmarks offer a distinctive Loy Krathong celebration amidst a bustling metropolitan backdrop.

Phuket: If you don't want to deal with the crowds and prefer a beachside experience, head to Phuket for a more relaxed and laid-back celebration. You can float your krathong in the sea while enjoying the scenic coastal views.

Loi Krathong is celebrated across Thailand as well as other countries in Southasian such as Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.

Sukhothai Lanterrn FestivalSukhothai Lanterrn Festival
yi peng festival, loy krathong

Join Us for a Truly Magical Experience!

We have especially designed several tours including Yi Peng Festival. Our tours include tickets for the Chiang Mai Sky Lantern Festival, unique Thai cultural experiences, and the best sights of Thailand from the northern hill tribes to sunny southern beaches. Check the following exclusive mini-group or private tours, or more Thailand Lantern Festival tours for inspiration.

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