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Loy Krathong, or the Thai Lantern Festival, is one of the most important and anticipated festivals celebrated in Thailand every year. Loy Krathong roughly translates to “float a basket” in Thai and during this holiday everyone creates a krathong or banana-leaf basket to release on waterways throughout the country.
The sending off of krathongs symbolizes the release of bad luck from the previous year and allows participants to make a wish for good fortune in the coming year. When they are released in mass during the holiday, rivers and lakes all over the country flicker with floating lanterns in a fairytale-like display.
While many travelers head to Bangkok and Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong, one of our favorite places to experience the holiday is in Phuket where you can combine a relaxing beach holiday with the beautiful cultural experience of Loy Krathong.
During Loy Krathong, millions of people gather at waterways and lakes in Thailand to pay respect to the water goddess and apologize for any contamination of water in the past year.
Along with being used as an offering to the goddess, krathongs are also meant to release the unhappiness and bad memories from the previous year. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for baskets to include more personal items such as hair and nail clippings, or even items significant to lovers as Loy Krathong is also considered to Thailand’s Valentine’s Day.
Home to more than 30 sandy beaches, Phuket is a prime spot for any traveler who wants to relax in the sun and enjoy the Loy Krathong festivities. Surrounded by water, krathongs in Phuket are released on almost all beaches and most hotels and resorts can help you join in the celebrations. You can also head to Phuket Town to make your own krathong and celebrate the holiday with local Thai people.
The holiday is celebrated on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, so the day of the celebration changes depending on the year. Loy Krathong typically falls in November during the full moon which marks the end of the rainy season. At this time the rivers and lakes are at their fullest making it the perfect opportunity to celebrate a successful season.
This year’s Loy Krathong in Phuket will be held on the 31st of October, 2020. Subsequent dates are as follows:
2021: November 19
2022: November 8
2023: November 27
While you’re typically able to find pre-made krathongs from street vendors during the festival, these baskets may contain materials like pins, rubber, plastic, or even styrofoam that are hazardous for the environment and marine life.
If you plan to release your basket into the sea, you’ll want to make your own out of biodegradable materials like banana leaves and fresh flowers. This can be done with the help of your hotel or resort during the holiday, given that most offer free classes on this day.
Making your own krathong is not only better for the environment, but helps travelers learn more about the festival and put more meaning into their own celebration.
The purpose of releasing krathongs is to symbolically release all of the misfortunes you have placed inside of your basket. The common belief is that the krathong holds the bad luck and negative experiences you’ve had this year and it carries them out to sea, giving you a fresh start (and good luck!). Krathongs typically contain candles, incense, flowers, and coins, but you can improve your krathong with personal items. These baskets can be released after sunset with your loved ones.
Trust us when we say that experiencing this festival together creates stronger bonds and lasting memories. Especially for couples and families with kids.
Celebrating Loy Krathong in Phuket also means that you’re able to explore Phuket Town during the holiday and join the locals in their festivities. Though your hotel will offer holiday activities you also have the option to indulge in local street foods like kluay tod, a delicious sweet snack consisting of fried bananas dipped in coconut and sesame seeds.
Travelers can also celebrate Loy Krathong by visiting local festival fairs which can be a little crowded but are a great way to get a more local celebration experience and include activities like beauty contests and krathong-making contests.
In the past, Thai men and women did not have many opportunities to meet unless it was during a religious holiday. Given the lack of opportunity, Loy Krathong eventually developed into a lovers’ holiday where partners could spend time with each other.
Because Loy Krathong provides an incredibly beautiful atmosphere, it’s no wonder lovers still use the festivities to get closer to one another. Many couples even use the magic of the evening to pop the question!
Your romantic evening, of course, doesn’t need a proposal but can include releasing a krathong together. Thai people believe that this krathong represents your future together so the further it makes it out to see the better.
Loy Krathong is celebrated on all of Phuket’s waterways and beaches, including the renowned Patong beach. Popular celebration locations also include Nai Harn Lake and even piers around the island such as Rawai Pier. These locations offer an array of activities that typically last the entire night.
If this isn’t ideal for you perhaps a smaller scene is; most hotels will host their own celebrations for travelers using either swimming pools or helping guests launch their krathongs out to sea.
Locals typically celebrate on Kata and Karon beaches and in Saphan Hin Park and Suan Luang Park in Phuket Town. If you’re keener on a more local experience with treats and performances and don’t mind the crowds then these locations are for you.
For the best family experience, travelers can book a stay with Thalang Maneekram or Crown Plaza Phuket Panwa Beach in Phuket Town. Thalang Maneekram hotel offers cultural activities such as “Nang Noppamas” beauty pageants, singing contests, help with making krathongs and hanging lanterns, and more. While Crowne Plaza also offers help on how to make a krathong, this hotel also provides tasty and authentic dinner buffets for families during the holiday.
Couples who are traveling might also enjoy the Novotel Phuket Resort and Jungceylon Hotel located along the beautiful Patong Beach. The Jungceylon offers free classes on how to create your own eco-friendly krathongs for those who are interested in releasing your raft into the sea. On the other hand, the Novotel Phuket Resort offers a plethora of exciting activities such as a krathong-making competition, a Thai boxing show, and a fire show performance.
1. The release of sky lanterns is prohibited in most areas in Thailand for environmental and safety concerns. If you’re set on making lanterns to celebrate Yi Peng, make sure they’re hanging decorative lanterns or you’re in an area that allows for a safe release of sky lanterns like Chiang Mai.
2. If you are set on releasing your krathong into the sea, ocean, or even on a pond, make sure it’s biodegradable. Most krathongs are eco-friendly because they’re made from banana tree leaves, banana tree bark, and flowers, but before releasing make sure your krathong doesn’t contain any harmful materials such as polystyrene and pins.
3. When you do release your krathong, don’t let it sink! A krathong that capsizes or floats back to the shore is often a sign of bad luck for the person or persons who released it. So give it a good push out to sea!
Asia Highlights welcomes the chance to help you design your perfect trip to Thailand. Whether that includes experiencing Loy Krathong, Yi Peng, another festival, or just some time relaxing on the beach. Check out some of our example itineraries below for inspiration!