Home Thailand Travel Guide15 Things You Didn’t Know About Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand

20 Things You Didn’t Know About Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand

Loy Krathong Festival is one of the most celebrated festivals in all of Thailand every year and in 2020 it is looking like it will be a good break from the craziness of our current world. Loy Krathong involves making or buying a decorated basket (Krathong) and floating it down the river to release all the negativity from the previous year.

Here are 20 interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about the Loy Krathong Festival.

1. Loy Krathong means ‘to Float a Basket.’

Loy Krathong means to float a basket

The word loy in Thai means "to float" and Krathong translates to "basket", so Loy Krathong literally translates into ‘float a basket’. Krathongs are traditionally made from banana leaves and usually contain coins, a candle, some incense, and colorful flowers.

Each part of the Krathong is an important symbol in Buddhism. The candle represents knowledge and wisdom, the incense represents purity, the flowers symbolize the honor shown to monks, and the coins are an offering made to the spirits and ancestors.

2. The Krathong carries away bad energy.

During the releasing ritual, a wish is made by the person carrying the Krathong before it‘’s released to float down the river. The Krathong is said to carry away any bad energy and signal a fresh start for the year ahead.

A snip of hair or fingernails can be used to represent negative memories and a few coins are included as an offering to the great water goddess, Pra Mae Khongkhathen. 

3. Loy Krathong originated in Sukhothai.

Loy Krathong in Sukhothai

While the exact origins of Loy Krathong remain unclear, it is said that the festival started in the old Thai capital of Sukhothai during the period of the Sukhothai Kingdom. In the 13th or 14th century, Nang Noppamas, a beautiful companion of the king of Sukhothai, is said to have made the first Krathong.

King Ramkhamhaeng was so impressed by the beauty of Nang Noppamas and the floating Krathong that he made the ritual into an annual tradition.

4. Nang Noppamas is celebrated to this day with beauty pageants.

Noppamas is still remembered to this day at the Loy Krathong celebrations through Krathong beauty pageants that are held in various locations around Thailand. The goal of the pageant is to find a local worthy of the name, Nang Noppamas. The beauty pageant includes traditional Thai dancing and ancient costumes that are amazing to see.

5. Loy Krathong is celebrated on the night of the full moon of the 12th Thai lunar month.

Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar and the exact date of the festival changes each year. When following the Western calendar, this festival usually falls in November. in 2020, the Loy Krathong Festival will be on the 31st of October.

6. There are two festivals in the same week.

Yi Peng festival

In Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong coincides with the Yi Peng Sky Lantern Festival. The word Yi means 'two' and peng means a 'full moon day'. Yi Peng refers to the full moon during the second month of the Lanna (northern Thai) version of the lunar calendar.

During this festival masses of flying lanterns known as Khom loy are released into the night sky. Local people also decorate their houses, gardens, and temples with intricately shaped paper lanterns that take on different forms.

7. Yi Peng inspired the flying lanterns from the movie Tangled.

The floating lanterns that caused Princess Rapunzel from Disney's Tangled to leave her tower and go on an adventure were actually inspired by Yi Peng in Thailand. And trust us, experiencing the real celebration is just as magical as it is in the movie!

8. Yi Peng might not be around for much longer.

With the closing of many releasing sights in Chiang Mai, if you have been thinking of going to observe Yi Peng, the best place to watch the Yi Peng Festival in 2020 is at the CAD Airsports Farm or at the Maejo University mass release on October 31st or November 1st. Book yourself tickets for the mass release now!

9. Chiang Mai and Sukhothai are considered the best places to watch Loy Krathong.

Although Loy Krathong is celebrated throughout Thailand and you can release your Krathong on any nearby body water, the best places to watch the festival are in Chiang Mai and Sukhothai. In Chiang Mai, travelers have the added bonus of being able to see Yi Peng and Loy Krathong in the same week.

Many people consider Sukhothai to be a more beautiful and peaceful destination for festival celebrations. A large Loy Krathong event is held in the Sukhothai Historical Park every year with plenty of cultural performances and celebrations that last up to a week.

A lot of travelers have begun taking a trip to both cities for Loy Krathong and Yi Peng so they don’t miss out on either one.

Read more about Sukhothai vs Chiang Mai: which is best to visit for Loy Krathong.

10. If your Krathong capsizes, it’s bad luck!

Many Thais believe that if a Krathong capsizes, it means bad luck for the person who released it. Some young people also believe that if a couple floats a Krathong together, it could cause them to break up in the coming year. So make sure you’re extra careful when you release your floating basket!

11. Loy Krathong is the most romantic festival in Thailand.

For young romantics and new couples, Loy Krathong is a time to wish for future happiness and success in love. For centuries, it has been a festival where Thais believe they will meet their soulmates. Many couples make their Krathongs together or choose to buy one that they both like.

During the festival, couples will light candles and incense then release the Krathong and watch it together as it floats away. If the candle stays lit until the Krathong is out of sight, then the couple will know that their love will stand the test of time.

12. There are many legends and stories behind Loy Krathong and Yi Peng.

While the story of Nang Noppamas is the most common legend behind Loy Krathong, many people also believe that the festival began with influences from the Hindu festival Diwali. In this story, krathongs are released on rivers to honor the footprint of Buddha that was left near a holy river in India upon his return to the heavens and freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth.

The legends of Yi Peng say that the flying lanterns are meant to represent a candle-carrying bird that once flew around Buddha and gained merit.

13. Loy Krathong is also a celebration of water.

Water is symbolically important in Buddhist culture and is believed to have powerful cleansing and life-giving properties. Because of this, Loy Krathong is not only a celebration of Buddha and releasing negativity, but is also done to honor the water goddess and thank her for the monsoon rains.

Loy Krathong often takes place right after the end of the rainy season in Thailand and many people see it as a way to give thanks for abundant water and ask for forgiveness for any human contamination of the country's waterways.

14. The more elaborate the Krathong, the better!

Large krathong floating lantern

Krathongs are mostly shaped like lotus flowers but can also be built to look like various different animals such as elephants, turtles, or even mythical creatures like dragons. The baskets can range in price from 20 baht to hundreds of baht depending on how elaborate the creations are.

You can also make your own krathong during the festival by taking a krathong-making class or trying your hand at creating one by yourself.

15. The best Krathongs and Khom Loi are made from biodegradable materials.

Loy Krathong and Yi Peng are both beautiful festivals but, in recent years, the use of synthetic materials to make the floating lanterns and sky lanterns has caused harm to the environment. Because of this, it's important to make sure that your krathongs are made from biodegradable materials like banana leaves, flowers, or bread.

At the CAD Sky Sports Stadium Yi Peng Mass release, the sky lanterns are made from eco-friendly materials like rice paper and bamboo. 

16. In 2020, Loy Krathong is celebrated for a whole week.

Although Loy Krathong falls on the 31st of October, the celebrations go on for a full week in both Sukhothai and Chiang Mai with light shows, traditional dancing, and concerts being held daily.

17. You can bring the whole family to celebrate.

People of all ages come together to celebrate Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals. With the cooler weather in November, it’s the perfect festival for the kids to enjoy without getting too hot. Many resorts have activities for children around Loy Krathong including learning to make Krathongs, face painting, and learning local traditional dances.

18. Alcohol is allowed!

There is always some confusion among travelers as to whether alcohol is allowed or not during the celebrations. While drinking on the streets is always illegal in Thailand, most bars and hotels will be served alcohol during the festival. But not when you are attending a mass release show. Alcohol inside the event is a no-no!

19. Yi Peng is the busiest time of the year to visit Chiang Mai.

If you have your heart set on seeing the Yi Peng Festival, here’s something to bear in mind: Yi Peng is possibly the busiest time of year to visit Chiang Mai. The city sees hundreds of thousands of tourists traveling to observe the lantern festival. Tickets to events as well as hotel rooms are in short supply. If you are visiting Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, make sure to make all bookings well in advance. Learn how to choose a nice hotel in Chiang Mai.

20. Loy Krathong celebrations are also great in Bangkok and Phuket.

Loy Krathong in Phuket and Bangkok

If you want to experience Loy Krathong in Thailand, but don't have enough time to fly to Sukhothai or Chiang Mai, then Bangkok is a good choice. In Bangkok, the release of Krathongs occurs on the Chao Praya River and a great way to experience the festival is to take a dinner cruise and release your own krathong from the boat.

If you want to experience Loy Krathong without the crowds and while relaxing on the beach, then Phuket is a great place for a beach vacation and a chance to release a krathong into the ocean.

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Discover Loy Krathong and Yi Peng with Asia Highlights

Our pre-made itineraries can easily accommodate a trip to one, two or all of these amazing cities. Alternatively, you can let one of our knowledgeable travel advisors take on the planning and help you create your own customized trip. For Loy Krathong. Take a look at some of our most popular lantern festival tours and start dreaming about your trip to amazing Thailand.

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