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How to Celebrate Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals in Thailand

Celebrated annually all over Thailand on the 12th lunar month of the Thai year, Loy Krathong lands in mid-November on western calendars. The name translates to “floating basket” with its history rooted in Brahmin traditions. During this event, thousands of decorated baskets typically made using banana leaf, flowers or bread, are lit with candles and released into the river. The typical ritual involves kneeling by the water to pray, asking for forgiveness and making a wish before releasing the candlelit krathong into the water.

Loy Krathong at Anantara Riverside

Also, around this same time, Yi Peng takes place in Northern Thailand where floating paper lanterns are released into the sky also known as the “festival of lights” or “the lantern festival.” Symbolizing letting go and a fresh start, think of this as a pre-New Year’s renewal or resolution. We have pin-pointed a handful of places where you can join in on both rituals.

Loy Krathong Afternoon Tea

Overall Best Spots to Celebrate

Wherever you roam in Thailand during this time, you’ll see locals releasing krathongs and watching folk dancing or sound-and-light performances.

Chiang Mai is the best place to experience the Lantern Festival, and it’s the only place where you can see both Loy Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals on the same day. Here they use raft-like Krathong lanterns made from banana leaves that are released to float on rivers and lakes whereas during Yi Peng bamboo paper Khom Loi lanterns are released into the sky.

UNESCO World Heritage City Sukhothai is a good place north of Bangkok to go if you want a more local and cultural experience. Many believe that the origins of Loy Krathong are from this area.

Capella Bangkok Dancers

If you’d rather stay in central Bangkok for the celebration, Asiatique on the riverfront is a popular night market on the Chao Phraya River. Many head there for the festival to experience shops, bars, restaurants, entertainment, and fireworks. Tha Maharaj Mall is also on the Chao Phraya River and known for its celebration during the event. If you’d like something more relaxing, Phuket also hold celebrations away from the crowds, and you can release your krathong out to sea.

Manohra Cruises with Wat Arun

Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort will also be taking it a bit more low-key this year due to the pandemic and will not be doing a large river celebration but are offering the following three options.

A Moonlit Celebration on Manohra Cruises

As the Chao Phraya River comes alive with a myriad of flickering candles in celebration of the Festival of Lights, a Manohra Cruises boat will whisk you away for an evening of Thai specials served to the soothing soundtrack of live Khim music. Enjoy such delicacies as cobia fish in spicy turmeric curry; chicken and prawn dumplings in strawberry sauce; and coconut egg custard. A complimentary krathong is presented to every table to be released into the river at the end of the night.

Anantara Riverside Bangkok Longtail Bar

Embracing the Ritual at Longtail by The River

With live cooking stations set up on the edge of the water, take in a moment to enjoy the tranquillity and magic of the night whilst savouring delicious hot-of-the-grill dishes, unlimited beer and a selection of tropical cocktails. Taking part in the timeless tradition and release the krathong into the river under the moon light.

Celebrate with a Polynesian Twist at Trader Vic’s

Celebrate the festival of lights at Trader Vic’s where fresh salads, sushi and BBQ dishes will be served alongside an all-you-can-eat fresh river prawn and seafood buffet. When the sky begins to darken, set your complimentary krathong afloat and watch it join other flickering lights as they commence their serene journey down the Chao Phraya River.

Festival of Lights | Photo by Jessica Bradford

For a Private Festival of Lights Celebration

Celebrate the most picturesque festival with family and friends in stately style onboard a private vintage teak rice barge. Cruise down the River of Kings through a sea of colourful krathongs under a full moon sky scattered with dancing lanterns reaching for the stars. Watch the sunset from your stateroom then dine and imbibe on a menu of traditional Thai favourites as the world slowly passes by. Float your cares away onto the glistening waters as the Goddess of Water smiles down on Siam. Finally, dance the night away to soothing sounds before you step back ashore the following day to explore the temples and make a fresh start.

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