Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand. It is held on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November.
“Loy” means “to float”. “Krathong” is a raft about a handspan in diameter traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk (although modern-day versions use specially made bread ‘flowers’ and may use styrofoam), decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, incense sticks etc.
In the evening, many people will go to their local klong (canal) or river to float their krathongs. They believe this will bring them good luck. By the end of the evening, there are hundreds of flickering lights bobbing up and down on the water. Quite often there are also firework displays as well as shows and beauty contests for everyone. Overall it is really a memorable evening.
Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai has the added feature of a parallel festival called Yi Peng. Yi Peng is celebrated by launching hot air balloons made of rice paper into the night sky. The night sky is literally filled with thousands of these bright lights shining like a moving river of stars. It’s a truly magical sight that can’t really be captured in a picture.
Loi Kratong in Chiang Mai has become so popular that the hotels around the city are fully booked a month or more in advance. If you want to celebrate the festival in Chiang Mai, plan ahead and book your hotel well in advance. Note that Loi Kratong is celebrated on a full moon night, so the date will change from year to year.
Tak similarly celebrates the festival of “Loy Krathong Sai” that is reflected through a long line of Krathong made of coconut shells lit with candles as well as threaded together as a string of floating lights on the Ping River. When lit Krathong are floated onto the right current typically one after another they would wander along and make a breathtaking and twinkling curving line or “Sai” in Thai amidst the darkness of the night. This represents the accord and oneness of local people when they assemble on the river banks where they sing and dance with utmost bliss. Tourists will also have a mesmerizing occasion to relish the atmosphere of Krathong Sai contest and water curtain presentation relating to “The Legent of Krathong Sai”
In “the City of Angels”, the banks of the glorious Chao Phraya River are the prime location to celebrate the festival. So as to revive an old custom of the ancient capital, Loy Krathong is arranged to preserve the royal ritual of the early Rattanakosin period in which several types of traditional Krathong were set afloat onto the Chao Phraya River and its waterways. Many riverside hotels and restautants also hold special celebrations for their guests. For a more stunning night of Loy Krathong in Bangkok, meticulous tourists are earnestly invited to partake in this yearly festival and join the crowds along the Chao Phraya River, the Rattanakosin Island, the Santichaiprakarn Park, the Rama VIII Bridge, the Taksin Bridge and the Krungthon Bridge.
Thai people from all walks of life are gathering on the nearest river with their hands holding a fine-looking banana leaf cup. The rivers and waterways are illuminated with glittering lights whilst the historical remains and commercial buildings along the banks of the majestic Chao Phraya River are adorned with electric decorations. The joyful festivities like firework displays, traditional performances as well as sound presentations are just around the corner. These are the common scenes awaiting you on the coloful night of Loy Krathong.