Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Loy Krathong & Yi Peng: Thai Floating Lanterns in Chiang Mai

Our visit to Thailand was perfectly timed for Loy Krathong & Yi Peng (AKA the Festival of Light, AKA the Floating Lanterns) in Chiang Mai. Most people think about Tangled, but seriously, no one does it quite like Chiang Mai.

The streets are filled with revelers as the floating lanterns dot the sky.
It was a truly magical experience.
I actually cried when we looked up into the dark sky to see it dotted with lanterns.
(Emotional traveler alert.)

The floating lantern festival called Yi Peng is celebrated with pomp. Read more about the festival here.

It was surprisingly uplifting to put everything negative into the lantern and figuratively float it away.
The floating lantern festival coincides with Loy Krathong is held on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (typically November).

While the lanterns get all of the attention at Loy Krathong, the lotus-shaped boats are pretty neat. Some kind soul lit the candles for my float and we ceremoniously sent it down the river.

The Thais sure know how celebrate.

How to visit Yi Peng and Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai:
  • Book early! Lodging in Chiang Mai is nonexistent during the first days of the festival. We met friends who either had to bail on coming or had to stay an hour out of town. Find lodging and book it early. We booked a month ahead and it was limited.
  • Be flexible. So what's the schedule for the festival? Beats me. We had three different locals give us three different answers on what was supposed to happen. Rule of thumb: go to the bridge at night. The action is down there. 
  • No need to buy lanterns ahead. People are selling all different sizes along the street. 
  • Bring a lighter or be willing to make friends. (Thank you, blonde Canadians! We are in your debt.)

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