It always seems like there’s some cool celebration, festival or holiday going on…somewhere else. I’ve never been to Oktoberfest, Holi, the running of the bulls or Glastonbury, BUT for once I’m in the right place at the right time: celebrating Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai!
Every year on the full moon of the 12th lunar month, Thailand celebrates ‘Loi Krathong’ (ลอยกระทง), or Yi Peng (ยี่เป็ง) as it’s known in the north. To those outside of Thailand it’s best known as ‘That Lantern festival’ – and for good reason – there are a lot of lanterns.
Though festivities happen throughout the country, Chiang Mai is by far the best place to experience this beautiful holiday of lights, floats, fireworks and lanterns. (To learn more about the holiday and how it’s celebrated check out my guide to Loi Krathong on Wanderlust and Lipstick.) While the actual holiday falls on the full moon, there is a always a huge lantern release several days before, about 30 minutes outside of Chiang Mai in the town on Mae Jo. This year Loi Krathong will be celebrated on November 28th and 29th, but the stunning release was this past Saturday.
Thousands of people gather at a Buddhist temple for a special meditation ceremony then the release of thousands of floating lanterns into the night sky. It’s incredible how something so simple as a lit up bag slowing rising in the sky can be so mesmerizing. There really are no words for the sensational sight…so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
For hours of waiting and protecting our spot on the temple grounds (and then getting stranded in a sudden lightning storm with no power and having our driver ditch us)…this was our reward:
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Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
New places are always calling my name...
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