Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a beautiful city, but during Loy Krathong it becomes magical. Streets are lined with colourful decorations, candles flicker in krathongs floating down the river and there’s a constant stream of lanterns heading into the sky.

I’ve always wanted to attend the Yee Peng Festival in Chiang Mai, which is what brought us to this city in November. Unfortunately the mass lantern release (purely a tourist event) was a bit of a let down, as explained in my other post, but walking around the city during Loy Krathong was mesmerising. It more than made up for my earlier disappointment!

We started our walk round Chiang Mai Old Town at the Three Kings Monument, a central and popular location. Thai families placed krathongs and lit candles outside a temple nearby.

In the square just in front of the Three Kings Monuments there were hundreds of lanterns on display. You could buy a candle to place inside.

There was a huge variety of lights and displays. In this square alone (apart from the paper lanterns) there were rotating lanterns with animal outlines on, and a huge tunnel of yellow lanterns to walk inside.

We’d heard that there was a lot of activity at one of the main bridges just outside the Old City walls. On our way there, we saw some monks lighting some lanterns and stopped to observe them. This was just inside the grounds of Wat Buppharam.

From what I could gather, I think a tourist had asked his partner to marry them and the lantern the monks were holding had the marriage proposal written in Thai on it. It says ‘Sam yes!’ at the bottom so I’m guessing she appreciated the gesture!

What I loved about Loy Krathong festival were the incredible sights you can just happen across completely by accident. It happened to us again whilst we were walking amongst the stalls in the busy Sunday Night Market when hundreds of candles caught the corner of my eye. I walked towards them and we entered some temple grounds; there were monks praying to a golden statue of Buddha and glistening lanterns everywhere. It was breathtaking!

Nawarat Bridge was extremely busy on the first day of Loy Krathong. Thai people and tourists were letting off lanterns one by one for hours on end, creating a trail in the sky.

There were so many events taking place all over the city across the three days of Loy Krathong. A Mr & Mrs Yee Peng contest and a Loy Krathong float procession (a bit like a Disneyland parade) were just a couple of events on the itinerary.

I’d recommending visiting Chiang Mai during Loy Krathong to anyone. Just take to the streets to see what you find!


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Jen is a 24 year old blogger from the UK, currently travelling full time.