Our last night in Chiang Mai was nothing short of amazing! It was Loi Krathong and everybody was out celebrating. There was a parade and lots of festivities going on. We really enjoyed the Yi Peng International Festival the night before, but now it was time to celebrate with the locals on the streets!
The Lanna people of northern Thailand use floating lanterns for celebrations and special occasions year round. One of the most important festivals in which sky lanterns are used is the Yi Peng Festival, which we celebrated the night before. The festival is held on a full moon of the second month of the Lanna calendar. This year, it happen to coincide with Loi Krathong, where decorated baskets are floated on a river. So the night was filled with many sky lanterns flying high above and lots of krathong floating down the river.
The lanterns are traditionally made from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame. The source of hot air is usually a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material. Lighting the lantern can be tricky, especially the large ones. Be sure to hold the top and sides of the lantern out and away from the fuel cell when lighting.
After the parade and dinner, we walked to the streets near Tha Pae Gate where crowds of people were launching their sky lanterns into the sky.
We were given two large sky lanterns as a gift for attending Yee Peng International. A couple lighters were being passed around. We stood in the middle of the crowd and lit our first lantern. By this time, we had the hang of lighting the lantern.
You’re suppose to make a wish when you launch the lantern. Some people even write their wishes on the lantern itself. It’s considered good luck to release a sky lantern, and many Thais believe they are symbolic of problems and worries floating away.
Time to light our second lantern!
In addition to the lanterns, people will also decorate their houses, gardens and temples with intricately shaped paper lanterns.
There are people walking around selling the lanterns. They seemed to be the small lanterns. If you can find the large authentic lanterns, stick to those. They are better quality and fill with more hot air for a better release.
After launching both our sky lanterns, we hopped into a tuk tuk, weaved through the traffic, and followed the crowds to the Ping River.
The bridges and streets were filled with tons of people!
Various vendors were selling the colorful decorated river lanterns. There were lots of food stalls to purchase some snacks as well.
Traditionally, the krathong is made from the leaves and wood of the banana tree. The raft is decorated with flowers, a candle and an incense stick.
We each purchased a krathong and made our way down to the river to release them. We saw the crowd of people from the bridge and tried to make our way over there. After a bit of wandering, we spotted the entrance to a small dock on the river.
We lit the small candles and handed it to the guys standing in the river who helped gently place them on the river to float away.
This was such a wondeful night! It was so much fun and truly magical.
Yi Peng (Yee Peng)