Updated: November 19th 2016
| Thailand travel guides
Loi Krathong is a festival that is celebrated throughout Thailand to honor Buddha. However in northern Thailand it coincides with the Lanna festival of Yi Peng or Yee Peng (local name). In Chiang Mai the Loi Krathong act of placing floating lanterns in the river is usually celebrated the day after the famous Sky Lantern Release. Both the sky lantern release and the floating lanterns are done to show respect to Buddha.
Alongside the floating lights in the river there are also parades, fireworks, displays of colorful lanterns and cultural highlights involving the Lanna. As Chiang Mai was the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom it holds the largest Yi Peng Festival.
Yi Peng translated from Lanna is "Yi" meaning "2nd" and "Peng" meaning "month". It coincides with Loi Krathong.
The term Loi Krathong means "decorative floats. It's a specific term used for this festival only.
If you plan on attending Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai then do note that you should not miss the Sky Lantern release the day before!
As Loi Krathong is integrated with Yee Peng in Chiang Mai then the entire festival takes place over three days.
There are two of these. One the day before Loi Krathong which is free and another which is about a week later than you have to pay to enter.
- The biggest lantern release is held behind Mae Jo University in Chiang Mai known as the Lanna Dhutanka grounds.
Do read this full guide to Yee Peng in Chiang Mai for full details about the sky lantern festival including dates.
This is the official start of Loi Krathong throughout out Thailand. In Chiang Mai it becomes apart of Yee Peng and there are several places you can see or even participate in releasing a floating lantern into the river Ping.
Throughout the day by the Chiang Mai Municipality and around Nawarat bridge there will be things to see and do. Namely learning to build your own Floating Krathong or watching Krathong competitions.
- An official launch starts at Nawarat bridge & Office of Chiang Mai Municipality at about 18.30 (it can get very crowded here) and then continues on down the river Ping
- Lanterns are set afloat all along the riverside of the river Ping
- Along all the main bridges from Nawarat on down there will be fireworks and many firecrackers
Loi Krathong's main showing in Chiang Mai generally starts at sunset with the main celebrations between 19.00 - 22.00 hours. However fireworks and firecrackers will continue to be released well on into the early hours.
It's louder and noisier than you might expect for such a delicate sounding festival.
If you are looking to get away from the loud fire cracking crowd the best suggestion is to make your way down to the riverside area. Many people will be launching Krathong's so you'll experience a lot.
Food and drinks stalls will be lining the roads so you won't go unfed!
Day three of Loi Krathong is a rather subdued one during the day. Many Thais that traveled to Chiang Mai will use this day to head home. The highlight is an early evening (18.00 approx) parade from Thapae Gate to the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality.
Everyone can view this parade by lining up along the main road and watch highly decorative floats as they pass by.
It's certainly a visual spectacle filled with elaborately decorated floats and people in traditional attire.
Although you can see both paper and floating lanterns being launched all over the city the following places on this map of Chiang Mai will show you the more popular locations.
- Colorful Lanterns for Yee Peng go up opposite the 3 kings monument and around Thapae Gate.
- In the days just before the festival many Wats begin hanging lanterns
- About 4 days before the first day vendors start to appear and you can start lighting sky lanterns.
- Opening ceremony of “Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival” 18.30-19.00 at Thapae Gate
- Yee Peng Lantern Procession Contest at Night Bazaar: 19.00-22.00 Thapae Gate to Pantip department store
- Yee Peng Kids Contest 19.00-24.00 Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
- Large Lantern release 18.00-20.00 Mae Jo University (see above for details)
- Boat Race: 09.00-15.30 Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
- Hot Air Balloon Contest (small) 09.00-12.00 by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
- Handmade Krathong Contest: 09.00-17.00 by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
- Mister and Miss Yee Peng Contest : 18.00-24.00 Thapae Gate
- Floating of Lanna candlelit Krathong: 19.00-21.00 Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
- Boat Procession: 19.00-21.00 Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
- Fireworks display in Honor of H.M. the King: 20.00-24.00 Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
- Grand Krathong procession (parade) and contest: 18.00-24.00 from Thapae Gate to the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
The colorful lanterns don't stay up for very long at all. If you are planning to enjoy Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai then get there before the festival rather than after it.
Future dates of Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai
Loi Krathong is lunar based with a full moon of the 12th Thai month. So exact dates are not known until about a month before the actual event. However you can get an approximate idea of when Yee Peng will be due to this as well and in Chiang Mai Loi Krathong usually starts the day after Yee Peng.
- Loi Krathong date in 2013 was November 17th
- Loi Krathong date in 2014: was November 6th (Yee Peng Lantern release happened earlier on October 25th at the universtity while the offical paid one took place on November 8th!)
- Loi Krathong date in 2015: is the 25th November 2015
- Loi Krathong date in 2016: was on the 14th November 2016 - (low-key celebrations due to the death of the king)
- Loi Krathong date in 2017: is the 4th of November 2017
- Loi Krathong date in 2018: is the 23rd of November 2018
Again, these are not confirmed dates. But these are the dates Loi Krathong based on the full moon. Do remember in Chiang Mai Yee Peng usually takes place the night before or after the above dates.
For more information do read this full guide to the Yee Peng festival
Prebooking value trips around Chiang Maican be done online at quite good rates compared to some local tour operators. Do check out this list of activites around Chiang Mai which I've selected.
Transport to Chiang Mai being a headache? Or do you want to let the experts plan your trip to Chiang Mai and beyond so you can relax and enjoy yourself.
Accommodation in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong & Yee Peng books out fast. With Chiang Mai being the main city for Yee Peng it's a popular destination for tourists and Thais alike. Book well in advance for your preferred accommodation standards and prices. Prices are key as they often shoot up in the days leading to the festival..
Check out my great hotel search. It finds the best rates for you in online hotel prices for Chiang Mai.
Remember, book well in advance for 2016's festival!
(back to top)