Loi Krathong is a festival that is celebrated throughout Thailand to honor 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.
If you plan on attending Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai then do note that the mass sky lantern release is largely commercial now with paid events and smaller lantern releases. This page is about the Loy Krathong festival but read on to find out about how to enjoy both.
Did you know?
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.
As Loi Krathong is integrated with Yee Peng in Chiang Mai then the entire festival takes place over three days.
Sky Lantern Release
Sky Lanterns are a separate festival known as Yee Ping. The mass release is now banned due air traffic complaints. There are now several smaller events. The vast majority are now smaller paid events.
- There is a free lantern release on Nawarat Bridge in Chiang Mai.
Do read this full guide to Yee Peng in Chiang Mai for full details about the sky lantern festival including dates.
Loi Krathong Festival (water lanterns)
This is the official start of Loi Krathong throughout out Thailand. In Chiang Mai it becomes a part 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 personal Krathong's so you'll experience a lot.
Food and drinks stalls will be lining the roads so you won't go unfed!
Loi Krathong Parade
Day three of Loi Krathong is usually 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 for free 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.
One week before Loi Krathong:
- Colorful Lanterns for Yee Peng are put 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.
Day 1 of Yee Peng in Chiang Mai:
- 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)
Day 2 Events for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai
- 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
Day 3 Events for Loi Krathong (Yee Peng) in Chiang Mai
- Grand Krathong procession (parade) and contest: 18.00-24.00 from Thapae Gate to the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
The Days after Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai
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.
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 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 university while the official 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: was the 4th of November 2017
- Loi Krathong date in 2018: is the 23rd of November 2018
- Loi Krathong date in 2019: is the 11th of November 2019
- Loi Krathong date in 2020: is the 1st of November 2020
- Loi Krathong date in 2021: is the 20th of November 2021
- Loi Krathong date in 2022: is the 9th of November 2022
- Loi Krathong date in 2023: is the 28th of November 2023
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.
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 accommodation well in advance for the Loi Krathong festival!