Yi Peng or Yee Peng (local name) is part of the festival of lights in Northern Thailand to show respect to Buddha.
It's date usually coincides with Loi Krathong which all of Thailand celebrates using floating lights on water. In Northern Thailand Yi Peng, which is celebrated alongside Loi Krathong, is different in that lights are placed into sky lanterns which float up into the air.
Loi Krathong still happens in Chiang Mai but the actual Loi Krathong floating lanterns on water event usually happens the day/night after Yi Peng.
Alongside the floating light ceremonies there are also parades, fireworks, displays of colorful lanterns and cultural highlights involving the Lanna )indigenous people of Chiang Mai). As Chiang Mai was the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom it holds the largest Yi Peng Festival.
Since 2015 airline have protested against the sky lantern festival and the mass lantern release at the university has been stopped. There are now several smaller releases across Chiang Mai. Unfortunately all are paid events - however read on to find the local free one in Chiang Mai!
Did you know?
Yi Peng translated from Lanna is "Yi" meaning "2nd" and "Peng" meaning "month".
Yi Peng is held on the full moon of the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar. Though the exact dates change yearly it's usually held in mid to late November.
Sky Lanterns (Khom loi / Khom Loy / Khom Fai) when released are said to end a person’s bad luck or misfortune. Especially if it disappears from view before the fire goes out.
Please note that the fame Mae Jo University Lantern Release no longer occurs due to airlines complaining about air obstructions. Today, there are several paid events that occur in Chiang Mai with lantern releases up to 3,000. There are however many local evens where local people gather to release lanterns including a large one in Chiang Mai city center. Keep in mind Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai is not banned and go's ahead every year and that is usually when the sky lantern release (Yi Peng) takes place.
There's a little confusion over where and when to actually see the spectacular lantern release during Yi Peng in Chiang Mai. Here's a simple break down.
- The biggest lantern release used to be held behind Mae Jo University in Chiang Mai known as the Lanna Dhutanka grounds. This event no longer occurs - so please pay no heed to online articles saying it does.
- There are now several smaller lantern releases at various private events which sell tickets.
- There is a small local lantern release at Nawarat bridge in downtown Chiang Mai which although not official occurs every year - it's also where the water lanterns associated with Loi Krathong are released.
Yi Peng Lantern releases locations (pay)
The following sky lantern release venues are paid events. You will need to contacted each venue yourself if you want to book a ticket. Do note the price of the tickets as some can be quite expensive
|Yi Peng Lanna International||Lanna Dhutanka||Nov 11 (2019)||3000||Lanna Dhutanka near Maejo University||$200-300||Thai Buffet Dinner||1 Lantern|
|Chiang Mai CAD||Chiang Mai Culture Art and Design||Nov 11 & 12 (2019)||5000||Cowboy Army Riding Club Mae Rim||THB 4,500+||All you can eat||2 Lanterns|
|Yee Peng Doi Saket||LCMT tour||Nov 11 & 12 (2019)||2500||Doi Saket Hot Spring||THB 3,500+||All you can eat||3 Lanterns|
|Northern Study Center||Northern Study Center||Nov 11 & 12 (2019)||4,000||Northern Study Center||THB 3,999+||Thai Dinner Set||3 Lanterns|
|Wat Doi Ti & Kruba Srivijaya Monument||Doi Saket||Nov 11 (2019)||750||Wat Doi Ti & Kruba Srivijaya Monument||THB 2,999+||Thai Dinner Set||1 Lantern|
To attend any of the above venues you should contact the organizer. Please do not contact me. Any tourist can attend any of the events. Beware of tour companies offering tickets at even greater inflated prices.
Watching Yi Peng Lantern from Chiang Mai city (free)
If you don't want to attend the paid lantern events then don't worry. Many locals feel the paid events are a rip off and the Mae Jo University release closure is due to profit making more than an airline complaint. In the days leading up to Yi Peng and a few days afterwards in Chiang Mai will be fully decorated with colorful lanterns and have some smaller individual lantern releases.
Just in front of the Three Kings monument is a popular place to see colorful lanterns released by locals and to purchase an air lantern to set into the sky yourself. Get there from about 6.30 onwards. Lanterns cost about 30-50 baht.Nawarat Bridge is perhaps the largest local release and another popular location but is often crowded. It's certainly worth a visit though if you are around the area.
Likewise in several of the Wats in and around Chiang Mai's walled area there will be colorful lanterns on display. In several temples or just outside them there will also be places where you can buy and launch a lantern.
Do note however that Yi Peng coincides with Loi Krathong (think of this as the lanterns on water festival). There will be parades, fireworks and more taking place mainly near the Saphan Nawarat Bridge. The crowds can get rowdy there as alcoholic drinks and firecrackers are for sale on the roadside. Do be cautious.
In 2014 Thai airline carriers asked for no more lanterns to be released due to the dangers and costs of diverting planes during the festival. For the record there has never been any air traffic incident during the festival. That was the official story. Others say it's to do with tour companies wanting to cash in on the event.
Many within the Lanna community wish for the events to be free once again.
Although you can see lanterns being launched all over the city the following places on this map of Chiang Mai will show you the more popular locations.
Warning: Sky lanterns are made of flammable paper. Many countries around the world would not allow Yi Peng's lighting of lanterns in its current form due to fire regulations. Please take care when lighting a lantern and also of those around you.
The primary reason to light a lantern is to offer respect to Buddha. Secondary reasons include the idea of letting go of bad things.
Lighting a lantern safely usually involves two or more people.
- Meditate before preparing to release the lantern. This soothes your mind for the upcoming event.
- Light a stick or long match and then light the candle (circular block) that goes inside the lantern on the ground.
- Extend the lantern out to its full height.
- Make sure the lantern remains fully extended (take care).
- Wait for the lantern to fill with hot air. Hold on tight and don't let it go!
- Make a wish while waiting for the signal to let it go.
- Let the lantern go only when you hear the signal
- Stand back and enjoy the spectacle!
Tip: If the circular block does not light properly chip away small portions of it and light the freshly exposed areas.
Please note that Yi Peng is based on a lunar calendar so exact dates change every year. However the festival takes place over three days and is usually just after or before Loi Krathong. The following is what you can expect to see and do.
One week before Yi Peng:
- Colorful Lanterns 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 lanterns.
Day 1 of Yi 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 Yi Peng / Yee Peng (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 Yi Peng / Yee Peng (Loi Krathong) in Chiang Mai
- Grand Krathong procession and contest: 18.00-24.00 from Thapae Gate to Office of Chiang Mai Municipality
The Days after Yi Peng / Yee Peng (Loi Krathong) in Chiang Mai
Not much happens at all. A few people still release individual lanterns but basically the celebrations are over. Even the stationary lanterns outside many wats and buildings are turned off at night. Do don't let any tour operator tell you the celebration continues all week. It doesn't!
Do check out my guide to Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai.
Accommodation in Chiang Mai for Yi Peng and Loi Krathong books out fast. 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..
Remember, book well in advance for this years festival!