Although traveling to Thailand is a pleasure at any time of the year, you’re in for a treat if you visit during the festivals of Yee Peng and Loy Krathong. Attending these festivals is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Thai culture. Here’s how you can participate in an eco-friendly method that both the Thai people and the Earth will appreciate.
The Historical Origins of the Loy Krathong Festival
Also known as the festival of lights, Loy Krathong takes place once a year. The festival is typically held in November, although the exact day varies by the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar. The 2019 Loy Krathong festival falls on November 11th this year.
The highlight of the festival is releasing floating offerings the night of the festival into the closest body of water, whether it’s a lake or a swimming pool to make their offering. Making the offering is meant to bring good luck in the coming year. The act is intended to convey thanks to the esteemed water goddess, adding a rich and beautiful meaning to the festival.
Loy Krathong offerings are floating vessels made of banana tree trunks or bread adorned with a candle, incense, and banana leaves. The warm, soft glow of these small delicate rafts is a spectacular sight. Releasing a krathong can also be an engaging experience for couples as Thais believe that if the candle remains lit until the vessel is out of sight, the couple will have every lasting love. Each person releases their raft. When a couple’s rafts float away together, it is taken as an omen of eternal love.
The Yee Peng Festival
Loy Krathong is celebrated throughout Thailand, but it is huge and famous in the North because the festival of Yee Peng is celebrated there as well. The word “Yee Peng” is actually Lanna, which is not only the historic northern kingdom but the old language of the region. This fantastic light festival also takes place in November, as it falls on the second lunar month in the Lanna calendar.
One significant difference between this festival and Loy Krathong is that instead of placing floating offerings into the water, they are sent up into the air. When people release the lanterns into the air on Yee Peng, the night sky illuminates with their glow. The majestic sights of this festival make it a strong reason to visit Thailand in November.
These festivals can be the experience of a lifetime, and making an effort to be eco-friendly can help ensure the natural beauty of Thailand is preserved for future enjoyment.
How to be Eco-Friendly While Participating in the Celebrations
When participating in these festivals as a tourist, it is important to be respectful not only of your gracious hosts, the Thai people, but also the environment. Tourists who wantonly release non-biodegradable lanterns into the sky during the Yee Peng and Loy Krathong festivals can cause damage to the environment.
There has been a great deal of improvement in the use of biodegradable lanterns. Nearly 93% percent of all lanterns used during Yee Peng are made from biodegradable rice paper bags.
While the rice paper bag lanterns have considerably helped reduce pollution caused by the festival, concerns continue to persist. The biodegradable material does not eliminate the infection. As such, it is advised and appreciated to set off only one lantern per person. By limiting yourself to one lantern, you will be helping preserve Thailand’s majestic natural splendor for all to enjoy. Another thing to consider is to simply observe the festival without releasing any lanterns or floats. Appreciating the religious significance and simply observing their release by monks and other Buddhists still allows you to witness this grand festival without adding any strain to the environment.
Where to Go
The Yee Peng festival is mostly celebrated in the North, particularly in Chiang Mai.
You can enjoy the festivities of Loy Krathong in Tak, as well as Bangkok, Samut Songkhram, and Ayutthaya Province (see our list below). Sukhothai is widely considered to be the spiritual home of Loy Krathong and is a truly unique destination.
Plan Your Trip to Thailand for Yee Peng and Loy Krathong
Although the festivals of Loy Krathong and Yee Peng are held once a year, seeing them in person feels like a once in a lifetime experience. The beauty of the lights on the water and in the sky is beyond description. You have to experience it for yourself.
In addition to the aesthetic beauty of these events, the deeper meaning behind them will leave you with a sense of peace and renewal.
Here are some of the Loy Krathong and Yee Peng festivities happening throughout Thailand this year:
For more information on Loy Krathong 2019 events, click here.