The annual Loy Krathong festival takes place in November, traditionally in the middle of the twelfth lunar month. During the nationwide celebration, also known as Thailand’s “Festival of Light”, expanses of water around the Kingdom come alive with light as people release small floats or “krathongs” made of leaves and carrying candles, flowers into the water, symbolizing the release of all their troubles and bad luck.
The origins of the festival dates back around 800 years to the days of ancient Sukhothai, which was then one of the most powerful cities in Asia. Today, many Thai people still make their own krathongs, taking great care to make the vessels into which they metaphorically place their woes. They decorate them with flowers and banana leaves before filling them with candles and incense, as well as tokens of their physical being such as finger nails, hair and small coins.
Once the candle on the krathong has been lit, it is placed on the water to “loy” (float) away, taking misfortune with it. According to tradition, if the krathong floats away from you, it means your hopes and dreams will come true. However, if the krathong floats back towards the shore, your luck may not go as you had hoped.
Bangkok is one of the best places to experience the festival. This year, the TAT revealed plans for an illuminated boat procession, as well as traditional Loy Krathong activities and illuminated buildings and historical sites on either side of the Chao Phraya River.
People celebrating Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai should head to Chang Klan Road to enjoy a traditional Lanna performances and a floating lantern contest. Visitors and locals alike can also take part in a demonstration of how to make krathongs and “Yee Peng” lanterns.
Another top destination to enjoy the festival of lights is by the coast, as thousands of krathongs can be seen floating gently out to sea – most of them biodegradable. On Phuket, many resorts and villas around the island host special evenings for guests to join in and experience this important date in the Thai cultural calendar.
All the communities living near the beaches on the island take part in Loy Krathong activities, with a mix of locals and tourists present to float their krathongs into the ocean. Nai Harn Lake and Patong beach are particularly popular places for tourists to enjoy the festival, while a large number of local people head to Saphan Hin Park and Suan Luang (King Rama IX) Park in Phuket Town, both popular spots to “loy”.