It’s an ancient tradition but it never gets old: on the evening of the full moon on the twelfth month of Thailand’s traditional calendar, usually in November, Thais from all across the country come together to celebrate Loy Krathong. The Kingdom’s most famous festival alongside Songkran, this is a celebration of leaving the past where it belongs and welcoming the future with arms wide open!
Many travellers have come to love the magical festivities over the years and their spirit of unison and positivity rings a bell with everyone visiting Thailand for a spiritual experience. Amazingly, Loy Krathong finds a different expression from city to city. Here are the best places to visit, deepening on your individual preferences…
In Thailand’s capital of cool, Loy Krathong is celebrated alongside Yi Peng festival, giving you the chance to kill two birds with one stone. The two celebrations have very similar meanings, as both are about allowing negativity and bad luck from the previous year to drift away. But unlike Loy Krathong’s floating banana leaf rafts, Yi Peng sees people release thousands of lanterns into the night sky.
The awe-inspiring experience is truly one-of-a-kind and, best of all, it’s made even more memorable by public performances, music in the streets, ceremoniously decorated temples and all sorts of delicious Thai food. What’s not to love?
The Kingdom’s historic capital takes Loy Krathong so seriously, they celebrate it for an entire five days. Part of what makes the festivities so special here is the city’s tradition of lighting thousands of candles throughout its historical park: picture 13th-century Wat Mahathat, the Khmer-style Wat Si Sawai and other popular sights, lit up in the glimmering light of an ocean of candles!
But that’s not all… Loy Krathong in Sukhothai also means special sermons, public Muay Thai fights, fireworks and several exciting competitions that are open to everyone – including tourists. In other words; there’s no better time to visit Sukhothai than during Loy Krathong.
Needless to say, Thailand’s legendary capital puts on an incredible show for the November festivities. The official hub of Loy Krathong in Bangkok has been Asiatique The Riverfront since 2013. Here, visitors get to watch a theatrical display of the festival’s ancient history before learning how to make their own krathong, to be launched into the Chao Phraya River from Asiatique’s pier!
If you prefer releasing your banana leaf raft mid-stream, jump aboard one of the countless ferries travelling up and down the river, instead. From here, you’ll also get the most amazing view of Bangkok’s beloved Loy Krathong fireworks display. Want to ditch the crowds? Many hotels in the capital host their very own, private festivities…
Travellers looking for a more demure and low-key experience of Loy Krathong will no doubt find this in Thailand’s lesser-known destinations. Off the tourist trail, the sacred festival almost takes on another level of meaning as locals use it for contemplation rather than merely celebration.
For example, why not visit the laidback border town of Nong Khai, where krathongs are released into the mighty Mekong? Or how about a trip to Chanthaburi, a colonial town in the country’s southeast, whose inhabitants gather at the city’s many temples to make food donations and pay their respects to the Lord Buddha? To experience the most authentic take on Loy Krathong and understand the festival’s historic roots, there can be no better place to visit than somewhere off-the-beaten-track…