Loy Krathong was one of my favorite things in Bangkok this year. The sight of all the candles floating on the lake in Lumphini Park, and the community spirit of the whole event made me feel warm and accepted.. that was until I slipped, extinguished the candle in the lake and nearly fell in. It was so embarrassing. But apart from that, here is why you definitely should take part in Loy Krathong next time you are in Thailand in November.
What is Loy Krathong?
Loy Krathong is a Thai festival, held annually on the night of the 12th lunar month (usually November). With Thailand being an agricultural country, originally people used to head to local lakes and rivers to thank the goddess of water (Pra Mae Khongkha) for her previous years supply of rain, and also to apologize for polluting the various rivers and waterways.
Nowadays, Loy Krathong is a time of year when Thais can symbolically ‘float away all grudges and negative feelings’. There is also traditional Thai dancing and Krathong making competitions – making Loy Krathong a festival not to be missed if you are in Thailand.
You should buy your Krathong – if you wish, you can place something from your body, such as a lock of hair or a fingernail (we did both), along with a coin. You then light the candle, place the Krathong in the water and watch it float away. If it floats out of your sight with the candle still lit, this is a good sign. A year of good luck is coming your way.
(I’m not sure what I will get after the candle went out when I nearly fell in the lake… but I’ll let you know in a years time. I’m hoping that because I re-lit the candle and quickly turned my head away that it will cancel out the bad luck!!)
What is a Krathong?
A Krathong is a floating boat or vessel, usually made from banana trunk, banana leaves, and various types of flowers, and can be bought from the many street vendors (or made yourself by buying the different bits and pieces from the local supermarket). Bought from a vendor they can cost anything from 50 Baht (£1) for a simple one to 250 Baht (£5) for one of the more extravagant ones. Don’t worry about not being able to find somewhere to buy one, as the streets are full of stalls selling Krathongs. Inside the Krathong is a candle, which should be lit just before floating it away.
Where can you celebrate Loy Krathong?
Loy Krathong is celebrated all over Thailand – the most famous places are Phuket, Koh Samui, and Chiang Mai – However I took part in Bangkok. The festival is slightly different in Chiang Mai – they light a candle and float it into the sky on a sky lantern. You will sometimes hear it called the ‘Yi Peng Lantern Festival’, but essentially it is the same thing.
In Bangkok, the most popular places to take part are;
- Asiatique on the Riverside (you can take the free shuttle boat from Saphan Taksin/Sathorn Pier – but expect it to be very busy)
- Lumphini Park in Silom (This is where I went and can highly recommend it)
- Benjasiri Park (Right next to Phrom Phong BTS Skytrain)
- Most of the big hotels such as the Shangri La and the Mandarin Oriental will have some sort of event in the hotel pool. Check with the reception desk.
- Wat Saket in the Old City.
All in all, I cannot wait to go again next year. Hopefully I havent earned myself a year of bad luck for nearly falling in the lake and making the candle go out.. but I will update you all before Loy Krathong next year.
Ever been to the festival, or thinking of going? Let me know in the comments below.