The date on which Loy Krathong takes place varies every year depending on the moon. It falls on the evening of the 12th lunar month, which is usually in early-to-mid November.
In 2016 it was on Monday 14th November. In 2017 it’s scheduled for Saturday November 4th, and it’s already penciled in for Friday November 23rd in 2018.
Songkran (Thai New Year) may be the most famous Thai festival of all, but Loy Krathong is probably in second place. In many tourists’ minds it is synonymous with Yi Peng; the Lantern Festival. In reality, although they are both celebrated on the same night in Chiang Mai, they are two different festivals.
Loy means ‘to float’, and krathong refers to a small raft or basket. Stick them together, and you get a pretty good idea of what this festival entails!
Locals and tourists alike gather around Thailand each year near rivers, lakes, or basically any body of water they find. They take a small basket which has a candle and some flowers (usually bought from craftsmen who have stalls at the event), light the candle and incense, and set it down on the water to float away.
Whenever Loy Krathong happens to fall is a great time to be in Thailand. The sight of hundreds, even thousands of little baskets, each with a candle burning, floating away into the darkness is one you’ll never forget.
For such a famous festival, the origins of Loy Krathong are shrouded in a surprising amount of mystery. It’s likely that, many centuries ago, it was an Indian festival. It seems to have been adopted in Thailand during the Sukhothai era, around the 13th or 14th century, and has grown in fame and importance ever since.
Loy Krathong was originally completely focused on paying respects to the Goddess of Water. While this is still a factor, over time it has become more about the people taking part. Thai people believe that when they release their krathong, and it floats away on the water, bad things that have happened in the past year float away with it. If your candle stays alight until it’s out of sight, it means you’ll have good luck for the next year.
Loy Krathong is a festival that’s truly celebrated in every corner of Thailand. For your touristic purposes, however, there are a few special places you should head to.
Your number one destination should be Chiang Mai; it combines with Yi Peng for an especially unforgettable evening. Specifically you should go to the Ping River, which is only a few minutes’ walk to the east of the old city.
Elsewhere the celebrations in Sukhothai and Ayutthaya are also special. Bangkok gets in on the action in a big way too, as you’d expect; Asiatique and the Phra Athit Pier are a couple of great places to check out the event.If you are planning to go to Asiatique, be aware that some businesses engage in dual pricing, most notably (or should that be notoriety) the Asiatique Ferris wheel. To be honest, you can be anywhere in Thailand and as long as you are near a water source, you will find Loy Krathong happening.