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Thailand is one of the most popular travel destinations in Asia, and for plenty of good reasons. The country is surprisingly affordable, boasts a warm climate, is home to amazing beaches and offers a rich cultural heritage.
One of the many cultural events that allows you to get an authentic view of the local heritage and history is Loi Krathong, or the Floating Lantern Festival. Held throughout Thailand, this is a fun event as well as a beautiful one that visitors won’t want to miss.
Find out more about Loi Krathong as well as how to plan your vacation around this exciting Thai festival.
The History of Loi Krathong
While not confirmed, there is evidence to suggest that the Loi Krathong festival first began as early as the 14th century when the Sukhothai Kingdom ruled in what is now the northern part of Thailand.
Loi Krathong can be translated into English as floating a basket, which is exactly what happens on this special day. Small decorated baskets are launched on the full moon in November and is a way of paying respect to Buddha, various water spirits or Phra Mae Khongkha, the Goddess of Water.
The floating baskets typically contain small candles as well as other mementos or coins, and the lights create a stunning visual array at night that you won’t ever forget.
What to Expect During Loi Krathong
Today, Loi Krathong is both a culturally significant event for religious residents and an excuse for a fantastic party. Modern baskets may be made from bread or leaves, both of which can decompose quickly without harming the environment.
Among the floating baskets, it is not unusual to spot young children who swim after the basket in order to collect any coins found inside. Accompanying the release of the baskets into rivers and bodies of water throughout Thailand are Nopphamat Queen Contests.
These beauty pageants have a rich history and are a fun event that brings together Thai communities. Music, cuisine, parades and celebration all night long are the hallmarks of the Floating Lantern Festival.
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Best Places in Thailand to Experience the Floating Lantern Festival
Virtually every destination in Thailand celebrates Loi Krathong, and if you are in the country during the festival it will be impossible to miss. However, some destinations are particularly fascinating to explore during the festival.
Thai cities with the largest Loi Krathong celebrations include the capital of Bangkok, Sukhothai and Tak. In Chiang Mai, the festival takes on a different feel and lanterns are released into the air, illuminating the night sky in what is known as Yi Peng.
Planning Your Vacation to Thailand
If you are planning a vacation to Thailand around the Floating Lantern Festival, remember that the dates can change significantly from year to year. It is held on the full moon of the 12th Thai month, which is typically sometime in November.
In major cities, book accommodation several months in advance since they can sell out quickly due to this exciting event.
One of the best ways to experience Thai culture and history is through Loi Krathong, or the Floating Lantern Festival that takes place throughout the beautiful nation each autumn.