Chiang Mai Lantern Festival: All you need to know
The Thailand Lantern Festival also is known as the Yee Peng lantern festival happens once a year, usually in November, the exact date does vary depending on the full moon. It is definitely worth planning your trip to coincide with this festival. It is truly a breath-taking experience.
While there are celebrations all over Thailand, the largest festivals are held in and around Chiang Mai.
If you’d like more information on Chiang Mai, read my blog post on Top Things to do in Chiang Mai.
Thailand Lantern Festival and The Krathong Festival
The Yee Peng Lantern Festival coincides with the Krathong Festival. A Krathong is a decorated floating basket. These baskets are decorated with leaves, flowers and candles. They are set afloat at night in the river.
Two Ways to Attend the Thailand Lantern Festival
1. Free, Public Event
The easiest way to see the Chiang Mai Lantern Festival is to attend the free, public event located on the River Ping. The most popular area on the Ping River is near the Nawarat Bridge, east of the old town.
You will be able to buy the lanterns, candles, and Krathong floats as well as street food all along the river. Please be sure that the lanterns and floats you buy to release are all bio-degradable- thankfully, most sold will be!
Warning: is will be crowded, very crowed! Also, please be sure not to release lanterns near/under trees. We saw many tourist lantern get stuck in trees which is a big fire hazard. Tips for proper lantern release at bottom of article.
2. Mass Release, Private Festivals
Most pictures you see with thousands of lanterns releasing at the same time are taken at a Private, mass release Lantern Festival.
To attend one of these events you must purchase a ticket in advance. Tickets go on sale a few months in advance and sell out very quickly. If you miss the initial ticket sale, don’t worry because you will be able to purchase a ticket from a tour operator that will also include transportation. Tickets start around $120 and go up to $220 for VIP.
Mass Release Lantern Festivals:
- Yee Peng Doi Saket
- Northern Study Center
- Chiang Mai CAD Khomloy Eco
- Maw Jo University
I attending the Yee Peng Doi Saket. Once you first arrive at the festival there will be local artisans making and selling goods as well as several appetizer areas where you can get a snack. Next, the official gates will open to the dinner area. Dinner is small-plate style traditional Thai dishes and a traditional Thai drink. All food is included in the price of the ticket.
As dusk passes into the night the gates will open to the ceremonial area. You will find your designated seat. At each seat, your lanterns will be waiting. There will be a ceremony with monks before everyone starts lighting up and releasing the lanterns.
Tips: Be sure to arrive early for your transportation to the event. VIP tickets include extra lanterns and closer seating to the main ceremony area.
Dress: When attending these event it is important to dress appropriately, this means dress like you would if you were going to a temple- knees and shoulders covered. This is not a must but it is respectful.
Looking for more information on Chiang Mai? Read my blog post on Top Things to do in Chiang Mai.
Tips for lantern release: After you light your lantern hold it above your head for longer than you think. The more heat you let generate inside your lantern the better it will float up. If you don’t let enough heat generate, it will not go far. We saw way too many people doing this!