Loy Krathong: How I Celebrated Chiang Mai’s Lantern Festival

Updated on February 7th, 2019 at 07:11 pm

Before I get into how I celebrated Chiang Mai’s Lantern Festival, I do want to acknowledge that I do not think this particular festival is very good for the environment. However many of the lanterns are made out of compostable materials such as banana tree leaves.  This is a very important cultural and religious practice for many people and so it is hard to simply say it should not happen due to the environment. I believe this tradition, however, can continue with the use of sustainable materials over disposable ones. For the rest of this post I will only be talking about my experience during this event.

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Loy Krathong: Releasing Floating Lanterns on the River

How I Celebrated Chiang Mai's Lantern Festival

Lights galore. I am so thrilled to have been able to attend Loy Krathong, also known worldwide as the Chiang Mai Lantern Festival. The fireworks start happening every night for four nights before the actual event but the evening of Loy Krathong is something to not be missed.

My travel companions and I started off our evening with our hosts Sandra and Naree. Naree taught us and helped us to make floating lanterns out of banana tree stalks, leaves, flowers and candles. This was a very cool experience since most people just buy their floating lanterns at the festival.

Once at the river bank, littered with people, performers, lights and lanterns, we were able to set our floating lanterns into the water along with hundreds of others. It was truly beautiful.

The symbolism behind the floating lanterns was explained to me by Ajan Jip who said that when you release the floating lantern you are thanking the river and thanking Mother Earth for providing for you. At the same time you are also getting rid of and releasing all your bad luck.

How I Celebrated Chiang Mai’s Lantern Festival: Releasing Floating Lanterns into the Sky

How I Celebrated Chiang Mai's Lantern Festival

Afterwards it was time to release large lanterns into the sky. We bought some of these further along the river bank near a lit up bridge. People were releasing lanterns all up and down the riverbank but also in the streets and the night sky was soon brilliantly lit. It was so magical I felt as if we were in a fairy tale.

I am so happy that I got to participate in Loy Krathong as it has been on my bucket list for quite some time now. If you haven’t yet, add it to your bucket list as well – it’s something definitely worth experiencing.

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Floating Lanterns

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About The Author

April Thompson

Updated on February 7th, 2019 at 07:11 pm

April is the founder and main author for Just Leaving Footprints. She has written for numerous blogs and publications such as Explore Magazine and Snow Pak. April loves writing about sustainable tourism, and promoting other sustainable travelers on her Facebook Group and Instagram Community, Ladies for Sustainable Travel. Currently, April is living and teaching English in Mexico City with her husband Arturo and they don’t plan on stopping their travels anytime soon.


  1. 1world2feet | 29th Nov 15

    Beautiful lights!

  2. Andrea Mayfield | 18th Mar 18

    What a magical sight to see with all of the lanterns in the sky! Great post!

  3. Sophie | 18th Mar 18

    Lovely lights and it must be a magical sight to see! I’m glad you have said that it’s likely not good for the environment, although it’s good to know that the materials are made of compostable materials!

    • April Thompson | 5th Apr 18

      Thanks so much Sophie! Yes I definitely had to include that in there. I honestly don’t think I would attend another lantern festival again because they’re not great for the environment but it’s hard to tell other people to stop doing them when they’re part of such a spiritual experience in many cases.

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