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Loy Krathong, Thailand’s festival of light


Are you planning to set off on a Thailand motorcycle tour during October or November? It would be perfect timing to enjoy one of the most popular celebrations: Thailand’s festival of light, Loy Krathong. In this post, we take a look at this vibrant Thai festival.

Loy Krathong’s origins

On the night of the twelfth lunar month, when the full moon is shining brightly and the monsoon season has ended, all bodies of water, rivers and klongs (canals) in Thailand are ablaze with light. In Thai, “loy” means float and “krathong” are the small handmade raft –or banana leaf boats– decorated with candles, incense and flowers. Inspired by the Hindu tradition, Diwali, Loy Krathong was first celebrated in Sukhothai. While it pays homage to the Goddess of Water and thanks her for her precious help at harvest, other beliefs revolve around this celebration. It symbolises renewal and is considered a moment of purification where grudges and anger float away with the krathong. Some people even leave locks of hair or nail clippings, which symbolise their defects.

On the night of the twelfth lunar month, when the full moon is shining brightly and the monsoon season has ended, all bodies of water, rivers and klongs (canals) in Thailand are ablaze with light. In Thai, “loy” means float and “krathong” are the small handmade raft –or banana leaf boats– decorated with candles, incense and flowers. Inspired by the Hindu tradition, Diwali, Loy Krathong was first celebrated in Sukhothai. While it pays homage to the Goddess of Water and thanks her for her precious help at harvest, other beliefs revolve around this celebration. It symbolises renewal and is considered a moment of purification where grudges and anger float away with the krathong. Some people even leave locks of hair or nail clippings, which symbolise their defects.

Where is this light festival celebrated in Thailand?

The festival has a completely local feel, (i.e. it wasn’t designed for tourists), and sees Thai people come together to enjoy three days of celebration and light. During your Thailand or your Laos motorcycle tour, you will stay in Chiang Mai, one of the best places to celebrate Loy Krathong, because it also coincides with Yi Peng, the famous lantern festival. Even though the two festivals take place at the same time, they are very much different, and the latter is a traditional Lanna festivity. Find a spot along Ping River and expect to be amazed when you witness thousands of paper lanterns lighting up the sky, something that only happens in Chiang Mai. Sukhothai, home to the light festival, is also an unmissable place. A festival of light and sound, beauty contests, fireworks, arts and crafts markets, etc. This host of events set among historic temples in the town centre is enough to make any traveller dream.

The festival has a completely local feel, (i.e. it wasn’t designed for tourists), and sees Thai people come together to enjoy three days of celebration and light. During your Thailand or your <a href="https://www.vintagerides.travel/motorcycle-tour/laos-thailand/">Laos motorcycle tour</a>, you will stay in Chiang Mai, one of the best places to celebrate Loy Krathong, because it also coincides with Yi Peng, the famous lantern festival. Even though the two festivals take place at the same time, they are very much different, and the latter is a traditional Lanna festivity. Find a spot along Ping River and expect to be amazed when you witness thousands of paper lanterns lighting up the sky, something that only happens in Chiang Mai. Sukhothai, home to the light festival, is also an unmissable place. A festival of light and sound, beauty contests, fireworks, arts and crafts markets, etc. This host of events set among historic temples in the town centre is enough to make any traveller dream.

So, are you ready to set off on a Royal Enfield motorcycle tour to discover one of the most beautiful festivals in the country?

Photo credits: John Shedrick


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