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Loy Kratong or Yi Peng

That time of year again and the Loy Kratong festival has arrived in Chiang Mai. Known locally as Yi Peng, the festival falls on the full moon in November which is the 21st November. But is true Thai party tradition a bit of exaggeration comes into play and the full party runs from 19-22 November.

For those who don’t know the main points of the festival are:

1. Release of Kratongs, or small banana leaf floats with a candle, into rivers an waterways. As the Kratong floats away it takes with it your bad luck for the year and appeases the god of water.

2. Especially in Chiang Mai, the release of Khom Loy or fire lanterns which are mini hot air balloons with a glowing flame that can be seen for miles as they float skyward.

3. The Loy Kratong parades. Carnival floats or big Kratongs parade through the city on their way to the river which is the centre o celebrations and release of Kratongs.

As with Songkran party madness has taken over this festival, and it is now also a big excuse for the unrestrained launching and throwing of fireworks well into the night. The high spot of the festival is the celebrations at Narawat bridge (end of Thapae road) which at times resembles a war zone.

For more information on the various parades and events you can download the schedule from the Chiang Mai Municipality website

Loy Kratong - from Chaing Mai Municipality Website
Click above to download schedule (Excel file in English and Thai)

For the gay tourist the best part of Loy Kratong is the parades with many of the student or university entrants comprising scantily clad young men marching in traditional pants or sarongs. However, you may find some of the GO-GO venues a little disappointing. There will be plenty of Thai customers visiting Chiang Mai for the festival and out to have fun so the bars may be full, later in the evening, but many of the hosts who work there like to get out and party too so it may be an underwhelming experience.

Enjoy but stay safe. Remember a lot of alcohol flows during the festival and many who have consumed too much can be found riding cars or motorcycles and throwing fireworks. Not the safest of combinations!

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