When it comes to great holiday destinations, Thailand really takes the cake. Famous for it’s enchanting landscapes from crystal clear beaches and breath-taking archipelagoes of islands to dense stretches of jungles and gleaming golden temples – it’ll absolutely blow your mind.
Then you get the people; they’re pretty much the friendliest folk you’ll ever meet, and their culturally rich way of life is even better than their mammoth size woks of home-cooked Pad Thai. With their deeply ingrained beliefs and values this place is home to some of the most spectacular traditions and festivals in the world.
A festival that’s definitely worth visiting is Loi Krathong. Known as the Festival of Lights it’s a display so magical it’d put Houdini to shame. Imagine every waterway in the nation filled with thousands of elaborately crafted floating lanterns. It’s like looking into the heavens as rivers, lakes and fountains are magically transformed into extensive rivers of flickering stars.
Translated literally, Loi means “float”, and “Krathong” is the word for a type of tray that’s crafted out of banana leaves. During this week-long festival, extravagant Kratongs are crafted in all shapes and sizes. The Thai people really get into it when hand-designing these ones. After days and sometimes weeks of decorating the Kratongs with flowers, candles and incense, they’re then brought to life as they’re lit and set down to float freely through the night. It’s a spectacular site as lights dance and sparkle across every accessible waterway in the nation.
This mystical experience is also intensified by a parallel festival called Yi Peng – an event where hot-air driven, rice-paper laterns are set to float through the night sky, contrasting against the full moon on the 12th lunar month of the year (which usually falls in November). Although this week is not an official public holiday in Thailand, it’s pretty much one of the most romantically breath-taking and wildly energetic festivals that you can experience. Not to mention, the whole thing is often combined with huge markets, stage shows, mammoth light displays, parades of giant krathongs and beauty pageants for the title of Miss Nopamas.
We don’t know where it comes from, but we know why it continues
The origins of this festival are unclear. Some believe it’s centred around a legend where a King during the 13th century made an extravagant Kratong for his queen, who then set it afloat a canal, hoping it would pass him and display her everlasting love. Others believe the event comes from an age-old tradition of offerings in Buddhism. Where-as some believe it’s an expression of gratitude to ‘Phra Mae Kongka’, the Thai Goddess of water.
What we do know is that it’s an amazingly good time!