Holiday Swap

Being in Thailand all November, we’ll miss our traditional Thanksgiving with family & friends, but this year we swapped it for the festival of Loy Krathong in Thailand.

The festival, as celebrated in Chiang Mai, combines kom loi (lanterns floating up into the sky) and krathong (flower-covered containers floating down the river) into one grand 3-day event.

We knew the festival had begun when we saw the orange lights of the hot air lanterns floating up into the sky.  Near the Tha Phae Gate in the old city, we watched to see just how kom loi works.


Step 1: Locate the donut-shaped disk which is made of compressed straw soaked in paraffin.  The disk is wired to the base of the rice paper lantern.  Light the disk.


Step 2: Hot air needs to build up inside the held lantern. Patience!


Step 3: Release.

We watched one release after another, fascinated, and we even critiqued people’s technique. So we knew when a mistake was made, and, sure enough, a lantern or two dipped and dived and finally burned out in a nearby tree. 

We headed down to the Mae Ping River on streets closed to traffic.  No need to ask where to go as the roadside leading to the river was crowded with people and too-many-to-count krathong stands displaying their lovely floating flower containers.

We watched to see just how krathongs work.


Step 1: Buy a krathong. Most cost 10 – 40 cents.


Step 2: Go down to the steps by the river to light the candle and incense sticks on the krathong.


Step 3: Gently place the krathong in the river. Give it a little nudge. Watch it drift away.

We stayed by the river for some minutes watching others launch their krathongs, seeing lanterns being released above us from the bridge, startling with every firecracker and firework explosion.


We decided it was time for our walk back to our hotel.  Not far from the river, we stumbled upon the start of the Loy Krathong Festival parade.  How wonderful!  Forget the hotel for a little while longer.  The parade appeared to tell the history of Chiang Mai with a huge cast, all beautifully costumed.






We’ll still miss Thanksgiving with family and friends, but we did have plenty of company at the parade and could not have been happier to experience Loy Krathong in Thailand.

November 2013

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, Thailand and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Holiday Swap

  1. Pingback: Lessons learned on the road #4:  acceptance | simpletravelourway

  2. Pingback: What’s happening? A food festival! | simpletravelourway

  3. Excellent post … Makes me want to go there

  4. Steve says:

    and don’;t forget your delicious dinner @ Mamory Delicious!
    have safe travel…..

    • Steve, We enjoyed our meal chatting with you at Mamory Delicious in Chiangmai. The charitable work with refugees, children with autism, and Rotary projects that you described certainly puts your skills, experience, and resources to good purpose. Good to chat with you.

  5. Ashley says:

    Ah, I wish I would have been able to witness a festival when I visited Thailand. Beautiful photos!

  6. Jeanne Fu says:

    Stunning photos and narrative! Hope you enjoy the noodle place and the festival street food.

    I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Bali and look forward to another turkeyless holiday 🙂

  7. Jeanne Fu says:

    Stunning photos and narrative! Hope you enjoy the noodle place and street food of the festival!

    I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in Bali and look forward to another turkeyless holiday 🙂

  8. elephantwoman says:

    Lovely post, this takes me right back to Chiang Mai, it’s the nicest celebration during the year. Glad you got the full cultural experience!

  9. VisitSiena says:

    nice. . . 🙂 it is so good to learn about traditions events 🙂 I like it

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