One of my favorite festivals in the world is the Loi Krathong / Yi Peng ‘festival of light’ in Thailand. Both occur at the same time and although differing slightly, both represent the cleansing of sins. Yi Peng takes place mainly in Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, and involves mass coordinated releases of ‘Khom Loi’ (floating lanterns) into the night sky, creating an outstanding visual treat. Although releasing Khom Loi is also popular in other areas around Thailand, Chiang Mai is the place to be to see it happen.
Elsewhere in Thailand, the Loi Krathong Festival is more popular. As opposed to floating lanterns into the night sky, Loi Krathong involves releasing buoyant ‘krathongs’ onto water. Krathongs are delicate floating tributes to the Goddess of Water (Phra Mae Kongka) often made using banana leaves and flowers and are lit with a small candle. Ayutthaya and Bangkok are both great places to experience the Loi Krathong festival. In Ayutthaya, the crowds gather at Bueng Phra Ram in the Historical Park while locals in Bangkok flock to the Chao Phraya River to release their sins out onto the water.
It really is a spectacular sight - don’t forget to take your tripod and camera!