Loy Krathong in Bangkok

  • Posted onFebruary 10th, 2013

Loy Krathong in Bangkok

bangkok-loy-krathongLoy Krathong is one of the most beautiful and romantic festivals of the Thai year. During the festivities you’ll find lots of colorful religious ceremonies, lively markets, live music, beauty contests, and of course lots and lots of eating, but most importantly you’ll witness hordes of friends, families, and couples heading to the lakes, ponds, rivers, and canals, to set their floats (Krathong), into the water. Each float is decorated with flowers, candles, and incense,  with each one cast in tribute to the goddess of water.

While major rivers, such as Bangkok’s Chao Praya, burn bright as thousands upon thousands of flame flickering Krathongs float calmly downstream, the skies are filled with fire lanterns  and the occasional burst of fireworks, making for a truly romantic and memorable setting across the capital. Thais also love an excuse to dress up, and you’ll see many females dressed in elegant traditional garments, with lots of shimmering gold sequins and Thai silk throws.

What’s it all about?

loykhrathong-bangkokYou may hear many refer to Loy Krathong as a lovers festival, or the Thai equivalent of Saint Valentine’s Day, but despite the romance of the occasion, the traditional meaning of Loy Krathong is related to the rice harvest, with the festival celebrating the end of the main harvest season. The festivities are seen as a way of praising and thanking the Water Goddess for helping with another year’s harvest, while also apologizing for any pollution that has been caused to the waters along the way (some of which, you could suggest, was caused by the previous year’s Loy Krathong!).

The Krathong themselves are traditionally seen as a way of casting off all the sadness, anger, and misfortune which you harbor inside. Believing this, many Thais will place a lock of hair or finger nail clipping within the Krathong, while others will result to bribery, adding a few bath to their float (you may well see some young scallywags wading in the water downstream looking to unload any loose money within the Krathongs). It’s believed that if the candle in your krathong stays alight until it floats out f sight, then you are heading for good luck.

The traditional idea is for everyone to craft and build their own krathong, with people taking great pride in the beauty of their handmade float, though in the bustling city of Bangkok people are far too busy for that, so expect to see many shops and stalls selling ready made vessels, or simple assembly kits for those who want to put a little more effort into it. The krathongs are most commonly made from banana tree trunk, fashioned into a lotus shape using the strong banana leaves, though you can witness some rather creative creations with some krathongs shaped like turtles and other interesting creatures.

When and where to enjoy Loy Kratong in Bangkok?

loy-khrathongLoy Krathong takes place on the twelfth lunar month (which is usually November), during the night of the full moon.

Lots of Loy Krathong events will be happening across the length and breadth of the city, from hotel pools to the rivers and canals of the capital, as well as markets, stage shows, and cultural activities set up at most public squares, parks, and temple grounds. Your best bet for hitting the crowds will be around the Chao Praya River close to Chinatown and the Old Town. While those looking for a more traditional experience should head to just about any of the temples in central Bangkok.

For a more exclusive and crowd free experience, a number of the plush hotels along the Chao Praya have private access to the riverside and often host their own Loy Krathong events, including the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok and the Shangri-la Bangkok.

Read more about the Loy Krathong festival.

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