Thailand has many festivals throughout the year but Loi Krathong is one of the most spectacular you will see.
The phrase roughly translates to “floating basket” and originates from the tradition of making a krathong, which are buoyant baskets that are floated down a river for instance. You may observe locals floating their baskets into the seas around Thailand or even on Lakes.
The festival takes place on the full moon of the twelfth month of the Thai Calendar, meaning that the date alternates annually. For westerners the celebrations fall in the month of November.
In 2016, Loi Krathong fell on November 14th but in 2017, it will occur on November 3rd.
The festival is celebrated across much of Asia under a variety of different names. In neighbouring Cambodia and Myanmar for example, it is called “Bon Om Touk” and “Tazaungdaing” respectfully.
The term “Loi” translates to “to float”. Krathong however has various meanings but generally it reflects a basket or small container, constructed of leaves often from banana or lily plants. Many modern krathongs are now made from bread, which dissolve fast and can be eaten by fish.
There was a trend for a while of purchasing Styrofoam versions but these are generally banned now as there are not biodegradable and cause serious pollution issues.
The baskets are decorated with leaves and may contain food, incense sticks, a candle and even a small coin as an offering to the river spirits.
On the evening of the full moon, people gather in their droves at riverbanks, canals, ponds and seashores to float their krathongs. It is customary for them to make a wish as they release the baskets.
In recent times, fireworks are set off and beauty competitions take place featuring Thai girls in traditional dress. In fact, many of the bar’s in Pattaya, allow their staff to adorn themselves with Thai dresses and make up, for the evening, adding colour and charm to the celebrations.
You may see specifically organised events by local councils too, feature large floating baskets, beautifully decorated and floated for all to enjoy.
If you have never attended a Loi Krathong festival, you really should take the time to do so. In Pattaya, the beaches such as Jomtien as filled with people after dark, all waiting to float their decorative baskets out to sea. Their lights can be seen for miles around.
If you are lucky, you may even witness sky lanterns being set adrift in the skies above Pattaya too. These are made from paper, have a small fire lit inside them, which in turn sends them upwards into the darkness.
Put November 3rd, 2017 in your diary and enjoy this wonderful display as the hours of darkness set in. Take your camera, you may get some spectacular images from the festival.