-The lantern festival in Chiang Mai is one of the most anticipated events in Thailand that many visitors desire to attend once in their life.
- Nhung has been to Thailand many times, but for some reason, she has never attended any lantern festival before.
- In November, Nhung and her friend decided to fly to Chiang Mai with a hope to see the light festival once in their life.
Follow Nhung, our travel expert, to see what is waiting for you at a lantern festival.
Nhung and her friend left the hotel and walked to the release area. “You should better to go early in the evening,” Nhung said, “or you will be caught in the crowd that will gather soon after the sun goes down.” The lanterns are made from rice paper, stretched over a lightweight bamboo frame, and sold along the way to the festival area. Nhung borrowed a pen from the seller and wrote on the lantern her own wishes. “If you find someone selling the lantern, don’t hesitate to pick one! You might not able to find it in the release area. They are sold out when I got there.” Nhung told me. “And don’t forget to bring a lighter. You will need it.”
Cheerful and lively music was spreading over the area. Thousands of lanterns were held firmly. Groups of friends, families, couples shared a waiting moment. Their eyes were smiling, their faces were hoping, their minds were filling with unspoken wishes and dreams. Nhung and her friend lighted up the paraffin-soaked wad inside the lantern, held its lower edge close to the ground, whispered their wishes and waited patiently for the heated air to completely inflate the lantern before releasing. The lantern slipped from Nhung's fingers to fly upward. The night breeze quickly collected it and swept it away into the sky. One by one, thousands of shinning orbs overwhelmed the power of darkness and shifted it from black to gold hue. On the ground, thousands of faces of hope are waiting for their wishes to come true.
People decorated temples and streets with colorful Vesak lanterns. (Yeah, the lovely girl in the picture is Nhung)
In the evening, lanterns were lighted up, illuminating the whole city.
Nhung really enjoyed being at the festival.
People held their lanterns firmly, whispered their wishes, and waited patiently for the heated air to completely inflate the lanterns...
... before releasing them to the sky.
Celebrated on the same day alongside Yi Peng is Loy Krathong. The difference in that is lights are placed into baskets (Krathong) instead of the sky lantern and released onto the Ping river of Chiang Mai.
Nhung learned how to make a Krathong at her cooking class. She wrapped green banana leaves around a banana stem base to form a basket and decorated it with fresh flowers, candles, and incense. For Thai people, when you let a Krathong in the water, you are letting go of sadness, anger, sins, and bad luck of the old year, saving room for peace and happiness in the new year.
Nhung brought her Krathong carefully, stepped down to the river’s edge. She placed a coin on it, lighted the candle and incense stick, made her last wish, then released it into the quiet water. Nhung gently splashed the water to send her Krathong to go further until it caught the flow of the Ping River. Around her, people started to release their handmade Krathongs. The river began to fill with candlelit banana rafts. Does it know it is carrying hundreds of gratitude and hopes, thanks and dreams dancing like fireflies in the water? No one has the answer.
The girls were saying prayers before sending their candle-lit Krathongs into the Ping River
The river was lighted up with hundreds of Krathong
Your bad luck, your sin, and your sickness in the old year will be rinsed off by the water
Nhung spent one day in her Chiang Mai trip on a cooking class. The food scene of Chiang Mai can make it a rival to Bangkok for the color, flavor, and enjoyment. It’s easy to find hundreds of cooking class where you learn traditional Thai cuisine in Lanna cooking style. The Thai chef taught Nhung to cook Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, and Mango Sticky Rice. These are three of the most popular dishes that you can find everywhere in Thailand, from a house kitchen, a busy night market, or a fine dining restaurant. Nhung soon learned that: The balance between sour, spicy, salty and sweet is all about the key of Thai cooking. That gives their dishes an irresistible flavor.
Baan Kang Wat Artist Village is another highlight in Nhung’s trip. The idea for this village comes from a wish to create a space for local artists and promote local handicraft and culture. Small, lovely traditional Thai houses blend perfectly with the surrounding nature. Flowers and shrubs of all sizes and colors seem to be embedded into every corner of the village creating a quirky and laid back vibe. Baan Kang Wat is a perfect place for a lazy afternoon to reconnect with little happy moments that make up the whole world of our lives.
From the village, Nhung went to visit Wat Umong. Isn’t as touristic as other golden temples, the 700-year-old Wat made her feel like taking a step back in time. Nhung loves the ancient brick tunnels, the tranquil atmosphere, and ‘talking trees’ that have words of wisdom in both Thai and English. She spent an hour to explore around the temple, feed the fish, turtles, and ducks in the pond, and witness the monk blessing. Nhung said Wat Umong was “a place that brings peace to every mind.”
Nhung and her friend with two other travelers were at the cooking class
She loves the quietness and the lovely atmosphere of Baan Kang Wat
The ancient brick tunnel in Wat Umong which Nhung said it was “a place that brings peace to every mind”.
Chiang Mai lantern festival is one of the most inspiring festivals in the world. It’s not only beautiful, but it’s also magical. A lantern brings hopes, moving beyond the realm of language, nation, culture, and religion, to join thousands of others on the same river or sky. They bring you something to hope and wait for in the future: A future of possibilities.