several illuminated lanterns in the sky during the famous Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai

Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai: Best Guide

Are you looking for all the details you must know to experience the famous Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai? You’ve come to the right spot!

Firstly, let me say that if you’re in Chiang Mai around the time of the Lantern Festival, you absolutely cannot miss it! It’s a mesmerizing life experience you’ll never forget!

You’ve seen the images, many illuminated lanterns lighting up the sky, making for a beautiful, unique visual experience one must experience in person.

Yi Peng is the traditional Thai name for the festival. Everyone else refers to it as the Lantern Festival.

The Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai is a special and significant two days for those who practice Buddhism and an exciting, fun, and spiritual experience for all, no matter your personal beliefs.

dark sky full illuminated lanterns during the Lantern Festival at Doi Saket

What is the Lantern Festival?

The Lantern Festival, also known as Yi Peng, is a traditional Buddhist festival celebrated in various parts of Thailand but is most celebrated in Chiang Mai.

Buddhists typically celebrate Yi Peng as part of religious practices, particularly those who follow Mahayana Buddhism.

The celebration is a form of spiritual offering, where paper lanterns are released into the sky; the lanterns symbolize enlightenment and represent a way for individuals to express their seek of blessings and devotion.

But the Lantern Festival welcomes people from all backgrounds to participate in this visually stunning event and witness its beauty firsthand.

As you stroll the streets of Chiang Mai, you’ll spot vibrant parades, lanterns in the sky, people gathering, fireworks, and more. It is one of the most visually stunning and culturally significant events in Thailand.

Lanterns released into the sky are known as “Khom loi” in Thai and are typically made from rice paper with a bamboo frame, containing a candle or fuel cell at the center. When lit and released, they create a luminous glow that illuminates the darkness.

Releasing a lantern into the sky symbolizes letting go of negative elements, such as bad luck or misfortune in one’s life, and making wishes for good fortune, happiness, and prosperity.

several locals and tourists releasing lanterns into the sky at Doi Saket for the Yi Peng

When is the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai?

The Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai typically takes place on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, which tends to fall in November.

In 2023, the Lantern Festival happened on November 27th and 28th, with opening ceremonies taking place on November 26th.

Every year, the famous Tha Phae Gate is where the Lantern Festival Opening ceremony in Chiang Mai happens; the ceremony takes place the evening prior to the two-day festival.

It’s important to note that dates for specific events may vary each year, so it’s advisable to check back on this article for updated date information about when exactly the Lantern Festival will take place in Chiang Mai.

Do not worry; this informational guide for the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai will stay up to date, and any new info regarding the festival’s dates in 2024 will be added.

several people beginning to release their lanterns into the dark sky during Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai

Best Spots in Chaing Mai for Lantern Festival

Doi Saket Lakes: Known as the best spot in Chiang Mai to experience the Lantern Festival, Doi Saket is around 30-40 minutes away from Chiang Mai.

Here, you’ll experience several locals/tourists releasing lanterns throughout the night, fireworks, many festival decorations throughout the large park, and a lively night market serving plenty of food/drinks.

You can get to Doi Saket yourself, and if you should do so, make sure to leave early; there’s plenty of traffic on both festival nights.

Or attend a Lantern Festival Doi Saket tour, which provides a package of transportation, food, and lanterns for you to release. Tours are sold a few days before the event online and at tour agencies around the city.

NOTE: There is NOT a one-time Lantern release here; lanterns here are spontaneously released by visitors at Doi Saket

One Release Events: These events are slightly formal; you’ll be taken to a designated area outside the city where you’ll enjoy dinner first, followed by lantern preparations before the big-timed release!

Nawarat Bridge: Located on the eastern side of Chiang Mai on the Ping River, the Nawarat Bridge is one of the best spots in the city to experience the Lantern Festival.

Here, you’ll find several locals/tourists lighting up lanterns, a large, extensive night market covering both sides of the river, a Ferris wheel, and plenty of festival decorations.

plenty of illuminated lanterns in the sky and lanterns being released during Yi Peng in Doi Saket

Three Kings Monument: Located in the center of the Old City in Chiang Mai is a large open-spaced square where the Three Kings Monument is located.

There, you’ll find vendors serving food/goods decorations, and many gathered to participate in the evening festivities.

Tha Phae Gate: Another popular spot in the city to enjoy the festivities is Tha Phae Gate, known as Chiang Mai’s more prominent landmark. You’ll find plenty of locals/tourists enjoying traditional performances, indulging in local food, and taking it all in.

In fact, this is where the Opening Ceremony for the Lantern Festival happens, which takes place the night before the two-day festival.

TIP: If you’re not attending an organized event but instead going to one of the many free locations around Chiang Mai. And, you would like to purchase lanterns to release, you can buy them on the street from vendors or in advance at Warorot Market

several locals and tourist walking amongst the night market and closed streets for Yi Peng Festival near Nawarat Bridge in Chiang Mai

How do Thai celebrate the Lantern Festival?

In addition to releasing lanterns, Thai people also participate in various activities during the Yi Peng festival.

Celebrations include attending religious ceremonies at temples throughout the city, making offerings to monks, meditating, and engaging in acts of kindness towards others.

Fireworks can be spotted being set off all over the city, especially in areas where organized events are.

You’ll spot many locals close their eyes and place their hands together once they’ve released their lantern into the sky. At this moment, they’ll think of wishes they wish to come true in the near future.

It’s said that if the lantern you release stays lit and disappears into the dark sky, good fortune is on its way into your life!

At times, when visiting popular spots in Chiang Mai for the Lantern Festival, many tourists can be intrusive to locals. Please be mindful of those taking part in their religious practice.

The Lantern Festival not only showcases Thailand’s rich cultural heritage but also promotes unity among its people. It attracts both locals and tourists who come together to celebrate this magical event filled with beauty and spirituality.

monks standing beside elaborate lantern decorations in Chiang Mai

What’s the Best way to Experience the Lantern Festival?

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the festivities is by participating in one of the organized lantern releases.

These organized events often occur at temples or designated areas where visitors are grouped together to release their lanterns on a countdown.

It’s best to plan ahead and decide whether you’d like to attend an organized event or simply visit one of the many free areas in Chiang Mai to experience the Lantern Festival

Organized one-release events tend to start in the early evening, around 4-5 PM, with dinner first, followed by the timed lantern release preparation. It’s important to note these organized timed lantern releases aren’t cheap, ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 Baht, which is $150 to $200 US.

Alternatively, go to Doi Saket Lake if you’d like to experience a beautiful lit-up sky but not pay as nearly as much as a timed lantern release event. It’s free to go to.

There, you will experience many locals/tourists releasing lanterns spontaneously, fireworks, a night market, and plenty of beautiful traditional decorations throughout the park.

There are also tours that will take you to Doi Saket Lake and back for the festival; they provide transportation, food, and everything you need for the lanterns. From Chiang Mai to Doi Saket Lake it’s around 40 minutes, and there’s traffic on the nights of the festival.

fireworks and lanterns in the sky at Doi Saket park during the Lantern Festival

Roundtrip tours to Doi Saket Lakes cost around $2,400 to 3,600 Baht, which is $67 to $104 US, and they include food and everything you need to celebrate.

While Doi Saket Lakes is the best place to experience the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, understand there’s no timed release there.

You will experience a beautiful sky full of lanterns, but it’s not nearly as visually spectacular as a timed lantern release!

Another way to experience the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai is by exploring the local markets that spring up during this time. These markets offer a wide array of traditional food, handicrafts, and souvenirs related to the festival.

It’s a great opportunity to sample delicious Thai cuisine and purchase unique lantern souvenirs and other festive items.

Lastly, it’s important to respect local customs and traditions while participating in the celebration. Remember that it is primarily a religious event for Buddhists, so be mindful of appropriate behavior when celebrating. If you choose to visit, dress modestly when visiting temples or other sacred sites.

many locals and tourist walking past a bridge full of decorations at Doi Saket during Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai — Final Thoughts

Overall, The Lantern Festival offers a remarkable opportunity to experience Thai culture at its finest through breathtaking visuals and spiritual significance.

I recently experienced the Lantern Festival for the first time on November 27 and 28, 2023. It was a magical, fun, and enlightening experience that I simply cannot put into words. I highly recommend everyone experience it once in their life.

If you’re curious, I chose to go to Doi Saket Lake to experience the festival and let me tell you why. But before I do, let me mention I was debating on attending a dinner and one-time release event, where everyone releases lanterns at the same time.

But after speaking with locals, they mentioned to me that those events can be quite touristy, and after the release, everyone goes home. Doi Saket, on the other hand, is different; visitors are consistently releasing lanterns, there’s a night market, and areas to walk around and enjoy the park.

I also attended the opening ceremony of Yi Peng at Tha Pha Gate the night before the two-day Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai. It was fun, and attending the ceremony got me extra excited to experience Yi Peng in Chiang Mai!

TIP: Make sure to buy a lighter to light up your lantern; too many people forget to do so and must ask others to borrow theirs. It’s best to come prepared!

several people attending the Opening Ceremony for the Lantern Festival at Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai

Where is the Thailand Lantern Festival 2024?

The Lantern Festival is in Chiang Mai and is held once a year for two days.

Where is the best place to watch the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai?

The best place to experience the Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai is Doi Saket Lake, Nawarat Bridge, or any large one-release organized event.

Where is the lantern release in Chaing Mai?

Lantern releases happen in plenty of places around Chiang Mai, Nawarat Bridge, Three Kings Monument, Doi Saket Lake Park, and more!

Is the Yi Peng festival worth it?

Experiencing the luminations from all the lanterns flying above in the sky at once will leave you with a lasting memory!

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