I planned a trip to Thailand last year to see the floating lanterns. The photos look stunning, the videos are breathtaking, but I had problems pinpointing where the festival was, and wasn’t, in Thailand.
Yi Peng is generally quite a hard festival to research, as it celebrated on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month ever year, the exact date is first shown closer towards November. You will have to make sure that you are in Chiang Mai for at least a week around the estimated date (usually mid November) so that you don’t miss the festival!
Just incase you didn’t know what it was all about, Yi Peng (also known as Yee Peng), symbolizes letting go of all of your misfortunes in the previous year. You can also make a wish whilst you set your lantern off.
Where is the Yi Peng Festival held?
To make this short and straight to the point (because I literally couldn’t find a short answer on google): Yi Peng Festival is only in Chaing Mai. If you want to see it like in the photos with hundreds of lanterns, then the only place to go is Chiang Mai. There may be one or two lanterns in other places but not as many as in Chaing Mai. However saying this, the law has also changed…
Before 2019 you could just stand on the Narawat Bridge and watch all the dazzling lanterns around you. Since 2019 they have now banned all lanterns on the bridges and in the town Chiang Mai. The reason for this is because the airport is so close, it is too dangerous for the planes.
Is the Yi Peng Festival also in Chiang Rai?
I found it really hard to find an answer to this online as there were so many mixed answers. The answer is no. We went to Chiang Rai and I loved it there, there are so many temples to see and places to eat. They do celebrate Loy Krathong (little handmade boats with candles on top that float along the river), but not Yi Peng!
So where can I set my lantern off?
This means the only place you can go to are the temples in the mountains. You have to book your tickets online, but if tickets run out you can also just take an Uber to the temple and light your lanterns outside of the walls. There will be hundreds of lanterns floating in the sky so it doesn’t really matter if you are on the inside or the outside.
My boyfriend and I knew none of this last year as no one said anything about it online. We were actually in Chiang Rai at the time, but were told that Yi Peng is celebrated in Chiang Mai (they also failed to inform us that the lanterns were banned). We booked another hotel and travelled back to Chaing Mai, when the evening came, it turned out that the lanterns were banned and there was security everywhere.
A magical evening turned into a fustrating one, we bought a lantern (a few people were still selling them) and then walked around, watching everyone who tried to float a lantern have it taken away by police/security. The temple is 1 – 1.5 hours away so it was too late for us to get a spontaneous uber there. Closer to midnight we saw more and more lanterns being set off and decided to follow the trail of lanterns.
The people were setting them off in the middle of the road, it was pretty seeing the lanterns in the sky, but definitely a different experience than what we had been waiting for.
The one thing you have to know for Yi Peng Festival:
- It is only in Chaing Mai and as of 2019, the lanterns are only allowed in the temples.
If you have any questions about the Yi Peng Festival, leave me a comment below! I found it very hard to research and would be so happy to help you.