And at last I see the light: Yi Peng Festival

And it’s warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

Sounds familiar? Yep, it’s from the song called I See The Light from the movie Tangled. It’s also one of the reasons why I was eager to see a lantern festival personally. And that’s why I went to Yi Peng Festival last year in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Yi Peng is a festival of lights that is being held in Northern Thailand on the night of the full moon alongside Loi Krathong every twelfth lunar month of the year in which the Thai locals believe that the rivers are filled to their fullest and the moon is at its brightest. And both are celebrated for good luck.

So how do you plan your trip to Yi Peng festival? Here’s mine! 🙂

It was a 9 day trip to Thailand (November 9-18) and together with my friends, we explored 3 cities (Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Pattaya-Bangkok) and out of the three, my heart favored Chiang Mai the most ❤️ Anyway, the most important thing to consider when going to Yi Peng festival is the date, it always takes place in the month of November but never on the same date, so you really have to do a reliable research on the internet for the exact date. It was November 13-15 last year (2016), and November 14 was the main night for releasing sky lanterns and floating baskets for Loi Krathong.

While we were finalizing our trip to Thailand last year, we were shocked by the announcement that Yi Peng Festival will be cancelled in line with the passing of the King of Thailand last October 2016. A year-long mourning was announced and Thai’s were asked to refrain from participating in joyful events for 30 days following the King’s death and many events were cancelled and postponed. We were disappointed, yes, but we kept an eye on it and after a few days, a news came out that Yi Peng Festival will push through. We were  under the moon that time.

So we landed in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok at midnight on November 10. You can also fly directly to Chiang Mai depending on the route destinations of your local airlines if you don’t want to go to Bangkok. So we explored Bangkok on our first three days before heading to Chiang Mai. And just to share a trivial fact while we were there, the government has decided to waive all entrance fees for Historical Parks and National Museums until January 2017. I can’t remember all of them though because we paid for the entrance fee of some of the temple we have visited but The Grand Palace entrance was totally free. The Thai King’s remains is at the Grand palace and Thai people were gathered there to pay respect. While visiting the Grand Palace we felt and saw the love and sympathy of the Thais to their late King and it was the most incredible thing. And I suuuuuper love the free drinks and free food outside the Grand Palace, I think we didn’t spend a penny for food that day, everything was free. Yay! Another trivial thing is that one of the locals there advised us to wear black before heading to Grand Palace to commemorate with the mourning, and I’m glad we listened because if we haven’t, all eyes would be on us. 😀

The Grand Palace

Going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok 

You have two options going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok: Train or Bus, we took the latter. Based on reviews it’s faster and more convenient. So we booked our bus ticket online, months before our trip (it’s a must because it’s peak season) it costs around 1,000 PHP / 20 USD per person and we claimed it on the bus station on the day of our departure. The trip lasted for 9 hours.

We stayed at Tawan Bed Club which I really liked because it’s close to the market and we were able to walk around the area while we explore. We booked it in AirBnB.

On our first day in Chiang Mai, we took a full day tour in Chiang Rai where the Wat Rong Khun Temple a.k.a. The White Temple and the Golden Triangle are located. It was a package tour we availed on our hostel which costs around 1900 PHP / 40 USD in person.

Chiang Rai Tour package inclusion:

  • Mae Khajan hot springs
  • Wat Rong Khun
  • Golden Triangle
  • Boat trip on the Mekong to Laos Island
  • Lunch
  • Border market at Mae Sai (Thai-Myanmar border)
  • Yao hill tribe village
  • Akha hill tribe village

The start time is 7PM at Ping River, we walked our way from our hostel at around 5PM. We didn’t have the lantern yet and decided to just buy near the location and that was our mistake, we assumed that there will be a lot of stalls selling lanterns but we thought wrong! No stalls were selling them and we have to ask people along the way with lanterns where they have bought them. We walked for miles and miles just to buy lanterns and finally we found one that’s selling it. It’s being sold in secret and we’re not sure why but we’ve heard that the authorities prohibited it be sold in public while the floating krathongs were everywhere. So remember to look and buy for the sky lanterns hours before the event! And don’t forget to bring a lighter. 🙂

We rode a red taxi going back to the Ping River and it’s almost 7PM and the place is already crowded. Lanterns already filled the sky and the river are filled with float krathongs. We hurriedly made our way to the bridge to release our sky lanterns and it was a surreal sight. The most beautiful ❤ I even sang I see the light to myself while watching the lanterns, haha!

 

After that, we headed down to the river to float our krathongs.

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After Chiang Mai, we headed to Pattaya for beach time!

 

Another highlight of my Thailand trip is, fooods!

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My most favorite part of them all, the reason why I want to go back. Thai tea!!!!

And here’s a picture of us riding a Tuk Tuk! 🙂

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Thanks for reading! ❤

 

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