So I came across this magnificent picture that caught my eye while browsing for a new place to celebrate New Year. I was totally blown away for that moment. It didn’t even cross my mind that these floating lanterns I only saw in the movie Tangled were real. So I dig deeper and found out that this New Year celebration happens only in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Based on Thai tradition, releasing a lantern in the sky means new beginnings and good luck.
On the other hand, there is also a so-called lantern festival called Yi Peng (means full moon day), which coincides with Loi Krathong (which means “to float a basket”). It is both celebrated annually in Thailand every November. Yi Peng festival is intended as a time to make merit in Buddhism. In Thai, these floating lanterns are called Khom Loi. It is made up of rice paper and a wireframe where a candle is attached and sold cheaply and in different sizes. Since I already had a plan for November, I resolved back to reading about the lanterns for New Year instead.
As I’ve read, the Thae Phae Gate is said to be the exceptional place to celebrate New Year in Chiang Mai. This is where people gather to release lanterns to send their wishes into the sky and starts the count down until the stroke of midnight. Along the Thae Pae Gate will be live performances, live music and a stretched of food stalls and markets. Since this will be a busy place for New Year, it is said that traffic around the Gate is blocked from 5:30pm to keep it safe for everyone to cross and walk around the place.
According to various blogs, New Year in Chiang Mai is a popular event in Thailand. Thai people tend to go back to their hometowns, and more foreigners come to celebrate as well. Hence, plane and train tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai are either too expensive or sold out quickly. So, they recommended planning a few months ahead before December. Based on the information I gathered, there are 3 ways to reach Chiang Mai from Bangkok. A sleeper train takes 12 hours, a little more than an hour by plane, 9 hours via an overnight bus or 12 hours for a day bus. There’s enough option to reach Chiang Mai in time for New Year.
These pictures, like the one above, already speaks a thousand words. It really looks other-worldly. I guess this is a rather extraordinary event for someone like me who grew up in a country where the majority are Roman Catholics and the only Christian nation in Asia. Lucky for me, I am situated where Thailand is geographically nearby, so this is going to be next in my New Year bucket list.
The featured image is owned by Drew Hopper. Thanks for the inspiration Drew. I actually made this my desktop wallpaper from September to December.