Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai 2010

November 25th, 2010

The people of Thailand and its visitors recently celebrated Loi Krathong, an ancient festival that falls on the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar, which is November in the Gregorian calendar. Three to five day festivals take place all over the country and one of the best places to take part in Loi Krathong is Chiang Mai, which includes the traditional Lanna ritual of launching paper lanterns (khom loi or khom yi-peng) and lighting fireworks. It is an unforgettable sight watch thousands of papers lanterns, some traling fireworks, fill the night sky.

Loi means to float and a krathong is a beautifully decorated float traditionally made from a banana tree trunk and decorated with flowers, leaves, a candle and often a coin. Floating a krathong provides an opportunity to let any negativity from the past float away and to renew optimism for the future.

Loy Krathong Festivities
Loy Krathong Festivities

Annual Flower Festival in Chiang Mai

April 6th, 2010

The annual flower festival in Chiang Mai is one of the highlights of the year and always attracts large crowds of locals and visitors, there to admire the flower studded floats, prize wining decorative plants, and contestants of the beauty pageant assembled in Suan Buak Hart Park . The festival was first held in 1977 and gives locals a chance to show why the city is affectionately referred to as the Rose of the North.

This year there were some spectacular floats covered in a rich mosaic of flowers intricately arranged in harmony with the chosen theme, ranging from an eco-tourism message to a tribute to the King of Thailand. Ambling along the 700 year old historical moat road, the crowds are unhurried and air is sweet with the scent of thousands of flowers.

The prize winning orchids with amazingly long aerial root systems and specimens of bonsai over a hundred years old were very impressive.

The flower festival also offers a good chance to experience the unique culture of Chiang Mai, where the ancient Lanna Kingdom with its own rule, language, dress and customs left an interesting legacy.  

The festival is held in February;  a great  time of year to visit Chiang Mai with cool mornings and evenings, warm sunny days, and clear blue skies. Political protests in Bangkok coupled with the recession have reduced the number of visitors to Chiang Mai recently and local businesses are suffering as a result. Chiang Mai remains an untroubled place though, and remains a very safe and cheap tourist destination with a lot to offer.