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Celebrating Loy Krathong In Koh Lanta


by Margaretha Selby



Welcome to the enchanting island of Koh Lanta, where vibrant celebrations and rich cultural traditions await during the annual Loy Krathong festival. Nestled in the Andaman Sea off the western coast of Thailand, Koh Lanta is a paradise known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets. But it is during Loy Krathong that the island truly comes alive with an atmosphere of joy, reverence, and spiritual connection.


Loy Krathong, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of Thailand’s most cherished and celebrated events. Held on the evening of the full moon in the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually in November), Loy Krathong is a time for locals and tourists alike to pay homage to the water spirits and release all negativity with the drifting of krathongs – beautifully decorated floating offerings.


The history of Loy Krathong can be traced back to ancient times when people relied heavily on the rivers and waterways for their livelihoods. The festival is believed to have originated as a way to express gratitude to the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha. Over the years, Loy Krathong has evolved into a symbolic ritual to seek forgiveness, let go of past mistakes, and invite good fortune for the future.


The significance of Loy Krathong lies in its spiritual and symbolic nature. The act of floating a krathong symbolizes the release of negative energy, bad luck, and ill-wishes, while making a wish for good luck and prosperity. This act of letting go and moving forward is seen as a cleansing of the soul and an opportunity for personal renewal.


As dusk falls on Koh Lanta during Loy Krathong, the atmosphere becomes mesmerizing. The sound of the gentle waves, the warm glow of flickering candlelight, and the sight of colorful krathongs drifting on the water create a magical ambiance. Locals and tourists gather in large numbers along the beaches and rivers, eagerly awaiting the moment to release their krathongs.


History of Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong has a rich history that dates back centuries. The exact origins of the festival are unclear, but it is believed to have originated in the ancient city of Sukhothai, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Sukhothai in present-day Thailand. The festival was said to be initiated by a royal court lady named Nang Nopphamat, who was inspired by the beauty of the full moon reflecting on the water.


During the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng, Loy Krathong evolved into a popular event that was celebrated throughout the kingdom. The festival was held to pay respect to the water goddess and give thanks for the abundant water supply that was vital for agriculture and daily life. It was also an opportunity for people to seek forgiveness from the goddess for any harm caused to the water and to make wishes for good fortune and blessings.


In the early days, Loy Krathong was a simple affair, with people crafting small lotus-shaped vessels from banana leaves and setting them afloat on the river. These vessels, known as krathongs, were decorated with colorful flowers, incense sticks, and candles, creating a beautiful spectacle of lights floating on the water.


Over time, Loy Krathong became an integral part of Thai culture and spread to other parts of the country. The festival took on additional significance as it became intertwined with beliefs and customs associated with the Thai lunar calendar. Today, Loy Krathong is celebrated nationwide and has also gained popularity among tourists who flock to Thailand to experience this magical event.


While the core traditions of Loy Krathong remain unchanged, there have been some modern adaptations to the festival. For instance, eco-friendly krathongs made from biodegradable materials such as bread or plants have been introduced to minimize environmental impact. Additionally, cultural performances, beauty pageants, and fireworks displays have become common additions to the festivities in larger cities.


Despite these modernizations, Loy Krathong retains its essence as a symbol of gratitude, renewal, and the intrinsic bond between Thai people and water. It is a testament to Thailand’s cultural heritage and the importance placed on living in harmony with nature.


Significance of Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong holds deep significance in Thai culture and is celebrated for its spiritual and symbolic meanings. The festival is steeped in traditions that represent the Thai people’s respect and connection to water, which plays a vital role in their daily lives. Here are some of the key aspects that make Loy Krathong such a special and meaningful event:

  • Gratitude: Loy Krathong is an expression of gratitude towards the water deities and nature for the abundance and sustenance they provide. Thai people attribute their prosperity and well-being to the water sources, including rivers, lakes, and the ocean, making this festival a time to show appreciation and thanks.
  • Renewal: Loy Krathong is seen as a way to cleanse the soul and release negative energy. By floating a krathong, individuals symbolically let go of their past mistakes, regrets, and misfortunes, creating space for new beginnings and personal growth.
  • Wishes and Blessings: As the krathong drifts away, people make wishes for good luck, prosperity, and happiness. It is believed that by releasing their dreams and aspirations into the water, they have a higher chance of them coming true.
  • Apology and Forgiveness: Loy Krathong provides an opportunity for individuals to seek forgiveness from Phra Mae Khongkha, the Goddess of Water, for any harm caused to the water sources. It is a time to reflect on one’s actions and make amends, promoting a sense of accountability and repentance.
  • Unity and Togetherness: Loy Krathong brings people together in a shared celebration. Families, friends, and communities gather along rivers, canals, and beaches to launch their krathongs simultaneously. This collective act fosters a sense of unity, strengthening bonds and promoting harmony among people.

The significance of Loy Krathong extends beyond the individual level. The festival also serves as a celebration of Thai cultural identity and heritage by showcasing traditional music, dance performances, and vibrant costumes. It is a time when the rich tapestry of Thai traditions is displayed and passed down to younger generations, ensuring their preservation for years to come.


Overall, Loy Krathong is a profound festival that symbolizes gratitude, renewal, reconciliation, and unity. It is a time for both introspection and celebration, where Thai people come together to honor their connection with water and express their hopes and aspirations for a brighter future.


Celebration of Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta, with its stunning natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere, provides the perfect setting for celebrating Loy Krathong. The island’s unique blend of local traditions and captivating landscapes adds an extra layer of enchantment to the festivities. Here’s a glimpse into how Loy Krathong is celebrated in Koh Lanta:


As the full moon rises, locals and tourists alike gather along the island’s picturesque beaches, rivers, and canals, eagerly anticipating the start of the festivities. The soft glow of flickering candlelight and the sight of colorful krathongs adrift on the water create a magical ambiance.


The celebrations in Koh Lanta typically begin with a grand opening ceremony featuring traditional Thai dance performances, live music, and cultural displays. This sets the tone for the evening, immersing attendees in the vibrant spirit of the festival.


One of the highlights of Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta is the floating of krathongs into the water. People carefully craft their krathongs using banana leaves, flowers, and other natural materials, incorporating intricate designs and personal touches. These beautifully decorated offerings are then gently released onto the water, accompanied by heartfelt wishes and prayers.


Throughout the evening, visitors can enjoy a range of activities and entertainment. Fireworks light up the night sky, adding to the festive atmosphere. Local vendors set up stalls along the beach, offering traditional Thai street food, snacks, and handicrafts. Live performances showcase Thai cultural arts, providing a glimpse into the island’s rich heritage.


For a more immersive experience, visitors can participate in traditional Loy Krathong ceremonies led by local monks. These ceremonies involve chanting and blessings for a prosperous year ahead, fostering a deeper spiritual connection with the festival’s origins.


As Loy Krathong is a time for reflection and letting go, some people also take the opportunity to write down any negative thoughts or burdens on a piece of paper before setting it on fire and watching it float away with their krathong. This symbolic act represents the release of negativity and the embrace of positivity and new beginnings.


Koh Lanta’s beaches provide the perfect backdrop for witnessing the mesmerizing release of illuminated lanterns known as khom loi into the night sky. As these lanterns ascend, carrying prayers and wishes into the heavens, they create a breathtaking spectacle that adds to the magic of Loy Krathong.


Overall, the celebration of Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The island’s serene surroundings coupled with the time-honored traditions of the festival create a sense of tranquility and wonder, making it a truly memorable event for visitors and locals alike.


Traditional Activities during Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is a festival brimming with traditional activities that immerse participants in the rich cultural heritage of Thailand. These activities have been passed down through generations and continue to be cherished and celebrated during the festival. Here are some of the traditional activities that take place during Loy Krathong:

  • Making Krathongs: Crafting krathongs is an essential part of Loy Krathong. People gather materials such as banana leaves, flowers, and incense sticks to create their own krathongs. The process involves carefully folding and weaving the leaves into a floatable vessel, which is then adorned with vibrant flowers and candles to create a beautiful and ornate offering.
  • Wai Khru Ceremony: Before launching their krathongs, many Thai people participate in the Wai Khru ceremony, which is a way of paying respect and expressing gratitude to their teachers. Participants, including students, musicians, and dancers, gather at schools, temples, or cultural centers to present flowers and offer prayers to their teachers, seeking their blessings for a successful future.
  • Releasing Krathongs: The main highlight of Loy Krathong is the act of releasing krathongs onto the water. People gather along rivers, canals, and beaches, carrying their beautifully decorated krathongs. With candles flickering and incense sticks burning, they gently place their krathongs on the water’s surface and watch as they drift away, carrying their wishes and burdens with them.
  • Lighting Lanterns: Another traditional activity during Loy Krathong is the lighting of lanterns, known as khom loi. These lanterns are made from thin fabric attached to a wire frame, with a lit candle placed at the bottom. When the candle is lit, the lantern fills with hot air and rises into the night sky, creating a mesmerizing display of floating lights. This act symbolizes letting go of worries and inviting positivity into one’s life.
  • Fireworks Display: Fireworks are a common feature of Loy Krathong celebrations. As night falls, colorful bursts of light fill the sky, adding a sense of excitement and spectacle to the festivities. The fireworks symbolize joy, happiness, and the hope for a bright future.
  • Thai Dance and Music Performances: Traditional Thai dance and music are integral to the cultural fabric of Loy Krathong celebrations. Performances showcase the elegance of Thai classical dance, the rhythmic beats of traditional music instruments such as the khim (dulcimer), ranad (xylophone), and pi (flute), and the melodic choral chants.
  • Floating Candles and Incense: In addition to releasing krathongs, many participants float candles and incense in the water. These offerings are believed to pay respect to the water goddess and spirits, seeking their blessings and purification. The soft glow of the candles and the fragrant aroma of the incense create a serene and reverential atmosphere.

Participating in these traditional activities during Loy Krathong allows individuals to connect with Thai customs and spirituality, immersing themselves in a rich cultural experience.


Preparations for Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta

Preparing for Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta is an exciting and immersive experience that allows both locals and visitors to fully embrace the spirit of the festival. From crafting krathongs to planning the evening’s activities, here are some key preparations for celebrating Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta:

  • Krathong Making: One of the first steps in preparing for Loy Krathong is crafting your own krathong. Materials such as banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense sticks are readily available in local markets and shops. Take the time to select fresh and vibrant flowers to adorn your krathong, ensuring that it is both beautiful and meaningful.
  • Familiarize with Local Customs: Before participating in the festivities, take the opportunity to learn about the local customs and traditions associated with Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta. This will help you fully appreciate the significance of the festival and ensure that you follow proper etiquette during the celebrations.
  • Choosing a Location: Koh Lanta offers multiple locations to celebrate Loy Krathong, including beaches, rivers, and canals. Research and choose a spot that resonates with you, considering factors such as accessibility, crowd size, and scenic views. Arrive early to secure a good vantage point for launching your krathong.
  • Attending Local Events: Keep an eye out for any local events or ceremonies organized in Koh Lanta during Loy Krathong. These events offer unique opportunities to immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of the festival, with traditional performances, spiritual rituals, and exhibitions showcasing Thai arts and crafts.
  • Experience Thai Cuisine: Loy Krathong presents an ideal time to indulge in the flavorful delights of Thai cuisine. Sample traditional dishes such as pad thai, tom yum soup, and mango sticky rice, and explore the local food stalls and restaurants in Koh Lanta for an authentic and delectable experience.
  • Dress Appropriately: While there is no specific dress code for Loy Krathong, it is recommended to dress modestly and respect local customs. Opt for lightweight and comfortable clothing suitable for the tropical climate. Remember to carry a shawl or scarf for covering your shoulders when visiting temples or participating in religious ceremonies.
  • Respect the Environment: As an eco-conscious traveler, play your part in preserving the natural beauty of Koh Lanta during Loy Krathong. Choose biodegradable materials for your krathong, avoiding plastic and other pollutants. Be mindful of your surroundings and dispose of any waste responsibly.
  • Capture the Memories: Don’t forget to bring a camera or smartphone to capture the magical moments of Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta. The twinkling lights, vibrant colors, and joyous faces make for fantastic photo opportunities. Just be sure to ask for permission before photographing individuals, out of respect for their privacy.

By making these preparations, you can fully immerse yourself in the festivities and create lasting memories of your Loy Krathong experience in Koh Lanta.


Recommended Places to Celebrate Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta offers a plethora of idyllic locations to celebrate Loy Krathong, each providing a unique experience and breathtaking scenery. Whether you prefer the lively atmosphere of the beach or the tranquility of a river, here are some recommended places to celebrate Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta:

  • Long Beach: Known for its stunning sunsets and long stretch of pristine sand, Long Beach is a popular choice for Loy Krathong celebrations. The beach provides ample space for gathering with friends and family, and the lapping waves create a serene backdrop as you release your krathongs onto the water.
  • Klong Dao Beach: Located in the northern part of Koh Lanta, Klong Dao Beach offers a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere for Loy Krathong celebrations. With its shallow waters and gentle waves, it is an ideal spot for families with young children to participate in the festivities.
  • Klong Khong Beach: For those seeking a lively and spirited Loy Krathong experience, Klong Khong Beach is the place to be. The beach is known for its vibrant nightlife, with many beachfront bars and restaurants participating in the festivities. Join the crowd, release your krathong, and enjoy the live music and entertainment throughout the evening.
  • Saladan Pier: Saladan Pier is a popular gathering point for Loy Krathong celebrations, attracting both locals and tourists. As the sun sets, the pier lights up with the glow of candles and the beauty of floating krathongs. The atmosphere is buzzing with excitement and anticipation as people release their offerings into the sea.
  • Old Town (Sang Ga U): If you prefer a more traditional and cultural experience, head to Old Town, also known as Sang Ga U. Here, you can immerse yourself in the historic charm of the town and witness Loy Krathong celebrations with a unique local flavor. The quaint waterfront is adorned with lanterns and candles, creating a magical ambiance.
  • Kantiang Bay: For a more secluded and intimate Loy Krathong celebration, Kantiang Bay is a hidden gem. The bay offers a tranquil setting with crystal-clear waters and breathtaking views. Watch as your krathong floats peacefully under the starry night sky, surrounded by the calmness of nature.
  • Rivers and Canals: Koh Lanta has several rivers and canals that provide an alternative setting for Loy Krathong celebrations. Baan Si Baan Klong, located in the southern part of the island, is one such area where you can release your krathong onto the tranquil canal waters, away from the bustling beaches.

Each of these recommended places in Koh Lanta offers its own unique ambiance and charm, ensuring a memorable and enchanting Loy Krathong celebration. Whichever location you choose, be prepared to immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of this cherished festival.



Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta is a truly magical and captivating experience. The combination of the island’s natural beauty, cultural traditions, and joyful celebrations creates an atmosphere filled with reverence, spirituality, and heartfelt connections. This annual festival allows both locals and visitors to immerse themselves in Thai culture and witness the profound significance of Loy Krathong firsthand.


From the rich history of Loy Krathong to the traditional activities and preparations, every aspect of the festival holds deep meaning and invites participants to reflect, let go, and seek renewal. The act of releasing krathongs and floating lanterns symbolizes the release of negativity and the invitation of positive energy and blessings into one’s life.


Koh Lanta offers an array of recommended locations to celebrate Loy Krathong, each with its own charm and unique experience. Whether you choose to join the lively festivities on the beaches, immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Old Town, or find serenity by the rivers and canals, you will be swept away by the beauty and enchantment of the celebrations.


Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta is not just a celebration; it is a journey of gratitude, renewal, and unity. It is a reminder of the importance of our connection with nature and the symbiotic relationship we share with the elements around us. The festival provides an opportunity to pause, reflect, and let go of the burdens that weigh us down, allowing us to embrace new beginnings and invite positivity into our lives.


Whether you are a local looking to honor your traditions or a visitor seeking an authentic cultural experience, celebrating Loy Krathong in Koh Lanta is an unforgettable experience. So, mark your calendars and embrace the magic of this beautiful festival, as you witness the shimmering lights, feel the sense of community, and create memories that will last a lifetime.