Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Happy Loy Krathong 2015

Loy Krathong

Volunteering in Thailand gives you a chance to see beautiful Thai culture in many ways. On a daily basis, volunteers see first-hand the people and traditions that make up this culture. Many volunteers say the best time to catch a glimpse into Thai culture is during one of the county’s festivals or holidays.

This year’s Loy Krathong festival is scheduled for the 24th and 25th of November.


The exact date of Loy Krathong is different each year. The festival usually falls in November and it’s set on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar.

During Loy Krathong Thais do many rituals and rites to mark the holiday. Loy in Thai means “to float” and a krathong is a small decoration made from banana leaves, candles, incense, and flowers. People make and launch these krathongs in the rivers and waterways to pay respects to the river and the life it provides. It is a time for families to get together and celebrate as well.

Loy Krathong History

The history of Loy Krathong is complex and people in Thailand celebrated it for many reasons. Stemming from ancient Brahman and Indian traditions, Thais have adopted and adapted the holiday. November is the time of year when the main rice season has ended and many Thais see Loy Krathong as a way to give thanks to the river and the water it provides for the fields. Others believe this is a good time to let go of any grudges or anger you’ve been holding onto the past year. Regardless of exactly how it started in Thai culture one thing is for sure, Loy Krathong is one of the most important holidays of the year for Thai people.

Loy Krathong 2


What to Do

Loy Krathong gives volunteers living in Thailand great opportunities to see the beauty of Thai culture first hand. As Loy Krathong approaches, vendors start to sell the floating krathongs all over the country. In the past, krathongs were made from natural materials such as banana tree trucks and leaves. In recent years, some build their krathongs from seashells, flowers, baked bread, coconut shells, or potato slices in various designs. Some sell krathongs that have been made from Styrofoam but we encourage volunteers when taking part in Loy Krathong that they use naturally made krathongs as this will not have a negative impact on the environment.

You can release your krathong in the river or small canals throughout Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Also, in rural areas, a lake or small pond is also suitable. Usually the river in Bangkok and Chiang Mai are very crowded with people during the festival but you can always ask a local for advice on where to go if you wan tto avoid the crowds. Hotels along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River as well as hotels along the Ping River in Chiang Mai offer exclusive access to the river where you can release your krathong without too much traffic.

Apart from the releasing your krathong in the river, you can enjoy Loy Krathong in many other ways. Many locals have parties or small gatherings of friends to celebrate the holiday. Temples hold markets, shows, and “ram wong” traditional dances. Loy Krathong is a great chance for volunteers to meet new locals and get out on their own to see this beautiful holiday with their own eyes.

Loy Krathong 1

Yee Peng

Chiang Mai is home to some Loy Krathong traditions that are not as prevalent in the rest of the country. In the north, Yee Peng is what they call Loy Krathong and it has very similar meanings for the people. Here they celebrate not only by releasing krothongs in the river but they also release thousands of lanterns upwards and fill the sky with thousands of lights. The releasing of sky lanterns has been restricted in Bangkok due to fire concerns. Chiang Mai however still celebrates this way and it is a sight you will not soon forget. In Mae Jo just outside of Chiang Mai, hundreds of people gather to release their sky lanterns at the same time, making the night’s sky light up with thousands of lights.

When volunteering in Thailand you will see and experience new things daily. But being a volunteer during one of the nation’s holidays offers an experience unlike no other. Loy Krathong is a very special time for Thais all over the country. When you celebrate their holiday with them, their excitement is infectious. Seeing the festivities first-hand gives volunteers stories and memories that they can take home with them and keep for a lifetime.