Festivals in Southeast Asia in November


Trying to plan where to be when? Check out these festivals in South East Asia in November!

Loi Krathong (Festival of Lights) – Thailand

One of the most enchanting and magical festivals in the Thai calendar, takes place on the night of the full moon in November, marking the end of the rainy season. Night skies all across the country become illuminated as glowing lanterns are floated into the air and rivers and lakes glisten with candles as tiny boats are set afloat in honour of the Goddess of Water. The roots of the festival lie firmly in Buddhist origins and the beliefs centre upon the concept of ‘letting go’ or ‘being freed’ from your troubles.

Lo Krathong Festival - festivals in southeast asia in November
Monks releasing lanterns in Chiang Mai during Loi Krathong. Photo by Patrick Lowe.

As the lantern or boat is launched and drifts away, it is believed that people can be released from their ‘Durkkha’ or suffering and may wish for good luck in the future. The name of the festival comes from the small lotus shaped boats, which are called ‘krathong.’ Made of banana leaves and filled with candles, incense and other offerings. The boats can also contain locks of hair, photographs or symbolic remnants of the past.

Krathong boats for Loi Krathong. Festivals in Southeast Asia in November
The tiny krathong boats that set sail during Loi Krathong Festival.

Yi Peng Lantern Festival – Chiang Mai, Thailand

For those lucky enough to be in Chiang Mai at this time, the festival, known as ‘Yi Peng Lantern Festival’ is a wondrous sight to behold. One of the best places to watch the spectacle unfold is on the banks of the Ping River in Chiang Mai where thousands of people cast their fortunes into the night sky. The paper lanterns, known as ‘khom-fai’ look like big luminous jelly fish hovering up above. Parades, music, markets, street entertainment and of course lots of street food surrounds the festivities by the river.

Don’t miss: The Mae Jo Lantern Release!

Part of the Yi Peng celebrations, taking place just on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, in San Sai, the Yi Peng ‘mass lantern release’ event was created by a few entrepreneurial monks in order to attract tourists to the area. The event is extremely popular and you must buy a ticket to reserve your place. Getting to and from the site is also a challenge as thousands of cars, tuk tuks, motorbikes and people clamour to get a space. However the stress is worth it. The release is truly a sight to be behold with thousands of lanterns launched into the sky at the same time. Of course, the event attracts travel photographers hoping to get the perfect shot.

Festivals in Southeast Asia in November
Mae Jo Lantern Release in November, Thailand

Bon Om Touk (Water Festival) – Cambodia

Bon Om Touk, in Khmer, or the Water Festival to you and me, begins on the night of the full moon in November, marking the end of the rainy season in Cambodia. It is one of the most enjoyable and vivacious festivals in the country that attracts thousands of captivated partakers to the capital Phnom Penh.

The event celebrates the amazing natural phenomenon of the reversing flow of the Tonle Sap River. The marvel occurs when the water levels of the lower Mekong become so high during the monsoon season that it forces the water back upon itself. Not only is it an important cultural event, it indicates the beginning of a plentiful fishing season for many Cambodians who rely on the water as a vital life source. The festival continues for three days as a carnival spirit envelopes the city. There are street parties, market stalls, floats, dancing and firework displays, but the main event is the traditional boat races on the Tonle Sap River which date back as far as the 9th century, Competitors sweat it out in energetic heats as hoards of spectators line the riverside. The exhilarating final is watched by the King of Cambodia himself.

That Luang Festival – Vientiane, Laos

A deeply religious event, the That Luang Festival in Lao’s capital, Vientiane takes place, like most Buddhist Festivals on the day of the full moon in November. On this day, before the break of dawn, thousands of Buddhists surround the beautiful golden temple, That Luang to say prayers and give alms to the monks who have travelled from all across the country for the festival. As the sun rises, the tradition is to circle the stupa three times in an anti-clockwise direction. Flower processions, market stalls, live music and dancing ensue.

Check out festivals in Southeast Asia in December —->

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