Ping River, Tha Phae Gate, and Throughout Chiang Mai|Tha Phae Gate, Chiang Mai, Thailand | Map
Enjoy the anticipation
The run-up to the main event is important, and it pays to be prepared. However, the Mae Jo grounds get packed, so leave Chiang Mai by 3 p.m. to avoid having to hang outside the gates. Once you’re in, enjoy food stalls and relaxing with local families.
Buy your lantern wisely
You can’t simply watch the lanterns ascend into the sky. Participating in the simultaneous release of thousands of luminous orbs is part of the magic. However, don’t buy your lantern from one of the vendors outside the venue—only lanterns purchased inside are allowed to be used.
Two in one
Since Yi Peng is celebrated at the same time as Loy Krathong, you can also release your own krathong down a river. The banana-leaf vessels are for sale throughout Chiang Mai, or you can make your own. Adorn it with offerings such as flowers, coins, and incense.
Bring your camera
This is one of the most visually-spectacular festivals in the world, especially appropriate for videos.
Where To Stay
To attend the big event, stay in Chiang Mai, which has better accommodations than the smaller college town of Mae Jo. From Chiang Mai, hire a driver to take you to Mae Jo. Bolder travelers who want to save a few baht can rent a scooter and follow the throngs heading out of the city.
A variety of airlines, including Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Thai Airways, and Singapore Airlines fly into Chiang Mai's airport (CNX), though for cheaper flights it’s best to fly into Bangkok (where buildings and bridges are wrapped in lights), then catch a domestic connection.