One of the best things to do in Khao Lak, Thailand, is to participate in “Loy Krathong”, commonly known as the “Festival of Light”. This event occurs in November, which is generally one of the better months of Khao Lak weather to be out and about. November is the beginning of the dry season in Thailand, as well as the onset of the high tourist season. Large crowds of both Thais and tourists come to this Khao Lak festival and intermingle in the large space of the Tsunami Memorial Park where the festival is held each year.
The word “Loy” is best translated into English as “to float”, while Krathong generally refers to a floating raft or basket. Customarily, the Krathong is created out of banana leaves or a banana tree bark. Participants in the event fill the baskets with candles, flowers and incense; they also often place hair and nail clippings, and sometimes coins as well, in the basket. The incense and candles are lit and a wish is made as the baskets are released into a flowing river or canal. People pray that the krathong will carry away any bad luck, and that a new and better beginning to life will transpire.
Loy Krathong has also been dubbed the “Lantern Festival”. Hundreds of balloon-like structures are lit-up and allowed to rise into the night sky forming a beautiful display of terrestrial lights. It often takes many minutes before the lanterns rise high enough so they cannot be seen anymore.
Of all the Khao Lak activities to participate in, Loy Krathong ranks as one of the most enjoyable and spiritually uplifting. The event takes place, ironically, in the Tsunami Memorial Park, which recalls the terrible aftermath of the tsunami that devastated the Khao Lak region in 2004. As sad as that event was, however, the juxtaposition of the good and the bad is in alignment with the Buddhist philosophy of acceptance. I have participated several times in the Loy Krathong Festival, and of the many things to do in Khao Lak, I find this particular event the most worthwhile in the Thai calendar.