Chiang Mai: New Year’s Eve


NYE Chiang Mai

Spending the New Year’s Eve in Chiang Mai is one of the highlights of my trip. This is my first time celebrating the NYE in a foreign country. Having said that, the old city gives me the opportunity to experience something different. My accommodation is just a short walk to Thapae Gate which was the focal point of the NYE celebrations. It starts from 30 December and the roads were closed to traffic in the evening to make way for food stalls & local markets. As the crowd can get intense nearing the midnight, be prepared to elbow your way round.

Releasing the sky lantern at the temple is a must. For 40 baht each, you can write down your wishes and set off the lantern that light up the night sky.

I didn’t have a lighter with me but a friendly monk help me to light up my lantern. The trick for launching the lantern is to wait for at least 2 minutes until you begin to feel a gentle upward tug, then simply release the lantern.

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I have seen the lanterns caught in power lines or trees, then ignites into flames. Be mindful and choose a suitable location to release the lantern. Other than that, the sky looks stunning!

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It was a splendid sight as thousands of lanterns drift away illuminating the sky but I wonder what happens to these sky lanterns once they fall back to the ground. I was told the lanterns are biodegradable but can be consider a hazard.


Shops near Thapae gate.

The roads were closed to make way for the makeshift stalls. You can find plenty of street food along the road.


You can also opt to join the monks at the Wat Phan Tao, who spend the last hour of the year in meditation and chanting in a serene candle-lit hall. At midnight, the chanting stops and the Thais join the monks in releasing good-luck lanterns into the sky.

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Strike midnight, there were people lighting off fireworks and shooting sparklers out of long tubes. There were many fireworks from all sort of directions; most of it were non regulated. At some point, they were shooting them right over my head. Nevertheless, I had fun and the experience ushering the new year in Chiang Mai is an unforgettable one. If you are planning to usher the new year at Thapae gate, I would suggest for you to stay near the gate as most of the roads will be closed till late and you will have trouble getting a transport back.

Attractions in Chiang Mai |

15 Thoughts

  1. I’m going to spend my NYE this year there alone (30 Dec – 2 Jan) and just landed here while I was searching for relevant posts.this is so helpful. You have any recommendation for me i.e where to go/explore on the other days ? Thank you so much :-)

  2. Where do the lanterns launch happen? You mention a temple, but which temple? And you mention “Thais join the monks in releasing good-luck lanterns into the sky.” Is that a different location?

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