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Ephemerally Up, Up and Away

The first time I saw these fragile paper lanterns floating romantically up into the Thai sky, I was blown away by their ephemeral beauty.

Traditionally made of oiled rice or other lightweight paper, and stretched around a bamboo or metal frame, khom loy lanterns drift gently upwards when the candle located at its base is lit, and the air inside the lantern heats up.

At our wedding on the beaches of Koh Samui, Thailand, we watched as our friends and family sent a collection of glowing wishes, high up into the night sky.

During the Thai festivals of Loi Krathong and Yi Peng, thousands upon thousands of khom loy lanterns are launched into the air, creating a truly riveting sight.

Unfortunately though, it’s not all just mesmerizing lights. Lanterns can be a hazard to aircraft, start fires, and cause damage to buildings. In fact, last year, in Bangkok, it was illegal to release floating lanterns during the Loi Krathong/Yi Peng period, with punishment for offenders as harsh as execution or a life sentence!

Have you seen khom loy lanterns in Thailand? What did you think? We’d love to hear from you.

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22 Comments Post a comment
  1. So lovely ! Everybody should release glowing lanterns into the sky on their special days.

    March 29, 2015
    • Aren’t they just beautiful? I totally agree…they really make any event extraordinary. ๐Ÿ™‚

      March 31, 2015
  2. I have never seen these lanterns, only saw pictures and videos of it. I really would love to see experience it myself but perhaps someday in the future ๐Ÿ™‚

    March 29, 2015
    • I’d actually never even seen pictures of them, until a hotel we were staying at offered them to us…so it was especially magical to see them live the first time. ๐Ÿ˜€

      March 31, 2015
  3. Ana #

    Beautiful. Some people light paper lanterns in the shape of balloons in Argentina on New Year’s Eve.

    March 29, 2015
  4. We’ve tried before in Taiwan and Singapore. We call them sky lanterns or sky lights (ๅคฉ็ฏ๏ผ‰usually we write wishes or good luck messages before we set them off

    March 30, 2015
    • These sky lanterns seem to be quite common all across SE Asia…and I love the idea of writing wishes and messages in them before sending them into the sky…

      March 31, 2015
  5. Lovely and many congratulations and good wishes for a long and happy life together.

    March 30, 2015
  6. what a beautiful looking evening ^^ I adore lights

    March 30, 2015
    • It was a really beautiful night, and we were lucky to have an absolutely stunning full moon as well! ๐Ÿ™‚

      March 31, 2015
  7. We had them as a surprise at our wedding in Thailand. They were really magical and one of the things I remember most from my day… but I have to confess that a part of me was a little worried about what happened to them when they fell back to earth.

    March 30, 2015
    • They’re just perfect for a wedding, aren’t they? ๐Ÿ™‚ Apparently, the lanterns can cause a lot of problems, which I wasn’t aware of, until I started reading about them. One of them even caused a huge fire in England, with 6 million pounds of damage. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      March 31, 2015
  8. I have only seen them in pictures and movies from Thailand, but there is a similar smaller version in China. Our first year here there was someone selling them at the plaza near us and helping light and let one go over the city. We enjoyed watching it float into the night sky and up to the tall buildings. It was extra magical since we never had the opportunity again. We have seen a few around the holidays float past our building and even went to the plaza so we could do it again and this time get photos… the first time was unexpected and we didn’t have a smart phone or camera with us. They weren’t there and we couldn’t see where they were coming from. We hoped it would be the same place. Now with pollution levels getting so much attention many things are restricted and more closely controlled, so in the last 2 years I haven’t seen them at all. Truly ephemeral…. a wonderful memory.

    March 30, 2015
    • It does seem more magical when you just stumble upon them by accident, doesn’t it? I didn’t even know they existed, the first time I was offered one in Thailand, and I was totally awed by it. ๐Ÿ™‚ From what I read, it seems like there is a lot more control of these lanterns everywhere, because they can cause serious problems. A flight was even cancelled because a lantern was found caught in the plane’s engine in Chiang Mai, and they are even illegal in Sanya, China and in other parts of the world. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      March 31, 2015
  9. Wow, that’s really beautiful wedding moment! Oh, it must be really special ๐Ÿ™‚ gorgeous images too! I can imagine that there is concern about the lantern, such a pity, they look amazing!

    April 4, 2015
    • It was a really special day for us, and the lanterns are just so dreamy to look at floating into the sky. I read that now they are making some with biodegradable materials instead of wire to deal with some of the issues. It would be a real shame if they ended up illegal everywhere!

      April 11, 2015
  10. I always wanted to experience this. Too bad on those seeing the associated risks. Beautiful, beautiful captures.

    May 12, 2015
    • It really is a shame that something so beautiful carries so many risks. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I guess they don’t have this type of thing in Greece, eh?

      May 22, 2015

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