Are paid events for Yi Peng worth it?

Yi Peng is said to be the most magical festival Thailand has to offer. Three nights in a row, on the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, thousands of lanterns are lighting up the dark skies, captivating all tourists and photographers.

But what exactly is the significance of this event, and is it worth paying for it?

That was precisely our question, after noticing that the festival dates overlapped our Thailand visit. Taking into account that the festival tickets sell out really fast, we decided to get Premium Tickets for the mass release. CAD Khom Loi Sky hosted the event at the Cowboy Military Horse Riding Club Mae Rim in Chiang Mai.

Luckily, we spent four days in Chiang Mai, so we had plenty of time to attend the mass release and see how the locals celebrate Yi Peng.

Why are people celebrating Yi Peng

Yi Peng is a spiritual festival for Buddhists, the time when believers usually release lanterns up in the sky to gain merits. When doing so, they believe in letting go of all misfortune, and bad luck gathered in the previous year. It is all about letting go of bad energy in hopes of good fortune. Gaining merits is part of the Buddhist principle to receive good Karma.
Before releasing the lanterns, thousands of people are gathering in meditations together with the Buddhist monks. It is indeed an incredible atmosphere; experiencing it makes you feel genuinely grateful.

Are paid events for Yi Peng worth it?

Getting There

We arrived at the Maya Shopping Center for registration. There was a long queue, and we had to wait in line for over than 30 minutes, which felt a lot longer considering how hot it was outside. After registering, we had to wait in another line to get into the mini busses.
There are no priority lines for the people who bought VIP or Premium Tickets.
Buying Premium tickets to cut lines – not worth it.

The Venue

Once you arrive at the location, you have to re-register. The lines were shorter this time. You get your entrance badge and also a small souvenir. We received a small bag.
VIP and premium also receive a golden brass leaf.

In case you didn’t know, in temples throughout Thailand, the Buddha statues are covered in gold leaves by the believers as an attempt to gain merit.
We were supposed to write a wish on those leaves and hang them. Later all the leaves will be put together into a Buddha statue while our dreams come true.

The sword shows are accessible to anyone, and there is no difference between buying normal or VIP/Premium tickets.

Are paid events for Yi Peng worth it?

The Food

There is a different eating area for standard, VIP, and premium tickets. Everyone gets unlimited food and beverages; however, the premium ticket-holders get the best selection of food.
We had plenty of coconuts and fruits; the food selection is fantastic for vegetarians and vegans.

The Sitting Area

The Premium members get to sit in the first three rows, while the VIP members occupy the next five rows. Standard ticket-holders sit in the back.
We had seats in the third row, which was okay but not great. It is hard to film the Lanna culture dances and the show because everyone in front of you is trying to do the same. If you don’t get the seat in the first row, there is not much of a difference between the third row and the fifth row. And VIP tickets are much cheaper than the Premium ones.


The show also is short, no longer than 5 minutes, so it’s not like you miss out a lot if you sit in the back.
We were disappointed after the show ended, but this is just a personal opinion.
Buying Premium tickets to see the show – not worth it!

Are paid events for Yi Peng worth it?

The Mass Release

Before releasing the lanterns, the organizers give you the safety instructions; however, some people were lightning up the lanterns long before the countdown begun.
While the experience is beautiful, and it is great to experience local traditions whenever traveling, events like this can be very frustrating, especially if you go with high expectations.
Hoards of people are trying their best to get photos, the place is full of photographs, tripods and you have to be genuinely careful since the lanterns can also be dangerous. If you want to take good photos, maybe a sit in the back is a better idea.

Conclusion – Are mass launches worth it?

The entire experience cost us about $200, and if you think about it, no local is going to pay that amount of money for a celebration like this. These events are made for tourists, and only you can decide if you want to give it a try.
We wanted to be able to compare, see how the locals celebrate, and then attend a mass launch. And I do not regret being there, as this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience I will always remember. But I am probably not going to buy another premium ticket for the Yi Peng festival.

Please access the Youtube video below to see what to expect from the Yi Peng festival:

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