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If you’re not visiting these wonders for the history and the one-of-a-kind experience, you should at least check them off your traveling list for Instagram. Regardless if you follow one of these illuminated travel itineraries to Thailand and Vietnam or even Hawaii, the experience of seeing so many twinkling lights at once will crystalize a memory you’ll surely never forget. Here are the world’s most beautiful lantern festivals you absolutely have to see to believe.

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Yi Peng Festival of Lights: Chiang Mai, Thailand

In the northern region of Thailand, you’ll find the beautiful mountainous city of Chiang Mai, full of plenty of temples to explore and views to marvel at. Every autumn, this city pays its dues to Buddha on the first moon of the second month of the old Northern Lanna kingdom’s calendar. You can either release your light-up lantern or carry it with you, as you watch thousands of others do the same, all walking throughout the area. Some also present an offering made of banana stalk with a candle and some money to float along the river. What do they symbolize? If you ask the Thai community, they’ll tell you to let those lanterns go, as they represent your worries, your fears and your anxieties.

Hoi An Lantern Festival: Hoi An, Vietnam

Planning a trip to Vietnam? Make sure you’re there mid-month and that you add the ancient coastal city of Hoi An to your itinerary. On the 14th of every lunar month, you can watch all of the electricity go out and the lanterns illuminate the night. In fact, the whole city shuts down traffic to make way for the multi-colored lanterns, all in an effort to pay respect to those who lived before them.


Festival of Lights or Diwali: India

This annual Hindu holiday celebrates the success of choosing positive vibes over negative ones with a myriad of beautiful, jewel tone sparkles that illuminate the region. In an effort to show how goodness always wins over evil, you’ll watch locals light diyas (or, earthen lamps) with a worship ritual or a pooja. Many will hang these on their homes and windowpanes, making for a pathway of beauty. The colorful display might take your breath away and, as the Hindus believe, bring wealth, happiness and health your way. While the festival is celebrated throughout India (and even parts of the Caribbean), one of the best places to experience it is the Pink City of Jaipur in Rajasthan.

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Spring Lantern Festival or Shangyuan Festival: China

On the first full moon night of the Chinese calendar (usually in late January or February), various cities throughout the country will celebrate the year ahead, with children (and families) venturing throughout the streets carrying paper lanterns and solving the mysteries of them. It’s an ancient celebration that dates back to the Western Han Dynasty that began with very simple designs and now features more interesting and intricate patterns, like animals of the Chinese zodiac and other creations. What do they mean? It depends on you: They’re meant to symbolize the act of letting go of your past to move on to your future. Wonder why they’re red? In Chinese culture, the color means good fortune! Chengdu is an especially great place to celebrate the lantern fest: The city’s held one every year since 711.

Lantern Floating Ceremony: Honolulu, Hawaii

It’s never easy to lose a loved one, treasured friend or family member. But for a memorable way to pay tribute to their life, consider making the trip to Honolulu, where every year in May, 7,000-plus lanterns representing those who have passed away float out to sea. On these, you can write wishes for the future, for happiness or peace–whatever calls to your heart at the time.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival: Pingxi, Taiwan

Though originally this festival was meant to be a request for sons to farm the land and for bountiful harvest, Pingxi‘s annual springtime release now represents the hopes of whoever makes the journey. From prayers and gratitudes, these sky lanterns float up, all while performances and traditions are carried on throughout the evening.


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Tagged: Asia, China, Hawaii, India, Uncategorized

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Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay is a lifestyle and travel writer, and content strategist. She is a passport stamp collector with an affinity for great wine, coffee and conversation. You can find a full collection of her work at
Lindsay Tigar


Freelance Travel and Lifestyle Journalist for @travelleisure, @voguemagazine, @usatoday, @bravotv @brides, @weddingwire and many more.
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