The Lai Heua Fai (Festival of the Fire Boats) also known as the Festival of Lights is one of the biggest festivals in Laos. The festival marks the end of the three month Buddhist Lent and shows respect to the Lord Buddha.
When is the Lai Heua Fai / The Festival of Lights
The dates of the festival varies as they are tied to the Lunar Calendar, but it’s usually in October for 3 days. Some temples start decorating weeks in advance!
Where is it celebrated
Lai Heua Fai or The Festival of Lights is celebrated all over Laos, especially where there is a river. The celebrations in Luang Prabang are the biggest and most spectacular in the country. It’s definitely the place to be! Every temple and village makes their own lanterns and bamboo boats. On the final day of the festival, the boats are paraded down the main street.
The festival is open to everyone. You can visit the temples, see the parade and float your banana leaf boats, all free of charge!
Where to stay in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is full of hostels, guesthouses and hotels so there is something to suit all budgets. Make sure you book early and be aware that accommodation prices increase during the Festival of Lights.
1. Remember to dress appropriately when visiting the temples by keeping your shoulders and knees covered. Don’t forget to charge your cameras and phones! Your friends and family will be very jealous to see all your stunning pictures, I promise.
2. I also recommend you buy a banana leaf boat that you can put into the Mekong. Don’t forget to make a wish when you launch your boat! But my main tip is to just enjoy the spectacle. It is such a magical place to be. Happy people, decorated temples, lots and lots of lights in a beautiful city.
3. I grabbed an outside table at one of the restaurants and enjoyed a lovely meal whilst watching the boats go by. It’s worth following the crowds to the temple where the boats will be judged, then head to the river to see them being launched. I can’t describe how beautiful it was. There were thousands of handmade banana leaf kartongs and boats floating down the river. Each was decorated with candles, flowers and incense. It was incredibly moving.
Curious about being part of this wonderful experience?
Then have fun planning your next years unforgettable trip to Luang Prabang. You will not regret it.