How to Make a Loy Kratong Boat with Flowers

Loy Kratong is a traditional Thai festival, held in November under a full moon to honour Phra Mae Kongka – the river goddess. The ceremony involves the floating of decorated boats on the surface of the river, to seek the goddess’ forgiveness for the pollution of water, and the sight of embellished, candle-lit boats floating on the clear surface of the river is a magical and sacred sight.

Kratongs are the banana boats which are used in the ceremony, and making and decorating these is an activity in which the entire family takes part. These are made from banana tree trunks, and decorated with orchids, coins, candles, and a variety of leaves and flowers.

Things Required:

– A banana tree trunk
– Jackfruit leaves
– A variety of Thai flowers
– Candles
– Coins
– Incense sticks
– Toothpicks
– Small pins
– A knife


  • 1

    Start by building the base of the boat by slicing and shaping a banana tree trunk – this type of tree trunk floats naturally, and will serve as a perfect base for the boat. Since the festival is all about seeking forgiveness for the pollution of bodies of water, and the subsequent destruction of the environment, many boat-makers have started making bread-based boats, which are more environment-friendly, and eventually serve as food for the fish in the river. However, the traditional Kratong boats are made of banana trunks.

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  • 2

    After this is done, polish the banana trunk boat to make it look clean. Then, start pinning jackfruit leaves all around the body of the boat, making sure the leaves point upwards. Use small pins to secure the leaves – go around the entire boat with one layer, and then do another layer over the previous one, making the leaves’ points alternate with the first layer. Once they have all been pinned on, use the knife to slice off any of the untidy and ragged lower parts of the jackfruit leaves.

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  • 3

    Now, proceed to beautify the boat. Use classic Thai flowers and make sure the boat is laden with beautiful arrangements. Purple is a traditional colour so use flowers like the purple amaranth globe. Other popular choices are orchids, marigold, roses, sunflowers, and other Thai flowers. Secure all these to the boat with toothpicks, and leave a small space at the head or in the middle of the boat.

  • 4

    In the small leftover space, place a small candle (the festival is celebrated at night), three incense sticks, and some coins. You can also place some more flowers and betel nuts beside the candle. Light the candle and incense sticks, and allow it to float off onto the river.

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