Visit Thailand on Songkran Festival
Songkran stands to be the most popular festival of Thailand that marks the beginning of the new solar year and the start of the summer season as well.
With celebrations lasting up to a week, the New Year marks the end of the dry season with religious ceremonies and water fights, now a trademark of the festival.
Water is an extremely important part of Songkran. As a symbol of renewal in Buddhism, water is splashed on statues of Buddha for good luck.
Songkran is a family holiday. It’s the time for several generations to gather together in a family home and celebrate by giving alms and merits, preparing food and spending time together. On the first day of Songkran, young people bathe the hands and the feet of their grandparents and parents to receive their blessings in return
The Thai New Year is held from April 13th to 15th every year: if you’re travelling in Thailand, don’t miss the opportunity to join in the joyful celebrations.
April is the hottest time of the year in Thailand – the end of the dry season and the start of the wet season. Splashing water at each other symbolizes cleansing before the new season starts. Water fights on the streets are a huge part of Songkran celebrations.
Streets are closed to traffic and used as arenas: huge crowds of people gather to fight with water using pipes, buckets and water guns. It’s an activity that the younger generations love: foreigners are more than welcome to join in!
Enjoy the water fights with a light heart: this is the Thai people’s way of giving you their blessing and sharing they joy with you.
WHERE TO CELEBRATE THAI NEW YEAR
Chiang Mai Songkran Festival
Where ever you go in Chiang Mai during Songkran you have the potential of getting soaked. Head into the Old City near Tha Pae Gate where the water is guaranteed to be flying. It’s basically a 4km squirt gun fight, just walk all along the moat.
Bangkok sure knows how to party! Head to Khao San Road, Khao San Road, Silom Road, Sanam Luang and Phra Pradaeng District for some water fights.
Heading to the temples will let you participate in traditional songkran customs: people go there to offer food to the monks, and to gain merit by paying their respects to the Buddha and to their ancestors, and by pouring scented water on the statues of Buddha.
If you happen to be traveling to Thailand after the primary festival dates of April 13-15th then head to Pattaya where the celebration goes into the following week. The beach road is shut down and live music stages take their place entertaining all the party-goers.
If you prefer to be on the beach, head to Thailand’s most popular beach destination Phuket. Anything goes on Paton Beach and Bangla Road.
Koh Samui Songkran
If you are Thailand island hopping the best island to celebrate Songkran is Koh Samui. Koh Samui is a much tamer version than the beach parties in Pattaya or Phuket but still an epic place to celebrate. Head to Chaweng Beach for beach parties or Soi Green Mango and Na Thorn.
DO & DON’T DURING SONGKRAN
- Do give alms and make merit (or just witness the rituals if you are not a Buddhist)
- Do use waterproof bags to protect your valuables
- Do watch your belongings
- Do use public transportation if you are heading to one of Songkran ‘hotspots’, as traffic will be paralysed
- Do try wishing the locals a happy new year in Thai – “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
- Do smile and have fun
- Do not douse monks, babies or the elderly
- Do not drive when you have been drinking
- Do not throw water with ice or dirty water
- Do not throw water at motorcyclists, to prevent road accidents
Water Festivals are also celebrated in Myanmar (15th – 17th April), Cambodia (13th – 15th) and Laos (13th – 15th April). Songkran time will result in public holidays, and therefore you should be aware that many businesses might be closed or work shorter hours.