Exploring Thailand during the Songkran Festival is an interesting experience; the locals are never quite sure whether to pelt you with water and chalk or not! My advice is to wear your old clothes and get stuck in with the supersoakers!
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year which is held annually. This year Songkran runs from 13 to 15 April 2013. The word ‘Songkran’ comes from Sanskrit and refers to the sun moving into a new cycle. In this case, moving into Aries during April. There are local Songkran Festival activities in the individual provinces all over Thailand.
- Locals visit temples to pay their respects to monks, elders and ancestors.
- Releasing birds and fish back into the wild.
- Pour water over the hands of elders and respected people.
- Receiving blessings of prosperity.
- Building of sand structures, a Thai Cultural event.
- Locals take to the streets to quirt water at passers-by and to throw flour and water bombs.
This is perhaps the most notable tradition of Songkran. Traditionally images of Buddha, such as a statue, are doused with scented water, usually through a bamboo gutter, ritually ‘bathing’ the Buddha images. The water used for the dousing is then considered blessed water, and is poured over elders or family members to give them good fortune and health. In recent generations, this has evolved into throwing or spraying water at each other as a way to stay cool, since April is Thailand’s hottest month of the year. Now during Songkran, the residents of Thailand’s cities, towns and villages take to the streets to soak each other with buckets of water or loaded squirt guns in water fights.
Travelling in Thailand during Songkran is interesting too, as the locals spot you and are not sure for a second whether to pelt you or not. Now I never got squirted but if you do, then you’ll soon dry out in the humid weather.
Songkran Celebrations in Thailand
Bangkok– Visit all the Royal Temples for Buddhist Songkran traditions and participate in the famous water fights on Thanon Khao San or Khao San Road, Phra Athit Road, Rattanakosin Royal Square, Wisut Krasat and Santhichaiprakan in Bangkok. Although beware – water squirters are waiting on almost every street corner!
Pattaya – In addition to the national holidays on April 13-15, some places in Thailand celebrate extended Songkran holiday called Wan Lai. Pattaya in Chonburi province has extended festival days on the 18th and 19th of April.
Phra Pradaeng – The Phra Pradaeng celebration in Samut Prakan is held on the Sunday following Songkran Day, which in 2013 is April 19-21. Head over to Phra Pradaeng after the traditional celebration for a Songkran part two, with a spectacular parade and many other Songkran festivities.
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya – There’s no water fight quite like one with an elephant! Head to Thailand’s ancient capital, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya City Island for elephants, parades and other traditional festivities.
Nakhon Phanom – Visit the Sai Thong Sri Kottabun Beach in Nakhon Phanom for the ritual bathing of Buddha images and to take part in building sacred sand sculptures believed to bless people with good health.
Khon Kaen – From April 11 to 19 in northern Thailand is a long, spectacular Songkran celebration featuring several exciting competitions and the longest human wave in the world.
Phuket – Long Boat Races, Artist Performances, local food and music on Patong Beach, Sarasin Bridge and more. April 11th-15th.
Songkhla – Get to this coastal city for Hat Yai Midnight, the night-time Songkran celebration.