Are you planning a trip to Thailand for Songkran Festival? There’s a lot more to enjoy in the land of smiles during this festival. If you’re planning to visit during the festivities, this guide will help you with all the details. Let’s jump in!
The Songkran Festival is popularly known as the ‘Water Festival of Thailand’. There are many festivals in Thailand celebrated every year. Water festival is the most significant celebration in the province heading the beginning of Thai New Year. The celebrations held each year in the mid of April. During the water festival of Thailand, the entire country turns crazy with the delightful celebration and enjoyment. The dense crowd splash water buckets over each other. Some people fire huge florescent water guns at each other. Due to the thrilling approach of the celebration, the water festival in Thailand is getting more popularity across the globe. Eventually, half a million people around the world visit to indulge in this entertaining festival to take the pleasure of the water fight. The people of Thailand also give a retreat to the tourists with welcoming arms.
The festival authoritatively begins on 13th April each year. As April is the hottest month in the country, everyone gets involved with water fights to get relief from the increased temperatures. The official Songkran water festival is held for 3 days, but some places in the country celebrate this for the whole week. This mass celebration has wild scenes of exuberance throughout the country. You can see the whole kingdom with music, dance, drinking, and drenched in water from head to toe.
One thing is certain: You’ll definitely get wet wherever you are in Thailand these days. Let’s know more about Songkran, where to go, what to know, and where to party across the kingdom.
History of Songkran:
‘Songkran’ is a Sanskrit word which means the astrological passage of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. This festival is the symbolic origin of Thai New Year and the beginning of the spring season.
According to Buddhism, the festival symbolizes the purification of the soul with water. The fragrant rose water is poured on statues of Buddha. It is a belief that all the bad vibes will wash away after sprinkling the water. However, things have evolved quite a bit these days and people splash water each other in a playful manner to make it more entertaining.
People welcome the New Year with blessings and happiness in their lives. The farmers start some rituals and plant the rice. As Rice is the main crop in Thailand, the farmers need more water for healthy production.
The 1st day is termed as National Elderly Day. On the first day, the youths will trench water into the palms of elders to get their blessings. People spill water on elderly Buddhist priests on this day as a sign of respect. The priests grant lessons and start the Bathing the Buddha statues in a religious routine. There is a belief that the scented water is sacred.
Songkran’s 2nd-day is celebrated as the National Family Day. It is a great moment for family reunions, temple visits, and annual house cleaning, etc. All the family members wake up early in the morning and give some charity to the Buddhist priests.
The 3rd day is celebrated as the Thailand New Year.
Water Fight in Thailand during the Songkran Festival is exclusively crazy. Traditionally, Thais drain the pot of aromatic water on family members, neighbors, friends, etc. Nowadays, people use bucket and water guns for more enjoyment. The Songkran Festival also gives a euphoria of happiness and satisfaction among tourists with love and respect.
Where to Celebrate Songkran?
Although the epicenter of Songkran is around the old city in Chiang Mai, you will find massive celebrations throughout Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi, Koh Samui, and other tourist areas.
Small cities celebrate this festival in a more traditional manner focusing on temple activities. However, the big tourist cities celebrate as drunken revelry. If you want to get a more traditional experience, visit Isan where you can enjoy the most with fewer crowds.
Along with Thailand, Songkran is also celebrated in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and other parts of Southeast Asia. Let’s know the places to visit in Thailand during the Songkran festival.
Places to visit in Thailand during Songkran Festival:
1. Songkran in Bangkok:
The official opening ceremony of the Songkran festival is held at Wat Pho, the Temple of Reclining Buddha, Bangkok. You will see water throwing, rituals of Buddha images, performances, and processions across the streets of Bangkok during these festive days.
As this festival unites the family members, many residents from Bangkok return to their hometowns for the celebrations. The tourists fly to Bangkok and make the festival more colorful.
During the festival, most of the offices, banks, family own restaurants are closed. However, shopping malls usually remain open. Partygoers have more places in Bangkok for a crazy night.
Know the most famous places in Bangkok to celebrate the Songkran Festival:
Silom Road: The entire road is closed during the festival due to traffic, and you’ll find the wildest crowds at this place. The 5 km long road is packed with thousands of people who spray water to each other.
Khao San Road: This place is the most happening place for backpackers from all over the world. During Songkran, the entire road becomes a water-fight battlefield where you definitely get wet from head to toe.
2. Songkran in Pattaya:
As the party city, Pattaya gives no surprise to Songkran Festival that lasts longer than anywhere in Thailand. Pattaya celebrates the festival for a week long. It is popularly known as the Wan Lai festival that follows up to 19th April. Many people use the high-pressure hoses made from a length of plastic plumbing pipe with a small hole to splash water on each other.
Every bar will have water butts in front with large blocks of ice floating in them. Soi 6 and 7 creates the most entertaining activities in Pattaya during Songkran festival. Beach Road is also cut off to traffic and you’ll witness live music and performances.
Go crazy in the Party City during water festival!
3. Songkran in Phuket:
You might wonder what happens on Phuket during Songkran. It’s plenty! The island city buzzes with lots of activities in the Patong beach area. You can expect trucks throwing water at locals and tourists alike. So unquestionably, Patong beach is the uproarious spot during the festival. You will also see the Miss Songkran beauty parade in Phuket during the festival.
The Songkran celebration in Phuket will give you a global level of experience. You can witness locals, visitors, and residents collectively indulging in the water fight by hurling water on each other using the water guns, pistols, pumps, and buckets.
You’ll also witness the liveliest nightspots across Bangla Road. The Saphan Hin Park is the main focus of the festivities in Phuket. Live music and traditional performances are the most enjoyable parts of the celebrations.
You’ll get wet every day for sure during these days. There is no escape from it. If you’re visiting the Patong area, you’ll be drenched in water. This is really insane!
4. Songkran in Chiang Mai:
Chiang Mai is home to the Songkran festival. The festival kick starts slight earlier on 12th April with a procession around the city. It kicks off with a grand opening ceremony at Tapae Gate, where the religious procession to Wat Phra Singh starts. You’ll get to enjoy seeing a long parade of Buddha statues carried through the city.
Some northern parts of Chiang Mai play host to the biggest celebrations of Songkran with some festivities spanning six days. The local people collect the sand which is taken to the local monastery.
Celebrating water festival Chiang Mai is a unique level of fun and entertainment for tourists. This festival is rejoiced all across the town in Chiang Mai. The street food, celebrations, and traditional performances are the key parts of the festival.
Move forward to the Phae Gate in old city and experience at the 4 Km of water fighting beside the great moat. The parties are organized besides the moat with a more delightful experience and available local experience. This multiplies the joy during the Songkran festival in Thailand.
Things to keep in mind while backpacking Thailand:
Outfits require during the 3 days festival:
If you’re planning to visit Thailand during the Songkran Festival, know the timing of water fights during this period. The water fights usually start in the morning and end in the evening. So, if you are planning to travel during the day time, then wear appropriate clothes. You can enjoy the water fights in Thailand in a single outfit and change your clothes and dry for the rest of the time.
Get waterproof shoes:
During the Songkran celebrations, you will get all the streets flooded with water. And surely you can’t walk on the road barefoot. Thus, prefer plain flip-flops made of plastic and use waterproof shoes while traveling outside. Don’t use fancy criss-cross pair of shoes as they need a longer time to dry out. Also, the tiny pieces of sand can rub your feet if you are in beach areas.
Get a swimsuit or costumes that can be dried easily:
It is better to wear an appropriate outfit during the Songkran festival. The costumes that can be dried easily are better options for comfortable clothes during the water fight. Shorts and vest tops are good to wear but avoid wearing anything of white color.
You can see most locals wearing floral shirts. If you are planning to visit a temple, then proper attire is mandatory. If you are not planning for a temple visit, it is better to go in shorts and tops.
Woman outfit styles for Songkran festival:
Try to avoid white shirts and trousers. Wear swimsuit or bathing suit at the beach places in Thailand. Use a waterproof necklace or money case when you are visiting outside. You can easily get the necklace that has plastic on both sides. Put your mobile phones and money in the plastic case to save your money from water.
Take a waterproof camera:
During the celebrations, most of the people get their mobile phones and cameras soaked, leaving them damaged. Thus it is better to have a waterproof camera.
Make your passport safe:
It is mandatory to carry your passport with you at every place you visit in Thailand. During the water festival, your important documents may get wet. It is better to take photocopies of all the documents with you and keep original at your hotel/home.
Tips for attending the Songkran Festival:
Check a few tips to enjoy the epic water fights in the land of smiles.
- If you’re planning to travel to Chiang Mai and Bangkok, you’ll find the biggest celebrations.
- Be ready to get wet. Even if you have a backpack or bag, you will be splashed by water for sure. There’s no escape until you are at home or a hotel.
- Just have fun and celebrate the festive vibes. Even if you get wet, just go with it.
- The people also pour water on the people driving motorcycles.
- You will see a Tuk-Tuk or truck ride around the city and spraying water. Sounds fun right?
- Meet new people during the water fight.
- Wear goggles. It helps to protect your eyes from the shoot of water from a water gun. You never know when the next attack will come.
- Don’t pay for water as most locals offer water to refill your water gun.
Songkran is a festival with a mixture of traditional and modern culture mostly enjoyed by the locals and tourists also. There are many ways to celebrate Songkran in different cities in Thailand. It depends on how you want to experience it. It’s better to choose the place where you want to experience earlier with all the accommodations and itinerary to ensure a smooth stay.
Dimaak for more details!