Thailand shows its best during Songkran, a grand-scale water festival taking place across the nation and marking the beginning of Thai’s New Year. Join in the world’s biggest water fights and witness age-old rituals and traditions as the land of smiles ushers in its new year, shaking off the old and welcoming in the new.
What is Songkran?
Songkran is an annual public holiday in Thailand and officially lasts for 3 days from April 13th to April 15th, which luckily happens to be Thailand’s hottest month. As the new year period means to be spent with family and friends, many people return to their hometowns during this time, creating a huge exodus from all the major cities.
The Thai people believe that water is spiritually purifying: it cleanses you of any bad luck or grievances from the past year and blesses you with fortune and happiness for the year ahead. The festival originated with locals collecting fragrant water that had been poured over Buddha statues for cleansing. This was then used to bless village elders and family members by trickling it over their shoulders. Since this somewhat gentle beginning, Songkran has developed into a kingdom-wide water fight.
Songkran is Asia’s most refreshing festival with the streets turning into a watery battlefield. ‘Snipers’ with water guns and kids heavily armed with water bombs do their best to soak everyone in range. Tourists aren’t exempt from the carnage and are expected to soak, and be soaked, with a cheery attitude.
Where to celebrate?
As a nation-wide festival, there is no shortage of places to celebrate Songkran. And in case that you still don’t know where to start, check out now our 5 recommended destinations to experience Songkran at its best.
Some best practices
- Right choice of water
Make sure you fight with clean water which should not be hot. Ice-cold water might be acceptable because the outside temperature can be very hot, as long as you don’t use chunks or cubes of ice. Room-temperature water is a perfect choice and is encouraged.
- Aim for right target
Monks are highly respected in Thailand, so never throw water at them. Also, people riding a motorbike could have an accident if suddenly soaked so leave them alone. And it would be nice if you can be more gentle to young children.
- Be careful with your ‘weapon’
You can fight with water pistols, water buckets, cups and garden hoses. On the other hand, high-pressure hoses and guns are prohibited for safety reasons and will cost you a heavy fine if breaking the rule by using them.
- Dress smartly
As it’s hot, and you’re going to be wet anyways, it’s advisable to wear as little as possible. Still, near-nudity is frowned upon might result in arrests; women wearing revealing clothes walking the street will be banned from celebrations. So slip on a light tee (and think twice about wearing white) with swimwear underneath will help you enjoy the fullest fun.
- Waterproof bag & camera
In case you are planning to join in the fun, put all your valuables such as passport, wallet, and phone are in a waterproof bag. Make sure you hide your bag inside your shirt or get it buttoned as in a jammed place, you won’t know what will happen to your belongings. And for people who want to capture the crazy yet great moments, prepare beforehand a waterproof camera.
- Take advantage of public transport
It might be a smarter idea to use public transport to get around big cities like Bangkok during Songkran. Roads will be impossible to navigate during the holiday. And if you decide to ride a motorbike then stay cautious on the roads because drink driving is a big problem nationwide during Songkran.
- Right attitude decide happiness
It’s all just for fun so don’t get angry. You’re going to get soaked so just accept it. When immersing yourself in the crowd, say ‘Sawadee bee mai’ which means ‘Happy New Year!’. And if you really hate being wet, then just stay inside.
Can’t wait for a trip to Thailand in June? Go away with Sens Asia Travel for the coolest summer ever with our pick of Thailand tour by clicking here. And if the streets jammed with people is not your ideal getaway, get off the tourist trails with our authentic tour.