The Songkran Festival is one of the best annual events that take place in Thailand. It marks the start of the New Year for the Thai. During this period, more than half a million tourists join the water fights and indulge in local entertainments full of fun. It takes place in April and welcomes all locals and tourists alike, with open arms.
Songkran is a Thai word which means 'to move' or 'change place'. Until a while ago in Thailand, Songkran's water Festival was held on the day that marked the change in the sun's position in accordance with the zodiac calendar. The respective festival started off with the locals collecting water that had been poured over the Buddha statues with the intention of cleansing them. Therefore this water was considered as holy and was sprinkled on the villagers' shoulders to bless them. This tradition has been passed down generations, with the Thai believing that water not only purifies their spirit but also wards off evil and bad luck from the past year. Moreover, they also have a belief that this water blesses you with good fortune in the year ahead. Songkran can be safely deemed a kingdom-wide water fight, that as aforementioned takes place in April. April is the hottest month of Thailand is the best time to get wet. In modern times, more than the religious aspect this tradition has become more of an event that lays emphasis on enjoyment and fun.
The Songkran festival is basically a three-day event, but the celebrations can last the entire week. During the festival, everything shuts down for the water fights that take place all over Thailand. Some common sights are music, dance and drinks with people drenched from head to toe. It's impossible not to get wet!
In addition to the cleansing of the Buddha statues, there is a bathing ritual for the monks as well in which water is poured on the senior Buddhist monks. Again this ritual is considered to bring good fortune. Post the bathing ritual, the chief monk gives a speech and blesses all the attendants.
In some parts of Thailand, Buddha statues are paraded in different streets which allow the locals to pour water on them. The young Thai people gift clothes to their elders as a sign of respect.
In short, this festival is not only a fun and happening event that is about getting wet only, but it also means indulging in activities such as presenting the senior monks with offerings, gifting new clothes to elders, being a part of building sand pagodas and listening to religious speeches and sermons. Taking a part in this festival is thought to not only ward off evil but is believed to bring longevity and wealth.
Read more on What to Pack during Songkran Water Festival
The Songkran Festival is more popularly referred to as the Traditional Thai New Year. Celebrated in mid-April, the festival will next take place from 13th to the 15th of April, 2019. Considered as the country's most grand event, it brings together both the young and the elderly. The respective Festival is surely the grandest annual event in Thailand that is celebrated to mark the beginning of the New Year. There is unlimited local entertainment and fun during this time. Depending on which city you are in this celebration can last from anywhere between 3-10 days.
Read more on Interesting Facts about Songkran Festival
Every April, the days of the respective festival, from North to South, literally every lane and every alley of Thailand has a "wet" atmosphere around the clock. Owing to the religious belief of water being symbolic to blessings for the next year, the wet person cannot complain about being poured water on. Of course, they can “shower” the attacker with “blessings” as well. The Thai also paint their faces with a white powder, (harmless for the skin of course), but again having a lot of religious importance.
Bangkok in April is WET. There are young Thais all over Bangkok sprinkling and throwing water at each. The tourists also join in and might be thrown water at by the local strangers. In Bangkok's commercial district usually, there is a procession around nighttime of the famous Buddha (Phra Buddha Sihing) statue where it is cleansed and prayed to. The crowd is usually dressed up in traditional Thai costumes.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, has a wide range of party places. Some of the biggest and most hip and happening parties are thrown in the following places:
- Khao San Road (which is also known as the backpacking heartland of Bangkok)
- Silom Road (it is closed from both ends owing to traffic)
Read more about Songkran Festival in bangkok
The water festival is celebrated in Chiang Mai from the 11th to the 16th of April. Chiang Mai is house to the biggest Songkran celebration. The festival length there spans almost a week of celebrations throughout the city. It kicks starts with processions all around the city and includes unlimited traditional performances that are a treat to the eyes. Speaking of treats, the yummy street food lined around the streets is surely a treat to the stomach.
People in the Northern Thailand areas are known to gather sand and take it to a monastery close to them. The reason being that to them sand is symbolic of the dirt that they have been carrying on their shoes and feet in the recent year so they take it to the monastery to replenish it before its used for decorating the vibrant celebratory flags.
When in the Chiang Mai you can go to the Tha Pae Gate for a fun 4km walk filled with water fighting. It has several street stalls that are selling stuff related to the ongoing water fight. Music is playing in the background to create a fun atmosphere and to keep the people entertained through the 4km trek. Several small parties can be witnessed alongside the moat.
Read more about Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai
The Songkran festival lasts more than an entire week in Pattaya. The festival begins a week before the actual date and is celebrated until a few days after its ended. The road alongside the beach is the primary party place. It has several ongoing foam parties that have literally an unlimited supply of ice water buckets and soakers. Pattaya has a few points around the bars where people are hiding to catch others off guard and spray them with water which eventually develops into a water war.
But the biggest celebration of this water festival in Pattaya comes on the 19th of April and is popularly known as the “Wan Lai”. It is the biggest water party that Pattaya ever sees. It is followed by the ‘Kong Khao’ parade which takes place in the sunlight and is a march as a symbol of appreciation for the Goddess of Rice. Further lots of fun contests are held such as beauty pageants. Post the parade several cultural shows take place which gives an insight into Thailand’s rich cultural history. Beautiful sculptures and sand castles are also made by the locals alongside the Bang Saen beach.
Further traditional celebrations include spring cleaning at home and sprinkling water on all relatives and friends to cleanse them of bad luck, takes place as well with people spending more time with their family and tending for their elderly.
Pattaya Beach Road is the main water battle area. The fire department parks their fire engines along the road so people can refill their soakers from them. The flow of traffic is slow on this road.
The water fight in Phuket starts around 10 am in the morning. As the day progresses the water parties get wilder. They are most hip and happening in Kata and Karon and in Patong. The parties there progress to the Bangla road where they continue until very late in the night. This crowd there can be divided into two categories:
The crowd that stays inside their pickups alongside the roads -having beds filled with ice cold water and they keep throwing water on the passersby.
And then there is the passerby’s who are also equally well equipped with water to counter any attacks on them.
Patong Beach, popular for its nightlife, hosts the most amazing water parties that you will find in Thailand. In addition to this, they also host a parade and the Miss Songkran beauty pageant. Soi Bangla is usually declared as the war zone with the most happening water fights taking place there.
If you are in Thailand and are looking for an experience of a lifetime then it would be best to head to Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand.
There even the elephants are decorated with paint as they join in the festivities and parade through the streets during the water fights. They continuously soak everyone with sprays of water with their trunks.
About 100 monks are lined in front of the Vihara Phra Mongkhon Bophit during early morning hours seeking donations. They are dressed in saffron robes and you have to give them donations, and then you can free a fish or a bird into the wild. You can also bathe the Buddha with water coming from a bamboo pipe.
Duration: 12th- 13th April
Main waterfight area: Vihara Phra Mongkhon Bophit, the old city hall.
During the Songkran in Thailand, you will often hear the term “Sawadee Bee Mai”. It means ‘Happy New Year.’ All the Towns and villages have some form of celebration or the other, with the celebrations in small towns sometimes being as much fun and exciting as in the more popular towns. During the Songkran, just don’t forget the good humor behind splashing. It means no harm. If you are visiting Thailand around the mid of April, then you should be prepared to get wet. There is no way you can get away from all the splashing so make sure you leave your Sunday best’s at home and dress in casual clothes and shoes. Plus, take care of sensitive accessories like cameras, passports, and other valuables. It is recommended to leave them at the hotel. You can also use a waterproof bag to keep your valuables safe during the fun i.e. mobile phone, keys, and more.
Read more on What to Pack during Songkran Water Festival
Read more on How to Survive in Songkran Water Festival
Songkran Music Festival is an “unlimited-fun event”. This three-day event takes place from the 13th of April to the 15th in Bangkok. It is, no doubt, the biggest celebration of the Songkran festival. It takes the party to the next level. In this hip and happening music festival, top class DJs from all around the world come and do a concert. Some of the popular international DJs that were present were DJ Snake, Mashd N Kutcher, Sick Individuals, Oliver Heldens, Krewella, and Ummet Ozcan. TUJAMO and OOKAY are also added to this list. It is popularly known amongst the locals as S2O, where the S stands for Songkran and 2O stands for 2O from H2O, symbolizing fun and water play.
The recent S2O Songkran Music Festival that was held this year in Park Rama IX, Bangkok 2018 was conducted at an area spanning 6,000 square feet. The park had a big stage around 70 meters long. It featured a 360-degree water technique that was showering every inch of the venue and soaking the people, making it a fun event. EDM, House and Bounce music beats were played all through the day into the nights. Fireworks added to the fun and beauty in the night. The music festival was spiced up with excellent local Thailand food entrees from popular Thai restaurants.
The S2O Songkran Music Festival is so popular that it has been completely sold out for three years in a row now. Owing to its popularity, if you plan on being a part of this event you will have to book your tickets well in advance. Tickets can be purchased online on different websites. Contact us for a tailor-made tour!
Songkran holds great importance for the locals – thousands of locals participate in the event activities every year. On the other hand, it’s equally popular with the tourists as well. Many of the visitors actually plan their holidays in Thailand around this fun event. All that are present are a part of the celebrations. Songkran not only means that you will be soaking wet, but it also guarantees a lot of fun and quality time with your loved ones.
This post was specifically written for people looking forward to visit Thailand in April. Now you know what to expect in Thailand around that time of the year and the fun that is awaiting you.
If you have the tendency to become a bumbling oblivious tourist like many other first-time visitors, how about learning some local phrases? These will either bring you closer to the action or as far away as possible.
Sàat-nám: Splash water
Bpᵾᵾn-chìit-nám: Water gun
kᴐ̌ᴐ-tôot kâ, mâi lên kâ: Apologies, I do not wish to play (female)
kᴐ̌ᴐ-tôot kráp, mâi lên kráp: Apologies, I do not wish to play (male)
mâi lên nám-kɛ̌ng: Do not use ice
mâi lên bpɛ̂ɛng: Do not use powder
Majority of the people reading this post love to travel. Well, traveling to Thailand in April is the best option for those looking forward to spending quality vacations with their friends, family, and colleagues – all appreciation goes to the amazing Songkran Festival. Make sure to book in advance so you do not miss out on a fun traditional holiday.
Contact us and we can help you to have a Tailor-made Thailand experience that includes the best of the Songkran Festival.
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