Songkran is the most popular festival of Thailand. It marks the beginning of the new solar year and the start of Summer. This year, the festival will commence on 13 April, and will continue for about three to five days, depending on the geographical location. Friends and family usually celebrate by visiting temples and by throwing water on each other to represent the wish of “a year full of blessings”.
Over many years, the celebration has expanded, becoming awesome, huge water fights across the nation. Because of this, Songkran is a great reason to party and travel. Here are three cool places you can head to if you’re thinking about celebrating Songkran this year. Booking in advance can be quite important, seen as all the hotels, trains and buses are usually packed with both international and Thai travellers during the Songkran period…
The entire 5km length of this street, Silom, is completely packed on two levels with thousands of Thai partiers bringing along anything they have that can disperse water. Silom is most likely the biggest and wildest crowd in Bangkok.
The best part about this place though is actually the fact that you can enjoy the party in somewhat dry surroundings too, by simply staying put on the BTW sky walk which runs above the street. Even though these surroundings are relatively dry, it’s still recommended to carry any valuable items in a plastic or waterproof bag… it can get a bit hectic! From up here, you can see the full extent of the water fight, a huge crowd of young expats and young Thai people, and lots of stalls selling water guns, drinks, food and of course – beer.
Silom is also known widely for Patpong, an entertainment district catering mainly to foreigners and expats. If you do go to Silom – make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the firetrucks that ambush each intersection with their big and powerful water hoses – which the crowd (usually) is delighted to see… since the Thai heat can reach 40˚C, and being hosed down doesn’t seem like the worst idea.
In Phuket, Songkran starts like any other normal day… but by about midday on 13 April, the streets are literally lined with people and utilities that cruise around with masses of water to throw onto the brave street walkers.
Bangla Road is definitely the place to be, if you’re up for lots of loud music, screaming and water fights. There’s also going to be plenty of fun in Phuket Town, Kata and the Karon beach areas too. Oh, and if you’re looking for thick crowds and a party in absolute full swing, Patong beach would be a great option too… so many choices!
Since there’ll be such a huge mass of people, there are other activities available for the all the energized expats and Thais during the Songkran period, like the “Little Miss Patong beauty festival”, heaps of art shows, and a beautiful parade of flowers. In all honesty though, in Phuket, you don’t need to go looking for the great Songkran festivities, they’ll find you all on it’s own!
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
If you’re not a huge party-goer, and prefer being a bit more down to Earth, the activities you can do during Songkran around the ancient city in Mueang District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, would be great for you. Some of these activities include offering food to the local monks and pouring scented water on to the hands of elders to receive their blessings.
Here you can also enjoy splashing water – except with some beautiful Thai elephants! Celebrating in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is great if you want to do some “merit-making” activities too, like the bathing ritual of Buddha images, and releasing birds and fish, which “makes good karma”. You can also watch the beautiful procession of the “Miss Songkran beauty pageant”, cultural performances and the floral float parade.
- (If you’re a buddhist) Give alms and make merit. If not, try to witness the rituals.
- Use waterproof bags / plastic bags to protect valuable items.
- Keep watch of all your belongings… there are lots of people!
- Try to use public transportation if you are heading to one of the Songkran ‘hotspots’.
- Try to wish as many of the locals a happy new year in Thai – “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
- Smile at all the locals and expats you see.
- Embrace the water fights and getting wet.
- Have fun!!!
- Spray water onto the monks, babies or elderly.
- Drink and drive.
- Throw water with ice / hard materials that could hurt somebody.
- Throw dirty water – bad for people’s health and wellbeing.
- Throw water at motorcyclists or oncoming cars to prevent any road accidents.
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