Seen as one of the most interesting and popular festivals in the world, Songkran – the Thailand’s New Year celebration – is a wonderful option for your April travel plan. Famous for the water-splashing activities, Songkran is when you escape your busy schedule and the burning heat of Thailand to enjoy a few soaking wet days of absolute joy. While being an extremely fun and energetic event, Songkran has great spiritual meanings and is a beautiful Thai tradition. Everyone, from little kids to adults to even seniors, is ready to welcome you on the streets of Thailand for an unforgettable water experience.
Original meaning and tradition
The word ‘songkran’, literally “astrological passage”, means transformation. It is the combination of the Buddhist beliefs, ancient astrology, and the solar calendar. It is when the Sun shifts from one side of the zodiac to another (Pisces to Aries). The 13th day of April is the New Year day for Thailand following by two days of celebration. Songkran is also celebrated in some Thailand’s neighbors such as Laos, Cambodia, Burma, but under different names and with different traditions.
The activities vary depending on the region but traditionally, during this time, Thais would clean their house before going to temples to say prayers and giving some precious food to the monks. They then pour the rose scented water on the Buddha pictures and statues for good luck. Water is also sprinkled on the hands of elders as a way to ask to blessings. They believe the clean fresh water will help wash away the sorrows of past year and bring great things for the upcoming time. These are the inspiration for the fun water splashing activities later.
Obviously, the most obvious activity you want to participate during Songkran is to go on the streets armed with lots of water (and things to shoot, throw, and splash water with) and participate in the joyful battles of water. It is truly something like no other because Songkran is the only time when a few things are acceptable and or even encouraged. Whoever you are, you get to act like a kid and throw water balloons or dump the whole bucket of water on a complete stranger without pissing anyone off. You would very much enjoy getting on the back of a pick-up truck and use water guns to shoot the crazy ‘army’ chasing you. It is when you can wash all the worries off you and enjoy a great time. Not to mention the fact that you are able to dress up comfortably in some colorful outfit, enjoy some exciting music and fall in love with the coolness of this long shower in the hottest month in Thailand.
Songkran, however, is not just about getting soaked. If you are not into the madness of the street water fights, temples and spiritual places are always welcoming you during this important holiday. In certain areas, images of Buddha are taken around the street for people to lightly sprinkle water on. Sacred temples and pagoda across the countries take in thousands of people during this time for praying and making merit. Throughout the spiritual days of Songkran, these already-beautiful temples and pagodas of Thailand are colorfully decorated and the country in general seems like it puts on a new great look. Everybody, in the spirit of the New Year celebration, believe in doing goods and being nice to each other, creating a wonderful friendly atmosphere.
Where to go?
Without a doubt, Bangkok is where the best Songkran ‘festivities’ are at. Bangkok’s wide range of high quality hospitality and service selections also guarantees your days here will be well taken care of. If you wish to have some fun splashing activities, the crowded Khao San road and Silom area are where you would want to go. Sanam Luang and Phra Pradaeng District, on the other hands, host the more respected celebration activities. Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Khon Kaen – with their beautiful beaches, scenic views and great food – are the other brilliant substitutions for Songkran.
What to keep in mind
First and most importantly, be prepared to get soaking wet. Plastic bags and waterproof gears are going to be your best friend as they help to keep your valuables dry and safe. You should always remember to play by the game and only throw pure, clean water at people. Even though rarely happen, accidents, pickpocketing and creeping do exist so it is best to be careful. After being in contact with water for a long time, sickness is a possibility; therefore, stay warm. It is highly recommended that you celebrate Songkran in a group. Lastly, though fun and casual, Songkran is after all a spiritual event. It is important to behave yourself, be nice to others and be respectful.
So are you excited for this amazing festival? Songkran 2017 is dated April 13 to April15 and Thailand cannot wait to welcome you. Vietnamstay would love to arrange and host an unforgettable Songkran trip for you. Click here to find out and book our Thailand tours.