April is one of the best times to visit Thailand but also one of the wettest. Don’t bother to pack your raincoat and brolly though as it’s not the weather you need to prepare for but the world’s largest water fight! The Songkran Festival takes place annually from 12th – 15th April* to celebrate the Thai New Year. Across the nation the fun-loving Thai population (and anyone lucky enough to be visiting at the time) take to the streets to give everyone, both young and old, a thoroughly good soaking. But it’s not all water pistols and ice-cold buckets of water. The Songkran Festival runs deeper than that, symbolising cleansing, purification and fresh starts.
The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching’ and its traditions stretch back hundreds of years, celebrating hospitality, love and the importance of maintaining strong relationships within families and communities. The festival is timed to help people cool off from the mid-summer heat and each region of this beautiful and diverse country celebrates with its own unique traditions.
What’s on where…
Bangkok (12-15 April)
- Songkran Wisutkasat: The heart of Bangkok’s celebrations since 1935, and home of the original Miss Songkran contest.
- Songkran Bang Lamphu: Meet locals in a merit-making and cultural performance on Phra Athit Road and join the procession to Suan Santi Chaiprakarn.
- Songkran Bangkok: Tour old Bangkok and see the Phra Buddha Sihing image taken from the National Museum to Sanam Luang to be honoured and enjoy centuries-old ceremonies.
Central, Eastern & Western Regions
- Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan (17-19 April): Join the colourful Thai/Mon parade with floral wagons, traditional dress and unique traditions.
- Sangkhlaburi, Kanchanaburi (13-18 April): See the “Bridge of Hope” in which monks walk on people’s backs after a Mon purification ceremony.
- Lai Day Sand Pagoda Ceremony Bang Saen, Chon Buri (16-17 April): Join the tradition of building sand pagodas.
- Ayutthaya (13-15 April): Tour the UNESCO Heritage Site and enjoy splashing water.
- Suphan Buri (13-14 April): Enjoy extravagant parades, parties and ceremonies.
- Prapeni Pi Mai Mueang, Chiang Mai (12-16 April): Join the parade and pour water on the Phra Phuttha Sihing Buddha image and make merit.
- Song Nam Oi Tan in Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai (8-12 April): Celebrate the New Year with processions round the famous sights of the ancient capital.
- Thai-Lao New Year, Nakhon Phanom (12-15 April): Celebrate traditions of seven local tribes with games and dances.
- Thailand-Laos Friendship Songkran, Nong Khai (6-18 April): Purify the Luangpho Phra Sai image, Nong Khai’s spiritual icon.
- Songkran Nang Dan Parade, Nakhon Si Thammarat (11-15 April): The Nang Dan ceremony shows Hinduism’s influence on Songkran traditions.
TAT has also helped to arrange a series of “Joyous Songkran Splendours” in the following locations.”
Bangkok (13-15 April): Khao San Road and Silom Road.
Chiang Mai (12-16 April): The City Moat.
Chon Buri (11-19 April): Ko Si Chang, Bang Phra Beach; Sattahip; Pattaya (North, Central and South Beaches); Lan Bodhi Park Na Kluea; and Sri Racha Public Park.
Khon Kaen (5-15 April): Khao Nieo Road.
Phuket (11-17 April): Patong Beach.
Songkhla (11-15 April): Hat Yai Midnight Songkran at Nipat Uthit 3 Road, Sanehanusorn Road and Wat Mahathat.
Surat Thani (12-14 April): Songkran Ko Samui (Chaweng Beach).
Where to go for…
• Join the procession of Chiang Mai’s prominent Phra Buddha Sihing image and take part in a parade to bring sand and Sali (Bodhi tree) clutches to temples.
• If you’ll be in Bangkok, don’t miss the parade of the National Museum’s Phra Buddha Sihing around the Bangkok Municipal Administration.
• Head to Mae Hong Son for the procession of the Buddha image and Miss Songkran, as well as fun-filled activities like cooking demos.
• Visitors to the Meaung district of Chon Buri can experience the impressive parade of the ‘God of Death’ statue to the sea, to chase away bad luck.
• The ancient capital of Ayuttaya has a merit-making ceremony at Viharn Phra Mongkolborpit.
• In Phichit you can experience the bathing of the Por Pu image, where devout Buddhists pour fragrant water over the image to mark the welcoming of the New Year.
• Head to Sukhothai’s Sri Satchanalai to join in the worshipping ceremony of Phra Maha Thammaracha I and the royal dynasty.
• Follow the locals to the old city moat in Chiang Mai, by far the best spot for filling your bucket or water pistol, ready for battle.
• If you’re looking for some wet and wild action in Bangkok, hit the streets of Khao San and Silom.
• For those staying in Ko Samui, grab your water pistols and join in the huge water fight along Chawang Beach Road.
Click here for more dates and information to help plan your trip.
Do’s and don’ts to enjoying a successful Songkran…
▪ Take some time to visit a temple and perhaps have a blessing by a monk.
▪ Pour water onto the hand of elders, to show respect and seek their blessing.
▪ Pack your water pistol and a plastic bag – to keep your valuables dry.
▪ Play nice! Join in at designated areas and events where everyone is up for Songkran fun
▪ Use dirty water. Make sure it’s clean or mixed with traditional Thai fragrances.
▪ Wear tight or light clothes, as once the water hits you may reveal more than you wish.
▪ Throw water unless in a designated area or at an event – not everyone wants to get wet.
*Dates may differ from province to province.