One of the best time to visit Thailand in 2019 is during the Songkran festival. However, many people still aren’t sure about the exact dates and what to keep in mind when joining this amazing water festival in Thailand. In this post, we will give you more information about Songkran: its meaning and history, its celebration dates, safety tips as well as , common dos and don’ts.
1. What is Songkran?
The Songkran festival, also known as the Thailand New Year celebration, is one of the grandest and most important events in the year. This party is usually celebrated in the middle of April. Songkran literally means “a move” or “a change” because the celebration is held during the times when the sun changes its position in the zodiac.
2. Songkran origin
Songkran origin are associated with the death of the Buddha Kapila Brahma. Having heard of the cleverness of a boy named Thammabal, the god decided to challenge the boy with a riddle, in which the loser will lose his head. Unfortunately, the boy won and the god had to cut off his head. However, the god’s head would cause disasters if it was dropped into the ground, ocean or thrown into the air. To avoid bad things, one of 7 daughters of the god, called Nang Songkran, put their father’s head on a tray to carry and formed a procession Mount Meru every month when the Sun moves to another zodiac .
Over time, the word Songkran has been generalized to refer to the period when the sun enters Aries, in April. This marks the beginning of the Thai New Year and is called Maha Songkran (‘great songkran’). In normal use, people often shorten it into Songkran.
Nowadays, Thai people used to celebrate the Lunar New Year by gathering their beloved family, going to the temples to make merit and pouring over the statues of Buddha. They also sprinkle water onto their family members and close friends as a way of blessing for the new year. On the street, Thai youngsters celebrate the festival with a massive water fight across the kingdom and it attracts so many locals as well as tourists all over the world.
3. Songkran dates in 2019
Songkran 2019 will be celebrated from Saturday, 13th April to Monday, 15th April (check out Songkran day in 2019, 2020 and more). Tourists can join Songkran festival activities in many areas in Thailand such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket or Chiang Mai.
#1: Songkran in Phuket
- Venue: Soi Bangla, Patong Beach, Phuket.
- Activities: Procession of the Phra Buddha Sihing image around Patong Beach, floral parades, little Miss Songkran beauty pageant, art and cultural exhibitions, water splashing along Patong Beach.
#2: Songkran in Bangkok
- Venue: Khao San Road, Silom Road, Nana Plaza, Patpong, etc.
- Activities: the Buddha image brought-out, art and cultural performances, demonstration of Thai traditional cooking, pay homage to sacred temples
#3: Songkran in Pattaya
- Venue: walking street, Soi 6, 7, 8, Soi Buakhao, the Naklua area
- Activities: a week-long battle starting a week before the actual Songkran and several days after, live music performances, the Kong Khao parade, small beauty pageants, cultural shows and showcase of authentic Thai crafts.
#3: Songkran in Chiang Mai
- Venue: Chiang Mai Gate, Thapae Gate, the Ping Rivers and many other places throughout the city
- Activities: procession around the city, cultural celebrations, traditional performances, street food.
The number of tourists coming to Thailand on Songkran festival has increased greatly in recent years. However, some of them violate the regulation by mistake or on purpose and are consequently punished by the government. Therefore, let keep in mind these below DOs and DON’T to avoid breaking the rules as well as protect yourself during the amazing Songkran 2019 in Thailand.
4. Dos and Don’ts during Songkran 2019
#1: What to do during Songkran
- Use public transportation to reduce the amount of traffic on the streets. During the Songkran festival days, there are a great number of people traveling onto the roads and streets. Hence, it’s a good idea to avoid going by private vehicles and try public ones instead.
- Learn some phrases and grateful sentences in Thai to communicate with locals when you meet them, for
example“Sawasdee-pee mai” (Happy New Year). This is a good way to show your best wishes and appreciation.
- When visiting temples or shrines, dress politely and be quiet to keep the solemnity there. Suggested Songkran outfit is pieces of clothing that can cover your knees and your shoulders
- Pour water from the neck of the Buddha statue, not the head. You can also pour the water onto the old’s hands to show your gratitude.
- Put all your electronic devices (cell phone, tablet, etc.) in a zip-lock bag to prevent them from getting wet because the water splashes occur at almost every corner of the country during the celebration.
- Leave your valuable things at home or at the hotel’s safe box. Just carry some cash as well as your phone and put them in zip-lock bags.
- Wear a swimsuit underneath your clothes to prevent indecent transparency especially when you are wearing bright and thin clothing. Thai culture sees it as impolite or even indecent.
- Be careful of the pickpockets. Many of them try to steal valuables when everyone is in a mess.
- Wear sunblock (waterproof sunblock is the best) carefully before jumping into the streets for water fights. Songkran takes place in the hottest time of the year so let take care of yourselves first.
- Make sure to eat properly before joining in the water splashes because you will have to use a lot of energy.
- Stay at your hotel if you don’t want to get wet. There’s no chance for you to be dry back home when going out these days.
- Keep smiling and be comfortable even if you don’t feel like some Songkran traditions. If you accidentally get wet, feel free and enjoy it.
- After a fun water fight, you may want to check out some delicious Thai food in Bangkok and must-try local Chiangmai food to revive your energy.
#2: What to avoid doing during Songkran
- Use equipment that is banned by the Thai government such as hazardous equipment to shoot water for a far distance. You should just use common tools such as buckets or lighter water guns.
- Rub someone’s head, especially the monks’: Thai people consider the head to be the cleanest and brightest part in the body so it’s prohibited to put your hands on their head
- Touch or hug the monks: the monks in Thailand stand at a higher level than other people so it’s abandoned to get close to them or touch them. If you want to give them something, put it on the ground and they may pick it up
- Splash water into small kids, the elderly people or the monks: it’s abandoned and you will be punished if you do so
- Splash dirty water or cold water: it can cause accidents for participants and make them irritated
- Shoot people in the face or when they are driving
- Wear too thin clothing: Imagine what you will look like if you get wet
- Dress too complicated and bring along too many things: they can make you slower and harder to do everything and they can even be stolen
- Drive when you are drunk: it’s so dangerous for you and for others
- Take off your clothes and your shoes when going out, even when it’s so hot and you just want to throw away your T-shirt. The Thai will see you as a bad person
- Express your emotions too much in public; for example, kissing or flirting
- Powder strangers: this one has been banned to avoid indecent touching
- Get too noisy and rowdy in the street and during the festival: a little bit singing or shouting of joy can be acceptable but make sure not to be so noisy and aggressive
- Be angry at the activities and tradition of Thailand: in case you don’t like the festivities, find another place to go to. It’s impolite to get angry at other people during the Songkran
These are some Songkran safety tips traditions and tips that might help you to keep track with everyone when joining Songkran. They seem quite obvious to many locals and experienced travelers but for first-time travelers, they will help a lot. Make sure to keep these things in mind if you are planning a trip to Thailand for Songkran 2019. Songkran is always a one-of-a-kind celebration that will spice up your holidays for sure!