Songkran, which is known for different names such as the water fight festival or the water gun festival, is one of the hottest events in Thailand thanks to its cool traditions and activities. During this fest, people across the nation, especially youngsters rush into streets and splash water into each other, forming an exciting festival atmosphere that you’d never imagine.
This article is going to shed some lights on this one-of-a-kind celebration!
1. Songkran fun facts
- Songkran marks the end of the old year and is the most important public holiday in Thailand .
- If you happen to visit Thailand during Songkran, you’d better prepare yourself as there is little chance that you can stay dry ^^
- Songkran is the time for family reunion and pay respect to the elderlies and monks in Thailand.
- During the festival, there are water fights all across Thailand, especially in the north of the nation as splashing water into people is a way to send off bad luck.
- In some places, people have a tradition of applying a white powder or chalk onto their faces or necks, which originates from monks using chalk to mark blessings.
- Big trucks are used to distribute water during the celebration.
- People in a tuk-tuk often getting soaked.
- Songkran is not only celebrated in Thailand but also some other parts of Asia such as Laos, Combodia, Vietnam and China, even though each country has a unique way of celebration.
2. What is Songkran?
#1: Songkran meaning
“A move” or “a passsage” because the celebration is held during the times when the sun changes its position in the zodiac. As the event coincides with the arrival of the New Year, it’s also considered a celebration of Thailand New Year.
#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. When and how long is the celebration?
Annually, Songkran is celebrated nationwide in April and often lasts for 3 days (13rd-15th April), in which each day marks a unique time of the year:
APRIL 13 – WAN SANGKHAN LHONG: the last day of the year when the sun is about to go into Aries on the zodiac.
APRIL 14 – WAN NAO OR WAN DA: the transitional day between the old and the new years.
APRIL 15 – WAN PHYA WAN: Thai New Year day, a big day for Thai people.
For some cities, this event period can hold longer, for example Pattaya,Chiang Mai: 7 days. During these days, most of Thai people temporarily stopped their business and enjoy the special moment of transition between the old and new year.
4. Traditions and activities
Each day in the celebration period of Songkran has a different theme and therefore Thai people do different things on each day. They clean everything in their houses and even have their sacred Buddha images washed at the temples to send off bad lucks in the old year. Also, families reunite to cook, decorate homes and make sure everything to be prepare for the new year. On the big day itself, people do good deeds and go to temples to listen to sermons, then pouring water over Buddha statues and other people as a gesture of respect and reverence.
5. Places to celebrate Songkran
Common places to enjoy music and splash water:
- Songkran by gCircuit
- S20 Songkran Music Festival
- G-Spot Songkran Drag Queen Festival
- Songkran SO pool party
- Wet & Wild Songkran Festival
Learn more fun parties during Songkran!
Pattaya is a southeast city in Thailand and the distance from Bangkok to Pattaya is about 148km. It is not only a beautiful seaside city famous for its green beaches, white sand and straight coconut trees but also a perfect place to enjoy the water gun festival.
Songkran in Pattaya is locally known as “Wan Lai”, literally means “the flowing day”. Unlikely other destinations which perform this fest from April 13th to 15th, Songkran 2019 in Pattaya will be lasting for a week from 13th to 19th April.
Below are our recommended places to join Wan Lai in Pattaya:
- Beach Road
- Soi 6, 7, 8 and Soi Bukkhao
- Pattya international music festival
- FFlic Cliff & Pool Club
- Planet Earth Beach Club
Check our guide on things to do and places to have fun during Songkran in Pattaya for more cool stuffs to do.
#3: Chiang Mai
Below are some great places with corresponding events in Chiang Mai:
- Three Kings Monument: traditional parade and events such as Miss Songkran election.
- Charoenmuang Road (near the Narawat Bridge): Songkran procession with Buddha statues carried through the streets.
- Tha Pae Gate or Maya Mall: water splash, foam machines, DJs playing music and street stalls selling every weapon you may want.
You may want to check out for the official schedule of Songkran 2019 in Chiang Mai:
- Patong beach
#5: Koh Samui
- Chaweng Beach
6. Dos and Don’ts
As the water fight festival is the grandest event in Thailand, the number of locals and tourists joining it is huge. This may result in some unexpected incidents and you’d better get the hang of these basic rules to protect yourself and avoid violating the regulation of the government.
- Pour water from the neck of the Buddha statue, not the head.
- Leave your valuable things at home or put them in a zip-lock bags so they won’t get wet.
- Wear sunblock (waterproof sunblock is the best) as Songkran takes place in the hottest time of the year.
- Learn some phrases and grateful sentences in Thai to communicate with locals, for example “Sawasdee-pee mai” (Happy New Year)
- Don’t use equipment that is banned by the Thai government to shoot water at other people: use common tools such as buckets or lighter water guns.
- Don’t rub someone’s head, touch or hug the monks.
Find out more dos and don’ts guide for the Songkran 2019 to enjoy the event to the fullest.