Its name translating to “transformation” in Sanskrit, the Songkran festival, signifying the beginning of a New Year, is one of Thailand’s most significant annual festivals. The water-warriors take to streets from 13-15th April and wet everyone they meet on their way, a pleasant respite in the scorching heat of April. The three-day national holiday ensures that crowds have enough time to participate in the religious rituals associated with the festival as well as in the all-pervasive water-fights, dramatic processions and street and beach parties. No matter if the misfortunes of the previous year are washed by the end of the 3-day celebrations or not, an outcome traditionally hoped for, the streets all through the country are washed clean and look brand new, a result no less desirable.
Below we have covered for you the most prominent celebrations that await travellers in different parts of Thailand in 2018.
As the city’s working population leaves Bangkok for their native places to mark Songkran with their families, tourists fill the void by flying into the city in huge numbers. Most major and minor businesses as well as government office remain closed but a plethora of festivals and events are planned throughout the city as this time. The 5 kilometre long Silom Street is where most of the action is centred, the highlight being splashed with water by fire trucks planted at all major intersection. Khao San Road, Phra Pradaeng District and Sanam Luang are some of the other popular places for experiencing the brashest and the wildest parties in the city.
Once you’re armed with a weapon of your own, and ready for the longest shower you’ll be taking in the year, make a move towards Tha Pae Gate in Chiang Mai. Even the crumbling city wall, that once protected city of Chiang Mai against intruders, won’t be able to save you from the water-attack at you from all directions. There so many parties being held every year throughout the 4-kilometer long stretch that you can spend every hour of the day at a new one. The sound systems producing loud music as well as street stalls selling delectable food keep you company the whole day.
While the traditional rituals such as paying respect to the elders of the family, praying for the recently deceased, making Pagodas from sand and worshipping to Buddha remain common to Phuket as the rest of the Thailand, the Procession of the Phra Buddha Sihing around Patong Beach is one of the highlights of the Songkran Festival in Phuket. You can pick a souvenir from the local art and craft stalls that are exhibited throughout the city during all three days of Songkran. If you are wandering where all the water fights will be, the Bangla Road is where all the revelry-makers go after the traditional celebrations are over at homes.
If three days of celebration wouldn’t cut it for you, and you will rather indulge in the festive spirit for a whole week, we’d suggest you land your troop at Pattaya. In addition to the three days of traditional festivities from 13-15th April, Pattaya marks 19th April as the day of Wan Lai Festival. The swashing and splashing continues the whole week, and assumes a crazy nature at the day of Wan Lai when no one who steps a foot outside is spared from being drenched. The Bench Road is the place that sees largest concentration of crowds. In Pattaya, do expect people to colour you with a white talcum powder mixed with water, a non-traditionalist ritual practised only in few parts of the country.
If you are in Koh Samui for Songkran, there’s only one place you’ll find everyone heading towards i.e. the Chaweng Beach, popular for its unending DJ and foam parties. All the clubs and restaurants around the beach participate in creating an all-round atmosphere of revelry and not a single soul goes by without being splashed with water. For seeing the traditional side of the festival, the quiet town of Nathon will be the right place for you for ushering in Songkran celebrations. Some of the other places in Koh Samui for witnessing Songkran celebrations at their best include Maenam Beach and Bophut Beach.