The term Songkran is derived from the Sanskrit language which translates into ‘change’ or ‘move’. The Songkran festival marks the traditional Thai New Year. It is also known as Songkran Water Festival as the locals commemorate the occasion with water. This festival happens to be the largest celebration in Thailand, and arguably the largest water fight in the world.
On the occasion of new year, houses are cleaned. The deities of Buddha are gently washed with scented water. The origin of using water in this festival started with pouring water respectfully over the hands of elders. Water holds a symbolic and ritualistic significance in this festival as it serves the purpose of cleansing and purification.
After the rituals and formalities end, people take to the streets to party and throw water in good-natured fun. Participating in Songkran is a great way to escape the heat. This is because April happens to be the hottest month in Thailand. As the temperature regularly rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, most people really don’t mind getting drenched.
Though splashing and festivities take place on any given road in the city during the new year, some of the biggest parties in Bangkok happen at Silom Road, RCA and Khao San Road. However, if there is one particular place which you should certainly not miss, then that is Chiang Mai around the old city moat. Tha Pae Gate witnesses the most happening parties in that time of the year. So it is recommended that guests make their reservations in the hotels around accordingly.
When Is It Held?
While traditionally, the festival was based on the lunar calendar, now, the festivities officially begin from 13th April and conclude on 15th April. However, in tourist places such as Chiang Mai and Phuket, many people take off from work and stretch the festival into as long as six days.
Tips for traveling in Thailand during Songkran Water Festival
• Epic battles ensue on practically every street throughout Thailand. So if you’re not exactly water friendly, then it is best to avoid the country during these specific days.
• Before traveling, check about the water splashing and its permitted duration. In some towns, it is only allowed for one day. So plan your trip accordingly.
• To enjoy the more traditional and dry celebrations, head to any Buddhist temple.
• Leave all your valuables at the hotel or get them waterproofed.
• If you plan to involve yourself in this festival, ensure that you throw clean, cold water only.
• The use of high pressure hoses can lead to hefty fines, so avoid using them.
• Purchase a water cannon in the market so that you can join the fun.
• Due to widespread drunk driving, this period has been nicknamed as the “seven dangerous days of Songkran’. So travelers using the road, take good care of your safety.
For some mad, fun-filled partying with a glimpse of Thai culture, plan a trip to Thailand and Bangkok during the Songkran Water Festival. It will be worth every penny of yours!