Thailand Fun Festival

Thailand is home to many unique and fun festivals. Right from the beginning of the year to the end, there is no end to gala events and merrymaking. One such big and important festival on the Thai calendar is Songkran, which is the Thai New Year festival.

Every year, in the month of April from the 13th to 15th, Thai people come out and splash or pour water on each other as an important ritual in this festival. If you too have been planning to visit Thailand in the month of April, do not miss the festival of Songkran. People in Thailand, both locals, expats, and tourists, come together to celebrate this festival and create an atmosphere of frolic and community on the streets of Thailand. Let’s find out more about this festival, its origins, and its cultural and religious significance.

What is Songkran Day? | Meaning of Songkran

Water Gun Fights

The word Songkran has been derived from the Sanskrit word Sankranti which means the “to move into” or astrological passage. In Astrology, when the sun transitions from one zodiac sign (Pisces) to another (Aries), it marks transformation. This also coincides with the harvest season in Thailand, hence bringing in abundance and prosperity. The first day of Songkran which falls on April 13th is called the Maha Songkran.

In these three days, Thai people celebrate their traditional new year like any other country. You would see hundreds of people in the streets and at famous points, throwing water at each other with water guns and buckets. If you’re walking in the streets of Thailand, chances are at every few steps someone will splash water on you and wish you ‘happy new year’, take all that in good spirit!

Songkran Festival 2024 Dates

Songkran Festival 2024 Dates

The dates of Songkran Festival 2024 typically span from April 13th to April 16th. However, this year, seeing the enthusiasm of both locals and foreigners and to promote Songrkran as a cultural soft power, the Thai government has extended the celebrations from April 1 to April 21, 2024. It marks the departure from the traditional three-day celebration to attract people towards Thai culture and heritage and for many people to be a part of Thai celebrations who would be visiting Thailand in the month of April this year.

The Significance of Water in Songkran Festival

Scented Floral Water

The Thai New Year marks transformation by getting rid of the misfortunes and negativity of the previous year. It further extends to stepping into a new and clean state of being, hence water becomes an essential element in figuratively cleansing away the sins of the past year. Water not only signifies sustenance and refreshment but also purification in Thai culture, hence it becomes a defining symbol of this festival.

Buddha Statue

In Thailand, the locals respectfully and slowly pour water on Buddha statues and practise the cleansing rituals of these revered statues. Songkran is the time when all family members come together and celebrate unity and harmony. Young members of the family pour water on the hands of elderly to seek their blessings. Thai devotees who visit Buddhist temples, pay respect to monks by offering them clothes, food, flowers and by pouring scented water on their hands. In return they seek blessings for themselves and their family from the monks. On the other hand, on the streets people of all ages and backgrounds are always ready with water guns and welding buckets to have playful water fights.

Preparing for Songkran: Traditions and Customs

1. Cleaning and Decorating the Household:

House Cleaning

The festival of Songkran is both an exciting and harmonious time in Thailand. It is a time when all family members come together and prepare for the festival with great zeal. For almost all families, it is also time for the annual spring cleaning. It is essential for them to meticulously clean every nook and cranny of their homes in the days leading up to the Maha Songkran. This cleaning represents getting rid of the old, dirty, and what isn’t serving you and welcoming the new. Many Thais adorn their homes with flowers, get new furniture, and make several new-year decorations.

2. Preparing Food and Desserts:

Thai dessert preparation

The celebration of Songkran revolves around praying for abundance and prosperity. To honour the tradition, Thai people prepare food, clothes and desserts and distribute it amongst monks, neighbours, friends and those who are less fortunate. Being together and preparing such meals promotes a spirit of community and togetherness which is the antithesis of social isolation and loneliness.

3. Visiting Temples and Bathing the Buddha Statues:

Wat Arun Temple

It is customary for many Thai devotees to visit Buddhist temples early in the morning and practise the ritual of Song Nam Phra and Wan Payawan, which involves bathing the Buddha statues with scented water and similarly slowly pouring the water on the hands of monks.

Bathing Buddha Statue

The Thais believe that these rituals take away all the illness and sadness as they receive blessings from monks. Many Buddhist devotees take the task to visit all the major Budhhist temples such as Wat Arun, Wat Bowon, Wat Benchamabophit, Wat Pho and more. Many people, especially in the eastern part of Thailand make sand pagodas to celebrate the festivals.

4. Instilling Cultural Values:

Family celebrating Songkran

Songkran gives ample amount of time to elders of the family to inculcate Thai cultural and societal values in the younger members of the family. These include respect for elders, parents, respect for the monks, love and pride for the country and living in harmony with other people. In addition to preserving filial piety and tradition, this ceremony fortifies family relationships and promotes harmony and solidarity among Thai communities throughout the holiday season.

5. Dressing Up in Traditional Attire:

Outfits of Songkran

Many Thais dress up in traditional attire to get into the true spirit of Songkran. Don’t be surprised if you see Thai women dressed up in a beautiful outfit called “chut thai,” which looks almost like a saree. Whereas men dress up in “barong” or a traditional shirt. The traditional attire adds a hint of festive fervour in an already beautiful and fun celebration.

Songkran 2024: What to Expect

Music Festival

Songkran Music Festival 

This year Songkran 2024 is a month-long event in which tourists will have plenty of time to enjoy its fun and chaos. The best part for any tourist is the water fights so make sure to carry a water gun along with you and don’t mind the splashes of water which could come from any direction which will leave you entirely drenched. You can celebrate with the locals on the streets or book tickets to exclusive Songkran parties held in private venues. In Bangkok, you can attend music festivals such as the SIAM Songkran Music Festival where you can enjoy EDM music, immersive arts, great food while being all drenched.

Water fight Songkran

Water Fights Songkran

The street markets are filled with a lot of food and drinks so be careful that you do not over consume. Be respectful of any religious processions passing by and do not touch any religious symbols, Buddha statues or monks in an inebriated state. Songkran is all about having fun but for Thais it holds a deep cultural and religious significance so be mindful of that.

Sand Pagoda CompetitionSand Pagoda Competition

The sand pagoda building competitions are mostly held in Northern Thailand. In this competition, the residents come together to join forces and build sand pagodas or chedi sai. These pagodas are then decorated with twigs, leaves, flowers and bamboo. Whosoever has made the most beautiful and eye pleasing structure wins the competition.

Thai Food

Thai Food in Songkran

Any festival is incomplete without feasting and the same goes for Songkran. During this festival certain dishes are prepared with great enthusiasm and distributed. These include mango sticky rice, spicy papaya salad, the national dish of Thailand, pad Thai noodles, Pad kee mao talay, spicy shrimp soup and khao chae. Make sure to try these dishes as you celebrate this festival in Thailand.

Songkran in Lake

Songkran in Lake

If you get time to travel to Thailand for the entire month of April, you would notice regional variations of Songkran. For example, in Bangkok you’d see locals visiting temples and playing with water on the street, while in Chiang Mai people make sand pagodas, prepare food and distribute them in the community. Irrespective of wherever you are in Thailand, Songkran is always a great fun to experience.

Favourite Destinations to Celebrate Songkran 2024

1. Bangkok

Songkran water celebration

The capital city offers everything you need to celebrate the Thai New Year. If you’re interested in experiencing the festival’s religious and cultural significance, we recommend visiting a Buddhist temple to observe the unfolding rituals. However, if you’re looking to join the lively street celebrations with water guns, popular spots like Siolim Road, Siam Square, and Khao San Road are your best bet. Additionally, for an elevated level of fun, consider attending a music festival dedicated to Songkran. You can immerse yourself in the crowd, dancing to the beats while being drenched with water from the main stage’s water guns.

2. Phuket

Beach party

The fervour of Songkran can be felt in the busiest and the buzziest of places, that is Patong Road. To curb the craziness, there are police in check but don’t worry as they never intervene if people are having fun without creating a ruckus. Apart from Patong Road, Bangla road is also notorious for mind boggling songkran parties and the rest of the fun is carried out through beach parties on Kamala beach as well as on Patong beach.

3. Chiang Mai:

Thai Desserts

The best places to celebrate Songkran in Chiang Mai are at Tha Pae Gate, Chiang Mai Gate, Ping River, and Wat Phra Singh. You can participate in the water fights or take a stroll in the market (of course, while being completely wet) and try delicious Thai desserts. You can also witness the very beautiful Buddhist processions that begin from temples and are displayed along throughout the area. People pay their reverence towards the Buddha and seek blessings for their well being.

The Impact of Songkran on Thai Society and Tourism

Street Festival

1. The Thailand Songkran Festival has won UNESCO’s recognition. Songkran is also one of the most globally recognised festivals. It is a significant celebration in Thailand, it includes the passing down of Thai traditions, customs, and values via a celebratory festival. Parents and elders imbibe tradition through talking and making them participate in the customs.

2. Songkran also fosters qualities like cooperation amongst fellow humans, a feeling of fraternity, and forgiveness. Strong families make strong communities, which make a strong country. It is a great time for Thai society to pray for the prosperity of the family and honour ancestors and older people. In addition, Songkran also breaks down any social-economic divide, isolation, and loneliness often felt in today’s modern age.

3. From a tourism perspective, Songkran brings in a lot of attention, tourists, and, of course, money inflow to the country. Similar festivals and New Year celebrations are held across Southeast Asia, but due to the efforts of the Thai government and people, Songkran has risen above all others and firmly established its place in the list of the top 10 festivals worldwide.

Tips and Measures for Songkran Festival

1. What to wear in Songkran?

Be prepared to get wet from head to toe in water while being a part of the Songkran festival. It is advisable that you wear waterproof shoes, tank top/Hawaiian shirts with shorts. Protect your eyes by wearing a pair of sunglasses. Keep a good quality plastic bag or waterproof fanny pack around your body.

2. Sun Protection and Hydration:

Even though you are like getting poured over with cold water. It’s always a good idea to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a waterproof sunscreen or a thin water resistant jacket. Keep yourself hydrated, only drink sealed tight bottled water and don’t drink the water from taps.

3. Wear Ear Plugs:

This might be an underrated item, but wearing earplugs is extremely important while participating in any water fight. Some people get water inside their ears, which causes discomfort. Others may get infections after playing in the water, so wearing ear plugs is an important preventive measure.

4. Seek Permission Before Splashing Water

Even though there are no hard-and-fast rules in Songkran, it’s always good etiquette to seek consent or approval before splashing someone’s face or body with water. Seeking permission makes both parties at ease and elevates the joys of the festival.

5. Do Not Throw Water On Certain People:

Make sure you do not throw water on drivers, especially the ones on two-wheelers, the elderly, monks, pregnant women, or babies. Make sure to avoid any altercations with the locals and play in good spirits.

Wrapping Up

Anyone planning to visit Thailand in April needs to experience the incredible and delightful event of Songkran. It’s cultural and festive, like any other thing you have experienced. The people, the water fights, the food, and the chaos you see here are unparalleled. Plus, the memories you make here are priceless. If you too, want to visit Thailand and experience Songkran, book a Thailand tour package.  Get ready to be a part of an exhilarating celebration.