Though being the month that the sun shines the strongest here in Bangkok, April is the time of celebration for Thais. The renowned ‘Songkran Water Festival‘ has been long rooted in Thai society and is officially celebrated during April 13rd – 15th annually.
Marked as Thai New Year’s Day, Songkran is traditionally noted as the fresh beginning of life. We often start the day by sweeping houses and cleaning the rooms, with the belief to blow all negative influences away.
For modern Songkran, these traditions are still practiced but other related activities have creatively evolved. Thai people, mostly teens, enjoy splashing water on each other and sometimes rubbing white talcum powder onto the faces. Colorful water guns are often seen in accompany with energetic guys and girls and tons of tourists joining this festival as well.
Source: JJ Harrison, Wikipedia
The 3 days of Songkran Festival
Besides being the first day of Songkran celebration, this day is also considered the National Day for the elderly in Thailand. Family members will spend time together with the elders, either at home, shopping malls or other attractions around the city. On top of that, at elder day care centers, entertaining activities will be specially arranged by volunteers of all ages to make this day most touching and memorable for them.
The second day of Songkran Festival is also officially the Family Day in Thailand. Some families may go on a trip or organize a warm party at home. All family members are invited to join and it’s the day to spend precious time and share stories with each other.
This is actually the last day of Songkran Festival but several water fights do not easily end here. In some provinces, the festival extends for 1-2 days, and a lot of people are still full of energy,and want to continue splashing. Bangkokians who are done with water fights in the city may also continue their journeys to other regions of Thailand and get soaked with joy!
Credits: , Flickr
What to do
Carrying sands into the temple or monastery
It is the old traditional practice in Thai society. We bring sands back to the temple in order to replace the sands that have been taken away from the temple grounds, sticking on visitors’ feet, since taking anything out of the temple isn’t considered an appropriate action, according to Thai belief.
Pouring blessed water mixed with fragrance over Buddha Images
This is the way to respectfully clean them and we also believe that this will bring us luck, prosperity and success in throughout this new year.
Pouring water on the hands of elders and asking for blessings
Family members gather together and the blessed water called nam ob is used in a ceremony to honour the elders. The young will gently pour the water on the elder’s’ hands, wishing them good health and longevity, and will received blessings from them in return.
This is Thai teens’ most-loved activity! They go out with siblings or friends around the city and join water fights on the road with high energy all day, plus joying the night parties where you can set your spirits free!
Credits: , Wikipedia
What to wear
Colorful floral printed T-shirts are very popular during the festival. You can find them on street stores available for both sexes. Wearing them together with your friends while going out will definitely color Bangkok with real festive feels! Many stores around the city also ask their staff to wear them as well so as you travel around, you’ll see how colorful Bangkok has turned.
Apart from that, fashionable waterproof sunglasses are props that most teens put on, for snapping great shots, and for protecting them from street dust. Casual shorts and dark color shirts are also recommended.
Credits: JJ Harrison, Wikipedia
Where to go
Many streets in Bangkok are turned into fancy parties during Songkran Festival. Let’s peek into two top spots you can visit and get ready to get soaked!
Silom Road: No cars, no motorcycles, nothing but the large crowd of young Thais and tourists packed on the long SIlom road. Each having his/her own Songkran weapon, anything that can spread and spray water around. Dance music is loudly played. You can dance and sing along while getting wet!
Khao San Road: The real water fight begins in Khao San Road. If you want to go wild and getting soaked all over, this place won’t disappoint you. Most foreigners love coming here and join the crowd. Hungry? Everywhere you go, food stalls are set in every corner to sell yummy Thai street food, so whenever you run out of energy from all the fun, it’s very easy to find food.
Credits: Wyndham Hollis, Flickr
What to eat
If you really want to experience a real Songkran, then don’t forget to try mouthwatering street foods sold everywhere on the road while you are enjoying a water party. Shaved iced topped with condensed milk and red syrup, Papaya Salad, Mu Ping (Thai Grilled Pork), and Deep-Fried Seafood are the dishes strongly recommended.
Many are worried that since it’s a National Holiday, most restaurants in Bangkok will be closed during the festival. Will it be hard to find a good one to fill up your appetite? The answer is yes but not for restaurants in department stores and shopping centers.
All are welcoming you as usual and other than that, most shopping mall will hold Songkran Festival Events or Exhibitions where traditional Thai food stores from each part of Thailand gather and cook their signature dishes live! You can try them and of course, buy them at affordable prices!
Are you excited yet? Come celebrate with us the much-awaited Songkran Festival this April 13-15 and you’ll see what I mean. Prepare yourself with loads of energy, along with some waterproof bags for your gadgets!
Writing is not a one way communication. I always keep this quote in my mind whenever I start to write, and that’s the reason why I’m so much in love with the world of writing. I’m Patsaya Pongpanich, a 22 year-old recent graduate from the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University.