What’s with the water festival Songkran from Thailand to Myanmar, what to expect and so much more!
Songkran is hands down the best Thai festival. This “land of smiles” becomes crazy festive with people splashing each other with water on the street of Khao San. But what’s the meaning behind getting soaking wet by strangers? It is fun. But is it safe? We get asked this a lot by our clients.
The official date of Songkran Thailand 2019 has been set: from Saturday, April 13th to Monday the 15th. It is approaching and we know you are just as excited as we are. Without further ado, let Hanoi Voyages give you a comprehensive guide on All you need to know about Songkran.
Songkran is a Sanskrit word used to describe a whole period of celebrating Thailand’s Traditional New Year (just like the word Tet for Vietnam’s Lunar New Year). Songkran starts around April 13th-15th every year with many traditions involved, not just with water splashing.
Thais like to start their Songkran by tidying up their house, taking a bath and washing Buddhist statues with lustral jasmine water scented water, known as Wan Sungkharn Long. On Wan Payawan locals go to the temples for merit-making with fresh-cooked food and fresh fruits. During this time they keep themselves clean by not speaking bad words, even abstaining from sex. On the last day, Wan Parg-bpee, families go to their relatives, doing “Rod Nam Dam Hua”: pouring lustral water onto their relatives and ancestors.
Songkran sounds like an intimate, traditional festival. But why all that you see online are people using water guns to “shoot” at each other?
Like we have mentioned before, traditionally people pour lustral water on monks and their ancestors as a sign of respect. They also believe it is the way to wash their sins from the previous year away, and they can start the new year fresh as a blank sheet.
With the mindset “pouring water brings good luck”, the practice spread. Over time, the water does not necessarily have to be lustral with jasmine water or be poured on close ones. Now people pour water on anybody, and this has given birth to the modern Songkran – the water festival.
No. Songkran is actually just the name used in Thailand for the Solar New Year. In Myanmar it is called Thingyan, Cambodia calls this celebration Chaul Chnam Thmey and Laos calls it Phi May. It makes a splash all across Southeast Asia in the same period of time.
Laos celebration of the water festival, Phi May is a little more laid-back. While the Thingyan in Myanmar is super crazy as the festival could last up to 5 days, and there are even people standing on bamboo stages soaking those bystanders. Does it sound too cray-cray?
Clearly, the capital city offers the best experience for tourists during Songkran. For a cultural side, go to Wat Pho where ritual ceremonies such as Buddha bathing occur. But if all you need is a big splash and a great time, Khao San Road or Silom Road are the places you belong to!
For even more festivity, come to Wistukasat, Bangkok or an annual Miss Songkran beauty pageant. Not only will you be able to see beautiful girls working on the runway, but you will also be treated with colorful parades and delicious street foods.
Come to this ancient capital city of Siam to have the most unique experience of Songkran. People here “go big” by “inviting” elephants to join in the festival as well, having them spray water all over. You can also witness traditional ethnic Mon activities such as bathing the Buddha with bamboo water from a bamboo pipe and offering alms at 7 am to monks. A short bus ride from Bangkok will take you to Ayutthaya, so why hesitate?
What’s so fascinating about the world’s biggest Songkran festival that takes places in Chiang Mai? Street food everywhere, cultural celebrations, and outstanding traditional performances. The water festival in Chiang Mai is most likely to take place in Tha Phea Gate, so head there!
The party island of Thailand surely has the craziest Songkran Thailand. Expect the wildest water throwing party as big trucks with people carrying big buckets of water are ready to get you wet in the Patong Beach. The festival here is also the liveliest with live music and performances, mostly in Saphan Hin Park.
Don’t even try covering yourself with a raincoat if that is what you were planning to do. The only way is to let go and just have fun! People will try to throw water on you using a water balloon, water gun or simply a bucket of water.
What you might want to prepare is a waterproof backpack and waterproof protection for your precious electronic devices. Some people go a “bit extra” and throw white powder or paste. In case you get hit just wash it instantly with clean water (or get splashed). A pair of goggles come in handy to protect your eyes too.
We are not diving or swimming right? No, but you do need them for your eyes. Better prepare for that unexpected attack!
Even though Songkran is where you let it all out, there are also some rules you should keep in mind. Don’t throw water on babies, monks, pregnant women and elderly. Don’t party too much up to the point of being wasted. For dress code, Songkran is not a beach event so a bikini is a big no-no.
Following our advice we are more than confident you will have fun from morning till evening, soaking wet
from head to toes with a big smile on your face. After all, you are in the Land of Smiles!