Songkran Festival: Celebrating Thai New Year

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Songkran Festival in Thailand is held every year to celebrate the traditional Thai New Year. What is it about? It's a time for renewal, purification, and paying respects to elders and ancestors. With its water fights, street parties, and cultural festivities, Songkran captures the essence of Thai culture and traditions making it enjoyable for everyone. If it's your first time experiencing the festival, let's dive into the magic and discover the traditions and significance that make Songkran an unmissable cultural experience.

Elephant spraying water on people during Songkran festival, Bangkok

Significance of the Festival

The Songkran Festival is a highly revered event for the people of Thailand, holding both cultural and spiritual significance. The term "Songkran" is derived from the Sanskrit word "Sankranti," which means "astrological passage." This festival marks the transition from one astrological year to another and is seen as a time of renewal and purification.

During the festival, Thai people pay their respects to their elders and ancestors, which is considered an important aspect of the celebration. They also indulge in traditional rituals and visit temples. Among the most popular and significant rituals is the act of water pouring, which symbolizes cleansing, renewal, and the washing away of misfortune.

Water is an important element during the festival, and people splash it on each other as a sign of goodwill and to express their joy and happiness. People also bathe Buddha images with scented water as a way of showing their respect and devotion. The festival is a time of much celebration, with vibrant colors, music, dancing, and feasting being a part of the festivities.

Traditions and festivities across Thailand

The way Songkran is celebrated varies across different regions in Thailand. In Bangkok, people engage in water fights on the streets with water guns and buckets, turning the city into a water wonderland. In Chiang Mai, the festival has a more spiritual tone, with locals participating in traditional ceremonies, floral parades, and paying homage to sacred relics at the temples. The famous Miss Songkran beauty pageant and the elaborate sand pagodas built at temples are also highlights of the celebrations in Chiang Mai.

In the coastal town of Phuket, Songkran merges with the traditional Thai water festival known as "Phee Ta Khon." The celebration features vibrant processions, cultural performances, and spirited water fights along the scenic beaches of Patong and Kata.

Woman in traditional attire splashing water during Songkran festival,Thailand

Tips for celebrating Songkran

If you're planning to join the Songkran water festival, here are some tips to help you enjoy your experience:

  • Wear comfortable clothing: Choose lightweight, quick-drying clothes and waterproof shoes for water activities.
  • Keep your belongings safe: Use waterproof bags or pouches to protect valuables and electronic devices from water damage.
  • Be respectful: When visiting temples, show respect by making offerings and pouring scented water over the hands of elders.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you're participating in outdoor activities.
  • Have fun: Embrace the festive spirit, join in the water fights, and enjoy the lively and joyous atmosphere with a smile on your face!

Things to do in Thailand

  • Safari World Bangkok: You can hop on a safari drive-through to see lions, zebras, and giraffes roaming free, or catch jaw-dropping animal shows that'll leave you in awe at Safari World Bangkok!
  • Dinner Cruise: Why not wine and dine aboard a cruise? Head to a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River! You'll be treated to a delicious feast of Thai cuisine while cruising past iconic landmarks like the Grand Palace and Wat Arun.
  • City Sightseeing with Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour: If you’d like a tour of the city, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is the best way to go! You can hop off at any stop to check out famous attractions like the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or the vibrant Chatuchak Weekend Market, then hop back on whenever you're ready for the next landmark.
  • Visit Ancient City: A visit to the Ancient City is a must-do bucket-list activity in Thailand! This open-air museum park is like stepping back in time, with meticulously recreated replicas of Thailand's most famous landmarks and monuments.
  • Mahakhon Skywalk: A glass-floored observation deck that offers 360-degree views of the city skyline and the highlight being the Skywalk – walking on top of see-through glass for the ultimate thrill!
Songkran Festival