Songkran is one of the most awaited festivals in Thailand. Considered traditionally as the Thai New Year, the three-day festival that turns the country into a big water fight platform is celebrated annually on the 13th of April to the 15th, but sometimes it can go on for a whole week. Around this time, the Thais bathe their Buddha statues with scented water, pour water on the elderly and senior monks’ hands for good luck, make sand pagodas in some parts of the country, clean their houses and, of course, splash each other (even strangers!) with water using buckets or water guns to wash away last year’s misfortunes. While the whole country is soaked in anticipation for this festival, every town has their own unique way of commemorating the feast and, here, we share with you some of the best places to hit up during Songkran week.
#1 Chiang Mai
No doubt, artsy Chiang Mai serves up the best activities during the Songkran festival. Apart from the prerequisite splashing of water on yourself and others, the province also holds the biggest parades and longest water fights (can last up to seven days!) during the season. By day, people visit the temples to make Pra Chedi Sai (or sand castles), watch the Phra Buddha Sihing and Kang Chong processions, as well as gather at Chiang Mai’s moat for some good ol’ water fights, as well as yummy street food. At night, cap off the day with some drinks at the Akyra Manor’s Rise bar (which also offers amazing views of the town, by the way) or sample the local flavours at the Jarid Restaurant or Anantara’s famous The Restaurant.
The Thai capital is usually quiet during Songkran festival as most of the residents travel back to their hometowns to celebrate with their families and loved ones. While we must also warn you about the traffic on the first days of the festival, that doesn’t mean that the city is no fun during Songkran. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Apart from the water fights that transpire in Silom and Khao San Road, several Bangkok hotels also offer special Songkran menus that will have your taste buds tickled in no time.
#3 Koh Samui
People usually head to Koh Samui for some peace and tranquility amidst the beautiful, blue seas. But, during Songkran the famous destination turns wild with street water fights throughout the day, pickup trucks driving around with ice cold water-filled open cargo area (and anyone is welcome to jump in), not to mention numerous parties by the beach and at some Koh Samui hotels to celebrate the New Year! However, for those who are looking for some quiet time during this week, you can opt to book your own chic villa, where you can celebrate Songkran with a lovely dip in your private pool or beach.
If you think Phuket is wild, wait until you see it during Songkran festival. Aside from the usual water fights and ice-cold water-filled pick-up trucks driving around, the island also turns into one big beach party with numerous parades and street parties along Patong beach. If you want to be near the festivities, we suggest checking out these Patong villas.
#5 Hat Yai (Midnight Songkran, anyone?)
Hat Yai is a rather fun town located on the border of Malaysia and Thailand. And it’s even more fun come Songkran. During the festival week, Malaysians often join in the craziness and indulge in the town’s wild water fights (also known as the Midnight Songkran) for a whole week, with parties lasting until the next day. Our advice? Come prepared with your water guns, buckets, goggles and swimwear because the Songkran party on Hat Yai’s Niphat Uthit Road is not for the faint-hearted.