Songkran Festival in Thailand: A Captivating Water Celebration

March 5, 2024

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The traditional dousing of the hands of monks and the elderly expresses respect and gratitude and is said to wash away the bad and bring all good things.

Last year, the Thai New Year festival was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. As the responsible ministry and congress recently announced, Songkran will be extended this year: There will be five national holidays, from April 12 to 16. In addition, the festivities will continue throughout April as part of the Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024.

Before we get started, let's take a quick look at the main activities you can expect during the Songkran festival:

  • Street water fights, smearing each other with din song por (watery limestone powder), and foam parties

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Even the littlest ones won't miss out on giving you a wet surprise

  • Giant music festivals - mostly Hip Hop and EDM, tickets are in high demand
  • Visiting temples - Thai people dress up in traditional clothing, pray, bathe the Buddha image, give alms to the monks and build small pagodas out of sand

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Pouring sacred water over images of the Buddha is also a tradition on Songkran in Thailand, which is said to bring blessings.

  • Parades and cultural performances
  • Buddha statues are ceremoniously carried through the streets
  • Street performers, musicians and entertainers show off their skills
  • Fireworks at night
  • Elephants join the celebration in parades and splash water on visitors

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Occasionally elephants also take part in the celebration of Songkran


Dates for Songkran: April 12 to 15
Main part on: Every day
Water battle at: Khaosan Road, Silom Road, Siam Square
Cultural activities at: Phra Pradaeng district, Sanam Luang, Lumphini Park, every temple

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The beautiful Thai Buddhist temples look even more impressive in the dark when brightly lit.

The capital is also by far the largest city in the country and a global metropolis. Bangkok is the place to be if you are looking for the most intense Songkran experience. Nowhere else will you celebrate with so many people in so many different ways as here. This year, there will be official events and activities in each of the 50 khet, as the districts are called. It will therefore be difficult to decide what you want to participate in. Here are a few highlights that you should not miss:

Visit the well-known tourist hotspots Khaosan Road, Silom Road, and Siam Square to participate in kilometers of water fights. There you will also find all kinds of street food, vendors and magnificent decorations with which the Thais celebrate the New Year. Lively parties take place in every vibrant street in the city, so be prepared to get soaking wet.

You need to be particularly careful on the roads that run underneath a Skytrain. If you go on the Skywalk, you can watch the turbulent events from above and stay reasonably dry.

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You have to be particularly careful in narrow parts of the street, as an ambush with a water bucket could be hidden around every corner

More conventional activities include the Iconic Songkran Festival at the ICONSIAM shopping center. In addition to cultural performances, there are workshops on making traditional items. There are a whole series of music festivals in the city, but tickets are in high demand, so you should make your decision soon. The S2O Festival from April 13th to 15th and the SIAM Festival from 12th to 15th are the two biggest events in Bangkok with internationally renowned DJs. A huge themed pool party will take place at GCIRCUIT from April 12 to 15 at the EmSphere Shopping Mall in the Sukhumvit area.

If you make it out of the eastern end of Silom Road alive, you can take a detour to the popular Lumphini Park. There are street food and vendor stalls, light shows, and Buddhist artworks to marvel at. In the Phra Pradaeng district, you can attend quieter and more authentic traditional events. This is where the Raman people from southern Thailand live. In addition to the obligatory water splashing, they also organize a series of colorful flower parades, dance performances, and competitions. The large Sanam Luang esplanade, which is located opposite the Grand Palace, is also more civilized during the holidays. The festivities include one of the most important processions of a Buddha statue as well as impressive performances of ancient Thai arts.

During Songkran, many Thais visit the local temples to pray, ask for blessings, donate food to the monks and pour water on the Buddha image. In addition to the big well-known temples in the city center, such as Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Arun, you can also visit any other temple in your area - even the small, lesser-known and inconspicuous ones. You will find friendly Thais everywhere, looking forward to a happy new year together.

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Dates for Songkran: April 13 to 15
Main part on: Every day
Water battle at: Patong Beach, Bangla Road
Cultural activities at: Smaller communities on the island

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Similar to the Indian Holi Festival, people also like to throw colored powder and paint faces during Songkran in Thailand

The wildest water fight in Phuket, the country's largest island, takes place on Patong Beach and the nearby Bangla Road. Ceremonies with monks take place in the morning. Throughout the day, DJs provide the necessary musical support.

The start of the Thai New Year celebrations is officially heralded on April 13 in the old town on Dibuk Road. There are performances by traditional artists as well as various live performances by musicians. Admission is free and there is also a lot of water splashing around here, but strict rules must be followed. There is a ban on alcohol, cannabis and cigarettes, participants must be appropriately dressed and foam and high-pressure water pistols are not permitted.

Last year, the Andaman Songkran Festival and the Blue Tree Songkran Techno Music Festival were held in Phuket. There was live music and pool parties until late into the night, and even adrenaline-filled activities such as ziplining and cliff jumping across a beautiful blue lagoon. Nothing has been announced for this year yet, but if there are any updates we will let you know in this blog article asap.

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The beautiful beaches in Phuket, such as Karon Beach here, provide a nice backdrop for activities on Songkran

In the other communities in the region, such as Karon Beach, the traditional activities of the locals invite you to linger. There are ablutions of the Buddha statues, monks and elders as well as ceremonial parades.

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Chiang Mai

Dates for Songkran: April 11 to 15
Main part on: Every day
Water battle at: Tha Phae Gate, near the moat, in every alleyway
Cultural activities at: In every temple

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In Thai temples during Songkran, monks distribute holy water, which is used to pour over body parts and Buddha images

In the northern Thai city, also known as the Rose of the North, you can enjoy a more traditional and authentic cultural Songkran experience. In addition, according to experience reports, the huge urban water fight is in no way inferior to those in Bangkok in terms of fun and scale.

The biggest event will take place at the entrance to the ancient old town, the Tha Phae Gate. As well as taking part in a merry water fight, you can sample delicious street food and watch traditional performances. Not far from the party hotspots, you can explore the narrow alleyways in the residential areas. Get ready for exciting gun duels with the locals. There are also opportunities to get wet in the trendy Nimmanhaemin Road and near the moat that surrounds the old town. You do have to be careful: The water in the ditch is anything but clean. But here you can recharge your water pistol in an environmentally friendly way.

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You can wear goggles to protect your eyes from water. Take a brightly colored one, which also looks great for Songkran

There are also lots of parades throughout the city with colorfully decorated Buddha statues from the many temples. One of the most famous sights in Chiang Mai is the important Buddhist temple Wat Phra Singh. It is home to the Phra Buddha Sihing statue, which is ceremoniously carried through the city streets in a procession during Songkran.

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Dates for Songkran: April 13 to 15
Main part on: April 13
Water battle at: Ao Nang Beach
Cultural activities at: Ao Nang Beach, Tiger Cave Temple, every local temple

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Songkran on the beach is particularly fun: you have an endless supply of water and the surroundings are beautiful

The biggest water fight takes place on the beautiful Ao Nang Beach. The white sand beach with the turquoise water and the limestone cliffs in the background offers possibly the most stunning natural scenery for Songkran in Thailand.

The adjacent road is transformed into a kilometer-long street food and shopping mile. In order to reduce the volume of traffic but not close it completely, it will only be accessible in one direction from north to south in a clockwise direction. This means that you will also have to watch out for drive-bys from passing tuk-tuks and pickup trucks. In the evening, there will be performances and live music.

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The Tiger Cave Temple offers a breathtaking view of the limestone cliff landscape in the Thai province of Krabi

To reach Wat Tham Suea, better known as the Tiger Cave Temple, you have to conquer the 1260-step climb. As a reward, however, there is a real highlight to experience: The traditional Songkran ceremony with a breathtaking view of the beautiful landscape.

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Dates for Songkran: April 11 to 18
Main part on: April 18 to 19, but party every day
Water battle at: Beach Road, Walking Streets
Cultural activities at: Bang Saen Beach, Nong Nooch Tropical Garden

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Even if you only have a quick run to the 7-eleven around the corner, you won't stay dry for long on Songkran, especially in the big cities

The Songkran festival in Pattaya in the province of Chonburi takes place a little later than the rest of the country, but it lasts a whole week. The event week begins on April 11. On April 18 in the Naklua district, the highlight of the party begins and moves south a day later on April 19, Wan Lai Day, which means Flowing Day. And water will flow, trust me. However, you must expect to be sprayed wet a few days before and until the end of the month.

The Beach Road and the famous Walking Street are completely closed to traffic and transformed into a huge party mile. Fire trucks are also used for this purpose. Stages for live music and entertainers are set up throughout the area. Last year also saw Asia's first Rolling Loud Festival with many well-known hip hop and EDM artists. The Differ Pattaya Summer Festival and the Songkranzonic are two other events that have taken place in the tourist hub on Thailand's east coast in recent years.

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No matter where you look: On a Thai street during the Songkran festival, water comes pouring from all directions.

Vacationers who come with their family and are looking for peace and quiet should avoid the party hotspot all together over the course of the Thai New Year. Instead, there are also some family-friendly, unstressed festivities. There is an early morning ceremony in Lan Pho Mueang Park in which monks celebrate the festival, sprinkle Buddha images with water and accept donations. The Wan Lai Festival also takes place on Bang Saen Beach. Magnificent stupas and other sculptures are formed from sand here. The Sanctuary of Truth Museum organizes a procession of Buddha relics displayed inside the wooden temple. On the way through the streets of Pattaya, you can sprinkle them with water. In addition, ceremonies with elephants and Buddha statues take place in the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden just outside the city.

So even in the notorious city of Pattaya, there is a wide range of activities during Songkran, from ruthless water fights to peaceful processions.

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Koh Samui and Koh Phangan

Dates for Songkran: April 13 to 15
Main part on: April 13
Water battle at: Chaweng Beach, Thong Sala center
Cultural activities at: Local temples

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On quieter days and places, there are also parades with festively decorated floats - which does not mean that a sudden water attack is entirely impossible

Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are two islands in the Gulf of Thailand off the east coast of the Surat Thani province. They are only a few kilometers apart, but provide different vacation options and atmospheres. The ferries between Koh Samui (Nathon Pier) and Koh Phangan (Thong Sala Pier) usually run 3 times a day and take about 30 to 50 minutes. So you can easily attend the festivities on both islands during the Songkran holidays.

Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island. It is well developed, provides a more modern touristic atmosphere and family-friendly activities. The island is therefore home to a number of luxury resorts, palm-fringed beaches and shopping options.

Songkran on Koh Samui is usually a one-day event on April 13. You can join the fun at one of the many famous and beautiful beaches, either in Chaweng, Lamai, Choeng Mon or Maenam. Chaweng is home to the biggest water pistol party, with the opportunity to explore the nearby Walking Street. DJs also play there, while you can have fun with locals and other tourists at foam parties and then enjoy some delicious street food.

However, ceremonies are also held in Ang Thong National Marine Park, at the Big Buddha statue and in Fisherman's Village. The Four Seasons Resort on the island organizes special Songkran events in combination with Easter and Eid al-Fitr. It includes communal almsgiving, cultural workshops and traditional culinary experiences.

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Water pistol enthusiasts from all over the world meet in Thailand on Songkran. Be prepared to encounter highly skilled soaker carriers on special missions

Koh Phangan, on the other hand, is the smaller and less developed of the two islands. It is best known for its monthly Full Moon Party, where thousands of tourists gather at Haad Rin Beach for a lively night party. Apart from that, the island offers natural beauty, yoga retreats and a traditional Thai atmosphere.

Enter the market area of Thong Sala, the island's main town, and take part in Songkran water fights. You can be sure that the many locals living in the countryside will not hesitate to target you with their buckets and hoses. In the evening, big parties are held on the beaches and large music systems are set up at the seaside bars.

For a traditional Songkran celebration on a smaller scale, visit the Wat Rat Charoen temple in the south of the village or the picturesque Wat Phu Khao Noi a few kilometers north. There you can witness Thais dousing the image of Buddha with sacred water and presenting gifts to the monks while everything is festively decorated.

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Hua Hin

Dates for Songkran: April 13 to 15
Main part on: April 13
Water battle at: Soi Bintabaht Walking Street
Cultural activities at: Dechanuchit Road, Pone Kingpetch Park, Artist Village

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You should also watch out for the other side of the road, as long-range attacks are definitely possible

Hua Hin is a seaside resort in western Thai province Prachuab Khiri Khan and is located on the Gulf of Thailand. It offers its many foreign residents a laid-back way of life.

The biggest water fight during Songkran in Hua Hin takes place in the city center in the area around Soi Bintabaht Walking Street. You will also find a water party at the Market Village Hua Hin Mall, where live bands often perform.

The cultural festival on Dechanuchit Road offers a large market with local and traditional street food and products. In Pone Kingpetch Park, traditional ceremonies are held where water is sprinkled on the elderly and live performances provide cultural entertainment. In the Hua Hin Artist Village, also known as Baan Sillapin, you can view some of the local art and take part in workshops to create something beautiful yourself. The popular night markets Cicada Market and Tamarind Market are open longer during the Songkran weekend and offer a range of cultural experiences.

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Things to consider while celebrating Songkran in Thailand:

While you're having fun, there are still some important things to keep in mind regarding safety and behavior. Remember: Songkran is not just a giant water fight, but also a religious and cultural event. A few days before the festivities begin, the cities and provinces publish official behavioral guidelines. You should check these and follow them to avoid any problems. Here is a list of the most important things:

Be mindful during water battles:

  • Avoid splashing water on people who most likely don’t want to join the fight, like monks and the elderly
  • Use clean water at an appropriate temperature
  • No high-pressure water guns, e.g. made from PVC pipes
  • Respect local authorities and security guidelines
  • If you don't want to get wet, stay indoors. There's no point in being upset about getting drenched at Songkran.

What to wear:

  • Light, quick-drying, not too revealing clothing is best
  • Wear sandals, Crocs or water shoes
  • Wear a hat and apply sun-protection
  • Put on sunglasses or, even better, goggles
  • Men can wear swim trunks, women can wear a bikini instead of underwear
  • It has to be colorful, as this is the norm during Songkran, so Hawaiian shirts are perfect
  • Use a waterproof bag to protect valuables and electronics

Be aware of safety risks during Songkran:

  • Traffic accidents reach their peak during the festival
  • Be careful when walking near traffic
  • Stay hydrated, since the middle of April is the hottest time of the year

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We are sure that you will have an unforgettable holiday in Thailand during Songkran

Wish you all the best for Songkran Day

As you can see, the Songkran New Year festival in Thailand is truly a unique experience. On the one hand, the water fight that you've always wanted since you were a child - on the other, wonderful cultural ceremonies.

You can celebrate Songkran anywhere in Thailand, but it depends on what you want to experience. In the big cities, you can take part in water fights of unimaginable proportions. In the rural provinces, on the other hand, you can experience a more traditional festival. So ultimately it depends on you, but in most cities you can enjoy both sides of the Thai New Year.

If you now feel like embarking on this breathtaking journey to the land of smiles, why not combine it with a unique fitness program? In one of our numerous Muay Thai gyms across the country, you can get closer to the ancient martial art - for beginners and advanced fighters alike.

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When you're out on the streets, soaking wet, having an exciting water pistol fight with the locals, don't forget the following: always smile and wish everyone "Sawadee Pee Mai” (Happy New Year).

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