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Songkran Festival is an event where boisterous fun and ancient traditions go hand-in-hand. For tourists, the event offers a chance to enjoy a huge celebration where water parties break out in the streets of Thailand’s towns and villages. For locals, it is a time when they can spend precious moments with their families and visit the temples to observe ancient rites and make merit.

2019 total revenue from the international arrivals and domestic trips amounted to 22.07 billion Baht, an increase of 15 percent year-on-year.

The number of international arrivals reached 543,300 (up eight percent year-on-year) and generated revenue of 10.23 billion Baht (up 14 percent). There were 3.27 million trips by domestic tourists (up three percent) generating 11.84 billion Baht (up seven percent).

To showcase local traditions of the annual Thai water festival, TAT staged Songkran 2019 festivities in the three emerging destinations of Tak, Mukdahan and Ranong. It also supported activities in 10 other provinces (Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Lampang, Udon Thani, Songkhla and Phuket).

While the Songkran or traditional Thai New Year holiday normally takes place from 13-15 April every year, there are some locations that stage unique local festivities a little later. These include in Samut Prakan’s Phra Pradaeng district in the Central Thailand region, where the local Monpeople observe New Year traditions from 19-21 April.

In the Na Haeo district of Loei in Northeastern Thailand, locals celebrate the Thai New Year with a procession of flower trees – the only tradition of its kind in the country. This year the procession is on 19 and 27 April.

In the Eastern region, Chon Buri’s Pattaya-Naklua districts celebrate Wan Lai (water day) on 18-19 April, Map Ta Phut in Rayong’s Songkran is from 19-21 April (with 21 April being Wan Lai), and the country’s easternmost Songkran celebration takes place at Laem Ngop in Trat on the last Friday of April.

Songkran Festival 2019

Here’s a round-up of Songkran Festivals organised and supported by the TAT.

Songkran Festivals, organised by TAT, in Tak, Mukdahan and Ranong:

Amazing Songkran @ Tak

Scheduled from 12 to 14 April at Wat Thai Wattanaram and Naresuan Maharaj Stadium in Mae Sot district, the event celebrates the time-honoured traditions of the Thai Yai ethic group and the Thai people, with traditional activities including purifying Buddha image, sand pagoda building and colourful parade. Other activities are cultural and music performances, water tunnel display, a folk village, a food fair and local art and craft workshops.

Muk-Savan Fun & Fin Festival, Mukdahan

Taking place from 12-16 April at Hat Manopirom, Wan Yai district, the event is focused on the theme of ‘Cool Isan’ with a water tunnel and displays, an umbrella tunnel, and a five-region sand pagoda zone as well as a ‘Sand Art Contest.’ The opening ceremony and stage performance is scheduled on 13 April.

Mineral Water and Songkran Festival, Ranong

Taking place from 13-15 April at the multi-purpose ground in front of the Mueang Ranong Municipal Office. *More details will be available soon.

Songkran Festivals, supported by TAT, Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Ayutthaya, Phuket and Songkhla:

  1. Songkran in Bangkok
    • Songkran Wisutkasat (13-15 April) on Wisutkasat Road, Under the Rama XIII Bridge. This year marks the 77th anniversary of Songkran Wisutkasat, best known for being the origin of Miss Songkran Beauty contest in Thailand, with several other cultural activities, including merit making, purifying Buddha image, paying respect to the elders, and colourful parade. Special activity for this year is the free entry to the Bank of Thailand Museum (Bangkhunprom Palace).
    • Songkran Siam Square (13-15 April). This year event promotes “Pha Khao Ma” (Thai men’s multi-purpose loincloth) and ‘safe Songkran’ theme, with cultural activities including purifying Buddha images from four ASEAN countries, cultural and music performances, folk market and water-based fun. Tourists and locals are encouraged to celebrate the festival without chalk powder (din sor pong) or alcoholic drinks or wearing too revealing clothes.
  1. Songkran Phra Pradaeng  (19-21 April) at the Phra Pradaeng City Hall. Phra Pradaeng is where the local people observe Mon ceremonies in a traditional way, and their New Year traditions are very different to those found in the rest of Thailand. For a start, the celebrations here take place a little later, and feature a range of cultural activities including a spectacular floral procession, a parade of the local Mon people in their colourful traditional outfits, a Miss Songkran parade and Mister and Miss Songkran Beauty Contest. Visitors will also have the chance to join merit-making activities in the local temples, pay respect to community elders and enjoy folk plays and cultural performances.

    Erawan Tea Room Summer Festival Khao Chae

  1. Sukhothai Songkran
    • Thai Puan’s Elephant Ordination Tradition, Ban Hat Siew (7 April) at Wat Hat Siew in Si Satchanalai district. Held annually for over 175 years, this is an ancient ordination ceremony that all local men must become monks for at least seven days and every year, the ordinations take place on this date. The men prepared in the traditional way are taken to the temples on elephants while wearing local headgear. This ritual is based upon the tale of “Phra Vessandara Chadok” one of the Lord Buddha’s former incarnations. Most of the men leave the temples on Songkran day on 15 April to enjoy New Year with their families.
    • Song Nam – Oi Tan Ceremony, Songkran Si Satchanalai (8-12 April) at the Monument of Phra Mahathammaracha I (Lithai) in Si Satchanalai district. Oi Tan, is a phrase that means to make a donation and relates to the good morals of the people of Sukhothai. The highlight is a procession to pay respects to Phra Maha Thammaracha I, who was a king of Sukhothai from 1347 to 1368. Other highlights include cultural parades from the 10 local communities, Lady Oi Tan beauty competition, a food fair and music performance.
    • Songkran and Sawankhalok Food Festival (11-15 April) at the Public Health Park in Sawankhalok district. Here visitors can Song Nam Phraor purifying the three highly-revered Buddha images from three most important temples of the district, including Wat Sawang Arom Worawihan, Wat Sankaram, and Wat Klong Krajong. Other highlights are a local food fair and a chance to ‘check-in’ at the newly-created ‘Pop Culture’ street art created by famous ASEAN artists.
    • Retro Songkran Splendours, Sukhothai (12-14 April) at Sukhothai Historical Park. Celebrating the ancient city’s status as the cradle of Thai civilization, visitors can embrace the old-style features of the event with traditional costumes and age-old games, parades and merit making. One of the most popular events is the sand pagoda building contest in which families compete to make stunning designs.
    • Flowery Shirt Songkran on Khao Tok Road, Sukhothai (12-15, April) at the Sukhothai city and Sukhothai public park. Tourists and locals are invited to wear colourful Hawaiian-style shirts, which have become a firm Songkran tradition. Highlights include a float procession and the chance to pay respects to the Buddha images, water fun, retro Thai circle dance activities and beauty contests.
    • Hae Nam Kuen Hong Ceremony and Chao Muen Dong Bathing Rite (17-19 April) at the Monument of Chao Muen Dong, Ban Toek sub-district in Si Satchanalai district. Activities include a sacred ceremony to pay respect to the Buddha image of Chao Muen Dong at Ban Toek, folk plays and a procession of elephants as well as cultural parades from 14 local communities. Water-based activities can be enjoyed at Ban Toek-Ban Na Ton Chan tourism communities.
    • Erawan Tea Room Summer Festival Khao Chae

  1. Salung Luang Songkran Festival, Lampang (9 – 13 April) at Khelang Nakorn Park on Tha Kraw Noi Road. Enjoy a huge parade called the Salung Luang procession as well as the Miss and Mister Songkran Contests, floral horse-drawn carriages competitions, cultural shows and a many local performances.
  1. Ayutthaya Songkran Festival
    • Songkran at the Ancient Capital (13-15 April) along the Sri Sanphet road in front of the TAT Ayutthaya Office. Celebrate Songkran in the most unusual exotic way – water splashing with the elephants in the very Thai environs of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya Historical Park. and the chance to enjoy the traditional Thai circle dances with the locals.
    • Mon Songkran (14 April) at Wat Thong Bo, Bang Pa-In district. The Mon people have their own traditions when it comes to celebrating Songkran and many of these can be seen in the Bang Pa-in district of Ayutthaya where a range of activities take place around the temple of Wat Thong Bo. These include merit making, bathing of the local Buddha images and cultural parade.
  1. Phuket Songkran Festival
    • The Water Festival on the Beach (11-13 April) at Patong Beach.
    • Songkran No Alcohol (13 April) at Limelight Avenue Mall.
    • Water Festival  (14-15 April) at Dibuk Road.
  1. Hat Yai Midnight Songkran (12-15 April) on the streets of Nipat Uthit 3, Sanehanusorn and Thammanoon Vithi. Cultural activities include a Buddha image parade, purifying Buddha image and local folk plays. Others are beauty contests, Muay Talay sea boxing matches, music concerts and the Songkran Carnival parade.

Songkran is a time when family comes first, respect is paid to seniors and people visit the temples to take part in age-old ceremonies. Visitors will get more out of Songkran if they take time to understand its origins and its traditions.

Songkran is, without doubt one of the most popular of Thailand’s many festivals. This sometimes wet and always wonderful holiday is when Thai people travel up-country to be together with loved ones, to visit the local temple and celebrate by enjoying home-cooked dishes. And as Thailand is visited by so many tourists each year, news of Songkran has spread well beyond the borders of the kingdom. Now thousands of people come to take part in what’s become known as The World’s Biggest Water Party.

Songkran festival

But the traditions of Songkran are a long way from the images shown in the world’s newspapers every year – powder smeared tourists armed with water pistols and wide grins. The Thai New Year, in its purest form, is a religious festival steeped in Buddhist and Brahman traditions. Marking the end of a 12 month cycle when the sun moves into April and there was traditionally a gap between rice harvesting and planting, Songkran is now held on fixed days, 13-15 April.

Songkran festival

Songkran is a time when family comes first, respect is paid to seniors and people visit the temples to take part in age-old ceremonies. So visitors will get more out of Songkran if they take time to understand its origins and its traditions.

That’s why we’ve put together of Songkran tips to help everyone to enjoy this unique slice of Thainess.

Visit the temple

Visit the temple

Like Christmas in the West and the New Year in China, Songkran in Thailand is when families travel long distances to come together.  And on Songkran Day itself (13 April), Thais visit their local temple to pay respect to the images of the Buddha and seek good luck for the New Year.

The main activity is the pouring of scented water onto the sacred ฺBuddha images of the temple – a ritual called Song Nam Phra. It seems that in past times, lustral water used to clean Buddhist statues was regarded as spiritually cleansing and so collected and gently dripped over family members for luck – called Rod Nam Dam Hua. But thanks to the Thai love of fun and the heat of April, the gentle Rod Nam Dam Hua ceremony developed into the full-on water play we see today. It’s also a great way to cool off in the sun.

You don’t have to visit the temples to carry out this charming tradition of bathing the Buddha images. Many malls and shops put out their own images of the Buddha with a bowl of scented water so that people get the chance to Song Nam Phra wherever they are. Remember, that water is not poured onto the head of the Buddha image, rather onto the torso and body. This water is traditionally scented with a perfume called Nam Ob.

Build a sand stupa

Build a sand stupa

Around Songkran don’t be surprised to see what appear to be large sand castles in the grounds of temples. These are made as a way of replacing the earth taken away throughout the year on the shoes of people coming to pray. These Chedi Sai, as they’re known are often decorated with flags, coloured pebbles and money, and families or groups of friends work together to build them.

Pay respect to elders

Pay respect to elders

But the traditions of Songkran are a long way from the images shown in the world’s newspapers every year – powder smeared tourists armed with water pistols and wide grins. The Thai New Year, in its purest form, is a religious festival steeped in Buddhist and Brahman traditions. Marking the end of a 12 month cycle when the sun moves into April and there was traditionally a gap between rice harvesting and planting, Songkran is now held on fixed days, 13-15 April.

Songkran is a time when family comes first, respect is paid to seniors and people visit the temples to take part in age-old ceremonies. So visitors will get more out of Songkran if they take time to understand its origins and its traditions.

That’s why we’ve put together of Songkran tips to help everyone to enjoy this unique slice of Thainess.

Make merit by releasing animals at Phra Pradeang in Samut Prakan Songkran

Make merit by releasing animals

During the Songkran celebrations, many Thai people like to create a little good karma by freeing caged birds or releasing fish into the waterways. Though this takes place nationwide, one of the best places to see this being done or even to take part yourself is at Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan Province, where the ceremony has been part of the traditions at Wat Proteket Chettaram, for many decades.

Dos and don’ts of water play

There’s no denying that the chance to play with water pistols and to do battle with happy strangers is half the fun of Songkran for most visitors. But there are still precautions you should take to ensure you enjoy the fun safely and without inconveniencing other people who may not feel like taking part.

Use clean, safe water

The first thing to remember, whether you’re using buckets or water pistols, is to always fill them with clean water. In the most popular areas for Songkran, such as Chiang Mai, and on Sukhumvit Road, Silom Road, and around Khao San Road in Bangkok, the local authorities will supply sources of safe water. Many people like to deliver a bit of a shock by icing the water, and while this adds to the fun, large pieces of ice can be dangerous when thrown, so this practice is best avoided. It is also a good idea to avoid swallowing the water being thrown for hygiene and safety reasons.

Don’t waste water

Some areas of Thailand have been experiencing drought conditions for the past few years, so people should be careful not to waste water at Songkran. This is why in many parts of the country, Songkran celebrations have been scaled back so that the water play only takes place on one day. You should do your bit to save water and instead try to enjoy some of the many other activities that happen at this time of year.

Consider your clothes

While this is the hottest time of the year and the Songkran water fun seems the perfect way to cool off, remember that Thailand is still a relatively conservative kingdom. Women should be wary of wearing tight clothes or ones that are light in colour and/or made of thin fabric. When wet, such garments can become quite revealing. It’s not a bad idea to wear a swim suit under your normal clothes to ensure that you don’t show more than you planned.

Prepare for a pasting

It’s not just water being thrown for fun at Songkran, its increasingly common for revellers to be smeared with chalk powder called din sor pong which can act as a sun-block. If you want to join in with the smearing, avoid people’s eyes and make sure that you have permission first, especially if you’re celebrating Songkran with strangers and children. Overenthusiastic powder pasters have faced assault chargers in the past.

Protect yourself and your possessions

It’s safe to say that if you venture outside at Songkran, you’re going to get wet, so take precautions. Keep mobile phones, wallets and cameras safely sealed in plastic bags and if you’re planning an evening out or have business meetings, make sure you have a spare shirt or some clothes to change into. Also remember this is the hottest time of the year and you will need to keep applying sunscreen which is easily washed off with all the water being thrown.

Be polite

The more chaotic aspects of Songkran are not for everyone. Some people don’t want to join in with the throwing of water and this should be respected. Don’t splash strangers who are clearly trying to stay out of the fray or who are on their way to work. Never splash people on motorcycles, monks or pregnant women and observe the ceasefire that usually starts as the sun goes down when people want to dry off and enjoy evening meals.

 Don’t forget to plan ahead if you’re travelling

The whole kingdom is on the move during the Songkran holidays and trains, planes, busses and hotels can be booked up months in advance. So if you’re planning to head upcountry, it’s worth booking transportation and accommodation early, especially if you’re heading to Chiang Mai, where the biggest Songkran parties are held.

 Be very, very careful on the roads 

The fun and revelry of Songkran holidays can lead to people being less cautious when it comes to safety, especially if they’ve been celebrating with drinks. Be aware that the roads are unsafe at this time of year. If you use a motorcycle, make sure you wear a helmet and don’t ride into areas where water is being thrown. And needless to say, if you’ve had a drink, don’t even think about driving. And for the safety of others, report people who seem to be intoxicated while operating bikes or cars.

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