A Deep Dive into Songkran
A Deep Dive into Songkran

Forget fireworks, Thai New Year comes with a tidal wave of smiles, blessings, and joyful drenching under the hot April sun.

Words: Phoowadon Duangmee

You’ve likely heard of Songkran, the vibrant Thai traditional New Year celebration. This exuberant festival is embraced by not only locals but also hordes of eager tourists. For an entire week, it magically transforms entire city streets into lively playgrounds flooded with watery fun. This year’s celebration promises to be even more spectacular, as it proudly marks the recent listing of Songkran as UNESCO World Heritage.

What is Songkran?

Songkran marks the traditional start of the new year with the sun’s entry into Aries in mid-April. Tied to the culmination of the rice harvest, this celestial event becomes an earthy celebration, emphasizing the importance of family ties, homage to ancestors, and deep respect for sacred Buddha images.

The Songkran holiday officially runs from April 13 to 15, but celebrations spill over for a few days on either side.

While the playful water battles steal the spotlight, Songkran’s soul lies much deeper. It’s a time for family reunions, ancestral reverence, and cleansing the past to start anew. The pouring of water symbolises purification, washing away negatively and ushering in good fortune. Witness families visit temples, bathe revered Buddha statues, and sprinkle fragrant floral water on elders’ hands, seeking blessings and expressing gratitude.

Beyond these spiritual rituals, the atmosphere is animated by folk plays, traditional games, rhythmic music, and sumptuous feasting.

In the past few decades, Songkran has evolved from a sacred rite to a lively carnival. Cities like Chiang Mai erupt in colourful parades, traditional folk dances, and rhythmic music. Bangkok’s Khao San Road transforms into a wet ‘n’ wild party where water guns replace backpacks and laughter echoes through the streets. Pattaya and Phuket turn their beaches into aquatic battlegrounds, while Samui island offers a more relaxed, family-friendly vibe.

Festivities extend beyond the streets, with open-air raves and indoor foam parties adding a modern twist to the age-old customs.

Your Songkran Adventure

 So, where should you soak up the spirit of Songkran?


A Deep Dive into Songkran

Chiang Mai

Immerse yourself in the Lanna kingdom’s ancient customs with a week-long extravaganza. Festivities kick off with a captivating citywide procession featuring Buddha images and religious artifacts, offering a unique chance to participate in traditional Thai merit-making. Following the spiritual inauguration, brace yourself for a whirlwind of cultural performances, traditional rituals, delectable street food, and lively music. Chiang Mai’s renowned water fights take centre stage, transforming iconic spots like Tha Pae Gate, Chiang Mai Gate, the banks of the Ping River, and Wat Phra Singh temple into sloshing arenas. This perfect blend of fun-filled water revelry and authentic cultural experiences makes Chiang Mai the ultimate Songkran destination.


The capital flows with Thailand’s most vibrant Songkran spectacles, showcasing both traditional and modern customs. Immerse yourself in age-old rites at cultural landmarks like Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Sanam Luang. But for a wet and wild Songkran, head to Khao San and Silom Road.

The backpacker’s haven of Khaosan Road draws a youthful international crowd toting water guns and revelling in the holiday spirit. Silom Road cranks up the average Songkran temperature from 38 degrees C to the red line, hosting spontaneous wet T-shirt competitions and foam parties. As night falls in the global party town, Songkran changes gear with lively pool parties at hotels and entertainment venues.


Songkran transforms the seaside city into a week-long water party, setting an even livelier tone from April 12 to 19. The epicentre of festivities is Pattaya Beach Road and Walking Street, where everyone wields a water dispenser – be it a plain old bucket, water gun, or high-pressure hose crafted from plastic plumbing pipes. Celebrations reach a crescendo on Wan Lai, Pattaya’s final Songkran day. On Beach Road, traffic is replaced by live-music stages and foam machines. The fire department strategically positions its engines to ensure a constant supply of ammunition for revellers. With stages, streets, and people awash, Songkran in Pattaya guarantees an unforgettable experience where nobody escapes dry. 


Discover the enchanting allure of Songkran on the tropical island of Samui, where the celebration maintains an intimate, community-driven vibe. Along the east coast of the resort island, Chaweng Beach marks the pulsing heart of Songkran action. Here, indulge in foam parties, lively DJ beats, and a plethora of boozy brunch offerings amid a lively crowd of tourists. The beat goes on as day turns to night, with beach clubs across the island hosting enticing pool and beachfront parties. For families seeking a more refined Songkran experience, Choeng Mon or Maenam beaches offer gentler celebrations suitable for children.


From April 12-15, Songkran transforms Phuket’s streets into a whitewater wonderland. Patong Beach, the epicentre, pulses with electrifying energy as water fights slosh back and forth. Locals and tourists merge in a single soaking melee of spirited battle. Phuket Town’s allure is also showcased in its traditional parade as locals process through the streets in classc Thai attire. Floats, dances, and a spirited water fight create a visual feast of vibrant hues, rhythmic moves, and refreshing revelry. Then, immerse yourself in another Thai tradition by savouring southern cuisine in the old town, where Michelin-starred restaurants shine among the many exceptional eateries.

As the sun sets, beach clubs host lively Songkran parties, harmonising music with ocean waves – an unforgettable experience.

A Deep Dive into Songkran

Making the Most of Songkran 

Embrace Songkran in style and comfort. The classic floral Songkran shirt should boast the brightest, most colourful pattern to amplify your holiday spirit. Choose a quick-dry fabric to stay comfortable after multiple soakings throughout the day.

Choose your weapon wisely – a trusty water gun is your key to playful battles. Water guns are readily available on street stalls, but many revellers bring their own rather than relying on spot purchases. Avoid targeting people’s faces and also elders and those not participating in the battle.

A waterproof bag is also indispensable for safeguarding valuables from a watery disaster.

To navigate soaked walkways where even flip-flops can abandon your feet, opt for slip-on water shoes. Unlike running shoes that leave your feet sodden all day, slip-ons provide excellent traction, ensuring safety on slippery surfaces.

Prioritise sunscreen and sun safety for Songkran survival. Use waterproof sunscreen and elevate sun protection with a UPF 50+ shirt and a hot. A UPF bandana is also a clever choice for simultaneously keeping you cool and preventing neck burn. These essentials, carefully chosen, promise a memorable and enjoyable Songkran celebration.

And last but not least, bring a great attitude when you venture into the streets at Songkran. You are going to get soaked and stay soaked until the sun goes down. Embrace it. Your face will hurt from smiling during Songkran, so be sure to enjoy it.