Songkran, also known as the Thai New Year takes place every year from the 13th-15th April. This celebration is a monumental event in the Buddhist calendar and further marks the shift of the sun from Pisces to Aries; starting a new astrological year. Songkran is also an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, with many Thais travelling to their hometowns to celebrate the occasion.
With celebrations lasting up to a week, the New Year marks the end of the dry season with religious ceremonies, water fights and the infamous Songkran Festival. Whilst Songkran festival is an important celebration to Thai people, it is also extremely popular with tourists – visitors often plan their holidays to Thailand ensuring they’re in the country for Songkran.
With Songkran being one of the most significant religious and cultural celebrations in Thailand, we have outlined how you can honour the occasion.
On the first day of the festival - also known as Songkran Day, people start the day by thoroughly cleaning their homes. Windows are polished, floors are swept and furniture is dusted, to rid their homes of the bad luck of the previous year. They then wash Buddha statues with water scented from fresh jasmine flower petals. The cleansed statues are then displayed in a vibrant parade of monks, floats and live bands. Songkran Day also showcases a bathing ritual in which locals pour water over the hands of senior Buddhist monks, which is believed to bring them good luck for the year ahead.
The second day of Songkran Festival is referred to as Wan Nao. On this day, people start their day with merit-making, by visiting their local temple and giving up offerings to the monks. These offerings include preserved food, cooked dishes, fresh fruit and new robes for the monks. These acts are believed to bring about good luck and blessings. Local residents also gather sand to be deposited in piles topped by flowers in the Temple grounds, these represent personal pagodas.
The third day is New Year's Day, also known as Wan Payawan. People typically start their day by visiting their local Temple to present food and clothing to the Monks, who then pray for them. Then the real fun begins! Locals take to the streets to engage in water fights. Ayutthaya is home to one of Thailand’s most popular elephant sanctuaries where painted elephants are walk the streets, shooting water at passers-by through their trunks.
Tourist destinations such as Chaweng Beach and Lamai host some of Thailand’s biggest water fights. Phuket - Thailand’s largest island is buzzing with activity during Songkran, especially in the Patong Beach area. If you’re in Phuket from April 13th -15th, be sure to expect gridlocked streets filled with locals and tourists hurling buckets of water at one another; the atmosphere is electric! Songkran celebrations continue well into the early hours of the morning along Bangla Road - with live music and traditional performances making up part of the merrymaking.
The Thai capital celebrates by throwing the annual Bangkok Songkran Splendours Festival which takes place from April 13th to 15th. The official opening ceremony is held at Wat Pho – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha - one of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand. People travel from near and far to come and pay their respects and receive their blessings.
Many other celebrations, such as street parties and Mu Kratha (Thai BBQs) are held on and around Khao San Road which is one of the most popular streets in the world for backpackers.
On the fourth and last day of Songkran Festival - Wan Parg-bpee, people pay their respects to their elders and ancestors. Water is gently poured over the hands or shoulders of elders whilst reciting blessings and good wishes for the coming year. This is act is referred to as Rohd Nam Songkran meaning “the pouring of Songkran water”.
Songkran Festival is an occasion to spend time with your family and friends. We are passionate about keeping families connected, especially during important holidays like Songkran Festival. In the instance that you are not able to make it back home this year, you can send money to your loved ones overseas using Xendpay.