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Home / Travel Blog / Thailand / Thai Lunar New Year - Songkran - The Biggest Festival in Thailand

Thai Lunar New Year - Songkran - The Biggest Festival in Thailand

Article | March 5th, 2020 | Maya Yoshiki

Songkran - the World's Biggest Water Fight is in Bangkok, Thailand.

Traditions are often discarded in this modern world because of economic practicality, or just poor value... Modernity is ubiquitous and in-person meeting may be too slow to discuss, or it is cheaper to have something than make it. Cyclo – an enduring symbol of Vietnam – is slowly dying out; textile micro-enterprises built by lotus fiber artisans are struggling. How many of their old ways will they discard? In Thailand, where people beat crazy traffic jams on an Uber motorbike, some of their traditions stay alive as a part of their cultural identity. Songkran Festival is one such tradition that has been cherished for centuries.

Songkran - Colorful Flags for the New Year Water Festival

Every year, from April 12th to 15th, Thailand celebrates Songkran, marking the Thai New Year. Songkran is a Buddhist festival where people make merit by visiting temples and wash away sins by splashing one another with water. From the southern islands to the northern mountains, the entire country becomes soaked in water as this festival turns into the world's largest water gun fight!

During the festival, there is no need to consider where in Bangkok you should go to witness this unique custom, as the celebration goes on almost everywhere in the city. Thousands of people with anything that can hold water (water guns, buckets, water bottles, plastic bags) gather on Silom Road for this nonstop New Year celebration. One of the biggest water fights in Bangkok takes place around backpacker's mecca Khao San Road involving locals and tourists alike, even including elephants as part of the fun! It is actually impossible to simply witness Songkran Festival; you will get completely soaking wet wherever you go!

If this Songkran out-of-control wildness is not your thing, you could instead choose to head to local temples for a culturally rich experience. Make your way to north Thailand, to Chiang Mai, which is home to some of the most traditional Thai New Year ceremonies. In Buddhist culture, New Year or renewal is symbolized by water. Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai becomes a focal point of the New Year ritual. The temple and Buddha images are washed clean during Songkran. A fantastic Songkran parade features a procession that carries one of the Buddha statues from Phra Singh Temple through the town streets to honor the image with a splash of water by the locals.

Songkran - Bathing the Buddha in Chiang Mai

The "Bathing the Buddha" ritual can be witnessed at most temples in Chiang Mai. Many religious Thai families encourage visitors to take part in giving alms to the monks. You can also play some games at a temple fair to help maintain the temple. You will get to witness the grandest festivities in Chiang Mai, where these traditional blessings are still common. Songkran 2020, Thailand's New Year, is right around the corner, and just reading about the festival online or looking at pictures on social media doesn’t even come close to the happy excitement you feel during this festival. Thailand’s wild water celebration must be experienced to truly appreciate the excitement. If you join this crazy water party, make sure to pack your belongings into a waterproof bag. Wear comfortable clothes, but not white, as locals sometimes mix colored powder into their water for extra blessings! In addition, please always remember the basic rules of the Songkran water fight: Do not throw water at monks, babies, and elderly people.

When to go: In 2020 and 2021, Songkran will take place from April 13th to 15th. Expect to get soaked!

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