Discovery >

Thai Songkran: Prepare for a Soaking!

February 16, 2016 by Khiri Travel | Filed Under: , , , ,

Nowadays the Thai Songkran Festival is perceived by lots of people as nothing more than a massive water fight. It’s a shame really because it is also a sacred celebration in Thai Buddhism and the most important holiday of the year.

Songkran is always celebrated 13-15 April and represents the traditional Thai New Year. This holiday used to determine the start of another year on Thailand’s traditional Buddhist calendar. However, since 1940, Thailand follows the rest of the world where New Year starts on 1 January.

Since ancient times Songkran is celebrated in April because the time of year for the Aries the Ram is the closest sign of the zodiac to the vernal equinox. Other April festivals around the world based on astrological events include Indian Holi, China’s Ancestors’ Day and the Christian festival of Easter.

The water throwing part owes to the importance of water in their long history of rice cultivation and as a symbolic ritual of their Buddhist faith. Water is used to perform ritual cleansing of the Buddha images. Sprinkled on family members, the water confers blessings as a sign of respect and to bring good fortune. Along with the blessing, it is customary for elders to rub clay paste on the cheeks of younger family members, similar to a monk’s blessing. Songkran is also a traditional time to do spring-cleaning around the home and make New Year resolutions.

The influx of tourists to Thailand started in the early 1980s. Travelers arriving during Songkran were usually pleasantly surprised. Joining the fun meant purchasing a small water pistol and accepting the idea of shooting water and getting soaked in return. Over the years, the market responded with more powerful water guns and the water fights became more outrageous. The clay paste tradition remains, although nowadays there is a good chance your travelers will get a handful pushed in their face or hair. Luckily, there is always someone nearby with a hose or bucket to remove the offending paste in seconds.

Less charming onslaughts are getting hit by an ice cold water balloon or drive by shots from pick up trucks holding a drum of ice water. It is quite a shock to the system to get hit with ice water and can actually be unsafe if partiers target fast moving motorbikes.

Despite the excesses, Songkran on the whole is a fantastic holiday celebration in which almost everyone participates, even police officers. Of course having this holiday during the hottest season of the year is another good reason to enjoy getting soaked. For a more traditional Songkran celebration, your travelers should go to the local temple. Monks and nuns are immune to the raucous water throwing.

A final word of warning: if you carry valuables, take care to keep them covered in plastic. Your travelers as foreigners are top targets even if they raise their hands and plead no contest. This strategy is doomed to fail; in fact it only encourages more vigorous soakings.

For more information about tours to Thailand and how to make the Songkran Festival part of your trip, please contact to [email protected]

Latest post

Meet Andara Phuket’s Resident Rice Expert

We interview Chef Miguel Cirne, from Portugal. He’s the western chef at Silk Restaurant, Andara Resort and Villas in Phuket on this month’s theme: Rice!

Read More

Khiri Travel Reveals New Myanmar Tours at ITB Asia

BANGKOK, 16 October, 2012 – Khiri Travel will promote three innovative Myanmar travel products at ITB Asia, which runs 17-19 October in Singapore this week.

Read More

Easy Connections In/Out of Cambodia

Cambodia is a complete destination in itself but also offers these easy connections via flights or many open border crossings to neighboring countries.

Read More

Khiri Travel Insider Tips – Phuket

Give your clients insider information so that they can avoid the crowds, make discoveries and have a rewarding travel experience

Read More

Subscribe to our newsletter

Our B2B newsletters are for industry professionals




*We’ll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time.