Water guns and temple rituals are two unlikely components of Thailand’s New Years celebration, otherwise known as Songkran. One of Thailand’s most important (and wettest!) festivals of the year, Songkran marks the Thai New Year in mid-April, when vibrant water fights break out as across the country as a way of cleansing the body and soul in preparation. What started out as a simple Buddhist tradition has now turned into a popular tourist magnet, with wet and wild parties happening from Thursday, 13 April to Sunday, 15 April!
Keen on travelling to Thailand to celebrate Songkran yourself? Our friends at luxury villa booking portal TheLuxeNomad.com filled us in on how to make the most of the experience!
Where to Celebrate
Songkran Festival is widely celebrated throughout the country. From Phuket to Koh Samui, and all the way up to Bangkok and Pattaya, you definitely won’t have trouble finding a city to join in on the fun. However, if you truly want to kick it up a notch, Chiang Mai is the place to be!
Beginning at 6am, head on over to Tha Pae Gate on the Eastern side of the city where you’ll find a four-kilometer stretch of water fighting along the old city moat. Go to any point around the city walls, bring your water gun, or in some cases buckets of water, and begin to take battle! Obviously, staying dry here is not an option. Looking around, you’ll also see stage set-ups with various performances, including the Miss Songkran beauty pageant, and some open-air food markets. Don’t forget to practice your Thai skills: “Sawasdee Pi-Mai!” or Happy New Year is a familiar phrase you’ll be hearing by the greeting people around you.
Where to Stay
If you’re headed to Songkran this year, here are some resorts and villas we’ve prepared for that full experience.
Chiang Mai: Take a break from the fun, and opt for a serene stay at the one-bedroom suites at Lana Thai Villa. Located in Four Seasons Chiang Mai, the private residences escape allows you full access to the resort’s facilities while enjoying the lush and tropical greenery topped with views of paddy fields and mountains in Mae Rim Valley.
Bangkok: Stay at one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, The Siam. An ode to Paris’ Musée d’Orsay, you can rest at their one-bedroom villas, including a complimentary river shuttle to savour the beautiful sunset whilst cruising the Chao Phraya River.
Phuket: The Surin is an exclusive beachfront retreat perfect for couples and families. Its white sand makes for great swimming, and who wouldn’t want to come home from the Songkran festivities to well-appointed luxury cottages?
Koh Samui: Samujana’s million-dollar design gives you a minimalist Instagram backdrop with spectacular ocean views, perfectly positioned to enjoy the sunrise. The estate’s villas ranges from three to eight bedrooms, some even with their own private cinema!
Pattaya: Large parties can escape to their own private retreat by staying at the nine-bedroom Tamarind House. This tranquil pool villa is fully equipped with a gym, tennis court, table tennis and a billiards table.
Songkran Survival Tips
Now that we’ve got your stay sorted, it’s time to take note of some survival tips:
1. Plan Ahead: Book your flights and stays early since this will be a peak time to travel. Moreover, prepare yourself with enough money as banks and ATMs will be closed due to the holiday season.
2. Waterproof Everything: First things first. Protect your valuables by bringing a small plastic case that can hold your smartphone or small change. Try to avoid carrying a heavy DSLR, and prefer to carry a waterproof camera or disposable one instead.
3. Choose your Weapon: The best way to do so is to arm yourself with a water gun that’s capable of long-distance shooting and has a huge reservoir. You can also try small water containers or even buckets.
4. Be Cautious and Alert: Try not to bring any valuables with you as pickpockets can still be found in the crowds. In some cases, you may also be hit by mysterious ‘grey stuff’ (no, not from Beauty and the Beast). It’s harmless, but it can sting if it gets into your eyes.
5. Wear Anything But White: Okay, not necessarily anything (you get the point). But avoid wearing white because it can be seen through when wet. Comfortable clothes such as T-shirts and flip-flops are usually a staple.
6. Be Careful Who You Hit: Monks are highly respected in Thailand, which is why squirting them with your water gun is a huge no-no.
Always remember it’s all just fun and accept that you’re going to get wet, no matter what!