One of the biggest festivals in Thailand is Songkran, which is the traditional Thai new year. Most foreign tourists know about it because it is the biggest water fight in the world. But, there are some more traditional activities that you can take part in at local temples (see here). If you are coming for the Songkran Festival, then do be prepared to get wet. Before you come, read my Tips for Enjoying Songkran to get the most out of it.
In recent years, Songkran has been fixed to 13-15 April every year. However, some areas celebrate Songkran a bit later. I am gathering together here all of the dates that I have found so far. I am double checking as many as I can but times and dates are always going to be subject to change. If you know of any corrections or can add more then please post in the comments. Songkran happens in every town and city in Thailand so don’t worry if you don’t see your destination listed here. Have fun!
BANGKOK: The three main areas in Bangkok to celebrate Songkran and to get wet seem to be Khao San Road (mainly foreigners), Silom Road (mainly Thai) and in front of Central World. There are also activities at many temples around the city which are more traditional.
* Khao San Road: 12-15 April. Hotel rooms in this backpackers paradise are said to be fully booked already. The official opening ceremony is at 6:30pm on Thursday 12th April. During the remaining three days the road will be turned into a walking street where you will have no chance of escaping getting wet. Police on duty have banned talcum powder (a good thing) and will not allow people to walk and drink alcohol.
* Bangkok Songkran Festival 2012 at Central World: 13-15 April. The event will take place from noon until 10 p.m. in front of Central World. There will be an alcohol ban at this event. There will be a Water Zone, Foam Party Zone and Carnival Zone. Concerts include Joe Boy on 13 April, J-Jetrin on 14 April and Burin and the Old School Star on 15 April.
* Silom Road –
* Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha): 12-16 April. In the grounds of the temple there will be demonstrations of the more traditional way of celebrating Songkran. There will also be cultural performances and other demonstrations. Last year I also visited the nearby Nagaraphirom Park alongside the river where they also had some activities. I don’t have any details yet for this year.
Many Thai people will be joining “Making Merit at 9 Temple” tours. You can join too or just make your own way to temples such as Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Pho, Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn), Wat Ratchaorasaram, Wat Ratchaphradit, Wat Ratchabophit, Wat Bowornniwet, Wat Suthat, Wat Phraram Kao, Wat Chanasongkhram and Wat Saket.
Ayutthaya: 13-15 April. Ayutthaya will be hosting what is billed as the “Old Capital’s Songkran” from April 13-15. Locals and tourists can don traditional costumes and make merit in front of Wihan Phra Mongkol Bopit. From April 13-15, anyone will enjoy water splashing with elephants in front of the TAT’s traditional Thai house on Si Sanphet Road, worship and bathe the Buddha statues in downtown Ayutthaya. In Phak Hai district, locals and visitors will seek blessings from the Buddha statues and the elderly and visit century-old Lat Chado Market. At Wat Bo Thong, Bang Pa-In district, there will be Mon-style celebrations, including a parade of flags and the bathing of Buddha images by pouring water through a length of split bamboo.
Suphanburi: 13-16 April. On April 13th, 2012 from 1.00 pm onwards, there will be the Golden Luang Pho To Buddha Image Procession, Flora Procession, 10 Districts Songkran Goddess Procession from both government and private sectors, and end with water throwing. On April 13th – 16th, 2012, the activities are cultural shows such as I-saeo and Lam Tat, Thai flok traditions such as Thai Song Dam, Thai Phuan, Lao Shi, Lao Khrang, Songkran Beauty Contest, shows from Suphanburi Dancing Arts College, Thai food etc.
Kanchanaburi: 13-16 April. Sangkhla Buri district, there will be Mon-style celebrations from April 13-16. Tomorrow morning, all will give alms to monks on Thailand’s longest wooden bridge, taste Mon-style food called khao chae, watch saba and other games and see the Mon carrying food trays on their heads to temples. On April 16 afternoon, the Mon will lie with faces down for Buddhist monks to step on their backs in the belief that it will bring best of luck and cure illnesses. They will then bathe the Buddha statues through a 1 kilometre-long length of split bamboo in front of the replica of Buddhakaya Pagoda and enjoy water splashing.
Samut Prakan: Phra Pradaeng Songkran Festival is on 27-28 April. One of the only places in Thailand that celebrates the Songkran Festival in the Raman style, featuring a magnificent parade. Experience how to play saba the Raman folk play and watch various forms of entertainment.
EASTERN REGION: Chon Buri’s Songkran celebrations, called Wan Lai, are scheduled to run from April 13-21. They will begin on Koh Si Chang (April 13-19) and then move to Bangsaen (April 16-17), Lan Pho Park in Pattaya’s Na Kleua neighbourhood (April 18-20) and finally to Si Racha from April 19 to 21.
Ko Si Chang: 13-19 April. After giving the alms to monks and pouring some scented water on them, as well as to the Buddha Image , there will also be the Kong Khao ceremony. Pouring some scented water to elders and ask for their blessing for the auspicious life, create a sand pagoda, enjoy folk play and entertainment and the main event of carrying a lady in which a male will ask for permission from a lady and carry her to the sea and bring her back.
Bangsaen Beach: 16-17 April. Another chance for you to get wet after 15 April. After Buddhist ceremony in the morning, it’s time to feel the freshness along the beach as well as create a sand pagoda and enjoy various kinds of folk plays.
Wanlai Pattaya Na Klue Festival: 18-20 April. Offering alms to monks, pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image, enjoy folk plays and various forms of entertainment, as well as have refreshing fun splashing water on each other along the beach.
Hae Phaya Yom Procession and Songkran Bangphra Festival: 16-18 April. Get wet on Bangphra Beach, enjoy folk plays, entertainment, and beautiful parade throughout the event.
Songkran Si Maha Racha and Kong Khao Festival: 19-21 April. Enjoy Songkran Si Maha Racha and participate in Kong Khao Festival – the ritual to thank Mae Po Sop, the Goddess of Rice, enjoy folk plays and entertainments.
Chiang Mai: 12-15 April. One of the grand Songkran celebrations in Thailand. Participate in the Opening Ceremony of the Songkran Festival 2012 with a wonderful procession around Chiang Mai city. Pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image and elders, experience the cultural performances and traditions in the Northern style as well as enjoy various food along the streets.
Sukhothai: 13-15 April. In Sukhothai, there will be at least two celebrations. The Visit to Ancient Markets, Enjoy Temple Fairs during Song Kran Festival will run from April 13-15 at Wat Trapangthong in front of Sukhothai Historical Park while the Songkran Tradition and Food Festival is being held in Sawankhalok district from April 11-15.
Nakhon Phanom: 11-15 April. Pour some Thai scented water on the 7 pagodas that signify the 7 days of birth. Create a sand pagoda and participate in the Buddhist ceremony
Khon Kaen: 11-18 April. The eight-day Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival kicks off on April 11 on Khao Nieo Road with a spectacular parade. Nong Khai will mark the Thai New Year with a combined Thai-Laotian take on Songkran that will run from April 12-15 along the banks of the Mekong while Nakhon Phanom folk will be celebrating their Thai-Lao style New Year festivals in Muang and Renu Nakhon districts, where visitors will be able to pour scented water on the seven pagodas that symbolise the days of the week, build sand pagodas and participate in Buddhist ceremonies. In Nakhon Ratchasima during April 13-15, the Songkran Water Splash with Khao Yai Elephants Fair will take place at the centre for conserving Thai elephants at Km 16, Thanarat Road. Activities include merit-making, the pouring of scented water on Buddha statues on elephant backs, the making of sand pagodas, local games and water splashing with elephants.
Udon Thani: 12-16 April. Celebrations under the concept of Thai civilisation, happiness and great fun will run from April 12-16 at UD Town, an open-air mall. Visitors will pay respect to the replicas of nine important Buddha statues, experience the retro atmosphere with Thai culture, light and sound shows and traditional Thai puppet performances by the Joe Louis troupe every day, and enjoy water splashing in a 150m water tunnel and concerts featuring Dome Pakorn Lum, Jay Jetrin and several other artists.
Nong Khai: 12-15 April. The Songkran Festival that is held along the Mekong River. Pour some Thai scented water on a Buddha image; Luang Pho Phra Sai, the revered Buddha image of the Thai and Lao people. Enjoy refreshing splashing of water, beautiful processions and various kinds of food.
Hat Yai Midnight Songkran: 11-13 April. Besuty contests, processions, merit making and foam party. I will be attending this event this year so watch out for my live tweets.
Nakhon Si Thammarat: Maha Songkran Festival – Hae Nang Dan Muang Nakhon on 11-15 April
Bookmark this page as I will be adding more events soon.
Sources: TAT and Bangkok Post