The Different Places To Celebrate Songkran In Thailand

Where and what it’s like to celebrate the beautiful water festival known as Songkran. (Image by @amazingthailandjp)

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Songkran is a Buddhist festival to celebrate the Thai New Year, and you can read up all about this beautiful celebration in our Songkran Survival Guide. While it’s also observed in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, it’s most famously celebrated in Thailand. This water festival is held annually from 13 to 15 April. Besides the cleansing of bad things, the splashing of water is also seen as a symbol of fertility and encourages plenty of rainfall for the coming year.

The country has not celebrated Songkran for two years due to COVID-19. However, the Thai government recently announced that some celebrations would be permitted as long as organizers follow certain guidelines. Participants should be fully vaccinated, may need to have negative COVID-19 test results, and will have to adhere to recommended practices of wearing a mask and frequent hand washing.

Officials are still debating whether they will allow water throwing, and if it is permitted, it may only be in certain areas with strict COVID-19 protocols in place. It seems as though alcohol will likely be prohibited in these designated venues.

Thailand and Malaysia have recently opened the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), eliminating the need for vaccinated travellers who arrive by air to go into quarantine. Still, some land borders have “Test and Go,” Sandbox,” and other quarantine requirements.

Here’s how some of Thailand’s popular tourist hubs traditionally rang in the new year: (This is a developing story, not all of these locations will necessarily host Songkran celebrations in 2022. It is best to check local events news sites for up-to-date and accurate information on local Songkran festivals).

Bangkok

There’s an official opening ceremony at Wat Pho temple in Bangkok, with many festivities happening around Khao San Road. Silom Road hosts one of the largest parties in the capital, while Siam Square is another popular place for revellers to gather.

Sacred celebrations like washing Buddha images and building sand pagodas can be seen in Sanam Luang (a public square opposite the Grand Palace). Remember that this is a religious ritual that requires respect. Other quieter places are Wat Ratchabophit and Wat Prayoon.

Chiang Mai

Up north in Chiang Mai, the city hosts one of the largest Songkran celebrations – and it even starts a day early, on 12 April, with a procession around the city. Tha Pae Gate in the Old City is an especially popular area for Songkran celebrations in Chiang Mai.

Phuket

Although the island is relatively large, the action is centred mainly in the more densely-populated tourist areas. Phuket’s Patong Beach area gets super busy with people on pickup trucks throwing water at bystanders.

Bangla Road sees celebrations well into the early morning hours, while Saphan Hin Park is the central area of celebrations. The park has live music and traditional performances, amongst other festivities.

Pattaya

Among one of the cheapest cities to explore, Pattaya may be worth visiting. The city has a longer Songkran, too, starting about a week before the official Songkran dates and ending a few days later. Head over to Bang Saen beach, famous for the sculptures and sandcastles made by locals during Songkran.

The Pattaya Songkran Festival is on 19 April. On this day, visitors can see the Kong Khao parade dedicated to the Goddess of Rice.

Khon Kaen

Khon Kaen in the northeast of Thailand is known as the sticky rice capital of Thailand. The area celebrates Songkran with food fairs, decorated ox and flora carts, Petangue sports competitions, Thai dance demonstrations, beauty pageants, and folk plays. The main water fights are on Khao Nieo Road and around Kaen Nakorn Lake.

Hat Yai

All the way down south in Hat Yai, you can participate in some night-time Songkran activities known as the Hat Yai Midnight Songkran. Celebrations include a foam party, concert, and beauty contest.

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya provides more family-oriented Songkran activities, so this is a great location to consider if you’ve got little ones in tow. Festivities in the area focus more on the traditional Songkran celebrations. One of the highlights of celebrating Songkran here is getting sprayed with water by elephants!

Visiting Thailand during Songkran is a wonderful way to connect with locals and other visitors. It’s also a fun time when everyone is in high spirits, celebrating the beginning of a new year together. But while Songkran is a fun way to interact with local people and other visitors, be respectful of the people and their customs and culture during this religious holiday.

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Jay has travelled and lived extensively in Asia and Africa. Part gypsy, part nomad and part mermaid, she aspires each day to satisfy her wanderlust in any way possible.