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Songkran Festival, New Years Celebration In Thailand

Updated on February 8, 2012

My Favorite Songkran Trick

My Family On Songkran 2005
My Family On Songkran 2005

The Songkran Festival

The festival of Songkran is held every year between April 13th - 15th in Thailand. However in some provinces the celebration starts early and lasts more than 1 week. During the festival the locals as well as the tourists will engage in an all out water war, with squirt guns, buckets, hoses, and anything you can get your hands on. This festival normally includes a lot of alcohol consumption, similar to the New Years Eve celebrations in western countries. If you do not like the sounds of this, you should not plan to travel to Thailand at this time of year, this is a festival that everyone is involved in (willing or unwilling). Government offices, banks, businesses and shops may be closed during a period of up to 7-14 days during this festival, so you will want to make sure any banking, or business affairs are done prior to the first week of April.

Even The Elephants Get Involved
Even The Elephants Get Involved
Nobody Is Off Limits, Not Even Cops!
Nobody Is Off Limits, Not Even Cops!

Originally Songkran was celebrated only in the northern provinces of Thailand, and it is believed to have been introduced by the Burmese, who had adapted it from the Indian Holi festival. Over the past century the festival has spread to the rest of the country, including the southern provinces. The exact date of the festival originally had been set by astrological calculation, but it is now on the fixed date of April 13th - 15th. The Word "Songkran" is derived from Sanskrit "Sankranta" and means "a move or change" - symbolizing the movement of the sun into the Aries zodiac.

The Water Fight
This is something that you would have to see to believe, as childish as it may sound, this is for people of all ages. For the most part people are very considerate and just having some good natured fun, however with the enormous consumption of alcohol, sometimes things do get out of hand. Children and adults, stand outside their shops or their houses, with loaded water guns, buckets of water or hoses, looking to soak all passers by. I have even seen fire trucks with fire hoses getting in on the action (no I am not kidding, nor am I exaggerating). Many people will get in the pickup truck, with as many as a dozen people in the back, all geared up with various water weapons. Most of the water wars take place right in the street, or on the side of the road, and needless to say, this can be quite dangerous.

Traffic Accidents
There are a staggering amount of traffic fatalities every year during the Songran festival, normally alcohol is the main contributing factor. It is strongly recommended to avoid driving during these holidays, as even if you are sober, you can be assured that you will be one of the few that are. The government statistics say that approximately 85 people per day are killed in traffic accidents during the Songkran holidays. Every year the government tries to crack down on enforcement of helmet laws as well as drinking and driving, with limited success.

There are many unwritten rules when engaging in the water fights of the Songran festival, many of these rules are ignored by most people. Some people like to use a mixture of talcum powder and water to paint the faces of others. This is still very common, but some people do not appreciate it. Another thing that you are technically not supposed to do, is to use ice to cool your water, however this is something that everyone does, and as long as you are not throwing ice at people it should be fine. You will not want to get in a water fight against somebody with cold water, if your water is warm. One rule that I do not think anyone should be breaking, is that when the sun goes down, the water fights should stop. Almost everyone will stop the madness as it gets dark, but it never fails, there will always be some hooligan (normally a foreigner) that will continue playing during the night. This holiday is meant to be fun, so as long as you exercise common sense, you should be alright, but a word of advice to those that don't want to get wet (stay in your hotel)!


Worlds Biggest Water Fight!


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    • Eep63 profile image

      Eep63 5 years ago from Calgary, AB

      This is an experience that is a lot of fun - but after awhile I tend to stay indoors and order food in.

    • World-Traveler profile image

      World-Traveler 6 years ago from USA

      Voted Up! with Awesome and beautiful! Songkran Festival is indeed an incredible experience. Sad that more people cannot enjoy it.

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 6 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia


      I also tend to get tired of it after half a day, but that is ok, I just go home and stay in when I have had enough fun.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

      It is the greatest event. I love every second of it till half way through the second day. Then I retreat to my room and hide away till it is all over. Many long stayers in Thailand head out of the country during Songkran because there truly is no escape.

    • danielgreen profile image

      danielgreen 6 years ago

      I will go to this one year!!