Songkran 2019 promises to bring lots of fun, excitement and, of course, water to the streets of Thailand. The April holiday provides visitors with a chance to experience a true Thai tradition. Here is everything you need to know about the Thai New Year festivities.
When is Songkran?
Dates: 12 April (Friday) to 16 April (Tuesday)
Just like last year, the government stepped in to ensure the public would in fact have a five-day holiday for Songkran 2019. The original calendar had only Monday and Tuesday as official holidays, but the cabinet eventually added Friday.
The water throwing will start on Friday, but ramp up over the course of the weekend. Expect most festivities outside of traditional party zones to wind down by Tuesday. Shopping centres remain open throughout the holiday but most other businesses will be closed.
What is Songkran?
Songkran is a celebration of the Thai New Year which falls on April 13. It is celebrated on April 14 and 15 as well. In the mornings, many people visit local temples to make merit and pour water on Buddha statues as a way to wash any bad luck off. The afternoons are reserved for the water throwing most people are familiar with while evenings are for recovery or evening parties in places like RCA and Khao San Road.
Read More: Origins of Songkran
Where to celebrate?
In Bangkok, most streets will have celebrations of some kind. While not all of these are organised, simply walking down a street during Songkran is going to see you sprayed with water.
Those looking for the big water fights should head to Silom. Thousands of people converge here to take part in a massive celebration that involves water guns, buckets and water galore.
Chiang Mai offers arguably the best Songkran celebrations in Thailand and offers a chance to also take in some of the more traditional activities. Head to the Tha Pae Gate surrounding Chiang Mai’s Old City for all the Songkran fun.
If you can’t get enough of the fun, Songkran seemingly never ends in Pattaya. Holiday festivities carry on for a full week.
Will alcohol be sold during Songkran 2019?
Yes, but also possibly no. Earlier this year, a ban on alcohol sales was proposed for April 13 due to higher than average drunk driving-related fatalities. The ban was never approved, but is still being mulled at the time of article publication. Alcohol sales on April 14-16 will not be impacted.
Additionally, the traditional “Seven Dangerous Days” campaign organised during Songkran will be enforced. Checkpoints will be set up along major roads and highways targeting drunk drivers as well as other unsafe driving.
3 tips for Songkran 2018
Put your valuables in a waterproof pouch – Unless you want your phone, wallet and passport to get wet, buy a waterproof pouch that can be worn around your neck. They are sold all over the place in Thailand during Songkran season including 7-11.
Don’t throw water at motorcycles – Despite the obvious dangers, some individuals will still throw water on people riding motorbikes. This is not an acceptable practice and you should not do it, even if a few others are.
Make merit – If you see a golden Buddha statue surrounded by a bowl of water, scented oil, flower petals and cups, take this opportunity to partake in the Song Nam Phra ceremony. Pour water over the head of the Buddha. This symbolises the washing away the past year. You’re also supposed to make a wish for the new year. You will see these shrines throughout Thailand, so feel free to take part in a respectful manner.
Read more: Surviving Songkran
What else to do during your visit?
The street celebrations are fun, but if you want something a bit more organised, several hotels host massive pool parties and other events during Songkran. Additionally, most Bangkok nightclubs pull out all the stops to create unforgettable events. Several nightclubs along RCA have stacked lineups featuring renowned local and international DJs.
Bangkok’s major shopping centres host special Songkran sales during the holiday to entice shoppers. This is because they know they are competing with all of the other events for the time and attention.
Check out a property
If you are considering a property purchase in Thailand, Songkran can be a good time to see it in person. A lot of agents have free time during this period to show you around different properties and with traffic being non-existent, you don’t have to worry about wasting your time stuck on the road. Check out some of the condos on Thailand Property to get your search started.