Guide to Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival

Amazing Thailand, Songkran

Are you looking for a unique and exciting way to celebrate the Thai New Year? Look no further than the Songkran Water Festival, one of Thailand’s most popular and vibrant celebrations. Food! Fun! Water fights! What could be better than this?

In this guide, we’ll explore the history and cultural significance of the festival, as well as offer tips for how to participate and where to go to experience the festivities.

The History of Songkran

Songkran is a traditional Thai New Year festival that takes place annually in April. The festival is celebrated across Thailand and is known for its water fights and other festive activities.

The Songkran Water Festival has its roots in ancient Buddhist traditions and is based on the Thai lunar calendar. Celebrated annually in mid-April, it marks the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season. Originally, the festival was a time for families to gather together and pay their respects to their ancestors. Over time, it has evolved into a more public celebration, with water-related activities and street parties becoming a major part of the festivities.

Cultural Significance of Songkran

While Songkran is certainly a time for fun and festivities, it also reflects important cultural values and beliefs. 

One of the key aspects of the Songkran festival is the tradition of paying respect to elders by pouring water over their hands and asking for blessings. This reflects the importance of showing reverence and gratitude towards those who have come before us and have paved the way for our lives.

Another important aspect of Songkran is the sense of community that is fostered through the festivities. People come together to celebrate and enjoy the festival, regardless of their background or social status. This reflects the Thai belief in the importance of community and the idea that we are all connected and interdependent.

Finally, the Songkran festival is steeped in traditions and customs that have been passed down through generations. From the traditional procession to the water fights and food offerings, the festival serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and honoring our cultural heritage.

For visitors to Thailand, participating in the Songkran festival can be a great way to gain a deeper appreciation for Thai culture. By joining in the festivities, visitors can experience firsthand the values and beliefs that underpin Thai society, and gain a better understanding of the customs and traditions that are so important to the Thai people.

In order to fully appreciate the cultural significance of Songkran, please be respectful of local traditions and customs, and take the time to learn about the history and meaning behind the festival. This way, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Thai culture and come away from the festival with a renewed appreciation for the richness and diversity of this fascinating country.

Where to Celebrate Songkran in Thailand

While Songkran is celebrated throughout Thailand, some of the best places to experience the festival include Chiang Mai and Bangkok. If you’re planning to experience the Songkran Water Festival in Thailand, there are several destinations that are especially popular and offer a range of accommodations, transportation, and logistical options.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the best places to experience the festival, with its lively street parties and epic water fights. For accommodations, there are many options ranging from budget hostels to luxury hotels, with some of the most popular areas being the Old City and Nimmanhaemin Road. To get around the city during Songkran, you can rent a bicycle or motorbike, take a tuk-tuk or songthaew, or simply walk.


Bangkok is another top destination for Songkran, with its traditional procession and massive water fight in the Silom district. For accommodations, there are countless options ranging from budget guesthouses to five-star hotels, with some of the most popular areas being the Sukhumvit and Khao San Road. To get around the city, you can take the BTS Skytrain or MRT subway, or hire a taxi or motorbike taxi.


One of the most popular areas for Songkran celebrations in Phuket is the Old Town, where locals and visitors gather to enjoy traditional food and music, and participate in water fights. The streets are closed to traffic during the festival, allowing for a lively and festive atmosphere.

Another area to consider for Songkran celebrations in Phuket is Patong Beach, where water fights and parties take place along the beach and on the main road. The beachfront bars and restaurants also offer special promotions and events during the festival.

Kata and Karon Beaches are also popular areas for Songkran celebrations, with water fights and festivities taking place along the beach and in nearby streets. These areas offer a more relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere compared to the party scene in Patong.


Other destinations worth considering for Songkran celebrations include the beach town of Pattaya, the historic city of Ayutthaya, and the northern city of Chiang Rai. In Pattaya, accommodations range from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts, with some of the best areas being Pattaya Beach and Jomtien Beach. For transportation, you can rent a motorbike or take a songthaew or taxi.

In Ayutthaya, there are several guesthouses and hotels located near the city’s historic sites, such as Wat Mahathat and Wat Chaiwatthanaram. To get around the city, you can rent a bicycle or take a tuk-tuk or songthaew.

In Chiang Rai, accommodations range from budget hostels to luxury hotels, with some of the most popular areas being the Night Bazaar and the Mae Kok River. To get around the city, you can rent a bicycle or motorbike, take a tuk-tuk or songthaew, or hire a taxi.

When planning your trip to Thailand for Songkran, it’s important to book accommodations and transportation in advance, as these can fill up quickly during the festival. Additionally, be prepared to get wet and wear comfortable clothing and shoes that can dry quickly. Finally, be respectful of Thai culture and traditions during the festival, and remember to have fun and enjoy the festivities.

How to Participate in Songkran

Participating in Songkran is easy – simply head to the nearest celebration and join in the fun! However, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your experience.  During the festival, be prepared to get wet! Water fights and water blessings are popular activities, and you’ll likely be drenched from head to toe by the end of the day. The Songkran Water Festival is full of fun and exciting activities, as well as important cultural traditions. Here are some of the key activities and traditions associated with the festival:

Water fights: One of the most iconic aspects of Songkran is the massive water fights that take place throughout Thailand. People gather in the streets armed with water guns, buckets, and hoses to drench each other in water.

Water blessings: Another important tradition during Songkran is the pouring of water onto Buddha statues as a symbol of purification and renewal. Many temples also offer water blessings for visitors, where monks pour water over their heads and offer prayers.

Processions: In some parts of Thailand, traditional processions are held during Songkran, featuring dancers, musicians, and colorful floats. The largest procession takes place in Bangkok and includes offerings to Buddhist monks.

Traditional games: In addition to water-related activities, many people also play traditional games during Songkran, such as takraw, a game similar to volleyball played with a rattan ball, and mai rua, a game where players try to knock over their opponent’s boat.

Traditional games: In addition to water-related activities, many people also play traditional games during Songkran, such as takraw, a game similar to volleyball played with a rattan ball, and mai rua, a game where players try to knock over their opponent’s boat.

Food and Drink During Songkran


Songkran is also a time for enjoying traditional Thai food and drink. Some popular dishes include khao chae. 

Khao chae is a refreshing rice dish served with a variety of side dishes, such as sweet shredded pork, fried shrimp, and stuffed shallots. This dish is typically eaten during the hottest months of the year and is perfect for cooling down during the festival. 

Sangria, on the other hand, is a sweet and refreshing fruit drink made with a variety of fresh fruits, such as watermelon, pineapple, and cantaloupe. It’s the perfect beverage to quench your thirst during the hot and humid days of Songkran. 

Many restaurants and street vendors offer special menus and promotions during the festival, so be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to sample the local cuisine.

Tips for Celebrating Songkran

People are using water guns to play in the Songkran festival.

Songkran FAQs

What is the best time to visit Thailand for the Songkran Water Festival?  A: The festival is celebrated annually in mid-April, so plan your trip accordingly.

 Is Songkran only celebrated in Thailand? A: No, the festival is celebrated throughout Southeast Asia.

How do I participate in the water fights?

Participating in the water fights is easy – simply join in the fun! Many people carry water guns or buckets and spray water on others, while others use hoses or other water sources. It’s important to be respectful of others and not spray water in their faces.Can tourists participate in Songkran?

Yes, tourists are welcome to participate in Songkran and are often encouraged to join in the festivities. However, it’s important to be respectful of local traditions and customs and to dress appropriately for the festival.

Where are the best places to celebrate Songkran in Thailand?
Some of the best places to celebrate Songkran in Thailand include Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket. Each destination offers a unique experience of the festival, with different activities and traditions

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