Sawasdee Pee Mai! (Happy New Year!)
Celebrated each year at the start of the rice-growing season, Songkran (April 13) marks the Thai New Year. The festival gives locals the chance to pay their respects to elders and take part in a water fight in the humid weather.
Although Thailand is experiencing its worst drought in two decades, the traditional festival will still be held, but for fewer days to save water. With this in mind, people celebrating Songkran are urged to be careful with their water usage. Although this year’s event might be slightly drier than usual, we hope that these tips will help you enjoy a fun and safe Songkran.
Ditch the water guns.
Take the opportunity this year to get traditional with your water splashing. Ditch those wasteful super soakers and help save water by taking inspiration from the “rod nam dam hua” ceremony.
The traditional custom involves sprinkling a small amount of water over the hands of elders as they bless you for the new year. This technique not only saves water but is also very gentle, and therefore appropriate for young children and the elderly.
Discover Phra Pradaeng.
If you’re used to wild water fights on Silom road, it’s a different world in Phra Pradaeng on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Celebrated a week after the Thai New Year, Songkran in Phra Pradaeng is derived from the Mon tradition. Each year, the community puts together folk dances, parades and fireworks to celebrate the new year. Don’t miss the “Ta-yae Mon” performance, which consists of traditional dance and songs based on lessons from Buddhism.
Phra Pradaeng’s Songkran will be held on April 22-24 this year.
Study the clothing etiquette.
Despite the fact that everyone gets soaked during Songkran, keep in mind you’re on the streets of Bangkok and not at a full moon party.
Most locals attend water fights fully-clothed. Unless you want to be the weirdo in a bikini or mankini, opt for shorts and a light T-shirt or go for the colorful floral shirt to match the Songkran theme.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to keep your hard-earned cash dry by using a waterproof bag and get a waterproof phone case at MBK if you want to snap important Songkran selfies.
Photo: Alexander Hotz/ Coconuts Media
Sadly, Songkran is also known as the “Seven Dangerous Days” due to the amount of fatal road accidents. The dramatic spike in road deaths is primarily due to drunk driving and speeding. The government campaigns for a “death free” Songkran every year, and you can do your part by driving responsibly or use public transportation when you are too drunk to drive.
Mingle and have fun!
Songkran is one of the rare times when it’s impossible for Thais to play Candy Crush and blankly scroll through their smartphones. Seize this opportunity to make new Thai or foreign friends.
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