If you are planning to visit Bangkok in April, make sure to enjoy Songkran Festival in Thai capital as it is definitely one of the most amazing Thai Festivals and fun celebrations that anyone can participate in!
What is Songkran Festival?
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year festival according to the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word and literally means as "astrological passage". It’s held annually from the 13th to 15th of April. In many regions and some tourist hotspots, the celebration starts even earlier and goes on for the whole week.
How do Thai people celebrate Songkran?
During Songkran people get together and make merit at the temple by gently pouring water mixed with Thai fragrance over the Buddha images. The water is also used to pour over the hands of the elders when asking them for blessing.
More well-known side of Songkran is a three-day long water fight throughout the whole country. There are typically different ways of celebrating Songkran in Thailand but no matter where you are, during that time you will be walking distance from some kind of fun celebration.
What to expect during Songkran in Bangkok?
Songkran is the public holiday in Thailand so all business and government offices in Bangkok will be closed. Shopping malls, convenience stores and clubs will be open but many small shops and some bars will be closed. Local markets and Chatuchak Weekend Market will be open but expect to find less vendors selling their stuff there.
Most of Bangkok's residents come back to their hometowns during Songkran, so Bangkok is relatively quiet and the traffic is VERY light for a few days.
However, in the main areas of water fights the celebration is very intense. Expect to see huge crowds having a lot of fun there and be ready to squeeze through the crowd.
Sometimes you will see pickup trucks carrying people who are throwing water on locals and tourists. When you are out on the street during Songkran, it is impossible to go anywhere without getting wet.
Where to Celebrate Songkran in Bangkok?
Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations to celebrate Songkran. During Songkran, the streets fill up with people looking to soak and get soaked. No matter where you are, be prepared to find your own water gun and join in the fun!
Top 5 Places for Celebrating Songkran in Bangkok
Top places to enjoy Songkran Festival celebration in Bangkok are:
1. Silom Road – this 5 km long walking street is probably the biggest and the best place for you to experience Songkran in Bangkok as it attracts thousands of locals and tourists during the festival.
2. Khaosan Road – during Songkran the street becomes a massive water fight street with a great party atmosphere.
3. CentralWorld - famous for family friendly Songkran celebration in its bubbly area called “The Foam Party Zone”.
4. Siam square – the place providing a chance to experience some of the more traditional aspects of Songkran.
5. RCA (Royal City Avenue) - Bangkok's largest nightlife area with bars, clubs and live music venues offering various environments for celebrating Songkran at night.
For more information about the best places to celebrate Songkran in Bangkok check Top 5 Places for Celebrating Songkran in Bangkok
Find out where are Bangkok's best Songkran Festival celebration spots in 2019: Where to Celebrate Songkran Festival in Bangkok 2019
Songkran in the Temple
Keep in mind that Songkran festival is not all about water fights. Traditionally, it is Thai New Year which is an important religious event celebrated inside the temples. Many Thai people take time to visit the Buddhist temples to make a merit, offer food to monks and pour scented water on Buddha images and monks.
If you will visit a temple during Songkran early in the morning, you will have the opportunity to see more traditional side of this New Year festival away from the craziness of the water fights. There are many famous temples around Bangkok, such as Wat Saket, Wat Arun, Wat Pho or Wat Traimit, offering you the opportunity to experience this nice Thai tradition.
If you will visit a temple or shrine, show respect at all times. Check Etiquette for Visiting Temples in Thailand
Tips for Surviving Songkran Festival
- Bring your own water pistol - there are many shops selling water guns, hose pipes and buckets along the streets and at the markets during Songkran Day
- In some touristy places expect to pay about 5-10 baht for refilling your water gun with an ice cold water
- Leave valuable belongings at your hotel or hostel and take with you as little as possible
- Keep your belongings, such as your phone, camera and wallet in a waterproof pouch. You can easily buy a pouch anywhere the festivities are held.
- If you are photo addicted, take a photo with waterproof cell phone or camera only. From our experience, another cheap way is to put the phone in a waterproof pouch and take pictures. Even if it is not easy to take photos while everyone splashes the water on you and the quality won’t be great but at least you will have some pictures and your electronics won’t be damaged!
- Songkran is not a full-moon party and the locals attend water fights fully-clothed so don't remove your shirt or dress indecently. Some tourists were arrested for taking their shirts off!
- Dress in a thin fabric and choose bright and colorful clothes to express your joyful spirit. Many locals wear colorful floral “Songkran Shirts” - Hawaiian-style shirts sold at the local markets and on the streets.
- Avoid wearing tight, light colored or white clothes as they can become see-through when you will get soaked.
- For the biggest comfort wear sandals, non-slip shoes or rubber flip-flops that dry easily and prevent you from slipping.
- Don't splash monks, pregnant women, babies and the elderly.
- Be cautious on the roads as Songkran is also known as the “Seven Dangerous Days” due to the amount of fatal road accidents. The streets can get slippery and the motorcyclists are not exempt from getting splashed which may cause road accidents.
- You won’t be safe from the water anywhere unless you’ll be staying in the room all 3 days. The foreigners are often special targeted so be prepared to get wet and enjoy!
The traditional greeting and wishing people good luck for the year is saying Sa-Wad-Dee-Pee-Mai (สวัสดีปีใหม่) which basically means "Happy New Year." Another greeting that is used is Suk-San-Wan-Songkran (สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์) which means "Happy Songkran Day."
If you will be visiting another part of Thailand during Songran, check: Where to Celebrate Songkran in Thailand