This time next week celebrations will be in full swing for Thailand’s ecstatic water-filled New Year festivities. But, following the death of beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October of last year, what can you expect from Songkran 2017?
Firstly, what is Songkran?
Songkran, also known as the Water Festival, is a raucous but inherently religious festival that takes place every April for Thai New Year – it also happens to be one of Asia’s biggest and most anticipated holidays of the year.
The throwing of water, for which the holiday is most famous, symbolically represents the washing away of one’s past transgressions, and is meant to bring luck and prosperity for the coming year. Songkran is also an important occasion in Thai culture for showing respect to elders, spending quality time with family and visiting temples for merit-making.Whether you travel to Thailand to experience the legitimate spirituality of it, or simply want to party like you’ve never partied before – Songkran delivers in spades!
Where is Songkran celebrated?
Wherever you are in Thailand, Songkran will probably find you. Songkran is celebrated throughout the country but the biggest celebration takes place in the capital. In 2017 different cities and provinces will have their own events, rules and regulations.
Songkran 2017 in Bangkok
Songkran is usually a free-for-all with no one spared a water ‘cleanse’, but this year the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration have declared ‘Songkran Safety Zones’ to keep the mania at bay.
Silom, Khao San Road and Royal City Avenue will keep the so called ‘water war’ contained and authorities are encouraging locals and travellers alike to be considerate of those not wanting to engage in the revelry due to last year’s loss. 6 months later and the Grand Palace is still welcoming in mourners paying respect to the King.
The main traditional celebration will take place at the Khon Muang Plaza, in front of city hall, for those looking to see another side to Thai New Year.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand are also hosting ‘Songkran Splendours’ in Benjasiri Park prior to the festival between April 8th-13th. This event showcase the distinct celebrations of different provinces across the country.
This year there will also be tighter controls on loud music, drinking in the streets and inappropriate clothing. We advise all travellers to make the most of this incredible experience while showing the respect at the same time.
Songkran 2017 in Chiang Mai
Songkran used to be celebrated purely in Northern Thailand and to this day the Chiang Mai New Year celebrations are said to be the most authentic.
On the first day of the festival a procession of Buddha images will be walked from the railway station to Wat Phra Singh, while being ritualistically cleansed with water. This is a must see if you want to understand a little more of the origins of the festivities.
The moat and canals in Chiang Mai are where the main water ‘fights’ will take place and while authorities have not placed as strict bans as in Bangkok, we advise you to be considerate.
Songkran 2017 in Phuket
If you are travelling in Southern Thailand during Songkran, you will be able to take part in Songkran celebrations on any of the Thai Islands. Arguably, though, the best place to experience it is on Phuket.
Soi Bangla in Patong hosts the main concentration of Songkran fun but individual resorts and bars will have their own New Year Events.
Things to remember about Songkran in 2017:
- Enjoy yourself. This is one of Thailand’s most important and anticipated events of the year, so make the most of it!
- Be respectful. Firstly, you should respect your fellow revelers while throwing water around; secondly, respect Thai culture by wearing appropriate clothing and considering your behaviour, and thirdly, remember that Thailand is still in a period of mourning and that tighter rules are not directed at you personally.