Songkran 2018 in Bangkok – Having fun is a big part of Thai culture, and having fun amidst scorching heat is no exception. The hottest month of the year, April sees the entire country go bananas in friendly water fights and street parties that last nearly a week. During Songkran, most office buildings, banks, as well as family-run shops and restaurants, shut down completely, while big shopping malls usually remain open. Bangkok experiences a mass exodus, as at least half of its residents travel back to their hometowns for family reunions. In their place are tourists, who fly into Bangkok particularly to enjoy one of the most colorful and festive times of the year. Note. Songkran in Thailand is officially observed between the 13th and 15th of April (three days national holiday), although in reality, celebrations often last the entire week!
What is Songkran?
Songkran is the occasion for family reunions, temple visits, and annual house cleaning. Many Thais observe the holidays by spending time with families and friends. Traditionally, Thais perform the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual on the first day of Songkran, which is officially the National Elderly Day. During the ritual, young people would pour fragrant water into the elders’ palms as a gesture of humility and ask for their blessings. The second day of Songkran is officially the National Family Day. Families would wake up early and give alms to the monks, then ideally the rest of the day would be spent sharing quality family time together. An important religious ritual on Songkran is ‘Bathing the Buddha image’, in which devout Buddhists pour fragrant water over Buddha statues both at the temple and at home. More religious Thais would engage themselves in Buddhist ceremonies and merit-making activities throughout the holidays.
Beauty Pageants & Food Fairs in Wisutkasat Area A Miss Songkran Beauty contest is held in the Wisutkasat area, accompanied by merit-making, a parade, and other fun activities. Food, as is always customary in Thailand, features high on the agenda too with many mouth-watering seasonal treats available in hotels, restaurants, and from food vendors on every street or so. Look out for special Songkran menus at some hotels and restaurants. Also, have a look at our restaurant section for some recommended venues
- Do give alms and make merit (or just witness the rituals if you are not a Buddhist)
- Do use waterproof bags to protect your valuables
- Do watch your belongings
- Do use public transportation if you are heading to one of Songkran ‘hotspots’, as traffic will be paralyzed
- Do try wishing the locals a happy new year in Thai – “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
- Do smile and have fun Don’ts
- Do not douse monks, babies or the elderly
- Do not drive when you have been drinking
- Do not throw water with ice or dirty water
- Do not throw water at motorcyclists, to prevent road accidents