carrying too many people and tubs of water – anyone whose been to Thailand during Songkran will know that pickup trucks cruise around trying to find people to drench with water - cars, motorcycles, pedestrians… anyone, in fact. Although well intended, it’s a dangerous thing to do, and it won’t be missed.
So, what’s left? Well, plenty! Aside from the usual faire of people splashing water at each other, this year events such as he 9 Temple Tour will give visitors a greater insight into the traditional meaning of the festival. You get a passport and you get a stamp at each of these temples Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Suthat, Wat Saket, Wat Bowonniwet, Wat Chanasongkram, Wat Rakung, Wat Arun and Wat Kalayanamitr. Take the tour and not only will you make merit, you are going to meet some nice people and get to see some great parts of Bangkok. The tour takes place around the Rattanakosin Island on 2-15 April 2008 between 09.00-18.00.
Khao San Road in Bangkok is one of the key places people congregate for Songkran. This year the TAT and vendors and hotels in the area have got together to present a number of activities for visitors. Right now the 'Dress Traditional Thai' Songkran Celebrations are taking place – as the name suggests you’ll see people in traditional Thai costumes celebrating Songkran in traditional style. This goes on until 12 April 2008 and from 17.00 to 18.00. The opening ceremony to all the events takes place then too, while the Khao San Road Songkran Procession takes place April 13, 2008 from 08.30 to10.30.
Other key areas for Songkran in Bangkok include Siam Square, Silom Road and Sukhumvit Road. In addition, a lot of the big department stores have embraced the festival – Central World on Ratchadamri Road looks pretty geared up with its very well advertised “Splashy Songkran FEST” running April 12- 14, 2008. Just down the road the Bangkok Songkran Music Festival at Siam Paragon offers masses of local bands spread over 13, 14 and 15 April. This could be a “less wet” alternative to the usual revelry. It’s unlikely to be totally dry though!
Although Bangkok is probably the place most visitors experience Songkran, this is a national festival and there’s plenty going on around the kingdom! Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is traditionally recognized as the best place to experience Songkran, not least for the unique cultural aspects the area brings to festival and the ‘exuberance’ of the crowds. The “Chiang Mai Water Festival” takes place 13-15 April 2008 with the opening ceremony on 12 April 2008. Expect art shows, parades, and performances alongside the usual fun.
It’s not well known that water festivals are not just bound to Thailand - there are similar festivals in other regional countries, and Songkran itself is actually also enjoyed in Laos. If you are in “Issan” (the northeast of Thailand) from 13-17 April 2008, enjoy the unique Thai-Laos Water Festival in Nong Khai.
In the east of Thailand, Pattaya, is probably where most western visitors outside Bangkok experience Songkran. The Pattaya Water Festival takes place a bit later here – 17-20 April 2008… so when you have finished elsewhere you can head to Pattaya for more! Southern Thailand is by no means exempt from the festival – the Ranong Mineral Water Festival takes place 12-15 April 2008 and Hat Yai Midnight Songkran takes place 12-14 April 2008.
This year the TAT has set up a website dedicated to Songkran which provides an excellent overview of everything that’s happening over Songkran. Catch Songkran.net right here.
Wherever you are in Thailand enjoy a fun, safe Sonkran 2008!
Click here for Thailand hotels...