Songkran is the Thai New Year’s national holiday. It is celebrated every year on April 13th for 3 to 5 days, because of course, the Thai people don’t want the party to end. It is a huge festival where streets are closed down to allow for the massive amounts of celebrating and water fights that happen throughout the country.
For anyone planning to attend Thailands most famous festival, you can expect ice cold water thrown on you for 3 days.
This is my simple guide on How to survive Songkran in Chiang Mai. But before we begin, here is a brief history on Songkran.
Songkran, deriving from Sanskrit,means to shift or to move. It is when the sun moves from one zodiac sign into another which means the Songkran actually happens 12 times a year.
However, Songkran is celebrated when the sun shifts from Pisces to Aries. This is considered the great Songkran because it signifies the New Year in the Zodiac calendar.
Both the Thais and Buddhists believe that you can cleanse and purify your soul by pouring water over your head. The water is meant to bring you good luck, good health, and prosperity.
They believe water being poured on you will change any bad luck you have had in your past. When Songkran first started as a religious holiday, the Thai people would visit a monk to be purified and have water poured over them. This tradition quickly progressed so that anyone and everyone could pour water on you, therefore cleansing your soul and bringing good luck into your new year.
A giant water festival began throughout the country and has slowly started to bring in tourists from around the world. Beware if you visit Thailand during this time, you will get wet.
Best Spots In Chiang Mai To Celebrate
If you are coming to Thailand to celebrate Songkran, the place you want to be is in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai holds the largest and best spots to celebrate the festival. But you can’t celebrate the festival from just anywhere in Chiang Mai, there are certain spots that you can’t miss! Here are the best places to celebrate the festival in Chiang Mai.
- East Gate
- Thapae Gate
- MAYA Shopping Center
- Drive around in the back of Truck or TukTuk
- Anywhere around the moat
- Nimmanhaemin Road
- Soi Loi Khor Street
Is It Kid Friendly
Not only is the festival kid-friendly, but it is also the perfect event to bring your kids to. I like to compare it to the USA version of Halloween, except better. This holiday was made for for the kid in all of us. Not only do the local kids come out to play, but they will be the ones chasing you down the street with their water gun.
Do’s And Don’ts Of Songkran
- Have Fun!
- Carry a bucket or water gun. Everyone is super friendly and will let you refill your water gun at their station or camp. They are also tons of bars with ice-cold buckets full of water that are free for anyone to use or refill.
- Keep your valuables at your hostel or hotel or in a waterproof bag. No matter how hard you try, you will be drenched. It is better to be safe than sorry!
- Wear a Hawaiian Shirt. You will see everyone dressed up in them. You can buy one ahead of time or buy one while you are there.
- Wear protective eyewear and/or mask. You are going to have water thrown on you from all directions, and some of the water is dirty and has been known to cause pink eye.
- Wear clothes you don’t mind leaving behind after the festival
- Open your mouth (You don’t know where all the water is coming from, a lot of it will come from the moat, which is dirty!!!)
- Monks, Elderly Women, and babies are off-limits, everyone else is fair game.
- Don’t shoot at people’s faces
- Don’t shoot at people eating
- Walk around in a Bikini or without a shirt. It is a religious festival, remember to respect the locals and their culture.
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There aren’t many rules with Songkran in Chiang Mai, which is why it makes it the best and largest water festival in the world. Everyone comes out to have a good time and is super friendly.
Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals, or hop in the back of someone’s truck and tag along for a water fight tour. Songkran is all about making new friends and interacting with the locals.
Remember to enjoy it, it can get tiring after 3 days of not being able to leave your hostel or hotel and remain dry.
You will have wet clothes that won’t dry in time for you to use them again. Unless you like putting on wet clothes, it is smart to have two outfits that you can switch between, you will get wet as soon as you leave your hotel or hostel.
It is best if you want to remain dry to either stay in your hostel or hotel or get a taxi to and from where you are going. Taxis will be prepared for Songkran and their interiors will be covered in plastic. If you are looking for activities to do in Chaing Mai check out the perfect Chaing Mai itinerary.
If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out my blog on Oktoberfest.
Are you ready to book your flight for next year’s Songkran?