The Songkran Water Festival is one of the most celebrated events in Thailand, with roots stemming from Buddhism, but fun for any and all who want to join in. Traditionally, the holiday lasts three days, with each region taking on it’s own set of festivities (some more religious and culturally grounded, some more a big party, others somewhere in between). We checked out Phuket, an island off the coast of southern Thailand, that draws a large traveler crowd keen on partaking in the massive water fight that breaks out.
Must know – about songkran
- Songkran is celebrated every year from April 13th – April 15th.
- The history of Songkran: Songkran began as a cleansing ceremony, using water as a way to symbolically wash away any bad luck following you from the year ending, giving space to replace it with good luck for the year ahead. Pouring water on the heads of Thai elders was a way to honor this, but has evolved over the years into a massive water fight as it has gained popularity, and others have started to partake. Note: Public transportation and many restaurants often close during this time, so if planning to visit for the festival, it’s advised to arrive before the 13th, and stay through the 16th so you don’t run into any hiccups with your travel plans.
- Given it’s Buddhism origin, there is also a religious element attached, so you’ll likely see ceremonies being led by monks throughout the island.
- Various events are held durging the celebration which you can find more about online or at your hotel.
What you’ll find in Phuket
- Locals young and old come out to celebrate. You’ll notice mothers with babies, toddlers, elders, and everyone in between, out and armed with some sort of soaking mechanism.
- The water thrown by locals is often scented with Thai fragrances. It’s believed to be good luck as they use the water to also wash shrines in their homes, Buddha statues, and temples.
- Travelers come in from all over the world (though, we found, predominately from Australia).
- Thai people will run up to spread baby powder on your face. This is one of the oldest Songkran traditions, meant as a gesture to ward off evil.
- Bangla Road: This road closes down to traffic for the day, opening it up to become the most popular water fight battle field.
- Festivities on the beach: A large stage is erected on the beach where you’ll find entertainment ranging from singing and dancing, to a beauty pageant, all day long.
Must know – phuket songkran celebration tips
- Water guns: These will be for sale everywhere, but you shouldn’t pay more than 300 Baht for one. Do make sure to get the 5500 or greater, as anything less won’t arm you well enough for the fight!
- Refilling your water gun: There are numerous places to refill your water along the streets but you will be charged (usually 10 Baht per gun), but if you go to one of the many bars along Bangla Street, you’ll have free access to their water as long as you buy a beer or two.
- Get going early: You’ll get the most out of your experience if you get started early. More of the local people will be out and about then, and Bangla Street won’t be overcrowded. Later in the day, the action can become slightly more intense, so if you’d like to avoid that scene, you can head to the beach where you’ll find live entertainment, parasailing, and jet skis to rent.
- Beer/Drinks: You’ll find beer for sale along the streets, but it will all be significantly marked up (100 Baht for one beer). You can instead go to the MiniMarts and buy your own beer (which are usually cooler anyway!) for 40 Baht each.
Note: This article offers great information on how each region celebrates, highlighting the cities who have organized festival , to help you find the area that’s right for you.