Songkran is known as an annual festival, which is also one of Thai New Year traditions, usually takes place in April. This is also called Songkran water festival, where people splash and pour water as a way to wash away all the bad luck and negative things. Some big cities celebrate Songkran festival day on the streets, where thousands of people join the water fight or Songkran pool party together. Today let’s dig into the water festival traditions in Chiang Mai.
When is Songkran 2022 in Chiang Mai?
One of the big cities that celebrate Songkran as the most important festival of the year is Chiang Mai. Traditionally, Songkran in Thailand will be held in 13th – 15th April. The festival officially lasts 3 days long but actually it can last for a week. In Chiang Mai, the first water fight happens already on the 12th and the whole week after that day people celebrate many cultural activities together. On the 13th, Songkran celebrations kick off early in the morning and keep going till late night in the 15th, which means Songkran in Chiang Mai starts one day early than traditional Songkran.
Some main activities of Songkran in Chiang Mai
Tourists coming to Chiang Mai these days feel so excited and expect a lot of fun in the water fight. Especially in 2016, when Songkran was held from 12th– 15th April and coincided with the 720th anniversary of the founding of Chiang Mai, the festival was an unforgettable memory for those joining the celebration that day. On the first day, the anniversary was celebrated at the Three Kings monument in the old city of Chiang Mai. The next day, the local give alms to the Buddhist monks and Songkran officially began at Thapae Gate. And not only was the water fight expected, the unique part of Chiang Mai culture – a beauty contest and a building sand castles activity were also interesting traditions of Chiang Mai. In the afternoon, the fun began from Naowarat Bridge to Thapae gate. At least 40 beautiful Buddha images from Chiang Mai’s temples were carried in a march to be sparkled by locals, so were the elders. At the same time on the streets, people sprayed and splashed water to celebrate Songkran party.
And this year, there will be some interesting activities that welcome both locals and tourists:
1. Visit temples
It’s Thai New Year and people will go visit the temple to pray for a good year, give donations and perform some cultural rituals. There are many attractive and historic temples in Chiang Mai that you should visit to understand more about Thai culture.
2. Give alms to the monks
As one of Thai New Year traditions, people seek for merit and blessing by giving alms to the monks. You can see early in the morning there will be the monks walking the street in their saffron robes and collecting alms from locals.
3. Watch the Buddha march
Buddha statues are brought from Chiang Mai’s temples and paraded through the street. Meanwhile, Buddhist will gently sprinkle water on the statues as a way to symbolize cleansing and to show respect, hoping for a lucky year ahead.
4. Join the party
You might not want to miss the time when people celebrate Songkran with many small parties that make one huge party. And the atmosphere will be more exciting with DJs and street stalls selling food and any water equipment you need for your water battle.
5. Take a Tuk – Tuk tour
If you are tired of walking through a long street, you can grab a Tuk – Tuk and have a ride on Chiang Mai streets. Some people choose to bring a water gun and splash water at each other on the street while they are riding on a Tuk – Tuk.
6. The water fight
Thai people believe that throwing themselves into the water can end all the bad things in the previous year and by splashing water, they are able to clean their bodies and souls, prepare for an upcoming year with joy and fortune. Hanging out these days, you will see there is water splash at every corner. The locals from kids to youngsters, and even parents, elders are having fun joining the water fight. Don’t be surprised if a totally stranger foreigner like you can receive a whole ice bucket by a local and be welcomed to splash them back. At Songkran party, foreigners are treated like family, you can go out there, bring along some water balloon or a water gun and be ready to get wet. Moreover, there will be plenty of foam machines that make the party more exciting.
Fun as it might be, but you should note something below to make sure you understand this traditional day of Thailand:
- DO wear masks, of course. This not only keeps you but also others safe.
- DO stay cool! It’s the water fight so if you don’t want to get wet, you can stay home. But when you go out and being splashed right away, just be patient and walk by because you can’t stay dry in a water fight. However, if you love Songkran, just go for it, grab a water bucket and get wet with the crowd!
- DON’T wear your best clothes. These days in Chiang Mai, your choice of costumes should be simple and comfortable since you are going to be wet anyway.
- DO protect your private properties like ID, mobile phones and your wallets. Make sure you keep it somewhere safe or have them in a plastic zip lock bag, it can be bought at any convenient stores or you can ask your hotel or guesthouse, they often get a supply for their guests.
- DO play nice. Being in a water fight and dump water into each other is fun, but be careful with elders and children around you while you are playing.
- DO avoid driving cars and motorbike. The celebrations are everywhere as it is Thai New Year, so there might be some drunk drivers and this is also the time when most traffic accidents happen.
- DON’T swallow water, especially from water pistols since there have been a lot of people facing stomach problem because of the water they drink.
- DON’T throw water to the drivers. It’s all about fun at Songkran party but make sure you don’t go overboard and cause accident on the street.
- DO respect. It’s water splash and you might get wet anyway but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to wear only a bikini and go out. Songkran is one of Thai traditions and you should respect them.
Check out a more comprehensive Dos and Don’ts guide during Songkran or read more actual tips from other tourists.
Where do they celebrate Songkran 2022 in Chiang Mai?
Songkran is everywhere. But there are some big places that are worthwhile to check out:
- For the traditional parade and events, Three Kings Monument in the center of the Old City is a place where you can see the Miss Songkran election.
- For the official Songkran procession, check out the Charoenmuang Road that lies near the Narawat Bridge to observe the Buddha statues carried through the street and people sprinkle them gently, giving merit and wishing for the best in the new year.
- Last but not least, for the water fight, you can jump on the street and splash water right away or go to some big landmarks like Tha Pae Gate and Maya Mall. There will be water splash, foam machines, DJs playing high volume music and street stalls selling every weapon you want to get in the water battle.
With Thailand reopening for tourists, Songkran 2022 in Chiang Mai will surely be one of the hottest event in Thailand.