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Tata Capital > Blog > Loan for Travel > What is the Songkran Festival in Thailand?

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What is the Songkran Festival in Thailand?

What is the Songkran Festival in Thailand?

Welcome to Songkran - Thailand’s New Year! This annual celebration in Thailand is all about joy, unity, and renewal. The three-day festival is synonymous with epic water fights where friendly splashes turn strangers into friends, and laughter echoes as negativity washes away.

While the water fights might be the most attractive part of celebrating Songkran, the festival in Thailand is much more than that. Grab your water gun, wear your brightest grin, and get ready to read about the spirit of Songkran!

The water festival's origins: Songkran meaning

Songkran’s origins lie in ancient agricultural societies, marking the transition from dry to rainy seasons. Its name, from Sanskrit, means “to enter” or “to pass through.” It is rooted in Brahmanical and Buddhist traditions and signifies celestial renewal and spiritual cleansing.

For Brahmins, it aligns with the vernal equinox, symbolising the sun's shift to Aries. Buddhists engage in merit-making and cleansing by pouring water over Buddha statues and monks' hands, reflecting purification, and shedding of past sins.

Tradition meets celebration: Songkran's cultural fusion

1. Rod Nam Dum Hua: This revered tradition involves pouring scented water with Nam Ob over the hands of elders, accompanied by heartfelt wishes for health, happiness, and prosperity. Elders bless their children with jasmine garlands. It's a gesture of respect and gratitude that strengthens familial and societal bonds.

2. Chedi Sai: Intricate sand sculptures known as "chedi sai" or sand pagodas are created at temples and community spaces. These ephemeral masterpieces symbolise impermanence and the transient nature of life, encouraging reflection on Buddhist teachings.

3. Releasing fish: A poignant act of compassion, releasing fish into rivers or ponds is believed to accrue merit and bring good fortune. It's a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings and the importance of kindness towards animals.

4. Din sor pong: It is a cooling talcum powder paste derived from limestone. This paste, often scented with fragrant herbs, is gently applied to revellers' faces as a symbol of blessing and good wishes. The refreshing sensation of din sor pong adds to the sensory experience of Songkran, creating a contrast to the splashes of water.

Waves of celebration: Three-day festivities

Day 1 (Maha Songkran): The first day starts with reverence and devotion. Families gather at temples to offer alms to monks. Adding a delightful twist to the day is Song Nam Phra, where fragrant water infused with Nam Ob perfume is poured over the Buddha. This act symbolises purification and aspiration for a peaceful year ahead. Remember, it's the gentle pour on the Buddha's torso, not the head.

Day 2 (Wan Nao/Little New Year): As the festivities continue, families focus on strengthening bonds and honouring ancestors. The air fills with the enticing aroma of home-cooked delights as families prepare offerings for monks and temples. Families enjoy the Rot Nam Dam Hua ceremony, crafting sand stupas, and exchanging fragrant jasmine garlands during Songkran.

Day 3 (Wan Thaloeng Sok/Family Day): The final day of Songkran in Thailand is dedicated to acts of compassion and community service. Many Thais engage in charitable activities, such as offering meals to monks or donating to those in need. This day serves as a reminder of the importance of kindness and generosity in fostering harmony within society.

Navigating the waters: Dos and don'ts of the festival


1. Arm yourself with a water gun; being soaked is the new chic!

2. Wear colourful clothes as your water battle armour.

3. Protect your skin with sunscreen

4. Be kind and respect boundaries

5. Keep a water bottle to hydrate yourself and wash off din sor pong

6. Walk or use public transport

7. Greet locals and elders with a cheerful "Sawasdee bee mai" or "Suk san wan Songkran" to earn smiles and warm welcomes!


1. Forget water-resistant gear unless you plan on sacrificing your gadgets to the water gods

2. Wear white

3. Splash water on non-participants like monks, babies, pregnant women, and elders

4. Use ice or dirty water

5. Go shirtless, you can get arrested

6. Pay for water

7. Splash after dark

8. Be shy; join dance-offs and water-themed games!

Top place in Thailand for the Songkran experience?

1. Bangkok: Dive into the heart of action and excitement as Bangkok transforms into a water warfare zone. Iconic spots like Khao San Road and Silom have become epicentres for water fights and festivities. Immerse yourself in the fun with major music festivals like S20 Festival, featuring renowned DJs, adding a thrilling vibe to the celebrations.

2. Chiang Mai: Chiang Mai holds a special charm for Thailand water festival enthusiasts. Tourists flock to the charming Old Town, where vibrant water fights and lively parties fill the streets. Don't miss the energetic atmosphere at bars along Ratvithi Road, including the infamous Zoe in Yellow, making Chiang Mai a top pick for experiencing the official three days of Songkran merriment.

3. Phuket: Blend beach vibes with festive fervour in Phuket! Songkran parties dot the city, but the real action unfolds at Patong Beach and Bangla Walking Street. Join tourists and locals in water-filled revelries. After sunset, explore Phuket's renowned nightlife scene at clubs like Iluzion for an unforgettable experience.

4. Koh Samui: Experience a unique Songkran blend of traditional celebrations and island serenity on Koh Samui. Amidst beautiful beaches, enjoy water play and beachfront parties while indulging in peaceful escapes and local delights. Koh Samui offers a harmonious mix of festive vibes and relaxation.

5. Pattaya: Pattaya takes the Thailand water festival to new heights, celebrating from April 13 to April 19, with the legendary Wan Lai Festival stealing the spotlight on April 19. Dive into water fights, beachfront parties, and concerts along Pattaya Beach Road and Walking Street. From adults to families, Pattaya's diverse and vibrant celebrations cater to all, making it a must-visit Songkran destination.

So, whether you're dodging water splashes or indulging in traditional customs, be sure to bask in the sun, sand, and Songkran festivals spectacles in the land of smiles! As you plan your adventure, remember that Tata Capital offers personal loans for travel, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience.

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