During Songkran in Bangkok, you can see that having fun is a big part of Thai culture – having fun amid scorching heat is no exception. As the hottest month of the year, April sees the entire country go bananas in friendly water fights and street parties that last nearly a week.

Most office buildings, banks, as well as family-run shops and restaurants, shut down completely during Songkran, while big shopping malls usually remain open. Bangkok experiences a mass exodus, as at least half of its residents travel back to their home towns for family reunions. In their place are travelers, who fly into Bangkok particularly to enjoy one of the most colorful and festive times of the year.

Note: Songkran in Thailand is officially observed 3 days as a national holiday, and although the government may announce varying official dates, it is usually between the 13th and 15th of April. Even so, celebrations often last an entire week!

What is Songkran?

Songkran is the occasion for family reunions, temple visits and annual house cleaning. Many Thais observe the holidays by spending time with families and friends. Traditionally, Thais perform the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual on the 1st day of Songkran, which is officially National Elderly Day. During the ritual, young people would pour fragrant water into the elders’ palms as a gesture of humility and ask for their blessings.

The 2nd day of Songkran is officially National Family Day. Families would wake up early and give alms to the monks, then ideally the rest of the day would be spent sharing quality family time together. An important religious ritual on Songkran is ‘Bathing the Buddha image’, in which devout Buddhists pour fragrant water over Buddha statues both at the temple and at home. More religious Thais would engage themselves in Buddhist ceremonies and merit-making activities throughout the holidays.

Check our dedicated article about Songkran - Thai Traditional New Year

Symbolism of water

Fun-loving Thais don’t just throw water at each other for no good reason (besides having a kick out of seeing other people soaking wet). The real meaning behind the splashes is to symbolically wash off all misfortunes in the past year, thus welcoming the new year with a fresh start.

Traditionally, Thais would politely pour a bowl of water on members of the family, their close friends and neighbours. As Songkran has taken a more festive note, a bowl becomes a bucket, garden hose and water guns, and the spirit of holiday merriment is shared among all town residents and tourists.

When is Songkran in Bangkok?

Before Thailand adopted the international New Year’s Day in 1940, Songkran was calculated based on the solar calendar, which varied from one year to the next. Now Songkran in Bangkok is from 13th to 15th April every year. Depending on where you are in the country, the dates and period of festivities may vary.

What to do during Songkran festival in Bangkok?

1. Join the water fight on the street

Khao San Road and Silom road are the backpacking heart of Bangkok. The roads are filled with revellers, both foreign and Thai, during Songkran. The huge street party features lots of water and lots of booze. Crowded and frenetic, the two roads are the place to go if you want to hit the crowds armed with a cocktail bucket and a water gun. Loud music blares from the bars and spirits are high.

2. Watch traditional performances at Sanam Luang

Sanam Luang is a great place for cultural Songkran fun away from the hectic streets. The large public square, located in front of the Grand Palace, is a hive of activity, with performances and ceremonies that showcase Thai culture, heritage, and values. Expect shadow puppetry, Muay Thai demonstrations, mask dancing, music, traditional costumes, and more. A highly revered Buddha statue is brought out of the National Museum too, with people praying and showing their respect to the image by sprinkling water on it and leaving offerings.

3. Beauty pageants and food fairs in the Wisutkasat area

A Miss Songkran Beauty contest is often held in the Wisutkasat area during Songkran, accompanied by merit-making, a parade and other fun activities. Food, as is always customary in Thailand, also features high on the agenda, with many mouthwatering seasonal treats available in hotels, restaurants, and from food vendors on every soi or street. Look out for special Songkran menus at some hotels and restaurants.

4. Visit sacred temples

See the traditional side of Songkran with a temple visit. While you can stop into any local temple and you’ll find people paying their respects to the Buddha images, washing the statues, and honouring monks, there are nine major temples that attract substantial numbers of people. Some Thais will even visit all nine of these top temples in the one day, hopping between each to make merit and trying to secure good luck for the year ahead.

Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho, Wak Saket (the Golden Mount), and Wat Suthat (near the giant swing) are all well-known temples that are popular places to visit at Songkran. Wat Bowornniwet and Wat Chana Songkhram often don’t make tourist’s itineraries, but they’re well worth visiting during the Thai New Year. On the Thonburi side of the river, Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn), Wat Kalayanamit, and Wat Rakhang are also very active over Songkran.

5. Cool down at a pool party

Many hotels arrange Songkran pool parties, where the emphasis is more on having fun and cooling down in the sun rather than hurling water around. Each offers something different, so check what kind of vibe you’re after before buying tickets. Some pool parties are fairly posh, others are manic! Most feature great music, BBQs and other delicious food, and cocktails.

6. Escape the crowds in the malls

Bangkok’s malls are still open for business over the festive period and offer the perfect places to escape the crowded streets and stay dry in air-conditioned comfort. Shop till you drop and visit the food courts for delicious feasts. Some malls have special displays and activities too. Asiatique is particularly known for its Songkran events.

Where to join the most CRAZY WATER FIGHT in Bangkok?

1. Khao San Road

Here at Khao San Road, enjoy the wild water at its full swing! Even if there might be no foam parties and EDM stages, Khao San Road is still well and truly open for all Songkran celebrators to splash about!

Having been one of the most legendary destinations to celebrate Songkran in Bangkok for more than four decades, it is no surprise that the legendary Khao San Road is on this list. Celebrating Songkran at Khao San Road is one of the things you must try!

Newcomers would keep joining and filling the roadway into the night. Its eclectic charm and atmosphere certainly make it a much-beloved place to celebrate Songkran for both locals and foreigners.

  • Pros: Tourists’ most popular choice/ No entrance fee/ Nearby BTS skytrain stations: Chong Nonsri and Saladaeng
  • Cons: Need to be extra careful about pickpockets

2. Silom Road

Similarly to Khao San Road, Songkran celebrations in Silom was toned down in 2019 due to the coronation events. However, that does not mean you’ll have to reload your water guns elsewhere in 2021. Silom Road still welcomes everyone to celebrate, but we will have to follow the news on the prospect of any EDM or foam parties in Silom for Songkran this year.

Silom is located right in Bangkok’s CBD. As a result, you will see many kinds of people from different ages ranging from children and their parents, employees, and even night workers. At noon, people start to gather up and celebrate.

From my personal experience, the only downside to celebrating Songkran in Silom is that there can be a lot of people, and when I say a lot, it really is A LOT. So, grab your sunglasses, because you will be shot with water guns non-stop!

  • Pros: Locals’ most popular choice/ No entrance fee/ Nearby BTS skytrain stations: Chong Nonsri and Saladaeng
  • Cons: Need to be extra careful about pickpockets

3. RCA

For those who are looking to dance at the wildest Songkran parties in Bangkok in 2021, RCA is the place to be! Every year, it holds the coolest events combining clubbing and water fights together. Each club brings you your favorite DJs/ singers, both international and Thai to their own yards. So, here is your chance to party all night long!

The biggest event in RCA is called S20 Songkran festival (postponed to 2021), where they have different DJ lineups for 3 nights, so you will feel like you are in a music + water festival. Or, if you are into more-of international beats, grab the ticks for SIAM Songkran Music festival. If you love partying, give RCA a chance, and you will thank us later!

F.Y.I., early birds catch the worms, as Thais often go to reserve tables around 4-5 p.m. because all the tables will be booked and taken as fast as a blink of an eye. Trust me, if you are going to an event of this kind with your mates, you need to be there early to get a table. Your lives would be much easier and very convenient during the party!

  • Pros: Party lovers’ most popular choice/ Age 20+
  • Cons: Entrance fees are varied depending on each club, venue, and DJ lineup/ Hard to catch a taxi or motorcycle when leaving

4. Siam Square

Siam is not only known for all the huge, famous department stores, but Siam is also the main hub for tutoring schools and is where all the college students mingle. No wonder, you will find tons of teens celebrating Songkran in the Siam area. During the water festival, only the big malls in the area such as Siam Paragon, Siam Center, MBK, and Central World are open. However, all the shops in Siam Square (locals call it a no air-con/ hot zone) are closed so that visitors can enjoy the fun to the max. Here, you can dip yourself in the foam party as well!

  • Pros: Teens’ most popular choice/ No entrance fee/ Nearby BTS Siam Station
  • Cons: Need to be extra careful about pickpocket.

5. Ratchada Soi 4

Located nearby MRT Rama 9 station and not too far from RCA, Ratchadapisek Soi 4 is another clubbing venue turned into water fight parties. It is just like RCA, but with more affordable prices for entrance fees and drinks. The venue is packed with party animals and crazy dancers. If you are tired of the crowd in RCA, then Ratchada Soi 4 is your perfect alternative!

  • Pros: Party lovers’ choice/ Nearby MRT Rama 9 Station/ Age 20+
  • Cons: Entrance fees are varied depend on each club, venue, and DJ lineup/ Hard to catch a taxi or motorcycle when leaving

Dos & Don’ts during Songkran in Bangkok

Do’s

  • Give alms and make merit (or just witness the rituals if you are not a Buddhist)
  • Use waterproof bags to protect your valuables
  • Watch your belongings
  • Use public transport if you're heading to one of the Songkran ‘hotspots’, as traffic will be paralysed
  • Try wishing the locals a happy new year in Thai – “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
  • Smile and have fun

Don’ts

  • Douse monks, babies or the elderly
  • Drive when you've been drinking
  • Throw water with ice or dirty water
  • Throw water at motorcyclists (it can cause accidents)

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So, how are you going to spend your Songkran in Bangkok? Visit the sacred temples or join the water fight on Khaosan Road? Whatever you prefer, book your Thailand holiday early before it is all booked out.

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My name is Jolie, I am a Vietnamese girl growing up in the countryside of Hai Duong, northern Vietnam. Since a little girl, I was always dreaming of exploring the far-away lands, the unseen beauty spots of the world. My dream has been growing bigger and bigger day after day, and I do not miss a chance to make it real. After graduating from the univesity of language in Hanoi, I started the exploration with a travel agency and learning more about travel, especially responsible travel. I love experiencing the different cultures of the different lands and sharing my dream with the whole world. Hope that you love it too!

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