Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year.
This is the time for Thai to pay homage to Buddha imaged, clean
their houses and sprinkle water on their elders in a show of
respect. Anyone who ventures out on the street is likely to get
a through dousing of water, all in good fun, but also quite
welcome at the peak of the hot season. Chiang Mai is famous for
the Songkran parades and beauty contests.
This Songkran Festival tour gives you the ideal overview about
the people and culture of North Thailand and a combination of
cultural highlights and soft adventure under professional
Songkran or the water festival is well-known worldwide as one of
the most striking celebrations of this country which features
water splashing. Wherever Songkran celebrations take place, it
is always full of joy, especially in main tourist cities such as
Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket.
Chiang Mai has organized this festival by dividing the event
into three days -- April 13, 14 and 15, by naming April 13 Wan
Maha Songkran meaning the day marking the end of the old year.
April 14 is called Wan Nao, meaning the first day of the new
year. April 15 is called Wan Thaloeng Sok, or the day marking
the new era.
The highlights of Songkran Day are mostly on April 13. Several
traditional activities are to be done on this day. In order to
completely be part of this festival in this old-culture city and
not to miss a thing, you can use the following instructions as
late in the morning when the amber rays of the sun shine, the
water splashing begins. Strolling around the city on this day,
chances are you will in-escapably get soaked. But if you don't
want to take part, just politely say "mai len khrup"(if you are
male) and "mai len kha"(if you are female). Or you can politely
say "no". The people will understand but may gently pour water,
instead of throwing it, onto your arms or hands as a token of
greetings. This expresses the people's gentleness and
hospitality which has become the symbol of Chiang Mai. In case
you are ready to get wet, be sure to obtain enough water and
utensils like a bowl, a squirt gun or a hose and join the
In the afternoon, prepare scented water to bath Phra Phuttha
Sihing, a revered Buddha image of the north, for a blessing. The
image will be taken in a procession that moves from Wat Phra
Sing to go round Chiang Mai City. You can wait for the
procession on Ratchadamnoen Road leading to Wat Phra Sing.
Moreover, you can see the Songkran Lady's parade that will go
round the city too.
Other activities that Chiang Mai people and the Thais in other
regions will do on this day are to visit their elders in a
family reunion and pour scented water onto their palms to show
respect and ask for blessing. Besides, some will carry sand to a
nearby temple to form sand pagodas, which is believed to be
another way to gain merit and to auspiciously begin the New
During this time, Chiang Mai people will enjoy themselves
splashing water to relieve summer heat. The recommended sites
are the areas around Tha Phae Gate or round the city moats and
along the Ping River
Regarding water splashing, actually it starts on the afternoon
of April 12 and ends on the late afternoon of April 15, which is
the last day of the Songkran public holidays. You will have a
great time. However, there are some do's and don'ts during the
Songkran Festival which you should take into account in order to
conform with the local practice harmoniously.
Loy Krathong (Light Festival)
Thailand's waterways rivers, klongs, even hotel swimming pools
will be ablaze with dazing lights, when the Kingdom celebrates
"Loy Krathong" one of the year's most-awaited festivals.
The annual festival, also celebrated in other neighboring
countries, is held on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month.
Thais place great importance in this event and while the best
celebrations are said to be held in Bangkok, Ayutthaya,
Sukhothai and Chiangmai, the event and while the best
celebrations are said to be held in Bangkok, Ayutthaya,
Sukhothai and Chiangmai, the event is marked with great funfair
all over the Kingdom.
The festival is believed to have its beginnings at least in
Thailand in Sukhothai Province, north of Bangkok, almost 800
years ago. A stone inscription from the Sukhothai Period
describes an ancient Loy Krathong festival : "There are four
main gates in the city of Sukhothai. On festive occasions,
people jam the city to witness the light festival in progress.
It's as if the city would burst."
When the ancient Sukhothai city was restored to its former
splendor as the Historical Park of Sukhothai, efforts were made
to bring back ancient festivals and their legendary festive
atmosphere. This brought back the light festival of Loy Krathong.
It has remained a major attraction since.
"Loy" means to float, and "krathong" means a leaf cup.
This moniker seems apt as most floating objects you see during
Loy Krathong nights are flowers formed like cups, if not
artificial petals that look like cups in many angles.
It is a most colorful festival. In most areas where it is
celebrated, you will see Thai women resplendent in colorful
attire, hair festooned with flowers, and gaily-dressed men, also
fully garbed, gather with floats in their hands wherever there's
As the krathongs meander while making their way downstream,
you'll often see little boys swim to them to retrieve the tiny
cargo of coins before releasing them down the "river of no
Explanation of the festival's significance vary. One belief is
that as the floats embark on their journey, they take with it
the owner's misfortunes. Most Thais also believe the floating of
the krathong is a yearly sloughing off of all the sins and
calamities that have befallen a person.