Songkran, a.k.a. the Water Festival, is the Thai New Year, falling in April, the hottest month of the year in the Southeast Asian country. What’s it all about? It’s more than just the world’s biggest water fight. Check out where to stay and how to have the most fun – while staying safe.
Songkran – the Thai New Year
The Water Festival is celebrated in many Southeast Asian countries including some parts of Southwestern China. In Thailand, it is known as Songkran, or the Thai New Year.
The Water Festival runs from 13 to 15 April in 2019. While it is celebrated throughout Thailand, in some parts of the country, such as Pattaya, it starts early, running up to one week.
Many hotels in Thai beach resorts offer special packages to cater to Songkran celebrants.
They paid their respects to their parents or grandparents by pouring scented water onto their hands and feet.
They also visited Buddhist temples and poured scented water on the hands and feet of monks.
One Great Big Water Fight?
In recent years, Songkran has turned into one great big playful water fight, with locals, expats, and visiting tourists joining in the fun by splashing and/or spraying each other with water.
So why water fights?
Thailand reputedly has only three seasons: hot, hotter, and hottest, and April is absolutely, positively the hottest month of the year in the Land of Smiles.
So water fights are a great – and very fun – way to cool off when temperatures soaring into the stratosphere.
You can celebrate Songkran practically anywhere you go in Thailand, but a few places are better than others.
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Top Five Places to Celebrate Songkran in Thailand
As the Nation’s Capital, Bangkok is one of the best places to celebrate Songkran – the festival seems to grow in popularity each year.
These are supposed to be the best places to enjoy water fights in the Big Mango: Khaosan Road, Silom Road, and Royal City Avenue (RCA).
Ask a Local
I asked people living in Bangkok to recommend the top spots to celebrate Songkran (or to avoid if you want to stay dry). Here are some of their recommendations …
- Siam Square One, Khao San Road and Silom Road for popular for teens. – S.W.
- CentralWorld, Asiatique, Khao San Road, Silom Road. – P.H.
- You’ll get wet wherever you go. If you don’t want to get wet stay in hotel. But I would recommend you get amongst it best time ever. – S.C.
- Yes, I was just thinking that. I got drenched in Soi 8, then I decided to go for a walk up and down the Sukhumvit and various Sois on both sides, and no matter where I went I got clobbered 🙂 As I’ve posted before, I had been unwell and probably not in the mood, but I must admit it looked like a lot of fun. I just warn people not to wear good shoes or clothes. – G.A.
Recommended Bangkok Hotel for Songkran
If I had to choose a hotel to stay at while celebrating Songkran, I’d opt for the Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park!
The reason is simple: it’s got direct access (through the back entrance) to one of Bangkok’s loveliest parks, Benchasiri Park, a.k.a. Queen’s Park.
What better location to celebrate the Thai New Year? You can splash until you’re ready to crash.
Then you can sneak in through the hotel’s back door to your hotel room without having to ride the BTS in your sopping wet clothes!
I spent two nights there, and I also highly recommend the breakfast buffet.
- Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park – 199 Sukhumvit Soi 22, Klong Ton, Klong Toey, Bangkok, Thailand.
Click here for more accommodation ideas …
Hedonistic Pattaya always seems to jump start things. Take Songkran, for example. It always seems to get underway there a couple of days before anywhere else, running a full week.
Ask a Local
I asked people living in Pattaya to recommend the top spots to celebrate Songkran (or to avoid if you want to stay dry). Here are some of their recommendations.
- Pandora Bar (in Central Festival) is a nonstop party on Soi 7, looks like an MTV spring break party from 2001, people think the bar sustains itself yearly based on how much action they get that week. All those bars right there are a madhouse and as said above Soi 6, but a few bars try not to get involved cause those girls still hope to make money. – J.J.
- SoI Six has really become a hotspot in the past few years with all the open bars and increased focus on partying. It’s a total madhouse and a lot of fun. – A.J.
- Farh Curnell Stay in your loom (if you don’t want to be doused). The question is stupid. F. C.
- Soi 6 is the place to go! – G.D.
- I had a blast on Soi 7 close to Beach Road. – K.K.
- Soi 7, Soi Diana, definitely Soi 6. – R.O.
- Brilliant crack in the corner bar soi 6. – K.C.
- If you head outside you can’t avoid it. O.M.
- Soi 8. Say hello to 7 and Peter from me great bar. – P.R.
- Judd SoI six has really become a hotspot in the past few years with all the open bars and increased focus on partying. It’s a total madhouse and a lot of fun. – A.J.
- Corner Bar Soi 7. Packed and great fun. On Beach Road so brilliant. – A.W.
- Soi 7/8 Beach Road, Pattaya. – H. A.
- Soi Honey Street was good last year… Cracking on all week there. – L.W.
- 18 April Naklua… 19 April Beach Road Second Road Soi 7 8. – P.V.
- Go to Soi 6/1… those ladyboys will protect you from the nasty wasty water… 100 baht plus a lady drink will probably be the exchange rate😆 – T.S.
- Soi 6 best street for that. Most girls there inside and want play with you. – N.A.
- Soi 7 best water fights you can have, been going there for years, tried Soi 6 not a patch on Soi 7. – J.W.
- You don’t have to choose. Just enjoy Soi 7-8. When you bored just walk to Soi 6 on Beach Road. Enjoy music live in front of Hard Rock Café. Then go to Soi 6. – D.D.D.
- Soi 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5. Soi.6 and 7 etc. Beach Road Central Festival has a mini rave “motion”. Everywhere 2rd 3rd, every soi sidewalk and nook and cranny. You can’t avoid it unless you stay in.😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 Leave Thailand if you want to stay dry. – C.W
- LK is good for shits and giggles. – A.J.M.
- Soi Honey was good last year… cracking on all week there. – L. W.
- Pattaya is great fun during Songkran. Mind you if you don’t wanna get doused, it might not be the best place to be. 15th – 19th are water days I think. But you won’t get much of a soaking if you sit inside a bar where you will just get wet whetting your whistle 🙂 – S.G.A.
Pattaya Accommodation Options for Songkran
So what better spot to stay during Songkran than the Mercure Pattaya, which has the biggest hotel swimming pool in town?
Click on the following link for more accommodation options in Pattaya …
If you want to celebrate Songkran like a local, you can’t beat Phuket’s Naiyang National Park. You’ll have it practically all to yourself most days.
But on weekends and holidays, this is where the locals come to have picnics with friends and family.
Wouldn’t this be a great spot for a water fight?
Ask a Local …
I asked people living in Phuket to recommend the top spots to celebrate Songkran (or to avoid if you want to stay dry). Here are some of their recommendations.
- Well the most crazy spots are on the beach and all areas around Bangla. If i can give u an advice is to wear a scuba mask when u drive motorbike to avoid water in the eyes. Have fun and be careful on the road 😉 – N.O.
- Best place for a great time is Halfway Inn Soi Kepsub. Bangla is good too in the evening and the following day. But Soi Kepsub is good as you have a united bar army against everyone else. All the bars, massage shops and raids done all over the place…Plus awards for heroism and they feed you to keep energy up. Then night time off to Bangla. There is nowhere at all to stay dry except stay in hotel room for 2 days. As soon as you step outside you will get wet. Any dry person is target number one. The best thing to do is do not use a motorbike at all. Just walk as its safer but also the water fights are all over so you just play all over town. – S.L.
- Otop markets, you are going to get wet no matter where you go. So if you don’t want to get wet stay in your hotel grounds. – Y.R.
- Bangla is crazy, but really anywhere around Phuket is massive. Take a tuk tuk around for some fun! Be prepared to be soaked!! – S.J.
- Bangla Walking Street is the best location. – N.T.B.
- Don’t forget to wear earplugs… The water could be dirty…apart from that,enjoy the fun. – I.L.
- Bangla Road at night time. – P.M.
- Until what date will this festival be taking place? – H.M.W
- April 13-15 – K.F.K.
- Can’t think of anything worse 🤣 – I.R.
Phuket Accommodation Options for Songkran
The consensus is that Bangla Road in Patong is where the action is after dark. The following hotels are located nearby …
- Avista Hideaway Phuket Patong – McGallery by Sofitel
- Grand Mercure Phuket Patong
- Holiday Inn Patong Beach Central
- Hotel Indigo Phuket Patong
- Ibis Phuket Patong
- Swissotel Phuket Patong Beach
If you want to escape the crowds and have a more quiet celebration, you might want to consider a resort with a private beach such as the Phuket Marriott Resort and Spa, Nai Yang Beach, where an endless swimming pool awaits.
I spent two nights at the resort and not did it have a tremendous sense of privacy, it also had several food and beverage outlets, a sumptuous spa, a gym, and a swimming pool that went on for days.
4. Chiang Mai
Nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a bit cooler than other popular Thai travel destinations, but it also has some of the hottest Songkran celebrations in the kingdom.
Ask a Local
I asked people living in Chiang Mai to recommend the top spots to celebrate Songkran (or to avoid if you want to stay dry). Here are some of their recommendations.
- I’d like to get a power washer on the back of a pickup 😆 – H.Z.
- Everywhere … Chiang Mai becomes one big water fight. – P.T.
- Best place is anywhere around the moat. And … there is nowhere that you won’t get soaked. Enjoy. I have a great time. Also, respect the importance for Thai people. – M.M.
- After sundown, the craziness will stop in all but nightlife spots. – S.M.U.
- When was the last time you were in CM during Songkran? Yes around 10 pm it stops but try walking or driving around the moat before that and you will be drenched. – M.H.
- The further outside the city and along roads like the Super Hwy, Outer and Middle Ring Rd are the safest. – S.S.
- This is probably one of the best spots. It’s the old Chiang Mai-Lumphun Rroad. The trees provide shade so it’s a lot of fun. – J.M.
- So far, I’ve made it through two Songkrans in Chiang Mai without so much as a drop of water landing on me. I traversed almost the entire city in a tuk-tuk during one of those… it is entirely possible to avoid having corpse-ridden moat water sprayed in your face if you want to. But if you want to seek it out – go to the moat. There will be thousands of people lining up to catch the latest craze in bacterial infections with you. – N.N.
- First year here I got typhus. Now we lay in a lot of food and DVDs and put up a roadblock on our dead end street. This year we left Thailand completely. With the smoke never been so glad to have made that decision. Back in June. – M.H.
- Stupid festival. I wish I cd be somewhere else… – M.V.
- I have a pair of tickets available for SongKran. I’ll sell them to you at face value, 10,000B each. 😁 – D.S.
- Can discount? – G.G.
- No but i will throw in a pair of used water guns and an expired half bottle of ear infection drops. – D.S.
- Good luck going anywhere without getting a bucket of water in the face lmao. – H.K.
- Yes its great. – M.M.
- There is no place you can avoid getting soaked… but tons of fun! Enjoy! – B.C.
- I tend to avoid around the moat, moat water in the face is not that healthy. – M.K.W.
- Good for the immune system. – I.M.
- Tha Phae Road is a good place to be to get wet. They use water from the main supply and you can also watch the parade. – R.L.
- If you hole up in a street side restaurant somewhere you can watch people get soaked, enjoy yourself and have a few beers…without getting soaked yourself.
- I enjoy the festival, but I can’t stand 3 days constantly soaked haha. – A.P.
- Get something to put your phone into unless it’s waterproof. Most hazardous I’d say is when people throw buckets of water at passing motorcyclists. – D.S.
- Some of you are right miserable f&%$#s Songkran is the best 💦💦💦 – S.S.
- Your just a newbie Scotty after 10 years or more here its a pain in the ass. – G.C.
- When I came to Thailand in 2016 I had no clue about Song Kran. No one told me about it. I had a lady dump a bucket of water on me which resulted in my phone malfunctioning for 2 weeks and my wallet bleeding black ink into hundreds of dollars of US currency. It was infuriating. It’s fun when you know ahead of time and are a willing participant but when you suffer damages due to the festival it sucks. No one accepts black US bills in case you’re wondering. –K.S.
- Agreed, Scotty. Wahhh I visited somewhere with an awesome holiday and different culture than mine. Boo hoo. – T.C.
- if you visit Pamplona (Spain) in July I hope you get some info by yourself before going – as everyone do when traveling to a new place; the surprise there would be funnier than a soaked phone and notes… – A.R.R.
- Tomato Fight Festival? Ha ha. – S.S.
- I’m no newbie, 9 years, and I love it. I see miserable old f&*)$@s wearing the same clothes day in and day out for years on end in Chiang Mai, and complaining when the temperature tops 25°c. A bit of water wouldn’t go a miss for them to be fair. – A.P.
Chiang Mai Accommodation Options for Songkran
Click on the following link for accommodation options in Chiang Mai …
5. Koh Samui
Chaweng Beach is going to be where most of the action is in Koh Samui.
Ask a Local
I asked people living in Koh Samui to recommend the top spots to celebrate Songkran. LOL! Some of the people responding suggested celebrating it in other parts of Thailand!
- Pattaya goes on for a week and on the last day of the celebration in which the Thais name it “Wan Lai” (last day), go to Beach Road. All the hotels and beach resorts will have events going on all day long stretching for almost 2km or maybe longer with fun filled celebrations. – B.T.
- Chiang Mai the best in my opinion. Goes for several days, unlike 1 or 2 days elsewhere. – S.F.
- U can’t hide. If u don’t want to get wet stay in your hotel all day. Everywhere is a big party don’t matter where you are. The biggest is in Bangkok. – T.B.
- Khon Kaen (a city in Northern Thailand) is the best. – C.W.
Koh Samui Accommodation Options for Songkran
Click of the following link for accommodation options in Koh Samui …
Thai Weather in April
April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand. The average daily high in Bangkok is 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). The average nightly low is 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit).
Thailand also see a lot of rain in April. In Bangkok, there is a 32% chance of rain, which makes it much rainier than March.
But April is not the wettest month of the year. The rainy season runs from May or June to October.
How to Enjoy Songkran
Songkran is supposed to be fun, but some celebrants get carried away. Adding menthol to water, for example, is not unheard of.
Some celebrants throw ice cubes or hot water – definitely not advised!
Another common problem is pollution. The water thrown at Songkran is often stagnant so eye infections sometimes result. Why not wear swimming goggles?
There are also many accidents because of slippery sidewalks and roads. Footwear is advised, but make sure it is waterproof and make sure the soles have good traction! Flipflops can sometimes get very slippery when wet!
Here are some helpful do’s and don’t …
- Do Bring Buckets
- Don’t Bring Sieves
- Do Use Garden Hoses
- Don’t Use High-pressure Hoses
- Do Use Water Pistols
- Don’t Use High-pressure Water Guns
- Do Throw Ice Water
- Don’t Throw Ice Cubes
- Do Throw Room Temperature Water
- Don’t Throw Hot Water
- Do Wear Lightweight Clothes
- Don’t Wear Denim or Other Heavy Fabrics
- Do Wear Beach Attire
- Don’t Wear White – Unless You Wear Something Underneath
- Do Bring a Waterproof Camera
- Don’t Bring an Expensive Camera (Unless It’s Waterproof)
- Do Wear Rubber Footwear with Traction
- Do Wear Swimming Goggles to Prevent Eye Infections
- Do Buy a Waterproof Necklace to Keep Your Valuables In
So have fun, but be careful! And whatever you do, keep your sense of humour!