While Thais ring in the new year on January first as enthusiastically as the rest of the world, in this country, we save the real celebration for the Thai new year, known as Songkran, which is celebrated every April 13 – 15. (Though this year, the government has extended the national holiday to include April 12 – 16.)
Chiang Mai is regularly one of the best places to experience Thai holidays and festivals, but this is especially true for Songkran. If you’ve seen the photographs of a city packed with grinning revellers spraying each other with bright neon water-guns, you can get some idea of what makes this Thai holiday so much fun. It’s truly something you have to experience yourself, though, and Songkran in Chiang Mai is the best place to get the full flavour of this holiday.
A brief history of Songkran
Songkran is traditionally a family-centric holiday. During this period, most take advantage of the time off from school and work by travelling home to be with their extended families. This important Thai holiday is a time to make merit, visit temples and pay respect to elders.
Visiting the temple is a cornerstone of this holiday. Families make offerings of food, goods and money, and participate in special merit-making ceremonies led by saffron-robed monks. During Songkran, sand pagodas decorated with colourful paper flags and banners are also built on temple grounds. Unique to Songkran, this tradition is said to be a way of repaying the temple for all the sand (or dirt) which is removed by the passage of people throughout the year. All around Chiang Mai, you can also observe Thais making merit at other auspicious sites such as the Three Kings Monument in the heart of the Old City.
On the third and final day of Songkran, known as Wan Payawan, respect is paid to elders of the family and community by pouring scented water blessed by monks over their hands. At temples, this same water is poured over Buddha statues to cleanse them and to make merit.
April is the hottest month of the year, and it probably did not take much coaxing for youngsters to begin splashing each other with water to cool off. From this gentle tradition, a city-wide water fight of epic proportions was born.
Songkran in Chiang Mai
While Thais throughout the country observe Songkran, and other cities enthusiastically participate in the water fights, no other city celebrates with quite the same level of abandon Chiang Mai does.
Though the holiday is usually officially three days, it stretches to four or five in Chiang Mai and traffic in the inner city grinds almost to a halt as pickup trucks bearing dancing revellers armed with water guns and big buckets of water for splashing drive around the moat. Wherever you look, water is being thrown, on passing cars, on people young and old. It’s almost impossible to avoid, so the best thing to do is grab a supersoaker and join in on the fun. Stages are set up throughout the city for performers and DJs to entertain the crowd, and Thai people, who are typically shy and reserved, let loose and have a good time.
Enjoy the best of Songkran at Chandra Residence
Songkran is a particularly hectic time to be in Chiang Mai but it’s also and incredible opportunity and you can enjoy the best of both worlds from the comfort of Chandra Residence.
While you should certainly spend at least one afternoon carousing in the city with locals, Chandra Residence is located just on the outskirts of town, so the celebrations here will be a little more tame. From here, you are not too far from the action, but will still be able to drive in and out to go sightseeing outside the city centre.
Chandra Residence is the perfect place to retreat from the madness, but there’s also no reason you can’t enjoy your own mini-celebration in the villa pool, after all, temperatures will still be in the upper 20s or higher! We can even bring in a private chef to prepare a feast and make it a party.
If you’d like to participate in local traditions, Wat Doi Kham is less than five minutes away and you can make merit at the temple and get to know the softer side of Songkran.
Songkran in Chiang Mai – Special Package
Make Songkran extra special by staying with us as part of an exclusive getaway package including:
- Stay for 3 nights in our Pool Villa any dates between April 11 – 17 and get the 4th night free
- Daily continental breakfast
- Airport drop-off and pick-up
- One-day Songkran city excursion including transportation with a songthaew (pick-up truck) around the Old City and other water festival hotspots
- A waterproof welcome set to help protect phones and other personal things
This offer is only available for one booking (for a group up to 8 persons) so don’t miss it!