Water fights, cultural traditions and new beginnings

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on email

A guide to Songkran, Thailand’s annual New Year festival.


On the surface, Thailand’s annual Songkran festival appears to be just one great big water fight.

Every April, people young and old take to the streets all over the country, armed with plastic guns and water buckets, and engage in hours-long battles from morning till dusk.

And while that’s certainly the most famous aspect of the celebrations, Songkran is filled with unique cultural traditions, making it an excellent time for travelers to visit.

What exactly is Songkran?

Songkran marks the start of the traditional Thai New Year and is usually celebrated from April 13-15, though some cities stretch out the fun a few extra days.

Taking place at the height of the Thai summer, it’s a time to take a break from work and hit the road, with many people journeying hundreds of kilometers to their hometowns to reconnect with family and friends.

The word “Songkran” is said to have derived from ancient Sanskrit, used to describe the monthly movement within the zodiac.

In 2023, UNESCO added Songkran to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, noting that it refers to the sun’s annual passing into the Aries constellation, the first sign of the Zodiac, which marks the traditional start of the traditional Thai New Year festival.

“Pouring water is a significant act during Songkran, symbolizing cleansing, reverence and good fortune,” says the UNESCO inscription.

“Other activities include bathing important Buddha images, splashing water on family and friends, folk plays, games, music and feasting.”

Join our
Mailing List

* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd )