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What to expect from Thai New Year

Thai New Year, known locally as Songkran, is a special time of celebration and attracts millions of visitors looking to join the party. If you're on holiday in Thailand during this time you can expect lots of excitement and plenty of amazing photo and video opportunities to share with your friends. Read on to find out all this colourful celebration.


The Songkran Water Festival for Thai New Year

Originally the start date of the Thai New Year Songkran Festival was calculated by Buddhist monks so could vary, but it's now set as 13th April each year.

Just like in China, each Thai year has an animal associated with it, so 2018 ia a dog year and 2019 a pig year. Each animal is believed to have a different set of characteristics which are either favourable or unfavourable. The symbolism helps the people of Thailand to plan their personal and working lives for the year ahead.

Traditionally Thai New Year is a time for offering prayers in the temples and also for washing home shrines and Buddha statues. Water that has washed sacred items is believed to be holy, so splashing friends, family and strangers with it is seen as a blessing. Youngsters will also pour water over the hands of their elders in homage to their ancestors. The actual act of cleaning these icons is also believed to bring good luck, health and prosperity for the year ahead.

Another traditional activity is for monks to draw sacred chalk marks on people's faces to help them begin the year with a fresh new start.

What to expect during the celebrations

The Songkran Water Festival has expanded and changed over the centuries but you can still see its original roots. Lots and lots of water is sprayed, poured and thrown so that everyone gets a really good soaking. The water is often perfumed too, so there's an exotic scent to the air. In some areas local elephants will also get in on the act by showering you with their trunks.

Another feature is that there's lots of white talc thrown around which is an echo of the sacred chalk marks. It's all done in good fun and everyone has a good time. As if this wasn't enough, there are parades with traditionally dressed Thai dancers and music, huge Buddha icons and elaborate displays of flowers and fruit. It's a real feast for the senses filled with an abundance of colours, aromas and sounds.

Top tips for enjoying some watery fun

The Songkran Water Festival happens at the hottest time of the year in Thailand, so you should dry off nicely if you get drenched. To make sure you have the best of times it's worth bearing a couple of tips in mind.

Ideally keep your clothing light but remember that water can make some fabrics transparent, so avoid these types of fabrics to observe the Thai custom of dressing modestly. You could take a plastic bag to protect items like your mobile and, as there's so much talc about, you may also want to take a cloth or wet wipes.

Best place to join the festive crowds

To join in the festivities in southwest Thailand, Phuket is the place to be. They have a huge parade of Buddha images, musicians and dancers around the Patong Beach area which attracts large happy crowds.

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