The Songkran celebration that marks the Thai New Year was held again on April 13, 2023, after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions. The celebration is enlivened by the tradition of mass water wars throughout the country.
Bangkok selected more than 100 venues to prepare for the celebration. Some large-scale parties and events will also take place in other provinces, such as Chiang Mai or Ayutthaya. Songkran celebrations are not only for locals, but foreign tourists also participate in the festivities. Here are some interesting facts about the Songkran celebration, which is back after a three-year hiatus.
- The Celebration is Festive
Although the temperature almost touched 40 degrees Celsius, it did not dampen the enthusiasm of thousands of people who rejoiced in the festive Songkran celebration. Laughter and music filled the air as thousands of people crowded the streets and fired water guns at friends and strangers. According to local belief, the water symbolically erases grievances from the previous year, so that people can prepare for the following year. Songkran-related activities also take place in other areas, such as Silom, Khao San Road, and near Bangkok City Hall. Besides the water wars, there are also activities such as concerts, muay thai boxing competitions, and cultural performances in several other places.
- Foreign Tourists Celebrate the Songkran Celebration
Songkran celebrations are not only enlivened by locals, but foreign tourists also participate in the celebration. Some of them deliberately came to experience the sensation of water wars held on the streets throughout the country. “I think everyone is very happy. There’s just a sense of freedom. It’s great, you see people from all walks of life, it highlights every aspect of Thailand,” said a Canadian tourist at the water fight, Gavin Arnott.
- Songkran celebrations expected to boost Thai tourism
For many people from the capital Bangkok, the Songkran period is usually a time to return to their hometowns in other provinces. Traditionally, this period is a time for Thais to gather with family or travel within the country. The Tourism Authority of Thailand estimates that there will be 4 million domestic trips, and 300 thousand foreign tourists will arrive in Thailand this week, for what is called the world’s largest water fight. It is expected to bring a significant increase in the tourism industry, after being hit by corona restrictions.
It also estimates that this year’s Songkran festival will generate more than 18 billion baht or equivalent to Rp7.7 trillion. This is a 58% increase from the pre-pandemic period in 2019. Spending during the country’s biggest holiday season comes largely from increased travel and business activity, which has been key in driving Thailand’s post-pandemic recovery.
The festival is always a unique and exciting experience for locals and foreigners alike who join in the traditional Siamese New Year celebrations.