Imagine getting into a water fight…with an entire country!

I’ve always heard about Songkran from my friends or the media but never actually experienced it. So on my recent trip to Thailand in April, I was really excited to see what it’s like in person!

What is Songkran?

Girl with Water Gun at Beach - Guide to Songkran

Songkran is Thailand’s biggest and most famous festival! It marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year and is celebrated across different provinces in the country.

The festival is held annually on 13 April and usually lasts three days, though it can start or end later in some cities. Water is a huge part of it! Other than just cooling people down during the hottest period in Thailand, it has a more symbolic meaning. It’s meant to “wash away” the sins and bad luck of the previous year so you can welcome the next one with good fortune.

Songkran met my expectations and more, but there were still things I wished I knew before plunging myself into this wet mess. If you’re thinking of trying it for the first time, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about Songkran 💦🔫

Best places to experience Songkran in Thailand

People in Traditional Thai Costume - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand NA via Facebook

While Songkran is widely celebrated across various cities in Thailand, it’s pretty much the same events for each city (lively music festivals, water fights, parades, etc). But where to go ultimately comes down to the other stuff you can do after Songkran.

Bangkok: For city-dwellers who love shopping
Chiang Mai: A great base for a chill road trip around Northern Thailand
Phuket: Famed for its beautiful beaches and resorts
Pattaya: Lively nightlife with lots of partying

Bangkok — for city-dwellers

People Walking Along Songkran Parade - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: via Facebook

Bangkok is one of the more popular places to celebrate Songkran — after all, it is Thailand’s capital city. So you can expect loads of activities and events such as pagoda building competitions, boat races and music festivals!

To fully enjoy the experience, head down to areas like Khao San Road and Silom where you’ll be guaranteed soaked to the skin. And if you’re tired of getting wet, hide in one of Bangkok’s many malls (ICONSIAM, Siam Paragon) for some retail therapy 🛍️

Best spots: Khao San Road, Silom, Phra Pradaeng

Read also: 4D3N Bangkok Itinerary — Where to Eat, Classic Attractions, and Hidden Gems

Chiang Mai — for chill getaways

Chiang Mai Tha Phae Gate - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: Jorge Láscar via Flickr

If you’ve been to Bangkok one too many times, head up north to Chiang Mai instead. It’s famous for hosting lavish Songkran celebrations across the city. A good place to start is at Tha Phae Gate, a preserved city gate dating back to ancient times. While people flock to this iconic spot for photos on a normal day, the area transforms into a “battleground” during the water festival!

Once you’re done exploring Chiang Mai, rent a car and drive to nearby areas like Mon Jam and Chiang Rai to discover a more picturesque and laidback side of Thailand!

Best spots: Tha Pae Gate, The Old City Moat, Nimmanhaemin Road

Read also: 8D7N Northern Thailand Itinerary Starting in Chiang Mai — Sky Adventures, Mountain Road Trips, and Trendy Cafes


Phuket — for beach lovers

Crowds at Phuket Bangla Road - Festivals in Thailand

Phuket was where I experienced Songkran for the first time (thanks to a work trip there)! We started the day exploring Old Phuket Town and Soi Ta-iad Boxing Street, and had fun splashing around with the locals 😂 But the party only truly began at night, when huge crowds swarmed areas like Patong Beach and Bangla Road — equipped with water guns and hoses.

While it was hectic during the festivities, visitors usually just lay back and chill at the numerous beach resorts when visiting Phuket!

Best spots: Old Phuket Town, Patong Beach, Bangla Road, So-ied Tad Boxing Street

Read also: The Ultimate Phuket Guide — 27 Fun Things to Do for an Adventure-Packed Holiday

Pattaya — for party animals

People Celebrating Pattaya Wan Lai Festival - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: วันไหลเมืองพัทยา 2024 via Facebook

Pattaya is well-known for its beaches and lively nightlife so you can bet the locals there party HARD. It’s no wonder that the Songkran festivities last for a week in this seaside city, compared to others which only last around three days. The main highlight though, falls on the last day, 19 April — also known as Wan Lai, meaning “the day that flows”. And flow indeed, whereby locals go all out in crazy water fights to end the celebration with a bang!

On a normal day though, Pattaya is also always in party mode where restaurants and bars open till late. Perfect for party animals and night owls 🦉

Best spots: Beach Road, Walking Street

Read also: 3D2N Pattaya Itinerary — An Unexpected Adventure 2hrs from Bangkok

Things to do during Songkran (other than water fights)

Girl Pouring Water onto Monk Hand - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: Peter Chorley via Flickr

1) Visit temples

As Songkran is a Buddhist festival, most locals visit a temple on the very first day to pray for good fortune. Some temples also organise ceremonies where you can pour water on the palms of temple monks and receive blessings from them.

2) Bathe Buddha images

Girl Bathing Buddha Statue - Festivals in Thailand

Photo credit: Adam Groffman via Flickr

Song Nam Phra is another tradition that’s practised during Songkran. It refers to the “bathing” of Buddha images and statues by pouring scented water to wash away any bad luck before the new year. Believers can do this ritual in temples, markets and even shopping malls!

3) Make merit

People Giving Monk Alms - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: Gerard Vonk via Flickr

Buddhists believe in merit-making — doing good deeds to gain happiness in this life and the next. Examples include giving food to monks, making donations, and even releasing caged birds or fish back into the wild. But Songkran period or not, it’s always good to do something nice for others lest you receive bad karma 👀

4) Attend festivals and other activities

Parade Float - Festivals in Thailand

Photo credit: via Facebook

Besides the epic water fights, there’ll also be plenty of fun activities and festivals such as colourful parades, beauty contests and traditional Thai dance performances. At night, music festivals take over — think famous Thai artists, DJs, water cannons and foam machines 🥳

How to get around during Songkran

People Splashing Water on Road - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: Taa Saparot via Flickr

Grab/Taxis: This is the most convenient way to get around! You’re also 100% safe from getting drenched when going back to your accommodations. While the drivers should be prepared that you’ll be wet, it’s good to bring a small towel so you don’t dampen the seats.

Public buses and trains: Some roads may be closed or have long traffic jams due to the festivities. So it’s easier and faster to travel by public transport in places like Bangkok where it’s well-connected! For the other cities, public transport may not be as accessible so do check Google Maps for the best route.

Man Entering Private Car Charter - Phuket Itinerary

Motorbike: GrabBikes are usually cheaper than GrabCars as they can be half the price. But we highly suggest avoiding it during the Songkran period as the roads will be wet and slippery. So, it could be more dangerous to travel on a bike. You’re also sure to get wet, even when waiting at the traffic light.

Car: We don’t recommend renting a car as the roads are usually congested and finding parking would be a nightmare. Alternatively, you can opt for a private car charter if you already have an itinerary planned out.

Songkran Tours

People During Songkran Tour - Things to do in Thailand

Photo credit: Cassia Phuket

If you’re new to Songkran and find it intimidating to experience on your own, go for a Songkran tour! Some hotels (like ours) organise a full-day tour inclusive of water guns and transportation.

On our Phuket trip, we stayed at Cassia Phuket and joined its Songkran Wet Wheel Tour. From the hotel, we hopped on a tuktuk and visited various places where celebrations were held — starting from Old Phuket Town and ending off at Patong Beach.

People on Songkran Tour Tuktuk - Guide to Songkran

While we were initially unsure of what to expect at the start, it was an all-out water battle with the locals by the end of the day. The game plan was to spray water at anyone who passed by, be it roadside shop owners or oblivious pedestrians just walking along the street 😂 Honestly, it was pretty funny to see people trying not to get wet (and miserably failing).

The best part of the tour was that transport back to our accommodation was provided, so we didn’t have to worry about heading back!

Bedroom at Cassia Phuket - Phuket Itinerary

Songkran tour aside, what I really loved about our accommodation was that it came with a waterfront view, where we could catch a gorgeous sunset each day before heading to bed. The rooms are super spacious and there’s even a fully-equipped kitchen to prep our own meals.

Man Admiring Sunset - Best Hotels in Phuket

Oh, and did we mention that the hotel has its own private beach too? It’s just a 5-minute boat shuttle from the main lobby!

Psst, besides the Songkran tour in April, Cassia Phuket also organises other events year-round! For instance, they plan to host a high-heel race to celebrate Pride Month in June and a Dog Rally event in August. So you can be sure that there’s something to do no matter which period you visit 😉

CostFrom ~S$189/night for a 2-bedroom loft (up to 4 pax)
How to get there: 30min taxi ride from Phuket International Airport (Google Maps)

Checklist for surviving Songkran

Girl on Songkran Tour - Festivals in Thailand

Here are some tips which I found super helpful when experiencing Songkran for the first time:

1) Things to bring: Waterproof phone case, dry bag, extra clothes, slippers, sunblock, extra towel

2) Wear dark-coloured clothes: Water makes your clothes “see-through” and you wouldn’t want people to see your ahem, underwear, do you?

3) Wear sunglasses/goggles to protect your eyes: It’s easy to get water in your eyes when everyone is splashing everywhere. So to avoid eye irritation, get a good pair of sunglasses or well-fitted goggles.

People on Songkran Tour - Phuket Itinerary

4) Equip yourselves with water guns/buckets of water: Where’s the fun if you can’t fight back when being “attacked”? You can get your “weapons” easily at convenience stores or supermarkets (small guns go for ~฿150 while the big ones are ~฿800). FYI, locals might also charge a small fee to let you refill your water guns while walking along the street!

5) Don’t bring your valuables out: Trust me, you wouldn’t want your passport or IC to get wet or… lost 😱

6) Book your hotels in advance: Good hotels might be fully booked out during this season so best to book them at least two weeks early.

Read also: Where to Stay in Bangkok for First-Time Solo Travellers — 13 Quirky Hostels Under S$37/night

Songkran tips and tricks

People Celebrating Songkran - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: arcibald via Flickr

Songkran is all fun and games but take note of these tips to stay safe while still enjoying the festivities!

1) Don’t throw water on monks, babies, elderly and pregnant women

It’s disrespectful to throw water on monks and it could be harmful to other vulnerable groups of people.

2) Check the opening hours of places and attractions beforehand

It’s a national holiday after all and some places might be closed during the Songkran period. So we recommend checking in advance if the attractions you want to visit are open or just spend the day purely enjoying the festivities!

3) Avoid super crowded spots and always be aware of your surroundings

We made the mistake of walking into a crowded street and got stuck in a human traffic jam :'(

Popular spots for the festivities would be jam-packed with people, which can cause a few issues. Like for example: getting stuck in one place, making it easier for pickpockets to take your valuables, or being touched appropriately without consent. So if you can, avoid narrow roads and streets filled with people and hang around open spaces instead!

4) Beware of drunk people on the streets

When I was celebrating Songkran in Phuket, I realised that many people were quite drunk (and a little “high” to be honest). While it was slightly intimidating, I didn’t really feel threatened, but it’s better to be safe than sorry and steer clear of these people while walking along the streets.

5) Be careful on roads

Cars on Thailand Roads - Guide to Songkran

Photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via Unsplash

Higher rates of traffic accidents have been reported during the Songkran period each year, which is also dubbed the Seven Dangerous Days. Most locals travel back to their home provinces to visit their families, leading to heavy traffic jams and speeding. Apparently, many accidents also involve motorbikes so I STRESS AGAIN, don’t take bikes during this period.

Planning your next Thailand trip

Friends Enjoying Songkran - Guide to Songkran

For this trip, we specially planned it to coincide with Songkran and as a first-timer, I never thought that getting into water fights could be so enjoyable! Everyone was teasing each other and just having a good time.

Would I do it again though? That’s… a hard MAYBE. I’ll probably join in for a few hours before heading back to my comfy accommodation as it can be quite tiring getting splashed with water for an entire day 🥲

However, if you’re into this kinda thing (beach parties, having fun with the locals), then go for it! Everyone has their own interests 😉

Loy Kratong Festival - Chiang Mai Lanterns in Northern Thailand

Besides Songkran, Thailand also has other interesting local events such as the Loy Krathong and Chiang Mai Flower Festival. So for your next trip, why not plan it amid these festivals as a different way to learn more about the local culture?

For more inspiration, check out our Thailand guides and itineraries:
Day Trips from Chiang Mai — 19 Best Things to Do in Northern Thailand
8D Thailand Itinerary — Road Trip from Bangkok to Hua Hin Under S$900
Thailand Road Trip Guide: 5 Epic Ideas Under 3hrs from Bangkok
The Ultimate Phuket Guide — 27 Fun Things to Do for an Adventure-Packed Holiday

Any other tips to add to this Songkran guide? Let us know in the comments below!

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