8 modern and traditional ways to celebrate Songkran in Thailand 2024

Thailand’s scorching heat in April calls for Songkran– the famous water festival, a time for locals and tourists alike to chill out (literally and figuratively). Marking the Thai New Year, the festival is celebrated enthusiastically across the country, officially from April 13 to 15 with water fights, vibrant parades and cultural performances.

While gearing up in your vibrant Songkran floral shirt and arming yourself with a water gun might be your first thought, consider exploring a mix of modern and traditional ways to celebrate Songkran. These alternatives promise fun and a deeper, more meaningful experience over the festival.

The history of the Songkran

Songkran originates from the Sanskrit word “saṃkrānti,” which signifies transformation and renewal. The celebration marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the new solar year. The pouring water during Songkran symbolises purification, washing away sins and bad luck, and welcoming the new year. This festival has evolved from its humble beginnings as a Buddhist ritual of sprinkling water on statues of Buddha for good luck to paying respects to elders into the country-wide celebration of water splashing we know today. Songkran has been officially designated by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.

Traditional ways of celebrating Songkran

1. Pour water over Buddha statues

8 modern and traditional ways to celebrate Songkran in Thailand 2024 | News by Thaiger
Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

Pouring water over Buddha statues is central to the Songkran festival and symbolises purification, cleansing of one’s sins, and bad luck. You can gently pour scented water over the statues, as a gesture of humility and devotion. This act is believed to bring good fortune and blessings in the coming year.

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Adding to this tradition, which you can traditionally do at homes or temples, This year, Siam Paragon, one of the best shopping destinations in Thailand, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, through the Department of Fine Arts and the Department of Cultural Promotion, is hosting a special buddha bathing where visitors are invited to pay homage to ancient Buddha statues from the National Museum, Bangkok. Showcased also will be demonstrations of traditional Thai herbal remedies and crafts such as herbal steaming, aromatic water, flower garlands, powder puff making, and traditional talcum application.

You can visit Siam Paragon from April 12 to 16, 2024, at Fashion Hall, 1st Floor to take part in this unique Thai culture and receive blessings during Songkran.

IconSiam has brought the replica of the Phra Buddha Sihing from Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan, Chiang Mai Province, to be enshrined at G Floor, ICONLUXE Zone from 10-21 April 2024. Visitors can participate in a water-pouring ceremony to ask for blessings and purification.

2. Make merit at temples

8 modern and traditional ways to celebrate Songkran in Thailand 2024 | News by Thaiger
Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash

As of 2022, there are 4,327 thousand Buddhist temples in Thailand. In Thai culture, visiting the temples and performing “tam boon” or making merits is essentially accumulating good karma into the bank account of life. The pilgrims start their day early, bringing offerings of food, flowers, and incense to monks at temples. This act symbolises the transfer of merit and the cultivation of generosity. They also engage in prayer, meditation, and listening to Dharma talks, reflecting on the teachings of Buddha. The temple grounds are usually open to the public. Regardless of your religion and beliefs, the serenity and the simple act of making merit add to the start of your year.

3. Pay homage to elders for blessings (Rod Nam Dam Hua)

Rod Nam Dam Hua
Image credit: Thailand Authority of Tourism (TAT)

The ritual of “Rod Nam Dam Hua” involves younger individuals paying respect to their elders and asking for forgiveness and blessing. Filial piety, a Buddhist virtue encompassing respect for parents, elders, and ancestors, is integral to Thai culture. Hence, Thai locals pay homage to the elders as a good deed going into the new year. This exchange, involving the gentle pouring of water, is a gesture of seeking blessings and wisdom, reinforcing familial and communal bonds.

4. Release Birds and Fish

Releasing fish in the Chaophraya River
Releasing fish in the Chaophraya River, Image credit: Michelle Lim

This tradition symbolises the freeing of oneself from past burdens and negativity. It’s an act that connects you with the natural world, emphasising the importance of compassion and renewal. Near some temples, you will find animals such as fish, eels, birds or turtles to be released into their natural habitat.

Modern ways to celebrate Songkran in Thailand

1. Visit the ‘Lobster Wonderland’ at Siam Paragon

8 modern and traditional ways to celebrate Songkran in Thailand 2024 | News by Thaiger
Image via Siam Paragon

As Bangkok gears up for Songkran with unrivalled celebrations, Siam Paragon, a ‘world-class shopping destination,’ collaborates with the world’s prominent Pop artist Philip Colbert for a colourful showcase of the artist’s iconic Lobster persona at the shopping centre and Parc Paragon, from April 9-16 2024.

This “Lobster Wonderland” promises a vibrant pop art experience and offers a playful twist to the Songkran festival. It’s a colourful, family-friendly space where you can enjoy art, capturing the essence of Songkran’s joy and creativity in a unique setting. So, prepare to take tons of great pictures!

Philip Colbert has been recognized globally as the contemporary pop master. He has collaborated with numerous leading brands such as Rolex, Montblanc, Christian Louboutin, and COMME des GARÇONS. His work was exhibited in London, Italy, Singapore and many more.

Distinguished by his bold and fantastical style, Colbert has often been referred to as the ‘Godson of Andy Warhol’ and has become this generation’s icon for expressionist pop art.

The event also features a music festival with over 100 famous local artists and cultural activities like paying homage to rate Buddha statues from the National Museum Bangkok plus demonstrations of traditional Thai herbal remedies and crafts, a Songkran photo exhibition, and enjoying Mor Lam or Thailand’s Northeastern music performances by renowned contemporary Mor Lam bands.

2. Witness the ​​Songkran Mahothorndevi Parade and 12 days of water splashing at IconSiam

Icon Siam Songkran
Image via Icon Siam

Another addition to your Songkran itinerary is the Songkran Mahothorndevi Parade, a spectacular parade and a full-on 12-day of water splashing amidst the scenic backdrop of the Chao Phraya River from April 10 to 21 2024 at “The Iconic Songkran Festival 2024” at IconSiam.

This isn’t your average parade; it’s a full-on celebration of Thai culture starring seven of Thailand’s beloved actresses and artists from 10-16 April. Prominent artists like Aff Taksaorn, Pie Rinrada, Becky Rebecca, Bella Ranee, Mai Davika and Diana Flipo will lead the parade, plus a special appearance by Minnie from the K-pop sensation (G)I-DLE as Miss Songkran 2024.

As you witness the parade, you can join the water-splashing festivities at Water Splash Landmark at River Park, with the scenic backdrop of the Chao Phraya River!

3. Stroll around the popular roads in Bangkok: Khaosan and Silom roads

8 modern and traditional ways to celebrate Songkran in Thailand 2024 | News by Thaiger
Image via Shutterstock

Of course, a must-do during Songkran is to put on your favourite floral shirt and pick up your water gun to stroll around the popular roads in Bangkok. When Songkran hits, the famous Khaosan Road becomes a central water party zone. Picture this: a street with people armed with water guns and buckets. You can barely move without getting drenched. At Silom Road, the 5-kilometre stretch is closed off to traffic and turned into one of Bangkok’s largest outdoor splash lanes. These are the two central locations for endless water battles. Just remember to waterproof everything and watch out for cold water!

4. Travel to Chiang Mai, another hub for Songkran celebrations

8 modern and traditional ways to celebrate Songkran in Thailand 2024 | News by Thaiger
Image via Flickr by Frédéric Gloor

If you want to celebrate Songkran outside Bangkok, head north to Chiang Mai! The Thapae Gate hosts most of the festivities—big stages are put up with a variety of competitions and performances. Then, stroll along the Old City’s moat, another communal playground for more water fights. For a modern twist, you can visit Nimmanhaemin Road, one of the trendiest areas in Chiang Mai. There, the crowd is usually young, and there is plenty of entertainment at the entrances of the Maya Mall.

From quiet moments of tradition to full-on street parties, there are many ways to celebrate Songkran. This fusion of ancient traditions and contemporary fun makes Songkran an unforgettable way to experience Thai culture and ring in the New Year.

Here is our Songkran survival guide for those of you who are joining the water festivities. Happy Songkran to you all, and stay safe!


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Michelle Lim

Michelle writes content for various topics- from travel and leisure to business. She graduated with a double degree in Business Administration and Psychology from Webster University. She spends her free time indulging in psychological Youtube videos and Japanese animations.

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