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Top 10 dos and don’ts for the 2020 Songkran festival

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Top 10 dos and don’ts for the 2020 Songkran festival | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Songkran is a lot of fun but there's also things you can do to protect yourself during the annual festival
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Heading to Thailand for the 2020 Songkran festival? Want to know the dates, where to go and the dos and don’ts for this amazing water festival in Thailand?

Songkran is a single name given to a series of concurrent events – an astrological ‘new year’, a Buddhist festival, the ‘change’ from dry season to wet season and a humongous water festival.

The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, literally “astrological passage”, meaning transformation or change. The term was borrowed from Makar Sankranti, the name of a Hindu harvest festival celebrated in India each January to mark the arrival of spring. The date also coincides with the rising of Aries on the zodiac chart and with the New Year of many countries around South and Southeast Asia.

Whilst Songkran has traditionally been celebrated with a gentle washing of Buddha images and some tame pouring of water amongst relatives, in the last few decades it’s morphed into a big water fight where, if you dare to venture outside on April 13 (and following days in many regions), you WILL get wet. And ‘getting wet’ may not be a gentle tinkle from a kid’s water pistol. It’s just as liable to be an entire bucket of ice-cold water.

Songkran will be held on April 13 but in many of the tourist locations it will run until at least April 15 as well. In Chiang Mai and parts of Pattaya it can run even longer. As a guide, if the locals aren’t throwing water at each other, don’t start pumping litres of water from your plastic weapon – you may have your dates mixed up.

Top 10 dos and don'ts for the 2020 Songkran festival | News by The Thaiger

Somehow the Songkran traditions morphed into a national water fight!

Here’s a few things to do if you want to celebrate Songkran like the locals

1. Use public transport, for your best safety, and to reduce the amount of traffic on the streets. There will be a lot of people travelling on the roads and sois (streets) throughout Songkran as many Thais head home for the holidays (it’s the time of the year when Thailand experiences its worst road toll).

And, if you’re on a motorbike you’re going to end up with buckets of water thrown at you by enthusiastic locals lining the streets. Take a taxi or any other transport, or walk. Parking will also be at a premium on the day, especially at the Songkran party hotzones.

2. Learn a few phrases for the day. “Sawasdee pee mai” (Happy New Year) is a great start. This is a good way to pass on your good wishes to the locals on their special day of celebration. If you’re carrying your latest expensive Nikon with interchangeable lenses for the day you better learn “Mai!” (no!) and point to your investment whilst shouting at the same time. Even better, leave your expensive camera at home, take a waterproof smartphone instead, or carry your camera or phone in a sealable plastic pouch.

3. If you’re going to go Thai Traditional for the day and visit a local temple (Wat), dress appropriately and follow the lead of the locals in regards to ceremonies and behaviour. Make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. Pour water from around the neck of the Buddha statue, not over the head. It’s also traditional to pour water onto older people’s hands to indicate your gratitude. Don’t bother packing your water pistol if you’re heading to the temple, it’s a much more gentle celebration here.

4. Put all your important stuff and electronic devices into a zip-lock plastic bag – passport, camera, money. Even better, leave your valuable things at home or in the hotel safe. If you head outside on the Songkran days, you WILL get wet, so don’t act surprised or get angry if someone hurls a bucket of water at you as you wander down the street. It will be done with a smile and with the best of intentions. Save your Sunday clothes for church or a visit to meet the mother-in-law.

5. Some clothes can become very revealing when wet (hence the wet T-shirt competitions??). So wear a swimsuit underneath your clothes. What may be an accident could end up with a few giggles, but may be offensive to some people and even get you arrested.

6. There will be pick-pockets around on the day, especially in the touristy areas. With all the confusion, noise, moisture and bodies, you’ll be an easy target if you haven’t taken precautions to make it difficult for a pick-pocket to lift your valuables without you even knowing.

7. Wear waterproof sunblock. It’s the hottest time of the year and whilst all the water, fun and noise will distract you for hours, the sun will keep beating down and leave with a nasty sunburn if you don’t take precautions. You may be on holidays but the sun isn’t.

8. Eat properly beforehand and make sure you hydrate throughout the day. You’re going to burn plenty of energy and keeping hydrated is really important. Even though there’s lots of water flying around, you need to keep drinking fresh water whilst you’re out enjoying yourself. And DON’T drink the ‘water’ they’re putting in the buckets or water pistols. It could be from anywhere – it certainly won’t be fresh drinking water.

On that point, you’re going to end up sloshing around in a filthy swill of dirty water combined with sweat, suncream, spilled drinks and heaven-knows-what. And some of this is going to end up sprayed, maybe straight into your face. If you have cuts or abrasions you’d be mad not to cover these up and do your best to avoid getting avoidable infections. Songkran can be a potential health hazard!

9. There are plenty of ‘weapons of choice’ available for a serious Songkran assault. But the larger pump-style water cannons are generally frowned upon these days. You’ll be much happier with a smaller water pistol rather trying to stumble around with a few kilos of water all afternoon. Remember, it’s not the size of your weapon, it’s how you use it!

10. In the party locations Songkran is all about noise, fun and probably lots of alcohol as well. If you plan on having a few drinks whilst you’re water-playing as well, make sure you have friends around that can support you on the day, and night. Whilst the intention is to have awesome fun, it can get messy and potentially dangerous. Not everyone visiting the Songkran hotspots has your best intentions at heart.

HERE’S a few places and local festivals to enjoy your Songkran around Thailand this year.

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Songkran

No Songkran for Pattaya this year

Greeley Pulitzer

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No Songkran for Pattaya this year | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok.com

Pattaya’s mayor today confirmed that Pattaya is cancelling virtually all official Songkran activities for this year due to concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. This includes the Wan Lai Festival scheduled for April 19, the single biggest event on the city’s calendar, which attracts up to a half million tourists, both Thai and foreign, in what many consider Thailand’s wildest Songkran party.

All Beach Road activities, parades, concerts, booths, et al are cancelled. Additionally the city is reaching out to private organisers such as Central Festival, urging them not to sponsor a Songkran water party.

Making merit to monks, traditional community Songkran meals, and religious activities, such as visiting sacred sites and relics and traditional Songkran activities will still take place, as will religious ceremonies at locations throughout Pattaya.

No Songkran for Pattaya this year | News by The Thaiger

The Mayor urges residents and tourists not to throw water,which could help spread the virus, but noted that a closet ban would be unenforceable and there is no way to ban playing with water if people choose to at their own risk.

Songkran is the Thai New Year and the single biggest event of the year for Thais. Last year the festival, up to a week long in some provinces, made over 22 billion baht nationally. Pattaya’s Songkran increased roughly 15% year on year in terms of revenue from domestic and international tourism.

No Songkran for Pattaya this year | News by The Thaiger

Many say the cancellation of the biggest tourism event of the year is bound to compound current tourism and business problems. Ironically, a historic drought, the worst in twenty years, means cancelling the customary water wars may help conserve water.

The news comes as other provinces announced the cancellation of major Songkran events. Yesterday evening, officials in Khon Kaen, Bang Saen, Phetchabun and Buriram all confirmed planned events had been cancelled, while in Phuket, all official celebrations in Patong have also been cancelled.

The cancellations are the latest blow to Thailand’s ailing tourism industry, left decimated by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

SOURCES: The Pattaya News | thaivisa

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Songkran

Patong cancels all official Songkran events

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Patong cancels all official Songkran events | The Thaiger
PHOTO - Thai Residents

“This year, Patong will not hold any official Songkran festival celebration events at all.”

All official Songkran events in Phuket’s Patong municipality, including the “Songkran on the Beach” play zone and the DJ dance party have been cancelled. Patong Mayor Chalermluck Kebsup made the announcement on her social media channels yesterday.

Patong is the traditional epicentre for Songkran festivities in Phuket, with the beach resort town hosting a variety of celebrations events and entertainment performances on the beach for locals and tourists alike. Festivities were to be held each day and night, from April 11 through 15.

But Chalermluck says the festivities are off.

“This year, Patong will not hold any official Songkran festival celebration events at all. We held a discussion and concluded that we will not hold any official events at all because we want to avoid all risk of COVID-19 spreading, which becomes more likely with large crowds. We will make an official announcement soon.”

Among the official events were the popular sand sculpting competition, the Miss Songkran beauty pageant, traditional Thai dance shows, live music performances and an electronic dance music party on the beach. The large public merit-making events traditionally held at Loma Park in the morning during the Songkran holidays have also been cancelled.

Chalermluck stressed that cancelling official public events did not mean there was a ban on celebrating Songkran in Patong.

“People still can enjoy their water play on Bangla Road. We don’t have any authority to ban people playing with water during the festival. They can if they want to. But please be careful when playing, be polite and safe.”

Thailand has not seen a community spread of the virus, and only confirmed 47 cases, the majority of whom have recovered, but as cases grow across the globe, there is concern that a massive event like the water festival, which could easily draw over a hundred thousand people, would risk spreading the disease further.

Songkran is the Thai New Year Holiday and the single biggest holiday event on the Thai calendar. The events cancelled were the public events, people are of course free to celebrate privately.

SOURCES: The Phuket News | The Pattaya News

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Songkran

Chon Buri’s Bangsaen district cancels all official Songkran activities

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Chon Buri’s Bangsaen district cancels all official Songkran activities | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sanook Pattaya

Saen Suk Municipality in Chon Buri province, near Pattaya, has cancelled the Wan Lai (Songkran) Festival activities scheduled for April 16-17. Narongchai Khunpluem, President of Saen Suk Municipality, made the announcement today via social media.

Khunpluem says the cancellation is due to concern about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the government’s general instruction to avoid mass gatherings. The Songkran Festival typically attracts tens of thousands of partygoers and is the biggest holiday of the year in Thailand.

Khunpluem says that although he understands people will privately celebrate at home, and at bars and nightclubs, (as it is the Thai New Year), he pleads with them not to throw water, which could quickly spread the virus, and instead celebrate the holiday traditionally. He says water trucks and riding in pickups throwing water is prohibited.

The announcement was only for the Bangsaen area of Chon Buri, and not a national announcement. Pattaya City officials say they’ll address Songkran tomorrow, after a meeting. Songkran in Pattaya is traditionally the biggest tourist event of the year, attracting hundreds of thousands. Songkran has been growing yearly and last year grew 15% over the prior year, and was the most financially successful Songkran ever, earning more than 22 billion baht for the country.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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