Connect with us


Opinion: Practice Songkran Phuketiquette

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: As the Songkran holiday nears, we are continually reminded of the dangers on the road during the Thai New Year festival. Drivers fight traffic on wet, slippery roads while simultaneously getting pummelled in the face with ice water.

Officials have made it clear that this year they are determined to make the holiday more about tradition and less about what has become known as one of the most epic water fights in the world.

Rules implemented include the ban of sexy outfits, high-pressured water guns, water-fight trucks, the mixing of foam or ice with play water and more.

With all of this talk of new regulations to bring back more of what is traditional, I feel that they missed a huge opportunity to actually explain what a traditional Songkran entails.

I decided to do a little research and surprisingly found it difficult to find consistent information. However, there were a few key points that were repeated online, and then reiterated by my local friends.

The word Songkran actually referes to the changing position of the sun from Aries to Taurus, and the holiday more or less correlates with the changing of seasons on Earth from winter to spring. New life equals new year.

People generally start off by cleaning their homes to symbolically rid them of bad luck from the previous year and welcome the new one in with a clean start.

The water that we have all come to love and loathe, traditionally represents cleansing and renewal. It is poured gently onto Buddha images in homes and in temples. If you choose to participate in this, be sure not to pour water onto the head, as it is generally poured on the torso.

Water is also traditionally used to show signs of respect and blessings toward your elders and family members. The water is usually poured gently over the shoulders or on the hands, as good wishes and blessings are uttered for the new year.

Another tradition that I have rarely heard mentioned is the building of small sand pagodas at local temples. It is believed that sand is taken from the temples on the soles of people’s shoes after they have come to make merit. The sand is then returned on the New Year and used to build miniature pagodas around the temple.

The Songkran water play is usually reserved for the younger generation after their religious and family traditions have finished for the day – but that doesn’t mean you won’t see everyone joining in the fun.

So as this Songkran festival gets underway, remember the tradition and values that people revere during this special time. Think twice before you throw a bucket of ice water onto an older person walking down the street, maybe opt to pour water onto their hands and say, ‘Sawadee Pi Mai!’ (happy new year) with a great big smile. But most of all, have fun, be safe, be respectful and have a happy New Year!

— Debbie Adams


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism2 mins ago

Will it, won’t it? October re-opening in doubt as Anutin defers to medical experts

Philippines15 hours ago

ICC opens investigation into Philippines President Duterte

World15 hours ago

American general defends “clandestine” phone calls with China

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Thailand15 hours ago

Countdown to October reopening; body of Koh Phi Phi resort manager found | Thailand News Today | September 16

Visa16 hours ago

Hungarian woman arrested in Koh Samui for 10-year overstay

Thailand16 hours ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat reports Covid outbreak at prison

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Guides17 hours ago

Most famous viewpoints in Phang Nga

Blackpink17 hours ago

Blackpink’s Lisa causes sales frenzy for Buri Ram meatballs

Thailand18 hours ago

NACC ordered to disclose their findings regarding Deputy PM Prawit’s watch scandal

World18 hours ago

“Thai Taste Therapy” launched to promote Thai cuisine worldwide

Food18 hours ago

Food and drinks to stay away from in Thailand

Thailand18 hours ago

Ode to the Comments | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 19

Pattaya19 hours ago

Pattaya reopening likely to snub nightlife, favor other attractions

Thailand19 hours ago

Epidemiologists dispatched to Phuket to help curb the spread of Covid

Phuket19 hours ago

Phuket Vegetarian Festival gets “green light” to run from October 6 to 14

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11