Connect with us

Thai Life

A different style of celebration in Phuket

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET has its own riotous version of Songkran, Thailand’s most important public holiday. Primarily a water festival, it celebrates the Thai lunar New Year and is held annually on April 13.

Mostly an occasion for youthful exuberance, the whole island is turned into a war zone, as young people spend the day getting into water fights with anything from pump action water pistols to garden hoses and buckets. The battle is waged both on foot at roadside and from pickups loaded with tanks of H2O.

If you are foolhardy enough to join the celebrations, you may also be covered in a mix of water and white talc or chalk, a tradition begun by monks as a way of marking blessings. This use of powder seems to come from the Indian festival of Holi, which, like the Christian Easter, is celebrated at the same time.

Mind you, Songkran does have a serious side, as Thai festivals usually do. It is an occasion – much like the local vegetarian festival or Loy Krathong – for merit-making and purification. For devotees, the morning will begin with a visit to their local temple, to wash images and statues of Buddha, or to clean and redecorate their house shrines. All these gestures are intended to initiate purification of the self and washing away of personal sins and bad luck in the past year.

The young may pour water over the palms of the elderly as a sign of reverence to one’s ancestors. Other forms of merit-making may include the usual offering of food to monks or, less commonly, the release of wild creatures such as birds or fish. In the south, people aim to observe three rules of conduct for the day: don’t work, don’t spend money and don’t tell lies.

In Sanskrit, the word ‘Songkran’ means ‘the passage of the sun from one sign of the zodiac to another’. There are 12 passages each year, but this one, celebrating both the Thai New Year and the ‘Vernal Equinox’ in western culture, is the most important. Originally determined by astrological computation, it is now observed on a fixed date. Sankranti is also the name of a Hindu harvest festival celebrated in India to mark the arrival of spring. In Thailand it marks the conclusion of the dry season.

A few words of advice for newcomers. If you do venture out, be prepared for anything from a snow-covered wind-screen to ice cold water down your back. Wear old clothes and if you are driving, be prepared for grid-lock, especially in parts of Phuket Town.

Also, look out for drunken revelers; they can be a danger both to themselves and others. Otherwise, embrace the occasion and enjoy being a kid again.

— Patrick Campbell


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)10 hours ago

PM Prayut asks everyone to work together towards reopening

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Bangkok restrictions lifted on 8 categories, including swimming

Patong14 hours ago

Tar balls spreading along Phuket’s west coast beaches

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


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

Phuket15 hours ago

Officials predict 600,000 tourists to Phuket following reopening

Phuket16 hours ago

Technician electrocuted to death while trying to fix jacuzzi

Pattaya16 hours ago

Pattaya pushes for August 1 Sealed Route reopening plan

Thailand16 hours ago

Mother alleges that Doctor mistakenly gave her 10 year old sleeping pills

Bangkok17 hours ago

1 million Sinopharm doses arrived Sunday

Tourism17 hours ago

Reopening guidelines for Phuket and Samui

Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 3,682 new cases, 20 covid-related deaths, provincial totals

Thailand18 hours ago

Poll shows schools, students, parents, “not ready” for online learning

Chon Buri19 hours ago

Man returns lost parakeet, gets rewarded with BBQ

Thai Life19 hours ago

Thai Lion predicts football matches, other abilities currently unknown

Tourism19 hours ago

Reopening details for Phuket, Samui and beyond laid out

Coronavirus (Covid-19)21 hours ago

Multiple Chiang Rai schools to close after infections found

Thailand4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

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

Phuket4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8